Mar 1 1994

Campus Feminists: The Media’s New Bogeywomen

In her new book Where the Girls Are, Hampshire College media studies professor Susan J. Douglas argues that to grow up female with the mass media in the United States is to grow up confused, or, as she puts it, “with the bends.” When it comes to the women’s movement, or the dreaded F-word, “No wonder young women, who were infants and toddlers at the height of the women’s movement, say, ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’” says Douglas. Time magazine’s Dec. 4, 1989 cover asked the question, “Is there a future for feminism?” Inside, the story revived old ghosts: “Hairy […]

Mar 1 1994

Teaching Censorship

High School Journalism in the Post-Hazelwood Era

In civics classes, high school students are taught that the First Amendment is the foundation upon which political freedom stands. But in their journalism classes, they are frequently taught the opposite lesson, as Hazelwood, a late ’80s Supreme Court ruling that gives principals the power to review and censor high school newspapers, continues to have chilling effects on high school journalism. Issues of free speech in high schools were first considered by the Supreme Court in Tinker vs. Des Moines. The 1969 decision, which concerned students who were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, ruled that […]

Mar 1 1994

Bashing Youth

Media Myths About Teenagers

“Unplanned pregnancies. HIV infection and AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases. Cigarettes, alcohol and drug abuse. Eating disorders. Violence. Suicide. Car crashes.” The 21-word lead-in to a Washington Post (12/22/92) report sums up today’s media image of the teenager: 30 million 12- through 19-year-olds toward whom any sort of moralizing and punishment can be safely directed, by liberals and conservatives alike. Today’s media portrayals of teens employ the same stereotypes once openly applied to unpopular racial and ethnic groups: violent, reckless, hypersexed, welfare-draining, obnoxious, ignorant. And like traditional stereotypes, the modern media teenager is a distorted image, derived from the dire […]

Mar 1 1994

Fear of a Rap Planet

Rappers face media double standard

The latest backlash against top-selling but controversial rap music has hit the airwaves. The latest controversy centers on so-called “gangsta rap”—a term used by mainstream media in the late ‘80s to describe rap music, such as that of the group NWA (Niggaz With Attitude), whose lyrics often focus on the subject of urban violence. Teen-oriented stations across the U.S. are either editing its graphic, explicit lyrics, limiting its airplay, or banning it. Many journalists charge that the lyrics of “gangsta rap” advocate violence and misogyny and that this advocacy may contribute to actual violent and misogynist attitudes and behavior among […]