Friday, January 27, 2012

Van Zoonen, the "New" Paradigm and the Symbolic Realm

I have to admit that it has been a little difficult to really start to get into this material and to be learning it from a feminist theorist standpoint and perspective. Yes, I am a women and I do value the ideologies and need for equal representation that feminism warrants but I just have never really thought about it from this perspective. Maybe I am a prime example of how hegemonic masculinity plays out in society, on men and women alike, but hey, I admit to that. I'm not saying I've never thought about equality for all, there's been plenty of times that I've argued a feminist viewpoint case, but, what I do know is that this course is allowing me to see the feminism perspective through a theoretical lens that maybe I have been missing over these past four years.  

In chapter 3,  of van Zoonen, I thought the section on "Distorition" was very intriguing. It is a pertinent concept in many feminist approaches to the media, and asserts that women are underrepresented in media content when in fact they make up 50% of the population and in reality many more women work then we get to see or read about in the media. This section made me think of my Critical Cultural Advertising class  and how PR and advertising are ways we tell a story and create this symbolic realm that each of us takes part in. We talked about how governments, corporation and all those in power (all hegemonically male dominated) understand that reality does not matter, what matters is the reality they can create! If you control the symbolic realm you have power. Likewise, if its the patriarchal society that is creating the symbolic realm that we all live in (via the media) then yes, the reality of women is going to be distorted. Van Zoonen argues that it is indisputable that the many aspects of women's lives and experiences are not properly reflected by the media and that the feminist viewpoint calls for more realistic images of women (p. 30). He also goes on to argue that stereotypes and the "reality" of gender is all socially and culturally constructed. Yes, of course it is, if the discursive construct for such things is created through this patriarchal lens. 

What I need to recognize now is that this dichotomy cannot be understood within in a few days, but I finally feel that I am starting to understand it a little more and can ground some of the causes and effects of this phenomenon in a more theoretical framework.

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