Jun
01
2013

For U.S. Media, Rape Culture Is There, Not Here

Delhi has 'alarming' power structure, Steubenville 'promising' young men

The brutal gang rape of a university student in Delhi last December out-raged the establishment media, which were quick to paint India as a nation plagued by deep-seated sexism and misogyny. The New York Times opined (12/29/12) that the rape reflected “an alarming trend in India” of “tolerat[ing] shocking abuse of women” who are “shamed into silence and callously disregarded by a male-dominated power structure” and therefore “never go to the authorities to seek justice.” The Times went on to lament that “women are routinely blamed for inciting the violence against them,” which is why “India must work on changing […]

May
01
2013

SoundBites May 2013

Vol. 26, Number 5

By FAIR
Joe Scarborough

‘How Short Our Memory Is’ Looking back at the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe, 3/19/13) scorned media outlets and others who failed to acknowledge their responsibility for leading the country into war: “The very same people who spent years beating up George Bush were the very ones beating the drum for Iraq’s regime change and Saddam Hussein’s ouster,” he said. “The New York Times grimly warned of the threat posed by Iraq in the final years of the Clinton administration. And on the eve of President Bush’s first inauguration, the Washington Post called Iraq’s […]

May
01
2013

Comic Book Superheroes Face Their Greatest Challenge!

Stuggling to stay relevant in the 21st century

Sargent1

Despite the fact that you can’t turn on the TV without being reminded about the existence of superhero movies, the original medium for superhero stories —comic books—has been in significant decline over the past few years. They’ve tried to bring in new readers by diversifying their line-up: DC Comics rebooted everything with its “New 52!” while Marvel Comics created the parallel “Ultimate Universe” where the same characters face different, more “risky” situations in a completely separate, parallel universe.  This experimentation has led to some great, progressive storylines that have moved the medium forward, but it also highlights some big problems. […]

Apr
01
2013

Year of the Woman, Take Two

Media define 'progress' as 1 Senate seat in 5

If you relied on major media outlets for coverage of last November’s elections, you could be forgiven for thinking women were poised to rule the country in 2013. “From Congress to Halls of State... Women Rule,” the New York Times (1/1/13) trumpeted. “Big Gains for Women in 2012,” shouted CNN (11/7/12). “113th Congress Welcomes Benches Full of Women,” PBS (11/16/12) declared. Salon (11/6/12) was confidently matter-of-fact—“Another Year of the Woman”—as was Mother Jones (11/6/12): “2012: The Year of the Woman Senator.” MSNBC (“Is 2012 the Year of the Woman?,” 3/15/12) and the Washington Post (“With Senate Wins for Elizabeth Warren […]

Feb
01
2013

GENDER FOCUS: Few Roles for Female Role Models

Fictional women leaders lag real world

Susan Rice--Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At a time when more women than ever before are serving in Congress, we still rarely see examples of female leaders holding positions of prestige and power in popular movies and TV shows.

Dec
01
2012

'Half the Sky' Tells Half the Story

PBS doc oversimplifies gender violence

halfthesky

The PBS documentary Half the Sky is disturbing, and not just because the film depicts violence inflicted on women and girls around the world. A shuddering amount of information about the complexities of violence and human rights abuses was left on the cutting-room floor (or never filmed at all), creating a neat, American-friendly, tie-it-up-with-a-bow film that oversimplifies and misrepresents gender-based violence. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a four-hour “event” based on the book of the same name by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, investment banking executive and former Times reporter […]

Nov
01
2012

Videogame Bigotry and the Illusion of Freedom

How game designers turn prejudice into play

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim's 'Redguard' race--Photo Credit: Skyrim Wiki/Bethesda Softworks/Google Images

The definitive element of a videogame is the player’s agency within the game’s world. Instead of “viewers,” games have “players," and the player makes dozens of choices every minute that directly shape the experience: Will Mario sneak around the turtle monster, or will he jump on it until it dies? That sense of control over the protagonist can give the narrative of a videogame much greater impact than that of any conventional form of storytelling.But with that agency comes an illusion of freedom--which is dangerous. The player is not really “free,” since their actions are limited to the options created […]

Oct
01
2012

The Year of the Woman?

Olympics coverage undercuts event advances

2012 Olympics Women's 200m Individual Medley--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/RS Deakin

When Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen won gold medals in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys in London, she knocked a second off the world record, and five seconds off her personal best. But rather than applaud and admire her accomplishments, the media threw doubt and suspicion on Shiwen’s wins, leveling evidence-free accusations of drug use (New York Times, 7/31/12). The media coverage rang with sexism and racism; how could a Chinese woman pull this off? CNN (8/1/12) was incredulous that Shiwen swam faster than a (white) man—American gold medalist Ryan Lochte. The UK’s Daily Mail explicitly questioned Shiwen’s gender (7/30/12): […]