Media Consumation

Weekly Total: 78h39min

Internet use, social media and/or apps on phone: 4h51min (291min)
Music (voluntary): 21h07min (1267min)
Music (involuntary): 30h40min (1840min)
Reading textbooks: 8h05min (485min)
TV/film: 10h50min (650min)
Videoclips (involuntary): 1h20min (80min)
Internet use on computer: 1h40min (100min)
Reading junk mail: 6min (6min)

After doing this mediation exercise for a week, I feel like I did after another class that required me to take note of all the food I ate (including calories, place of origin, who I ate with, where I was, at what time etc); exhausted and painfully conscious. For me, this sort of proved what I already knew in the back of my mind but didn’t really want to admit; the media is ruling my life!! Well, it has a huge part in it anyways, and definitely a bigger part than it probably should.. However, this is the way my life has looked for as long as I can remember, the only thing that has probably changed for me, is the category that deals with using my phone. Ten years ago I could use it to surf in a limited capacity, but mostly it was just for texting and actually phoning people. Today I use the phone for surfing, texting, checking email, shopping, transferring money, looking at videoclips, listening to music, checking the weather, reading books, newspapers and magazines on apps, and also as a calculator, camera and health coach. And when the phone actually rings maybe once a week, I freak out and usually get someone else to answer the call for me, or just ignore the call (thinking that if it’s something important, they’ll text me later, or “why don’t they just text or email me like normal people?!”). However, for the past few months I have drastically reduced my phone usage from what it used to be; instead of checking all my social media apps every few minutes or so, I now basically look at them once a week (except Twitter, I love Twitter) and spend most of my time just checking my email or surfing. The change for me came when I saw the video Look Up – if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it. It really got to me, and I decided that bending my head over a tiny screen looking at what other people had written/done/seen/experienced was not worth my time when I could do those things myself. Out of my ~78h of media this week, only 4h51min (6%) came from using my phone for internet, social media and apps, but if I had carried out this media log last Spring, that number would have been drastically different, I’m sure.

The media I spent most on my time on was, unsurprisingly to me, music. In total 51h47min (66%) out of my weekly media total of 78h39min was spent listening to music. However, I also decided to split it into two different categories; voluntary (when I turned it on/off) and involuntary (when someone else controlled it), and as it turned out, ~21h (27%) was voluntary and ~30h (39%) was involuntary, like for example working a shift for 7h at the campus bookstore with the radio on in the background. The music that I listen to comes exclusively from downloaded or ripped CD’s, meaning its free of ads, while the music I listen to involuntarily is often from radios that does play ads, or from a source like Pandora that my roommates play at home, which also includes ads. I think that because I never really paid much attention to the music/radio that wasn’t of my choice, I never thought much about it, of how it could influence me etc, but when I now actually had to keep track of it, I was very surprised that it was the most common media I was exposed to!? I should definitely be more aware of how it can impact my life, and maybe even more so that any other media because it’s out of my control… After music, the next most common media I was exposed to was even more unsurprisingly to me, TV and film. If this media log had been conducted a few weeks later when all the shows I like will return for a new season, this number would’ve been significantly higher. However, since I’m a film studies major, a lot of my homework consists of watching films, and very often we also watch parts of movies or whole movies in class too, so for me, watching film is both educational and entertaining, but nonetheless influencing no matter the reason why I came to watch it.

I think that the most valuable insight that I have gained from this exercise is the realisation that media is everywhere in my life, and even though I sometimes take it for granted or don’t really think that it’s doing any harm to me, I really should be more critical to it. In average, I was mediated 11h14min per day, and in average I am awake 15h per day, meaning that during almost all day, I’m being exposed to media, and sometimes not even by my choice nor during under my control. That is what got to me the most, that the media around me is not as controllable or based on my decisions as I would’ve liked it to be. Basically, whatever I’m doing – wherever I might be, the media will be there too, influencing and impacting my life unconsciously. And I’m letting it. Maybe that’s the scariest part of it all, that I’m so used to it by now that I don’t even question it nor think it is wrong at all, it’s just as much part of my daily life as eating and sleeping. I am constantly surprised by what I’m learning in this class (and only four weeks in?!) about the world I’m living in – learning and understanding things that I’ve never thought about before – and now I feel like I’m being awakened from a deep media-slumber and finally seeing how HUGE it’s influence is (and has been) in my life. Exhausted indeed!

(Originally posted on 2014/09/28 for Melanie Klein’s class blog “Women and Popular Culture”)

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The Big Lie

Jennifer Pozner’s articles “The ‘Big Lie’: False Feminism Death Syndrome, Profit, and the Media” and “Reclaiming the Media for a Progressive Feminist Future” both deal with how badly the mainstream media portrays feminism, feminists, women in general, and women’s issues, resulting in enforcing the negative stereotypes of feminists, as well as maintaining the status quo of the feminism movement. Mainstream media is the culprit, and in Pozner’s articles, she writes about this in much greater detail with examples from many media platforms with a span over 30 years, to show how (and why) the media has managed to accomplish this, and what we can do to change it.

In “The ‘Big Lie’,” Pozner discusses how the mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines and television are ruled by profit and not by the pubic interest (the “big lie”) when deciding how to frame a story (or what story to tell in the first place), and thus excluding many feminist-centric stories and perspectives, and instead falsely portraying the movement as “dead”. Another important aspect that Pozner takes up in this article is that most of the journalists are men, and also that most of the “experts” they interview are men, so it is no wonder that women’s issues and women appear less in the news when the media is dominated by men. In “Reclaiming the Media,” Pozner writes about a specific example of how mainstream media turned one of the (if not the) biggest activist events, the March for Women’s Lives in April 2004 with more than one million protesters, into a joke. However, the rest of the article focuses on how we can make changes when it comes to mainstream media, however big or small, to get a more equal and fair portrayal of women, women’s issues and feminism. Women are after all half the population, so doesn’t it seem reasonable that we get half the representation in, and behind, the mainstream media too?

After reading Pozner’s articles, I have gotten a much more wider and deeper knowledge of how the media actually works, and so while I did find it extremely useful to read about the many things and ideas in “Reclaiming the Media” that we can do to change it and, yeah, basically “reclaim the media,” I found it even more interesting to read “The ‘Big Lie’” and actually learn why our media is so androcentric in the first place, and why so few have even “noticed” it. I for one never really thought much about the lacking representation of women in news for example, that so few “experts” are women etc, and I haven’t really taken much note of who actually wrote those articles/presented those news, until now. I have however noted, as an avid TV-watcher, that the shows I like the best (usually the ones with one or more compelling, interesting and complex female character that I can relate to) are the ones where the writer/creator is a woman (for example The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy), whereas the ones I find the most problems in are the ones with mostly male writers, (in the female-centric Once Upon A Time for example). Of course, there are exceptions to this, but I think that it isn’t so strange that women write women characters/stories the best, and this should then be acknowledged even more when writing about real women’s stories in media like news and magazines, because there the stakes are even higher. I think that reading “The ‘Big Lie’” would be of great importance for every person who uses media (so basically everyone..) to see how biased most of it actually is. I guess even I, before I read this article, knew something about this, having words like “don’t believe everything you hear/read,” imprinted in my mind since middle school, but still, I never thought it was quite this bad – which could only mean I have been so used to this kind of media for so long that I thought it was the norm. I definitely think that increasing media literacy and making people aware of the current situation is the first step in making a change, and then, of course to make these changes, we can apply the ideas and take note from Pozner’s second article “Reclaiming the Media” as further action.

However, as I stated before, the underlying cause for why our media is so androcentric and why people rarely question it, is a way more interesting question to me. Pozner mentions in “The ‘Big Lie’” that “[w]e are constantly told that sensationalistic, sexist and stupefying media fodder exists because ‘That’s what the public wants.’” and while I find it highly unlikely that the public (half of which are women) believe so, apparently that is what the media thinks will make the most profit. But since we live in a patriarchal society, maybe it comes as a surprise to no one that this is the way media is built; male-centred society equals male-centred media, and with a male-dominated society, no wonder that the media is male-dominated too! I really wish the media would be more objective in its portrayal, because I can see now how skewed my world view really is from being used to this kind of media all my life. It is sad that I only now have come to see this, and I hope that many more will come to read these articles and come to realise the same. Lastly, I just want to mention a quote from Allan Johnson’s “Where are we?” because I thought it was very relevant to this issue: “As difficult as it is to change overtly sexist sensibilities and behavior, it is much harder to raise critical questions about how sexism is embedded in major institutions such as the economy, politics, religion, and the family. It is easier to allow women to assimilate into patriarchal society than to question society itself.” And as we all know, in this day and age, in order to change society, you need the media! So hopefully, if women and feminists can succeed in getting equal representation in the mainstream media and not being overlooked or demeaned, maybe, eventually, even our society can come to change too.

(Originally posted on 2014/09/22 for Melanie Klein’s class blog “Women and Popular Culture”)

What Is Feminism?

I interviewed three of my closest friends (women aged 21, 24 and 26) out of curiosity to see how they would respond to these questions that I had a pretty hard time with finding good answers to, and also just to see how alike/different our thoughts would be on feminism and feminists. First of all, I found some similarities in our answers, for example, all of us had the understanding that feminism is about equal rights for women and men, when it comes to jobs etc, or more specifically that women should have equal right to those of men. Furthermore, I found it interesting that three of us had the same stereotypes of feminists; nasty, man-hating women who don’t shave – but all agreed on that those were not true for every feminists, they are only negative stereotypes that lead to feminists not getting taken seriously and thus discrediting the feminist ideas. Our ideas of a “strong woman” were also pretty similar: an independent woman who can take care of herself – if she needs. Nonetheless, one interviewee pointed out that just because a housewife for example maybe doesn’t support herself, she can still take care of herself and be a strong woman, which I thought was a good point. Some other trends and patters I noticed was that three of us cited a close female family member as our major role model when it come to strong women, so family and close relations definitely plays a big part in teaching girls how be strong, independent and how to take care of themselves and to take no shit from no-one! One last (sad) trend was that none of us could think of any historical feminists… I mentioned Gertrude Stein – I wasn’t sure at all why I related her to feminism, and then again, she’s most famous for being an author anyway – and one other interviewee mentioned Gudrun Schyman (a living Swedish politician, leader of the feminist party), so I don’t think that counts. We all couldn’t really pin-point exactly why we didn’t know about any feminists, but one idea that came up was that in school when we learn about historical persons etc, the vast majority is men and women don’t get much visibility at all. However, the most interesting answers I got were the ones that I didn’t expect to hear, and the ones that diverged the most from my own. Most shockingly, while I and one of my interviewees thought that being a feminist was a no-brainer, one of my friends was very hesitant to calling herself one, even though she believed in the the ideas of feminism she just explained to me, and the other friend blatantly answered no. Her explanation for it was that she thought feminism would never really get anywhere; sexism would always be there (“boys will be boys” and men will always by pretty women drinks etc), even if we were to get equal pay etc, we would never be equal in that sense… We had a whole discussion about it afterwards, but she still wouldn’t consider herself a feminist, even though she did agree on that women and men should have equal rights. In her view, feminists are simply “too much”! Her stereotype of a feminist also included a “butch” woman, or someone who didn’t play on appearances (men don’t wear makeup so why should a woman?), and the notion that a feminist is a pissed of woman who’s been wronged/treated bad by a man. I thought this idea was very upsetting, yes she said it only as a stereotype, but still, she also said that the ideas representing the feminist perspective is equality, and so why should then only women who has experienced something bad believe in equality? Shouldn’t that be in every woman’s interest, or should those who haven’t yet experienced something like that just be content in being “inferior” to men? Either she is contradicting herself or she has to change her mind somehow to make sense of this, because I don’t get it! All in all, I really did find it interesting to start of with a survey like this, to see where I stand and also where the thoughts of those closest to me are. I’m a bit sad (and embarrassed) to say that we’d never discussed stuff like this before, and that it took a survey to find out and really think about feminism. Even though all of us agreed on that feminism is something that could be good for essentially everyone, but especially for women ofc, it has never been a big part of our lives, or at least not in a way that we’ve actively tried to support it. Maybe because of the negative stereotypes, maybe because of the slim knowledge and understanding of it, or maybe because of the reluctance to actually admit to being a feminist and having to answer to all of these negative stereotypes, misguided and misinformed people around you who just don’t understand? (Originally posted on 2014/09/08 for Melanie Klein’s class blog “Women and Popular Culture”)