"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where We Put Our News: The Politics of Information Placement

A bunch of my Women's Studies 101 students just wrote papers in which they examined the differences between popular men's and women's magazines and analyzed how magazine content sends messages about gender roles. They overwhelmingly took notice of the fact that men's magazines contain a disproportionate amount of news and current events, while such content is rarely found in women's magazines, and they were especially good at explaining how this is problematic in that it makes news more accessible to men than to women.

Well, yesterday, I was reminded of another place that men tend to see the news and women don't. Public restrooms.


I remember the first time a guy I knew told me that it's incredibly commonplace for men's public restrooms to have the day's newspaper displayed somewhere within them. That it happens most often in restaurants, that it's typically the front page or the sports section displayed, and that it's usually placed right above the urinals. I was sort of shocked, because I wondered why men get to read the news while they're in the loo and we ladies have to stare at the boring inside of a stall door with no opportunity to enrich our minds with current events. Dan guesses the newspapers are there to encourage men to keep their eyes front and off each other's junk -- to provide a welcome distraction to ease the tension of an uncomfortable situation. And although I guess that's understandable, isn't there something sort of political about the fact that men have this extra, built-in opportunity to learn more about the world around them than women do? That, through no real effort of their own, they have this extra couple of minutes of absorbing pertinent information? Doesn't there seem to be some sort of age-old stereotype at work about men caring more about the news than women?

Be it tradition, stereotype, or mere distraction, it reeks of privilege to me. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Called Out

This commercial came on last night when I was watching TV, and I started bitching to Dan about how terrible these ads are for sending the message that girls should aspire to be lifeless mannequins:

But then Dan reminded me that I was in the middle of watching America's Next Top Model, which pretty much has the exact same premise. Sigh.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Body for Everybody?

First of all, Victoria's Secret, don't even think about co-opting the language of loving your body when your models likely starved themselves in order to feel comfortable prancing around in your undergarments in your commercials. And secondly, the notion that these images depict "a Body for everybody" is downright offensive.