May 01 2013

Comic Book Superheroes Face Their Greatest Challenge!

Stuggling to stay relevant in the 21st century


Stuggling to stay relevant in the 21st centuryDespite 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, […]

Apr 01 2013

Year of the Woman, Take Two

Media define 'progress' as 1 Senate seat in 5

Media define ‘progress’ as 1 Senate seat in 5If 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 […]

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


PBS doc oversimplifies gender violenceThe 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 […]

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

How game designers turn prejudice into playThe 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 […]

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

Olympics coverage undercuts event advancesWhen 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 […]

Aug 01 2012

Gender Focus: Put Women at the Presidential Debate Podium

Two decades since last female moderator

League of Women Voters--Photo Credit:

Two decades since last female moderatorIt’s been 20 years since a female journalist has been chosen to moderate a presidential debate. Yes, women have held the post for vice presidential debates, but that’s hardly the real deal. ABC News’ Carole Simpson was the last woman to lob questions at presidential candidates, back in 1992. What is going on? Well, I guess I get it. After all, imagine what would happen if a woman was tasked to broker a conversation between the two most important people in U.S. politics. Why, she just might ask for the candidates’ favorite pie recipes, or […]

Aug 01 2012

Prioritizing Politics Over Paycheck Fairness

Journalists focus on bill’s impact on parties—not women

Signing of Lilly Ledbetter Act--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem

Journalists focus on bill’s impact on parties—not womenWhen the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate on June 5, journalists reported the story. But instead of focusing on the consequences of the act’s defeat, and how this could impact women’s lives, most major news outlets treated that as secondary to the political question of why it failed—even if those reasons had nothing to do with the bill itself. The act would build on the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in 2009, which extended women’s time limits for filing lawsuits over paycheck discrimination; the new act would include measures to make filing […]