Friday, July 15, 2011

Media: Killing Us Softly

Today in class we focused on media literacy. First we watched a Ted Talk with Alice Dreger discussing anatomical norms, and how gender isn’t necessarily as clear as male and female. Although she believed it was good to be aware of these differences, she was worried that discovering so many differences might destroy the concepts of unity that were created by our Founding Fathers and other leaders. The concept that “all men are created equal” seems to be less valid with more differences present.
We also watched a movie called Killing Us Softly 4, which portrayed and discussed the subliminal messages portrayed by the media through advertising, and the effects that it has on our society. Some, although still shocking, were more known, such as the dangerously skinny women that were considered to be “ideal women”, and how this leads to self-hatred, depression, and eating disorders among women of all ages. One new thing that we did learn about this, however, was how greatly digitally altered those models even were, and how some of those women were even “pieced together” from four different women. We also learned that about only 5% of the population naturally has such a long-and-lean body type, and that even those are never that skinny.
Some subliminal messaging that I was not so aware of was the objectifying of women, like women literally being turned into beer cans and bottles. This is not only a sad way to sell a product, but also makes women appear as though they are not true people, but an object that you may enjoy just like a man would enjoy a bottle of beer. Women are also often showed in weak, vulnerable, and insecure positions, giving off the impression that “perfect women” should be weak, submissive, and seen but not heard. It was also extremely shocking how much violence and abusive relationships were promoted subliminally, as was violence in general.
After watching these videos, the girls reacted with much shock, enthusiasm, and anger with regards to the video. We discussed how even though it isn’t possible to change the advertising industry and society’s skewed view of beauty and women; it is possible to spread awareness of the subliminal messaging. And most importantly, we must be aware of it and not let ourselves to be affected by it.


My nose is bleeding as I write this, so my apologies if this is not my best work. I have been struggling with random nosebleeds lately for some reason, probably the heat. I really like the weather here. The first few days it was far too hot for me, but now it is cooling down and it is incredible.

Today in class we spoke a lot about sex and gender roles in society. We also discussed how marketing has victimized women and held up an unattainable beauty standard. It turns out that gender is not as black and white as people would like to think. There are many in-betweens that people don't like to acknowledge. The media often objectifies women and uses their sexuality as often as possible to sell any product. Also, the use of overly thin models has causes many psychological problems in young girls because they then people that is what it means to be beautiful. It is sad that our society has come to this.

However, I do not have a problem with displaying beautiful women in advertisements. That is smart marketing. People are attracted to beauty. Unattractive things do not catch a persons eye. The problem is that the media is altering our perception of beauty to make it something that isn't healthy or achievable. Personally, I do not think that advertisements have really had a lasting effect on my ideals of beautiful women.

I am so thankful for the incredible friends I've made here. I am completely whole-heartedly going to miss them very much when I leave. There are some girls here that I know have made an impression with me that will last for a lifetime, and I certainly will not forget any of them. I've only known them for about a week and already they have become my best friends. I adore them. This is a truly life-changing experience for me. I am completely recreating how I view myself and how I view other people, and I like that. I am very thankful for this opportunity.

Day 11: Day At The Mall

This morning I woke up from a deep sleep. I quickly got up to take a shower and rushed to get dressed because I fell asleep before I finished my journal entry for the class.

In the class, we learned about media literacy and watched Killing Us Softly 4. It was fascinating to see how women are portrayed in the media. It is interesting to see how men are treated, too. There is such a double standard and when we went to the mall with our chaperone, we were looking at all of the ads seeing how the women were portrayed.

After class we went to the mall, Providence Place to go shopping and see the final Harry Potter installment. Once we got home, we ran around. I got my nailed painted by D'ara, another girl on my floor. I blogged while I waited for them to dry.

I am excited to sleep in tomorrow. I plan to work on my Action Plan and Woman Monologue. Then I want to go crazy and splurge at the mall again. But I doubt that it would all happen.

Not As Simple As "Male or Female"

I am so glad that it is going to be the weekend! I love class and I am learning so much, but I am exhausted and I am seriously about to pass out and sleep.

In the morning, we discussed the reading from last night in groups of about four people. My group had a great time talking about the reading, which basically consisted of studies that compared the different leadership styles of male and female leaders.

Obviously, there is no single way to be a leader, but the studies tried to average their findings to reach a relatively accurate conclusion. Female leaders are supposedly more effective because of their greater empathy, listening skills, and urgency. These are only the main points; there were other qualities and other arguments in our reading as well.

Once we felt we had covered that topic, my group had our own little discussion about the root causes of male chauvinism. We then covered this subject briefly with our entire class.

We also watched a fascinating film about gender and sex. We learned about intersex people, who can call into question many societal norms and ideas about anatomy/biology.

Caroline, Kaylyn, and I enjoy lunch at the VW

I really enjoyed the movie in the morning, but I have to say that the movie we saw in the afternoon took the cake. Known as “Killing Us Softly 4,” the film was a video recording of a woman’s presentation about the subliminal messages found in advertising. Our whole class was horrified to hear about the way ads can insidiously work their way into young girls’ minds and cause them to hate their bodies.

Additionally, we learned that ads create an atmosphere where it is okay for men (and women) to treat women’s bodies as objects. Perhaps most terrifying, we were shown images that seem to advocate for dating violence. We had a very energetic discussion in class after the movie. This movie was so good at making people think!

After class, we ILC girls took a taxi and met up with Ms. Williams at the mall for our meeting. We then wandered around the mall and did a little shopping. I went to dinner with Josie, Cynthia, Ava, and Rebecca. Then, the five of us and Adrianne dragged Ms. Williams to the Harry Potter movie!

We meet with Ms. Williams at the mall

Josie and Ava enjoy dinner

Caroline gives Kaylyn a henna tattoo

After the movie we took taxis back to our dorm. I immediately went back to my room and blogged. :)

Gender Studies and Magic Wands

Today's objective was gender and sex and women in the media and technology. When Kisa announced that we would be studying and discussing this, I was very excited. I find gender studies to be very interesting and I wanted to learn more.

Before we started the topic, we got in groups and discussed the readings from Wednesday and Thursday night. My group consisted of Selena, Cynthia Z., and D'ara. Based on the readings, each group got two blank fliers. On one of the fliers, we titled it "Act Like a Man", and then the 2nd paper was titled "Be Ladylike." We listed qualities of each and then drew a box around those qualities. Outside the box, we listed the names that men or women would be called if they did not express these qualities. We then went around the room and checked the different groups fliers. I thought it was interesting how they were all similar. As a class, we concluded that society judges others subconsciously, which is horrible because we can say we want to stop judging so much but we do it all the time. 

After the discussion, we watched a film. The video was filmed at Northwestern University [in Chicago] and the speaker was Alice Dreger. She provided lots of information about humans and genital studies, along with interesting facts:
  • A man was born with male genitals but was internally female. Doctors figured this out when he was nineteen that he as menstruating internally, which caused many medical problems for him.
  • In Berlin, a female runner was falsely called out for "being a male"
  • Humans share 90 percent of DNA with chipmunks 
  • According to Alice, the "Founding Fathers were racist and sexist, but at the same time, they were great. They rejected supernatural ideas and were interested in naturalism. They were setting up the [future] Civil Rights movement."
  • There are those who have a penis but a uterus and ovaries inside of their body, or a partly formed penis/vagina, or a vagina with testicles in their body 
After lunch, we watched another film called "Killing Us Softly (Version 4)" - it was utterly fascinating and my favorite film of the day. The film is about ads that a woman named Jeanne Kilbourne that completely degraded women:
  • The average American sees about 3,000 ads a day, such as ads on airplanes, buses, bus stops, in the market, on vending machines, etc. America is all about subconscious marketing 
  • Ads sell more than products - they sell a vision of sex and love
  • Women never have any scars, blemishes, or even pores in advertisements 
  • 20-30 rounds of retouching are done by photo retouchers with a client. There was a clip where a woman sits in a makeup chair, gets her makeup and hair done, takes her photo shots, gets retouched, and then the camera zooms out of a billboard ad. 
  • Breasts are used as a way to market anything. Some girls even get breast implants as graduation presents. 
  • One version of how breasts are used to advertise something that has nothing to do with breasts: "Too flat, too big, too far apart....etc....but at least these hair products can get your hair the way you want it with these products!" 
  • Horrible fashion statement: "The more you subtract, the more you add."
  • Fewer than 5 percent of women look like the retouched women in magazines 
  • Women are bombarded by diet product ads. 90 percent of dieters gain that weight back in 5 years if they continue to use diet pills and/or marketed diet plans 
  • Women are typically bent over in a strange position in model shots, whereas men usually stand/sit in a dominant position 
  • When men are objectified, they are stronger and powerful, whereas women are objectified as fragile and vulnerable 
  • Men are exposed to masculinity equaling violence and to be insensitive 
  • Ads eroticize violence. When you link sex with violence, it is the most dangerous ad. Some ads seem to depict murder as well. 1/3 of female murders at at the hands of their male partners.
I thought the movie was great. I learned so much about advertising and marketing; I'll definitely think about this the next time an ad comes up.

We had a fun activity a couple of hours after class; the Brownies got to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Movie 7, Part 2! The film was suspenseful and amazing. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great film and a great way to wrap up the series.

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