Thursday, January 26, 2012

van Zoonen and Gill readings

In the third chapter of van Zoonen’s book, she focuses on gender and the continued conceptualization of how it is seen in reality and media. The author states that human identity and gender are thought to be socially constructed, and products of what the media shape. Furthermore, the means by which humans determine who they are is through language and communication. I agree with what the author says here, and reminds me of the novel Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides. It tells the story of Cal, who because of a genetic mutation, is unknowingly born a hermaphrodite. He grows up as female Callie, feeling as though he doesn’t belong and like something is wrong with him. It is only after an accident that he/she discovers the truth and must choose whether to undergo surgery or live a societal unacceptable life, living as both male and female.

In Gill’s reading she talks about black feminism, and the exclusion of black and Third World women. I found it most interesting in this part that black women weren’t even considered part of the feminist movement because of their race, despite their gender. Especially in regards to abortions in the feminist campaigns, when black women had the opposite view on abortions, yet were still treated as black before being treated as women. Even in today’s advertisements, there is an absence of black models, and typically when there are black models, they are lighter skinned. In the following section about masculinities, I found it interesting that men, along with women, fall along some of the same unachievable standards that women have, such as “young, white, of good complexion, weight and height, etc.,” and those that don’t live up to that, feel inferior. Even as understanding masculinities in the same vein as feminism, as a relatively new phenomenon, men’s bodies as well as females bodies are sexualized in media as well, being put to a standard. In magazines such as Men’s Health and advertisements such as Calvin Klein and many colognes, men’s bodies are seen objects, more than as logical product campaign.

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