Monday, 8 July 2013

Sport: played by men, decorated by women?

Almost every break in play is accompanied by a quick sneak of the players' box to check up on the Wags – odd that they don't do the same for the women's matches... [source]
The above quote fulfils one of the aims of Media Studies: to make invisible ideology (means of influencing opinion and belief systems) visible; the following exposes further examples of how our standard discourse is exposed as sexist when it comes to sport, specifically tennis.You can find many more articles and analyses easily enough; look for headlines such as Wimbledon exposed the sexism women face – as players and girlfriends.

The reactions to the 2013 Wimbledon winners has seemingly exposed the lingering binary in approaches: Murray's athleticism was admired, while women's title Bartoli was admonished not just for a lack of athleticism but also unattractiveness!
It is well established that men's sport is more exposed, more prestigious and more lucrative, although Wimbledon has had parity of prize money since 2007; in the 18 months to August 2011, women's sport comprised only 0.5% of sponsorship and 5% of TV coverage. The cyclist Lizzie Armitstead, who won Britain's first medal in the 2012 Olympics, called the sexism she faced "overwhelming. It's the obvious things – the salary, media coverage …"
The above quote comes from Tany Gold's Guardian column. She focusses on BBC commentator's John Inverdale's rather dubious (she terms it moronic) contribution:

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Page 3 debate: post-feminist expression or objectification?

It might seem a push to even label this a debate, as on the face of it surely the tabloid habit of using topless pics to sell papers is simply sexist and this objectification objectionable?!

Well ... there is the post-feminist line that this can be considered an expression of
self-confident, equal women's sexuality, that they exercise choice and control. It can also be argued that the viewing male [a presumption in itself of course] audience is rendered a weak supplicant before this display of inner strength.

That can be debunked (isn't this free market rhetoric too easy, not to say optimistic of how things actually work, and the power relations at play?)... but shouldn't be glibly dismissed.

Here's a snippet from a feminist's rebuttal of a defence of page 3 by The S*n's new editor:

Monday, 13 May 2013

Brave: Merida sexualised for sequel?

A good illustration of basic points about how ideology permeates even seemingly bland, inoffensive fare such as Disney (though once you begin some wider reading you'd be alerted to the wealth of writing on the ideology behind The Mouse) comes with controversy over the redesigned animated character of Meridia for a pending Brave sequel.

Here's a sample quote from a detailed Guardian article (with illustrative pics + vids) on this:
Chapman, who was replaced by Mark Andrews part way through the production of Brave but maintained a co-director's credit, said Disney had completely missed the point when creating the new version of her creation. "I think it's atrocious what they have done to Merida," she wrote to her local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal. "When little girls say they like it because it's more sparkly, that's all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy 'come-hither' look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It's horrible!
"Merida was created to break that mold," she added. "To give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance."
Any thoughts on this? Add a comment below.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Book Publishing industry: sexist, male gaze?

ADDITION, 13.5.13: 'COVERFLIP' - Can't see the gallery I also looked at when I read this a few days ago, but here's an interesting article about how women writers see their potential market reduced by heavily, stereotypically feminised covers, regardless of the book's themes or genre, putting off male readers. Author Maureen Johnson took to Twitter to vent spleen on this, and a series of 'coverflipped' reimagininbgs emerged, re-casting classic novels by male writers as if they'd been written by female authors and marketed accordingly by an outmoded publishing industry.

Marking the 40th anniversary of the launch of a publisher for writing by women largely ignored by the publishing industry, this article surveys the state of the industry today, and finds that women writers are still under-represented in terms of books reviewed. Here's a sample from the article:
Gay's survey followed the work of the group Vida: Women in Literary Arts, which has been publishing an annual count of women's representation in literary journals for three years. Its most recent count came out last week – not one of the literary publications it analysed reviewed more books by female authors than male authors.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

She-Hulk ... needs a man

Read the full article here.
News that comic book publisher Marvel, rights-holder of many of the hit superhero franchises of recent years, is seeking to boost its appeal to a female demographic by creating long-form novelisations centred on two female superheroes...

They argue this is a great example of progressive thinking, and that these novels should appeal equally to male and female audiences. Here's a more critical take on this, from a critic essentially arguing they're doing what tech companies do (make it pink!), in this case focussing on romance:
Not all potential readers were impressed, however. "If the comic book industry thinks that this is the answer to their woman problem, well, they're worse off than we originally imagined," wrote Alicia Lutes at Hollywood . "The novels purport to 'showcase strong, smart heroines', but seemingly relegate their stories to 'seeking happiness and love', as if those are the only two things women are programmed to care about, ever… Here's an unpopular opinion, comic book industry: Why don't we first work on making our female superheroes more than just spandex-tinged boobholders meant to tantalise and frustrate the predominately male audience that reads them?"
Sci-fi and superhero movies tend to be fairly straightforward reflections of the male gaze theory and the objectification of women on screen (and across most mainstream media). Women tend to be clad in skin-tight, revealing costumes - it seems thats what all humanoid females, of any species, do!
Star Trek's 6 of 9 (Jerry Ryan): blatantly targeting a male audience?
Whatever your thoughts on this (which you can always share), there is at least some countertyping counter-hegemony (the muscular, physical strength) to go alongside the normative stereotyping (glamorous, focus on body/looks, romance as central).
Read the full article here.
Avatar's Neytiri: even animated characters fit the general rule