Gender Communication Summer 2009

A space to critically engage gender and communication topics

Blog Activity 13: Globalization and the Future of Gender Studies June 15, 2009

The two readings on Blackboard, one by bell hooks on global feminism from her fabulous reader, Feminism is for Everybody, and one by Lois Leveen from Bitch magazine on gendered toys/enertainment via Dora the Explorer and international labor relations, remind us that despite many advancements in the United States, the struggle for gender equality persists across the globe, especially in developing nations. To wrap up our summer session, please reflect on the political call to action the authors promote. Since this is our last graded post, worth 25 points instead of 20, I encourage you to pull ideas from throughout the semester–not just those from this week’s readings–to propose ideas on how we as Americans can find a balance in recognizing the struggles of women across the globe, and likewise gender relations in general, without patronizing or paternalizing other nations’ citizens (something for which hooks argues strongly). Finally what role should/could media and new technologies play in raising not only gender inequality awareness but also action?

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Blog Activity 12: New Media and Globalization Issues June 13, 2009

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Today’s readings (which are found on Blackboard under the Assignment tab, NOT the textbook) not only continue our previous discussion of the media’s role in constructing gender norms but also go further to implicate the feminist and social justice movements’ task in bringing awareness to and possibly dismantling these skewed, limited representations.We’ll focus on the media reading today.

DeFrancisco and Palczewski’s Communicating Gender Diversity, reminds us how media shape the “social imagination” (p. 257) and that progressive representations are more likely to be found in alternative (read: less commercially risky) media forms. However, the authors then turn to statistics and examples in gender differences of internet use. Most tellingly, the authors conclude that new technologies replicate old gender norms grounded in women’s desires for communication as connectivity and men’s need for communication as information. Keep in mind that the studies are now almost ten years old. How do your experiences with new technologies and media forms compare? For example, do you notice gender differences in how you and your friends use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, TiVo, DVRs and so on?

 

Blog Activity 11: Challenging Media Representations of Gender June 11, 2009

Before we can begin strategically dismantling how popular media stereotype masculinity, femininity and sexuality, it’s important that you read through the many article links on Blackboard under the Media tab. In this space I’m going to include links to condensed Media Education Foundation videos (also available in Blackboard) regarding representation of women’s images in television including Generation M and Dreamworlds 3. Off the Straight and Narrow summarizes representations of gays, lesbians and bisexuals from the beginning of the network era until the mid 1990s, while Further Off the Straight and Narrow is an analysis of gay representation on TV from the late 1990s to now. In the former two videos, we see increasingly sexualized ideals of femininity. In the latter, we see a move toward slick, yet safe gay identities in the mainstream media. Throughout all these images is a reliance on stereotypes that erases the diversity of gender and sexuality experiences and identities. What other stereotypes of gender and sexuality exist in the mainstream media? Will new stereotypes emerge? Will popular media ever be able to move beyond these stereotypes. If so, how?

 

Blog Activity 10: Doing Gender at Work June 8, 2009

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Today’s reading summarized major issues facing women in the workplace. The Gambles explained the difference between internal and external barriers to advancement in the workplace and also touched on inequality of women’s and men’s wages. The 2003 figures estimated that, on average, women make 72 cents for every dollar men earn. This more recent New York Times’ graphic display of the gender wage gap breaks the difference up by occupation. If you scroll your mouse over the dots on the graph you can see specific percentage differences. A few that I think are striking include physicians and surgeons. Women in these professions earn an astounding 40% less than their male counterparts. In the higher education sector, women earn 22% less than men. One study explains the higher pay disparity at executive level corporate employment, while another highlights the relationship between traditional values and men’s wages.

Another important thing to recognize beyond the gender barriers and pay inequality are the societal pressures and expectations to perform (so-called) masculinity and femininity in the workplace. The text only briefly approaches the topic, so I’d like for us to expand the discussion and connect it to the gender wage gap that clearly still persists. One article that I think successfully brings the two ideas together is focused on women’s transition from educational success to workplace struggle. A second article discusses the gender expecations in hosting programs on the Food Network. Please read the articles (as well as the other links I’ve included in the post) and reflect on your experience and that of women and men close to you who have experienced gender discrimination (societal, economic or both) in the workplace. What pressures still exist? How might we resolve these issues civilly?

 

Blog Activity 9: The Gendered Classroom June 5, 2009

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Please refer to the links from Blackboard as well as those I include in this post and p. 241 of your textbook to help inform your comments.

The following link provides CNU enrollment figures categorized by gender and race. In summary, undergraduate enrollment is currently at 45% male and 55% female, which is comparable to the national figures shared in the textbook (though it is six years old now, wow). National projections continue to point to higher female enrollment. Situate this analysis within the textbook’s description of gendered learning styles (there’s a handy chart on p. 239) and answer the following questions.

What effect will the differential between men and women have on them and CNU’s future? Will a surplus of educated women allow more women to attain jobs that were once awarded to men? How might the disparity alter social relationships? Will men experience difficulty establishing lasting relationships with women who are better educated than they are?

 

Blog Activity 8: Romantic Relationships June 3, 2009

In the family chapter, the textbook authors briefly discussed the changing nature of the family. Let’s extend this discussion to a more inclusive understanding of intimate, romantic relationships. Much of the relational communication literature is founded upon the participation of heterosexual participants (disclosed at least), but thankfully more work is being conducted and published regarding non-heterosexist ways of knowing and relating. For example, in chapter seven, the Gambles list female and male preferences in romantic relationships. While many women and men may attest to the accurate experience of women preferring connection and men preferring autonomy, in 2009 I think it’s safe to assume that the boundaries are a bit more blurred.

To begin stretching our understandings of gender romantic relationship norms, please read the following New York Times article, then post your thoughts on the findings the writer reports regarding same-sex v. heterosexual relationships. Please pay special attention to the findings on egalitarianism and fighting styles. Based on your understanding of the family and romantic relationship concepts you’ve read so far, what do you think is going on here? What gender dynamics are or are not at play in the different types of relationships? Finally, religious/personal preferences aside, what influences do you think these different styles of relationships might have on the couples’ children and overall family and relationship dynamics? Please respond thoughtfully and thoroughly and be sure to comment on others’ responses where appropriate.

 

Blog Activity 7: Friendship June 1, 2009

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Chapter six spends lots of space devoted to gender-specific styles of friendship building and maintainence. Concepts such as male chumships and breadth of topics versus depth of intimacy are juxtaposed next to explanations of female friendships’ reliance on connection and fulfillment and male friendships’ need for activity and side-to-side interaction.

How do these textbook explanations compare to media representations of same-sex friendships, but more importantly, to your own lived experience? Reflect on some of your own close friendships (same-sex please) and compare them to same-sex friendships on one of your favorite TV shows. Share a summary with us, then read others’ stories and comment accordingly like we’ve been doing on the blog so far.