Poststructuralist feminist viewpoint and nationalism

Week1Analysis-Global

Stacy Cacciatore

Queens University

 

The postmodern and poststructuralist feminist viewpoint was an important scholarship that drove awareness that the Anglo-Euro middle class male was privileged and their viewpoint dominated media. Anglo-Euro middle class male continues to be a viewpoint that dominates mainstream media today. However, women often aren’t even aware of the power the media has over them and their identification with their nation is stronger than their gender.

Shome and Hedge (2010) stated when postmodern and poststructuralist feminist viewpoints dominated the feminist movement in the 1970s and 1980s, they demonstrated that the white, middle class, male was privileged and dominated politics and the media. Through these studies, they found that there were differences due to ones’ gender, which were connected to larger international history and politics. I believe that the Anglo-Euro middle class male voice continues to be dominant in the media today. Additionally, I believe that many women are not aware of the influence that the Anglo-Euro middle class male centric media has over them. Women are more in tune and aligned to the media’s nationalistic point of view, than the gender point of view.

Take, for example, the study that Kamla Viswewaran did as part of her work Fictions of Feminist Ethnography (1994). She interviewed South Indian women who participated in the Indian nationalist movement against the British colonialism. The majority of the women either refused or deflected the position of the nationalists. The women did this as a silent coalition to hide the secrets of the nationalist movement. This demonstrates how strong nationalism is, as it works against the methodology of ethnography. As Dr. el-Nawawy said, “a great sense of nationalism in today’s media systems in several countries” (Slide 10). This nationalism is so strong, that it can overshadow ones’ own rights. This is not only true of our society, but our media as well. Downing (2007) says that journalists consistently place patriotism above objectivity.

This struggle continues to occur today, as demonstrated in the study conducted by Hill and Azzarito (2012), in which they used the feminist poststructuralist approach to study how British Asian girls’ negotiated or rejected visual narratives regarding their physical activity and the athletic female body. The study had participants evaluate photos of athletes that were displayed in their school’s physical education department corridor. They were asked to review the images and then evaluate and reflect on their value of athletic bodies. The researchers found that the girls viewed athletic bodies as “male and elite” due to the absence of minority women in sports media. Due to the unbalanced representation of gender and ethnicity in sports, minority women do not visualize themselves as achieving athletic greatness. The researchers also found that because Asians are presented as structurally marginalized in many sports, including football, these athletic bodies are not valued in Asian culture. They found that because of the perception that Asian’s do not have a strong skill set in this sport, they have little interest in it. The media plays a role in this perception. Over half of the images used in the study, which were displayed in the school’s physical education department corridor, were of white men. Only one poster portrayed a woman of color and no Asian women were represented on the posters. This context shaded how the participants viewed themselves.

Just as the study by Hill and Azzarito (2012) found, there is an Americanization of media. The term globalization is referred to as getting the media to focus on what we do across the various cultures. However, for many globalization seems to mean Americanization (Downing, 2007). Downing (2007) states “those of us who live in economically advanced and politically stable countries are in a poor position to understand how the media work on much of the rest of the planet, (p.27). Therefore, it’s difficult for one who is in America, or any of the elite Group of (G8) countries to objectively understand how media works in the rest of the world. Just as I stated, the Anglo-Euro middle class male is privileged and their viewpoint dominates media. The Anglo-Euro middle class male is the poster child for America. I theorize, using the postmodern and poststructuralist feminist scholarship that the reason why women relate more to their nation than gender is because the Americanization of media portrays images and messages that do not resonate with women. Therefore, when the media communicate with the context of understanding ones’ culture, women are more likely to relate and identify. Numerous issues exist for women in countries across the globe, including unequal pay, gender discrimination and poverty (Shah, 2010). By applying the postmodern and poststructuralist feminist scholarship to global communication we can understand both the gender and nationalistic points of view that influence women, and in turn, keep them oppressed.

 


 

References

Downing, John D. H. (2007). Drawing a bead on global communication theories. In Y. Kamalipour (Ed.), Global Communication (pp. 22-38). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

El-Nawawy, M. (2014). Communication theories and ideologies [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://mycourses.queens.edu/learn/mod/page/view.php?id=67720

Hill, J., & Azzarito, L. (2012). Representing valued bodies in PE: a visual inquiry with British Asian girls. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 17(3), 263-276.

Shah, A. (2010, March 14). Women’s Rights. Global Issues. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/166/womens-rights.

Shome R. and Hedge, R. (2010). Postcolonial approaches to communication: Charting the terrain, engaging the intersections. In D. K. Thussu (Ed.), International Communication: A Reader (pp. 89-104). London: Routledge.

 

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