Monday, April 28, 2014


Just Laugh

hope your projects are going as well as mine!

Reaction to Teenagers Talking Back Assignment

I spent a little while searching the web for something about teenagers talking back or about the media and I have to say, I'm really disappointed. I knew that a goole page wouldn't give me much because  basically every single article about teenagers comes from some outside adult source trying to decipher teenagerhood. I felt like I was reading stuff straight out of Raby's article about discourse. There were articles about teenagers literally talking their parents. It was a how to article about how to stop your bratty kid from talking back to you.  If you look at the website it's from, it's called empowering parents...oh gosh is all I can think right now.

I decided to go to YouTube, because kids these days are always making videos on the interwebz. First off, tons of them were news casts about teenage problems. They literally have a special news segment on one channel that addresses teenage stuff lie cyber bullying and buying jeans at Hollister (that was sarcastic). Again, this is all Raby. These teens need to be analyzed because they're at risk and we need to protect them...or protect ourselves from them if they're social problems.

Some videos had teens in them talking about these issues of social networks and dating. But the problem with basically all of these is that they consist of adults standing behind a camera asking teens questions. I don't see these as teenagers talking back. Teens aren't saying "hey this representation of me is wrong, let me fix it." They're being asked to tell stories about how they were marginalized or made self-conscious because of a beauty standard. Sure, they're talking for themselves, but they're not really getting to push back against this adult controlled media when they're just stories that adult media features.

Maybe you disagree and if so, I would love to hear what you have to say...that's my question to the class. There was one video series called Talk Back Teens that was interesting. It was a bunch of teens putting together an internet talk show about different things which I thought was pretty cool. They weren't specifically talking against representations of themselves, but I think fighting against the representation by hosting their own channel was pretty neat. Of course, the link disappeared and YouTube won't find it for me. Thanks YouTube.

I found one thing that's really neat!! A girl went to her hometown and interviewed a bunch of her peers about sex in teen culture. It's almost 20 minutes long if you have the chance. They get to open up because it's a teen interviewing teens.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tricia Rose: Quotes and Notes of her Interview

"So this idea that a certain kind of sexual deviance or violent behavior defines black culture has had a huge market in commercial mainstream culture for at least 200 years. Also, sexist images, which hip-hop has a lot of, seem to do very well across the cultural spectrum. So sexuality and sexual domination sell. Racial stereotypes sell. The market is more consolidated, which makes it easier for those images to perpetuate themselves."

I think this is an interesting point that seems so simple, but isn't thought about much. We all know sex sells, but racial stereotypes? I feel like face palming at the thought of this because it seems so "duh!" Black females have been portrayed either as helpful "mammies," angry black women or sexual deviants throughout historical discourse. So this portrayal of black females as sex objects permeates hip hop very often. It makes it easy to understand why hip hop music that isn't as community based and focused has made its way into popularity when you think about it. 

"Look, I don't want it to seem like I'm bashing everything about Lil Wayne and Jay-Z, because I'm not. I think they're both very talented. If you look at the metaphors Lil Wayne produces, they're amazing; they're very creative. It's the substance. What are you making metaphors about 24 hours a day? Same thing with Jay-Z. Even he has acknowledged that he's "dumbed his music down" so that he can sell records. This economic imperative has had more of an impact on hip-hop than [on] rock or soul or R&B."

I have to admit that I've listened to some stuff with Lil Wayne in it and he does know how to use words meaningfully. He rhymes well and uses words in really clever ways, but like she said, it's what these metaphors are made about. Often they have to do with "pussy" or killing someone. He also really likes to use the words "bitches" and "cashmoney." 

"Well, O.K., I agree, some parents are not very good at watching their kids. But a lot of parents are deeply struggling to figure out how to watch their kids and hold down three part-time jobs with no benefits. And they don't really need artists making their job harder by creating an allure, an excitement, for behavior that is completely self-destructive. Artists tell you to turn off, but they really depend on you doing the opposite. And I say, Let's take them up on it. They'll change their tune because they need an audience. They need us."

""The hip-hop-causes-violence camp is incredibly dishonest about the profound role of structural racism, of economic disadvantange that has been produced over decades. It's not just personal, lazy behavior. It's a dishonest way of dumping on hip-hop a set of conditions that we are responsible for as a nation. That being said, that doesn't mean that a constantly violent narrative is a good thing. I'm not suggesting there shouldn't be a challenge to it to some degreee. But it's not the source of the problem. It's a red herring."

I think this point is really important. A lot of people blame violence on rap music and hip hop culture because, yes, it often addresses violence. But this is not always an issue of parenting. Just like our talk about the Columbine shootings in class and the project done on it so wonderfully pointed out, the question of TV, video games and hip hop being used inappropriately because of bad parenting usually comes up when kids are black. It's really part of a certain discourse like what we talked about with teenagers in the Raby piece. It's not as much of an issue when it comes to white kids because people come to the table with the assumption that black kids come from a home of financial struggle where a parent can't always be around or a parent doesn't care. 

My question for the class is: what do you think about the "turning off" issue addressed by Tricia Rose in her interview? It's a tough question for me especially because I was a nanny and have young nieces and nephews. You can't stop things from happening by ignoring them as we touched upon with "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," but you don't want to expose your children to violence and sexism in music and TV...I think what we read about princess culture made a good point about perhaps allowing kids to interact with things but to talk about it. But do you think Disney classism/racism/princess stuff is a bit lighter than violent/sexist music? 

LOL  Jay Z

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Queer Youth Readings

In the readings on queer representation in the media, Media Smarts gave us some questions to ask when it comes to media. 
1. Who created this text and what is its purpose?
2. Whose voice and interests are being represented and whose are being left out?
3. What do the images and narratives being used say about queer people?
4. If the representation uses humor to make a point, are the queer people in on it are they themselves the joke? 

But what makes a form of media queer? you might ask. Well, they give us some questions to ask to decide..
1. Is it made by a queer person?

2. Does it rely on queer aesthetics or is it concerned with queer issues?
3. Has it been widely embraced by queer people?

Media Smarts then goes on to talk about "queer money" and advertising. This is an interesting issue because a lot of companies are now coming out with commercials having to do with different kinds of families like gay couples, interracial couples, etc. Media Smarts asked the question about whether or not these representations are actually balanced because with many representations of queer people, their sexuality is implied or swept to the side--it's nothing more than a label shown by their dress or speech. 

My question for the class is this...
How do you decide if a commercial is trying to represent queer people equally or if queer representation is just a way to make people feel good about a product an spend their money on it? Is it or can it be both? How do you feel about that? 
Have you seen the Honey Maid commercial yet? Great example for consideration. 

Lastly, they keep on with tradition and give us some questions to address media and queer representation. 

What's being assumed and not said?
Why are things represented in a certain way?
Does the author leave open the possibility of being queer or single and still being fulfilled and happy? 
How are queer characters or situations positioned against dominant heterosexual culture? 

I was thinking about how to connect this to our other course texts, and the thing which popped up first in my mind was "Cinderella Ate my Daughter" by Orenstein. It might not directly address queer representation, but "media" absolutely connects to Disney and princesses. Not once was a Disney show mentioned as an example of queer representation in the Media Smart articles. What do you think little girls are taught when they don't see queer characters or princesses? They're taught the same thing they are taught when they don't (often) see princesses of color or princesses who save themselves or don't fall in love at the end of their story. It's made weird, it doesn't fit into the narrative of what it means to be a princess. 

Here are the GLAAD statistics on queer representation in the media for 2012-2013! Thought you might find it interesting.. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cinderella Ate my Daughter: Response to Orenstein

Having an 8-year-old niece and cousin who are girls and being a nanny for some time, this text was pretty meaningful for me. My cousin’s entire life was drenched in pink from the moment she was born and it drove me crazy. I see that being pretty and cute is emphasized and desired a lot more by little girls today. It’s good to be smart and artistic, but you’d better be attractive or you don’t make the cut. 

Something that really struck me in Orenstein’s piece was the point that she made about having it all. On page 17 she says “girl’s repeatedly described a paralyzing pressure to be “perfect”: not only to get straight A’s and be student body president, editor of the newspaper, and captain of the swim team but also to be “kind and caring,” “please everyone, be very thin, and dress right.” When I was a nanny, the 10-year-old girl I was taking care of was exactly this. Her younger brothers were care-free, while she was stressed out about not doing her homework and tests perfectly, being on student government and maintaining friendships. Now, this might stem from being the oldest sibling--and being 10 instead of 7 or 4--but I think it is ties to the expectations that girls face. 

As Orenstein puts it, we have to be Cinderella and Supergirl. It’s not enough to be smart or successful, you must be attractive and super sweet. I connected deeply with the girl I nannied for because I’ve battled with anxiety over this striving for perfection throughout my life. I’ve always wondered where it came from because my parents always used to tell me that they were happy as long as I did my best. But the pressure is still there. Sure, as Ornestein points out, it pushes us to be better; but should girls feel that they have to be perfect and successful at everything they do? Absolutely not. 

Another point that I found really interesting was the concept of parents loving Disney Princesses and Barbies or American Girl dolls because they make them feel as though their little girls are still, indeed, little girls. This safety felt in the Princess culture reminded me of what Raby wrote about in “A Tangle of Discourses.” Raby claimed that parents project their own discomfort ad identity crises about growing older onto their teenagers, making their kids out to be “unstable” since that’s the way they feel. Orenstein makes a similar claim when she talks about the fear that parents have about the sexualization of their daughters; they try to keep them “princesses” longer in order to protect them from the real world, and watching them play with dolls like Barbie and princess toys distances the reality of growing up.

What I was left wondering--as an aunt, nanny, cousin, and future mom--and wanted to ask the class is how do you feel about allowing the Disney Princesses and the like into your home? Is it best to ward them off, allow the toys, but not the stories, or embrace the fact that your daughters and sons will be hearing and playing all of these stories? I’m in the same struggle that the moms at the school were...

PS: Peggy Ornestein has a blog!

Also, do you think the fact that famous women were made into princesses solidifies the argument that Ornestein makes about being smart, caring AND pretty in order to be noteworthy?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Had to share this with you guys..

As I was meticulously painting letters with red paint onto a white fabric for my project, my kitten decided to run over to say hi. Well she stepped right in my paint and the second she felt it on her paw, she freaked out and...shook it. Needless to say, there is red paint on my project--thankfully not much--and i just finished washing red paint off of my black kitten. And my hands. And my poster board. And my laptop screen.

Hope your projects are going well!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Museum of the American Teenager Project

I'll be doing my project on immigration and the Dream Act. I figured that it has much more to do with legislation for teens and education so i picked it instead of the occupy, I have a good poster idea!

Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

Source 4

Source 5 

Source 6

Source 7

I'll be working by myself :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Cycle of Outrage: Gilbert, Palladino and Raby

I am of the belief that John Gilbert's piece "A Cycle of Outrage: America's Reaction to the Juvenile Deliquent in the 1950's" conceptually relates to "They're Getting Older Younger" by Palladino and "A Tangle of Discourses" by Raby. I like bullet points, so I'm going to assess the texts based on themes and concepts.

1. "Juvenile Delinquency" as a way that adults deal with uncertainty. 
Raby addresses this in her article and talks about the ways in which parents and adults in general tend to refer to adolescents as unpredictable and unstable because they are, in fact, feeling unstable. She says that feelings of jealousy and loss of power when it comes to their children often causes adults to project negative feelings on teens. At the beginning of his article, Gilbert talks about Life Magazine and the way in which teenagers were talked about and portrayed in it. As he puts it, the typical discourse on teenagers consisted of "curiosity and fear, set against a background of reassuring noises" (11). Teens seemed to be something that parents--and adults--were afraid of and needed to find a way to deal with.  

2. Teens being taken advantage of and confused by the media.
Palladino argues that "contrasting images" of content (encouraging the kind of teens who mom and pop want) and advertisements (encouraging teens to "fit in") gave teens mixed messages about what it means to be a teen. Raby brings this to a different level and poiints to societal and adult expectations as pushing and pulling teens in different directions of being a kid, not worthy of responsibilities, and being a responsible adult. Gilbert directly addressed the concern of people in the 1950's that mass media was forming their children into delinquents. I think they weren't as concerned with the confusing pull of differing opinions as Palladino and Raby seem to be in their works. 

3. Parents thinking their kids are "doing it" so much younger and are falling prey to culture. 
Raby's article addresses how older generations feel about teens and, as expected, the grandmothers say that teens these days are just doing much more and acting differently. I wasn't surprised that people in the 1950's were thinking that their kids were all having sex super young, but I love that Gilbert put in a study done that showed that it really wasn't the drastic difference that everyone thought it was. And now I give you a link about how our grandma probably had premarital sex too!!! 

I had never seen ay of the movies Gilbert talked about, so here are some pictures of them to help those of you who need visuals like me....

I think I'd really like to talk about how different our movie going experience is today. Issues of free speech and expression have made film allowance so much different than the controlled environment Gilbert talked about. I find it weird reading about how controlled the movie making and watching experience was in the 1950's...that wouldn't fly today. So what do you think about it? Think about having kids of your own going to the movies and how you'd feel about the messages films send.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Tangle of Discourses: Raby's Argument with Lots of Pictures

In "A Tangle of Discourses: Girl's Negotiating Adolescence," Rebecca Raby talk about the different ways teenagers are considered. She also talks about the contradictions in the ideas and the ways in which these views of teens effect the way in which we view their "rebellion." First, let's address these ways in which Raby says people see teens...with the cheesiest pictures I could find to illustrate (except for the second one).

1. The Storm
Being a teenager is seen a a phase that people go through in which they're experimenting and finding out their identity. Because teenagers don't know who they are, they're unstable and being a parent to one can be rather "stormy." Raby also mentions the theory that this storm view of teenager hood is a way in which parents/ adults deal with teens and the way they act. Since this stage of life is portrayed as unpredictable, teens are seen as needing rules because they can't govern their own lives.

2. Becoming
This view of teenager-hood also sees being a teen as a phase, but really plays on this idea. Basically, the time of being a teen is just a formative process on a person's way to being an adult. This idea focuses on what teenagers will become as they gain responsibility and figure out who they are what they're doing. The problem with seeing teens as adults-in-the-making is that being a teenager becomes more about growing up than about participating in just being a teen. This view also contradicts itself because it wants teens to have more responsibility in a world in which they are "just teenagers" who can't handle responsibility.

3. At-Risk
This view of teen life believes that teenagers are an at risk group for things like sex, drugs, alcohol (and rock 'n roll?!?!).  Like the view of the "Storm" phase, this view advocates for controls in the lives of teens in order to protect them from the bad things that they could experiment with. Raby says that this view is dangerous because it allows adults to distance themselves from teenagers, just as grandparents did in the interviews by saying that kids were being tempted with all of these things that they had never experienced when they were younger.

4. Social Problem
This is a pretty prevalent view of teens today: they're independent, taking risks and in an environment that is offering them things like drugs and alcohol. This outlook on teenager-hood also portrays teens as needing an intervention before it's too late and they become dangerous. It's kind of frightening, but if we think about it, many people think teens are a problem that is waiting to happen if adults don't save them from themselves.

5. Pleasurable Consumption
This view reminded me of the reading we did from Palladino--"They're Getting Older Younger." In fact, Raby quotes something that Palladino wrote when she touches upon teenagers being a consumer group. Like we talked about before, teenagers are seen as buyers and consumers and the market takes advantage of that. And like Palladino claimed, Raby also points out that advertising send mixed messages to teens. In this view of teens, teenager-hood is seen as a time of needing to fit in and express through buying things.

Now that you've enjoyed the 90's depictions of rebellious teens, I think it's important to touch upon what Raby brings up about rebellion. When she gives definition to "rebellion," Raby points out that when applied to adults, it means something yet when applied to teens, it just means that they're acting out because that's just what teens do. When teenagers try to deal with the contradictions in the five views of teenager-hood (that Raby gives examples of, like trying to be more responsible but not being given responsibility), they are dismissed. As Raby puts it, "rebellion is a much more dominant frame of reference for teenage activities than resistance." Here Raby captures her argument, that teenagers trying to develop identity and gain independence and responsibility are dismissed as being rebellious when they attempt to push back against the stereotypes of being a teenager. Their views and ideas--which could be really helpful--are often overlook because "they're just teenagers."

And now, a scene from what has been deemed the Top Teenage Rebellion Movie...Hmm, maybe Raby has a point about this whole concept of rebellion.

A point I'd like to talk about in class is how people feel about these views of being a teen. I think that they are valid and do reflect reality, but are they stereotypes. I'm just wondering how much of these ideas come from a distanced place of adulthood. Some of the teens in the interviews did agree with the statements. It's kind of the typical question of did they come about and how much of them are true now?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us

In "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us, Linda Christensen talks about how cartoons influence everyone as they grow up. Many story lines in TV shows and movies exclude different races or portray them in racist ways, show children a stereotypical ways to be male or female and introduce young girls to the wonderful world of fat-shaming. It's easy to take these as silly cartoons, but they teach young children certain things about the world at a time when they are most vulnerable and learning at every moment of the day.

I chose to give some links to videos and articles that relate back to our reading because this issue is talked about a lot by some pretty smart people :)

1. This video is a TED Talk about what movies teach young boys about manhood. As our article said, media is steeped in cultural stereotypes. We tend to talk a lot about how negatively girls are affected by movies, but sometimes we forget about boys. As a father of both a boy and girl, he feels that it's important to address what boys are being taught through movies. The way women are portrayed and the way male characters interact with them teach boys a lot about manhood.

TED Talk

2. Here is a little article about six Disney films that are racist or sexist. This obviously relates directly to our article and--you might have guesses--Peter Pan is in it just like Christensen said. It's pretty interesting and I like that it gives pictures and a little excerpt from one of the movies because I'm a visual learner--and we really do need the visuals to fully get the picture...literally! I think some people are often surprised that The Princess and the Frog made it to the list and I'm not sure if I agree with the point about Naveen. It's true that he isn't identifiable of a particular race but if you choose to look at it more positively, the two are an interracial couple, right?

3. I also wanted to add some pictures of how Native Americans have been represented in cartoons because it's a good example of the racism that doesn't always seem like racism to us. We just think it's a cartoon for kids, but it causes us to grow up thinking that Native Americans are something they are not.

4. To end my blog, I wanted to link this awesome video by feministfrequency. If you like her stuff, she's got lots of other videos about television, toys and video games. In this video, she talks about the "straw feminist" in television which portrays feminists as unnecessary and over the top. I think the one that struck me the most was The Power Puff Girls. I watched the show religiously as a child and remember the episode she talked about. It's crazy that shows that children watch are being set up with such a political agenda.

In class, I'd like to talk about how feminism is depicted in the media. I think it goes right along with this reading because it doesn't the same thing that sexist, racist, classist or fat-shaming cartoons do" it teaches kids a one-sided view of something that they don't yet understand.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A little bit about me...

My name is Jess and I'm a Women's Studies and Creative Writing major. I like long walks on the the beach and really, I do. I also like to write--hence being a creative writing student--and I have my own blog and feminist column in the school's newspaper.

I saw a few good movies over break and spent time with great friends (I highly recommend Dallas Buyers Club!). I also spent the day in Boston with my boyfriend...most of it was spent being fairly lost but I got to go to the aquarium which was the highlight of my break. I'm like a five year old when I go to the aquarium.

I took this class because, as many people don't like to admit at first, it fulfilled a requirement and fit my schedule. I'm excited to take this class though and think that it's going to add to the well-rounded lens that the program gives us as Women's Studies majors. The media is a part of our lives that we can't avoid or deny and it's important for us to consider how it affects us in our very formative years.

I can be a little shy at first, but I look forward to creating a comfortable space and getting to know all of you more :)