Tag Archives: media

Miss Representation Documentary

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Michael Moore Launches Virtual Newspaper for Activist High Schoolers

2011 is shaping up to be a remarkable year for human rights activism.  And it’s only just begun!  Sing it with me!

I saw this article yesterday on Good and wanted to keep the activist spirit going.

In my research on the counterculture, this website definitely mimics 1960s-70s consciousness-raising.  Since the counterculture, the media has promoted the idea that youth don’t care about important issues.  I’m excited to see youth publicly engaging in personal, social, and political change.

Happy Friday world! Libya, I’ve got my eye on you.

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Are you a high school student and a citizen journalist? Michael Moore wants you. The documentarian is so inspired by students everywhere from Egypt to Wisconsin “taking to the streets, organizing, protesting, and refusing to move until your voices are heard” that he’s turned a section of his website into a virtual student newspaper. He’s looking for youth contributors, and, unlike traditional high school newspapers, there’s no censorship, not even from him.

Moore writes on his blog,

In high schools all across America, students have great ideas to make things better or to question what is going on—and often these thoughts and opinions are ignored or silenced. How often in school is the will of the student body ignored? How many students today will try to speak out, to stand up for something important, to simply try to right a wrong—and will be swiftly shut down by those in authority, or by other students themselves?

The youth website, My High School Newspaper, will be edited for the first six months by Moore’s 17-year-old niece, Molly. So far the citizen journalism site includes entries from students on the ground in Madison, like East High’s Riley Moore, who writes in his February 21 entry, “This is the 7th consecutive day that we’ve marched,” and West High School’s Sam Rahdar, who posted a vlog entry about his opinions on the Wisconsin bill.

Madison Student Speaks #4.

The entries challenge the stereotype that today’s teens are apathetic. If you know (or are) a high schooler looking for a space to post blogs, music, or video about social issues, here’s how to get involved.

photo (cc) by nicolas genin via Wikimedia Commons

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Blog Post Blizzard

Women’s Media Visibility in Egypt’s Protests – Sociological Images

Coverage of the Egyptian protests this week disproportionately interviewed and photographed male protestors, occasionally using the terms “Egyptian men” and “protestors” interchangeably (excellent example here).  What images we did receive of women depicted them as separate from the demonstrations if not dependent on male guardianship.  The paucity of images or stories about women activists excludes them from the national uprising and silences their protests.

These Attractive Sneakers Become Trees When You’re Done with Them – Good Magazine

The second-place winner at Amsterdam’s Green Fashion Awards last week, OAT’s “Virgin Collection” is the world’s first line of sneakers that, upon disposal, will biodegrade and sprout trees. The materials—some developed by OAT itself—are all easily broken down, and tree seeds packed in the lining will hopefully leave saplings where your sneakers once stood.

The ‘Black History’ of America’s White House – NPR

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For many Americans, the White House stands as a symbol of liberty and justice. But its gleaming facade hides harsh realities, from the slaves who built the home to the presidents who lived there and shaped the country’s racial history, often for the worse. In The Black History of the White House, Clarence Lusane traces the path of race relations in America by telling a very specific history — the stories of those African-Americans who built, worked at and visited the White House.

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum – New York Times

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times - Katricia Gray, left, of Detroit, brought sculptures to Tulani Salahu-Din, a researcher for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, at a November event to appraise possible donations to its collection.

As the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Mr. Bunch, 58, is charged with creating an institution that embodies the story of black life in America.

The pressure couldn’t be greater. To open in 2015, in a $500 million building designed to evoke the art of an ancient West African kingdom, the museum will stand at the geographic center of American civic identity, on the National Mall.

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Blog Post Blizzard

I have too many interesting articles to share with you and so little time.  So, in honor of the snowcalypse in the Midwest, here’s a blizzard of fabulous things to read.  Choose your poison:

 

Why Keeping Little Girls Squeaky Clean Could Make Them Sick – NPR

WESTLAND, MI – JULY 6: Hannah Rose Akerley, age 7, of Grosse Point Park, Michigan, gets some relief from the heat by playing in a gigantic lake of mud at the annual Mud Day event July 6, 2010 in Westland, Michigan. The lake was created by mixing 20,000 gallons of water with 200 tons of topsoil. The event, which is sponsored by the Wayne County Parks Department, draws about 1,000 children each year. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

 

Middle Eastern and North African Protests Shatter Myths About Muslim Women – Ms. Magazine

Young people are coming out in full force to fight for democracy, and women are at the forefront of these protests, breaking a huge stereotype that Muslim women passive, voiceless or apathetic.

 

THIS PICTURE IS SO BADASS!!!

 

 

Beauty and the Double Standard of Aging – Sociological Images

Today I had the pleasure of reading a 1978 essay by Susan Sontag titled The Double Standard of Aging. I was struck by how plainly and convincingly she described the role of attractiveness in men’s and women’s lives: “For women, only one standard of female beauty is sanctioned: the girl. ”

 

Brisenia Flores, Another Nine-Year-Old Girl, Was Shot and Killed in Arizona – Village Voice

Brisenia Flores, 9, was killed on May 30, 2009, when a group led by anti-immigration fighter Shawna Forde raided the girl’s family home in the border town of Arivaca, Arizona. Allegedly, the attack was organized in the name of the Minutemen, a crew of vigilante border patrols, who hoped to steal money and drugs to fund their revolution against immigration. The Flores household was attacked mistakenly, for they had no drugs or money, but according to reports, Forde and her cronies commenced to shoot Brisenia’s father in the head, killing him, before wounding her mother and eventually, shooting Brisenia in cold blood…

 

 

 

The Black Power Mixtape – Democracy Now

We broadcast from Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest festival for independent cinema. One of this year’s selections that is creating a lot of buzz is a documentary called The Black Power Mixtape. The film features rare archival footage shot between 1967 and 1975 by two Swedish journalists and was discovered in the basement of Swedish public television 30 years later. We speak with renowned actor and activist Danny Glover, who co-produced The Black Power Mixtape.

 

Oscar nominations an all-white affair – The Gazette

It’s a wonder that the security guards at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t stop Mo’Nique and make her show ID when she arrived to help announce the Oscar nominations early Tuesday at the organization’s Beverly Hills headquarters. After all, she was the only person of colour involved with the extravaganza, since the 83rd annual Oscar nominations have the dubious distinction of being an all-white affair…

 

 

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Sex and Sexism and “Skins”

Sex, Sexism, and “Skins” by Mia Fontaine at the Ms. blog

MTV, you’ve come a long way baby.

In six short years you’ve gone from pimpin’ rides to pimpin’ girls, starting with the recent premiere of Skins, a remake of the hit British program by the same name. Immediately labeled “the most dangerous show for teens,” by the Parents Television Counsel and lambasted for gratuitous sex and drug use, what was seen as most controversial was the employment of underage actors. Given that the show includes implied fellatio and sexual assault, simulated masturbation and half-naked teens having sex, MTV potentially violated child-pornography laws.

Without minimizing the above accusations, what shocked me, however–and should shock everyone–was the show’s flagrant and unaddressed sexism. And I’m not talking garden-variety sexism, I’m talking a show that’s glaringly sexist in truly alarming ways.

Episode One, for instance, centers around Tony’s efforts to get his best friend, the virgin Stanley, laid. His brilliant plan? Borderline date rape. In MTV teen lingo, “get some girl ‘recaucusly spliffed. In her confused state she comes to believe how–momentarily of course–you’re [Stanley] attractive and then … she bangs your brains out!” For the lucky girl, Tony’s girlfriend Michelle nominates Cadie, recently released from a psych ward and described on the Skins’ website as “the most dysfunctional girl ever to attend a high school.”

Not that Cadie minds. Using sex like wampum, she accepts the plan for Stanley to, “dope me into outer space and then bang my brains out.” Is it me, or does this smack of prostitution? Sleeping with someone for drugs cuts the cash out of the equation but not the principle. And if Cadie plays the prostitute, Tony and Michelle play her pimps. Worse, because Michelle is another girl, MTV promotes sexism by all genders. By treating Cadie in a stereotypically male way–a sex object–the message is sent to girls to objectify other girls for male gratification.

Perhaps Michelle’s willingness to devalue Cadie as a human being shouldn’t surprise us, given her utter subservience to Tony. Despite his belittling nicknaming for her–Nips, because of her “funny nipples”–she continues to see him, and when she does weakly protest the name he patronizingly tells her to “get used to it kid.” As if someone appointed him both nipple expert and sage, able to predict a lifetime of nipple shame. Forget worrying over breast size: Now girls are being taught to scrutinize their nipples as well. (It’s worth noting that the Skins website describes Michelle as gorgeous and clever. Note to self: MTV defines clever as someone who sleeps with a partner who continuously degrades her).

Another example of the show commodifying young women and encouraging them to use sex to curry favors comes in the second episode, in which the character Tea is asked by her father to go on a date with the son of a prospective business partner.

What is this, the Middle Ages? Aren’t we beyond children-as-chattel eras in which daughters do their father’s bidding? True, he asks her twice if she’s comfortable with it, and reminds her she doesn’t have to fool around with the boy (albeit saying “have to” implies the possibility for it). Nonetheless, he tells her not to mention the date to her mother, possibly because Mom would have found it problematic that he used their daughter like a pawn to facilitate a business transaction.

I doubt many people took note of this, however, because Tea’s father is the only remotely sympathetic parent on the show. Tony and Stanley’s fathers are crass and irate, and the show’s mothers, aside from serving food and babysitting, are without real roles or voices. Had Tea’s father been a jerk, his request might have raised eyebrows; instead, his affability disguised the fact that, like Cadie being used for Stanley’s sexual gain, Tea was used for Daddy’s professional gain.

If MTV’s looking for edgy, edgy can be done responsibly and respectably. Pierced, tattooed and chain-smoking, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander is as edgy and sexual as they come, yet she’s subservient to no one and stands up for her beliefs. Given Lisbeth’s propensity for justice, I’d love to see what she’d do to the brains behind a show like Skins.

If you want to see this show, be quick about it: Skins might not be around for long. The New York Post reported that it’s in danger of cancellation because of low ratings and fleeing advertisers. I just hope the fleeing viewers are as disturbed about the sexism as the underage sex.

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Stud Magazine Rewriting Gender Norms

Stud Magazine is “an online based magazine founded in Toronto with an aim to redefine the term stud and introduce non gender conforming people to mainstream media.”  The magazine challenges female gender norms and tackles everything from education and health to art and fashion.  While you may not be the magazine’s target audience, it’s content should undoubtedly expand your definitions of femininity.

The magazine, as well as its website and blog, offer enlightening perspectives from non-gender conforming women.  For example, has your femininity ever been questioned when you used a public bathroom?  Probably not, but this is a daily source of frustration for many women who don’t or don’t want to conform to the essentialist female figure on the bathroom door.

Using the woman’s washroom when I was younger was an easy task that I took for granted. I’d walk in without a problem, do my business, wash my hands and walk out. Of course there would be whispers in the background and lengthy stares from other females for obvious reasons. My appearance and the way I carried myself.

The little juvenile Tomboy who would eventually grow out of “the phase” sooner or later… Well, I’m 22 years old now and that “phase” that many thought I would outgrow is who I am NATURALLY.

Nowadays going to the washroom for me is a daily challenge when out in public – I pass as male 85% of the time in a crowd of strangers; ( I consider myself a TG Butch/Gender-queer) so walking into the woman’s washroom would certainly cause problems and confusion that I rather not put myself into – so to avoid such I plan my day out accordingly.

Use the bathroom before leaving my house, limit my drink intake throughout the day, and look for places that have unisex or single bathroom stalls.

For butches/studs/doms it’s hard to go into the woman’s washroom or change room without having a bunch of other females hush in silence whenever you walk in, the stares you receive and the whispers you have to listen to.

Then you have that one female who feels bold and brave enough to confront you and say “Excuse me sir, this is the woman’s washroom…” Women who do this need to understand that NOT EVERY female is going to conform to society’s thought of how a female should look and act.

I personally have took it upon myself to NOT use the women’s washroom unless its last resort situation just to avoid the constant bullshit that one has to go through when your physical appearance doesn’t match the little sign on the washroom door.

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Ms. Magazine’s “No Comment” and Jean Kielborne’s “Killing Us Softly”

Every year since Ms. Magazine hit newsstands as part of the roaring Women’s Liberation Movement in 1972, the magazine has always included a “No Comment” section on its last page.  This page featured advertisements, submitted by readers, that were insulting or degrading to women, but always in the vein of political or social action.  Ms. Magazine: “Some make us roll our eyes. Others inspire us to write letters or to boycott products.”

And you know what?  Ads over the past forty years haven’t gotten all that better.  For example, here’s a classy product for suitcase stickers from July 2010:

Here’s what Stephanie Hallett from the Ms. Magazine blog had to say about this:

Identifying your ubiquitous black suitcase on a baggage carousel can be challenging, it’s true. But is it really challenging enough to warrant this violent suitcase sticker from thecheeky.com? We think not. Canadian entrepreneur Colin Hart, who runs thecheeky.com, said the stickers are meant to personalize and spice up your travel bags. His collection of large stickers features old leather luggage torn open to reveal illicit contents. What’s “inside” the bags? Stacks of cash, bags of cocaine, sex toys–and a bound-and-gagged flight attendant.

Jean Kielborne in her film series “Killing Us Softly” (now in it’s fourth edition) provides an in-depth examination of the sexual objectification and degradation of women in advertisements.  Watch a snippet from her latest, “Killing Us Softly 4” below:

So what do we do with this?  Get involved!  One privilege of living in a capitalistic consumer-driven country is the power to put our money where our mouth is.  You can submit your images to Ms. Magazine via letterstotheeditor@msmagazine.com, join this Flickr “No Comment” group or start one in another online community.  Check out some of the “No Comment” archives for inspiration here.

I’ll begin with Urban Outfitters.  Can their models get any younger or any skinnier?  Or paler?

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