She’s a 10, He’s a 2: Playboy Cartoons and a Culture of Male Entitlement

When University of California Santa Barbara student Elliot Rodger was 22 years old, he stabbed his two roommates and a friend to death and then drove to Starbucks for coffee. Sitting in his car in the parking lot, he recorded his motivations uploaded the video to YouTube, then emailed some friends and family. He drove on to a nearby sorority house where he shot and killed two students and injured another. He got back into his car and drove around the area, shooting at pedestrians and striking them with his car. By the time he crashed his car and then shot himself, he had killed six people and injured fourteen others.

He explained his reasons in his video. “I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me;” “I will punish you all for it” (CNN, 2014). 

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Silencing The Female Voice

The Cyber Abuse of Women On The Internet

For a woman journalist in 2017, working on Twitter entails opening oneself to attacks such as:

“I hope you get raped”

Just Not Sports, 2016

“You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed”

Just Not Sports, 2016

“You are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you”

Hess, 2014

The internet is touted as a democratic space in which nationality, class, race, gender, and sexuality are rendered neutral. However, receiving digital media threats of violence, rape, and murder are daily occurrences for female journalists. Internet harassment of women marginalizes their profes- sional presence online, impinges on their freedom of communication, and, in an echo of outdated and retrograde domestic violence attitudes, is minimalized and dismissed by law enforcement and media publishers. Stalking, bullying, and intimidation that would not be tolerated in brick- and-mortar workplaces are commonplace in comments, emails, tweets, and social media related to the online work of female journalists. Studies in this emerging field point to an ugly truth: the anonymity and ubiquity of the internet works to shelter and protect harassers and to allow the cyber sexual harassment of women and marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) persons.

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Stop the Press: The Future of Journalism Is Not Post-Political

Discussions of the future of journalism center on new economic models, digital modes of distribution, and how to attract young audiences. But what of how future journalism might represent, describe, and critique issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality? And what of the race, gender, class, and sexuality of future journalists themselves? Issues of industry survival take center stage in debates about journalism’s future. Issues of integrity, wisdom, and increased levels of equity in coverage and employment have less success finding the spotlight. Concern over how to deliver news in the coming decades generally trumps debate about who might deliver it and the character of what might be delivered. The importance of political economy analyses of new journalism, coupled with keeping gender, race, and sexuality identities front and center, is emphasized.

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No Girls Allowed: Television Boys’ Club as Resistance to Feminism

This article analyzes the male-only spaces present in four television series, FX’s The Shield, Nip/Tuck , Rescue Me, and ABC’s Boston Legal, which each include a gendered territory as a recurring feature. I argue that these homosocially segregated environments enforce boundaries against women and shelter intense bromance relationships that foreclose romantic relationships of any kind, acting as physical incarnations of troubling retrograde sexual politics and ideologies. I also assert that the “boys’ clubs” in which these narratives take place, enabled and empowered by the aesthetic dimensions of architecture and design, help establish workplace patriarchy as commonplace, reasonable, and benign. This article reveals that in these television boys’ clubs, problematic gender ideologies are protected and celebrated, misogyny is naturalized, and patriarchal beliefs and behaviors legitimized.

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Brave Sperm and Demure Eggs: Fallopian Gender Politics on YouTube

ABSTRACT

A narrative analysis of videos of human conception from medical and non-medical sources aired in the democratic space of YouTube finds that stereotypical gender roles are consistently assigned to cellular behavior. Sperm are represented as little men and embodiments of hegemonic masculinity, with heroic sperm winning the egg prize after a competitive athletic contest fraught with peril. Eggs are represented as featureless planets floating in a murky voice and are without agency or action.Almost every video is about the “journey” or “adventure” of the sperm; the egg has no adventure. These videos represent a view of a persistent gendered narrative of human fertilization that does not coalesce with emerging scientific narratives that appear to attempt to be more gender-neutral in accounts of conception. The imposition of gendered social scripts onto biology—even pop culture biology—may work to obscure common understanding of the nature of gender and of humanity, and reveal vivid and enduring stereotypes.

 

This article will appear in November 2014 in Feminist Formations.

The illustration is from the YouTube video “Sperm: The Easter Musical.”

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Domestic Violence in Men’s and Women’s Magazines: Women Are Guilty of Choosing the Wrong Men, Men Are Not Guilty of Hitting Women

ABSTRACT

Men’s and women’s magazine discourse on domestic violence

characterizes women as guilty of choosing the wrong men but

does not hold men responsible for hitting women. Using qualitative

narrative analysis on 10 leading titles over 10 years, I find an

ongoing tolerance for and celebration of domestic violence in

men’s magazines and an enduring expectation in women’s that

women bear responsibility for both genders. No magazines

discuss patriarchal cultural structures that enable violence against

women.

 

Women’s Studies in Communication, Vol. 34, No. 2, (2011), pp. 139-160.

DOI: 10.1080/07491409.2011.618240

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Marquette University Comm Magazine Essay

IT IS NOT A PASSIVE thing to sit in the audience. It is also not a safe thing.

We file in, avoiding eye contact and clutching tickets. We sort ourselves into aisles that are lettered and numbered in illogical fashion, we search for but cannot spell mezzanine, and we politely share the armrests as though nothing transformative is about to happen and as if we will emerge in two hours utterly unchanged.

But we are wrong.

When the curtain rises or the dancer enters or the baton drops or the singer exhales—if it is good art, and, heck, sometimes even if it is bad art—the cacophony of the disparate lives of 200 or 400 or 1200 people in the audience is stilled. Some common human ground is found and tilled and made fertile and our hearts are laid bare to each other and to ourselves.

We can know nothing about a people, yet when we listen to the rise and fall of their music, some visceral place in them touches a visceral place in us. Without living another life, we come to know another life. We believe that we are unique, that we are the first generation to be outraged by injustice or feel true passion, but art reveals the artifice in that sort of thinking. We learn that we share the ages, we share the planet, and we are not the only ones who have suffered great loss or who love to tap dance.

It would be rude to look a stranger in the eye and ask to see his soul. But from the audience, we can clearly see it.

Art engenders empathy. In its beauty and its ugliness, art reveals what it is to be humane. Art bypasses small talk and inserts us into the hearts and minds of those who we might otherwise overlook. Art reveals the us in the other. Art has the profound power to show us we are not alone.

I teach a course in writing about the arts. I bring students to galleries, the ballet, the symphony, the theater, and the opera. Even if their early education has been excellent, this is often their first Vivaldi and Shepard and Balanchine and Pollock. First, we read good critical writing about the art form of the week. Then, we go backstage, to rehearsal or to the studio, to learn that art is made with effort and deliberation, that a ballerina’s feet are covered in calluses, and that a good cello costs as much as a small house. Finally, they dress in carefully pressed dresses and badly chosen ties, attend the performance, and write a critical review, à la Roger Ebert.

They learn that “I didn’t like it” does not constitute insight. They learn that claims should be backed up with logic. They learn to look up rather than guess how to spell Tchaikovsky, to actually read the program notes, and to stop dangling their participles. They learn that “good” is not a precise adjective and that the word “relatable” sets my teeth on edge. And, as valuable as it is to learn how to write a coherent sentence that communicates a clear idea, they learn a life lesson that is not at all about writing. They tell me about it in their final essay of the course.

“Art takes us out of our comfort zones into a world we didn’t even know existed.”

“While the media is telling what to think, artists guide us to think in a different way.”

“This was my first symphony. It will not be my last.”

“Covering art is not just letting people know when some art gallery opens, but letting people know that gallery is a glimpse into the world around us as well as our own identities.”

“Here I was, a sports writer in the land of violas and pirouettes…It was my growth mentally as a person that was tested here, wrapping my brain around the arts, beautiful creations that I had never been exposed to, and making my own sense out of them. I believe that I not only survived, but learned to thrive and embrace a world, once thought to be another dimension by me, as my own.”

The formation of the mind and heart of students is one of five themes that shape the new University strategic plan—a plan that envisions Marquette as a place where students examine the purpose of their lives in the context of a world larger than their own backyard.

Yet how can students come to understand what is beyond their own experience? A student cannot be lectured into becoming a socially conscious and humane professional. A compassionate heart and soul cannot be formed on command.

But students can make and witness art. They can stand on the stage and sit in the audience. Even if they don’t speak the language, they can see the canvas and hear the music, and there, souls and hearts speak to each other without boundaries.

It can be a brave thing to sit in an audience. It requires nothing less than being fully human. We already know how to understand each other. From the audience, we can clearly see it.

 

This appeared in the Fall semester issue of the Marquette University Diederich College of Communication COMM magazine.