Reading Analysis #7 – The Issue With Representation in Media

The prominent theme of the three readings from this week portrays the post-feminist media and the representation that is handed to consumers, mainly women and young girls.  The readings intermesh the importance of the feminine image and how choices and individualism affects women and young girls, whether that can be seen as empowering and uplifting for women or just the illusion of having choice still boils down to actions and thoughts that feminists would see as regressive, such as going for a spa day with the girls to get waxes and ‘mani-pedi’s’. Is that a free woman’s choice to do what she pleases or is that a by-product of self- surveillance that is built into us since childhood? Either way, exploring post-feminism in media such as children’s movies or young adult novels shows the viewer/reader a progressive as well as regressive viewpoint.

Starting with Twilight, which I am personally acquainted with; I feel like the author, S. Meyer, let down a lot of young readers with the main characters of Bella and Edward. As a young girl, I was smitten by the dangerous and sexually-driven Edward and his predatory behaviour toward the vapid, cardboard stand-in- oh, sorry, Bella. But I knew something was wrong with how he acted towards her, even as a child. Unfortunately, Bella is the exact copy of a damsel in distress. Which perpetuates the image that girls cannot help themselves, and that they should wait for a man to save them from their problems. But the blame is not completely put on Bella though she seems to be surrounded by complete and utter incompetence, it is also the male view of Edward that is the problem as well. Referring to the statement before, that I was blinded by Edward’s portrayal of being an attractive and powerful being. That was the issue, as his behaviour is a problem and that the male portrayal of courting or getting the girl is always cast in a ‘good’ light, even if it’s downright stalker-ish and creepy. I believe that Twilight is regressive and does not help the female plight for progression at all.

With the Disney Princess theme, it is very clear that Disney characters were stereotypes and character tropes of an anti-feminist view. Such as Snow White, lying in an endless sleep for a prince to kiss her or Ariel giving up the one thing she loved ( her voice ) for the chance to get with a man she never even spoke to. Clearly there’s an issue here, that girls must give up something to a man to get what they want ( Little Mermaid, Belle) or lay in wait in dresses for a man to save them ( Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella). Perpetuating that women must be saved by men. However, the article written by C. Stover mentions that some ‘princesses’ are breaking that stereotype which I agree with, these heroines are more than a frou-frou dress and a pretty face. Although Stover mentions that a lot of the princesses do what they have to do to for their father’s sake ( Mulan, Ariel, Pocahontas) I must mention that Mulan should be re-examined as Mulan risked her life to save the country and the empire not only to protect her family, but her own honour. Yes, she did it to save her father from conscription but if we were to step away from the racial lens and the feminist lens, a person who has everything to lose and has no ‘power’ themself , go and risk life and limb to save their family is a pretty powerful representation of human self-sacrifice. But I digress.

Modern Disney is on a progressive track advancing away from ‘traditional’ values, such as Moana;  saving her island from disaster. Frozen; where a sister’s bond is the most powerful magic of all and Tangled, which is a blend of a romance and a girl’s yearn for freedom and adventure. Although these titles are all stepping away from the damsel in distress, perfect princess tropes and plot lines, there is still the undercurrent of the patriarchal portrayal, ( Moana’s father, Hans and Kristoff, Flynn Ryder ). I believe with more Disney films that angle away from the traditional plot of domestic duties and women in danger, that girls could benefit from viewing role models in non-traditional roles and skin tones. I hope that in the future there are more portrayals of fierce and strong characters who represent a solid portrayal of women/ trans and people of colour and aren’t just afterthoughts or stand-ins for media to make money off of. Disney is a mix of progressive and regressive views and I hope that in the future, these issues can be examined more closely and hopefully a solution can be created.

In my own everyday life, I do mention these sort of issues frequently with family and friends. I enjoy writing short stories with characters that I try to bend from the norm. Strong female leads where femininity isn’t the focus but instead on the character’s actions and thoughts, male characters that are soft-spoken and intellectual, who act as companions but neither guide nor control. These kinds of readings really help me flourish and flesh out my writing as I strive to learn and grow.

Reading Analysis #5 The Role Models of Women of Colour


Oct 01, 2017

Reading Analysis #5

    These articles resonated inside me while I was reading them. I’m not sure where I stand with this subject. The aspect of black women’s portrayal in media is a tricky situation because, if we look back at one of the first readings, who are we, as outsiders, to decide what is right or wrong for people? Are black women empowered in the media as they are the ones portrayed as the ‘video vixens’ in all the videos? Or is their portrayal sexist and demeaning as they dance to misogynistic lyrics? hooks mentions, “Violence does not create positive change.” So do the black women who are at the helm ( such as Beyonce, Rihanna, etc) stand for feminism with their violent lyrics against men or is it empowering for the women out there? Or do their lyrics and actions in their music videos undermine all what stands for gender equality?

As I raise more questions to mull over, I honestly feel like I am not as sure as when I started.

hooks mentions that women committing violence ‘is no more liberatory than male violence’ and I believe that rings true. Women destroying cars as in Lemonade isn’t a positive representation for feminism, in fact, I believe it regresses it. Violence is not the answer and no one should be doing it, and we as people should strive to stop violence as a whole instead of letting it happen on one side and not the other. However, I understand that it is an issue that’s been around for longer than many of us have been alive so it is easier said than done.

I believe the main theme for the readings is the black female population is in need of more positive role models that promote self-love and self-esteem, building confidence and motivation women of all colours and creeds to love oneself and fight the patriarchy while refusing to be the victim. Although it looks simple and mushy on paper, there is a lot more to it but that’s what I believe to be the main theme.

As a daughter to a woman of colour, I have been very privileged to grow up in a middle class, upper socioeconomic culture where my race doesn’t affect my day to day life. Being raised by a single working parent did separate me from my peers who came from nuclear families of white middle class though so I knew I was different but not by much. I am very lucky to have a person like my mother who taught me the motivation to never give up and to not be the victim of one’s background.  She has always and will always be my role model.

 

Reading Analysis #4 – The Female Body

Corinne Anderson
Professor Tracy Penny Light
History 2480
September 21, 2017

Reading Analysis Week #4

While reading these articles/books/essays , I am frequently reminded of the timelines that these views were written in. The articles in question are only a few decades old, but previous essays from the class also reflect on that some ideas have stayed the same throughout the years. Women are objects to be looked at and nothing much has changed about that opinion in the eyes of the patriarchal society. The authors bring up the theme of objectification throughout their writings but I’ve come across another horrifying but nevertheless interesting theme, that is the idea of the ‘castrated’ woman.

    The authors go on to write that female sexuality is to be controlled by the male sexuality, that is, the focus on the phallus instead of the womb, and defines women as ‘castrated’. They describe this as that women do not get the right to their own sexuality. Even though this statement was written decades ago, it still rings true I believe. The authors describe the themes that the woman is a construct of the patriarchy and that the woman is inferior, she does not get her own body, she gets a ‘lesser’ man’s body, something that has been defiled, mutilated and not a source of power and never will be. Mulvey, who brings up the argument that men have always looked upon women with erotic desires and that the woman is an object, talks about ‘castration anxiety’ that the female figure frightens the male. While this theme of female castration and the objectification of women is unified throughout the three articles, the author Segal states that, “outside the outside realm of psychoanalytic conservatism’  female castration is physically impossible as there is no penis to begin with.  So because of this, can we ask if the male is actually scared of the female body in some way?  That her form frightens him as it is a reminder of what could be, if the roles were reversed ? Better yet, will women ever be able to hold power in the way man does in society? This opens up a ‘can of worms’ as they say, for if women did hold the power and casted off objectification, would the roles switch and the men become the objects? Or would there be equal grounds?

 

Reading Analysis #3 How women are portrayed in the media

Corinne Anderson
Professor Tracy Penny Light
History 2480
September 17, 2017

Reading Analysis Week # 3

     While reading the articles, “Women’s Depiction by the Mass Media” by G. Tuchman and Susan Bordo’s “Never Just Pictures”, it got me thinking; The media is both obsessed and pretending not to care about how women are portrayed. Focusing on women’s body in fashion then turning around and shutting women down when they fight for accurate representations by shoving images of traditional roles of women down their throats on the TV.

Bordo zeroes in on the issues of the modelling world and the health complications that come with it, and how the fashion industry bringing thinner and thinner models has changed the average girl’s perspective of themselves; “If she can look like that, then why shouldn’t I?”  Tuchman on the other hand describes the media’s focus on making the woman be noticed only when needed, such as in housecleaning ads but not where it matters most, an accurate depiction of a woman in a non-traditional role, perhaps as a CEO of a sprawling company or a heavy-duty mechanic elbow deep inside an engine. Tuchman touches on that depicting women in office roles has happened but only in a manner that compares her to the man, where she wears a business suit and forcefully makes her way to the top instead of focusing on her character or her abilities and how she is a driving force behind the company.

Both of the articles bring up the issue of women in roles that do not accurately depict feasible roles for other women to follow suit. Not all women are models, but the media likes for us to think that we ( the average person) can be like the models on TV, and fit the clothes and fit the lifestyle. On that note, this issue brings up the problem with the influence on young girls. Girls as young as eight are doing their makeup like the stars on Instagram, wearing crop tops and tight clothes like their favourite celebrities and changing their personalities to better match like their favourite youtube stars. Is this just children being children and copying what they see or is this a deeper much more complex issue that should be addressed? How can children understand that it’s okay to be different when they’re being influenced by social media or even traditional media? I’m not sure of the answer, though I believe that there should be a boundary laid down as it teaches girls an unhealthy image of themselves to be something they are not.

Reading Analysis # 2

Corinne Anderson

Professor Tracy Penny Light

History 2480

September 12, 2017

Reading Analysis Week # 2

De Beauvoir’s essay speaks about feminism at a much earlier and different time and while I was reading and comparing many of the issues she brought up as similar to issues today that women face, there were a few of her arguments that I felt were a little outdated. First, I felt that the argument that a woman will stand by her man even when a woman of a different ethnic or cultural group is being oppressed might have been true of the time this article was written, I do believe that that argument has changed for the better. Feminism is now such a part of people’s lives that today, I firmly believe that a woman would stand up for a woman no matter their skin, race or culture. Otherwise, both of the articles spoke mountains of the hardships of feminism especially in a time where women were still mainly seen as possessions. Saying that, the theme of the domestic woman as an item that was ‘wrong’ or a ‘problem’ that had to be fixed if she was unhappy or negative, sits wrong with me. In the sense that the man ( or the doctor, the therapist, the friend next door) had to find a way to bring the housewife back down to the unhappy, unfulfilling or boring life of a stay-at-home mom. When perhaps she wanted to be an engineer, a gardener or a lawyer. Women were so afraid to be singled out that they weren’t the perfect suburban housewife, they would stay silent and suffer through. Sadly, many women do not succeed their full potential because they are not privileged in resources or directions. What’s most important is that modern girls read through history, read feminist arguments and see that there is more to life than just being a wife.

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