In the past several years, women have used various platforms and organizations to draw attention to the gender divide that persists in media. We've only made a little progress.
In the new annual report from the Women's Media Center released last week on the status of women in American media, there is evidence of slow progress for women in film, print, television and radio. Aside from the lack of opinion writers, the overall tally of women staffers continued to hover at 36 percent—a figure largely unchanged since 1999.
Films and television shows tend to present a skewed portrayal of abortion—when fictional movies and TV shows include a plotline about abortion, the tale typically paints the procedure as riskier than it is in real life.
That’s the conclusion of the first-ever academic “census” of abortion in pop culture from two reproductive health policy researchers who watched every fictional plotline involving abortion they could find in American TV shows and films.
This Super Bowl, we learned a few things: Bruno Mars has a twin brother/two-bit doppelganger who plays drums in his band. Wearing Axe body spray will create world peace. And Morpheus will pretend he respects Kia for some amount of money.
One vintage ad warns women, “Don’t let them call you SKINNY!” while another promises that smoking cigarettes will keep one slender. If the task of morphing their bodies into the current desirable shape isn’t enough of a burden, women are also reminded that they stink.
The Do I Offend? blog chronicles such vintage body-shaming advertisements geared toward women, and the baffling shifts from one feminine ideal to the next.
For a few hours yesterday, I thought Playboy had undergone a culture change. A friend forwarded me a link to a website, Party With Playboy, that proclaimed itself to be Playboy's back-to-school "Top Ten Party Commandments" guide. The difference between the 2013 guide and all previous party tip sheets, though, is that this year, Playboy was all about consent.
"This has been blowing up all over my facebook," my friend wrote. I was surprised and excited—how cool of Playboy to admit some role in rape culture and put consent front-and-center for bros heading to college!
It turns out Playboy got pranked. Baltimore-based artist collective FORCE and students at 25 colleges pulled off the impressive hoax that duped news outlets and thousands of readers. Instead of backing up the call for consent, Playboy is now working to shut down the site.
From Project Runway's current season: Oh God, the glamping!
During its 12 seasons, Project Runway, Lifetime's reality competition show with fashion designers angling to be "in," has earned its exasperatingly accurate moniker, "Product Runway." Product placement is part of the program, and hearing presenter Tim Gunn attempt to make a product sound relevant to a challenge is part of the spectacle.
Except this season, and oh especially August 22's episode, "Let's Go Glamping!" Glamping—a word that would send Samuel Johnson to the ale vat—is camping but, you know, "glamorous." (Maybe they wanted to scale down the use of "camp" with so many gay male designers around?) But fair enough, and actually a really good concept for a challenge. Except that the sponsor was Resource Water.
I'm usually skeptical of advertising. I know companies spend millions of dollars hoping that their body lotion or paper towels or lunch meat will bring me to tears.
But ads are powerful. They're a form of media where we see representations of ourselves and our society, just like on TV shows they interrupt. And it's rare to see people like me—with a black father and a white mother—represented in ads.
Earlier this year, like many other people, I heard about a Cheerios ad, "Just Checking," that featured an interracial family—a white mother, black father and their daughter—before I saw it. I was excited about it, sure, but why I was excited didn't really register until I finally did see it for myself.
A Mighty Girl is aimed, as its name suggests, at girl readers, but I have sons. Does the site have anything to offer feminists shopping for boys? Site co-founder Carolyn Danckaert is passionate about nonsexist children's and young adult literature. She and I talked about tracking down feminist-friendly YA books for kids.
In light of Chelsea Manning—formerly known as Bradley Manning—announcing her name change and preferred gender last week, news outlets were stumbling over themselves in stories reporting on the convicted Army private's transition. Only a handful, including NPR, have revised their policies to refer to Manning as a woman.