Intersectionality

The Intersectional Theory suggests that oppression and discrimination happen due to more than one individual factor; to be more specific, various categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, caste and other axes of identity work in concert to create inequality (Kidd 2009). This theory about the interlocking systems of oppression was first conceived in 1989 by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw who highlights that observations that do not take intersectionality into consideration cannot accurately address the manner in which oppression takes place. The term was later reintroduced by Patricia Hill Collins, Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland who agrees that cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society, such as race, gender, class, and ethnicity.

Before entering the BCM310 lecture on Monday morning, my mind always functioned objectively, thinking of an issue as it is, oblivious to the fact that oppression is more than a one-dimensional issue. As the lecture went on, and as I continued to look further into the topic, it came to realization that our world is the way it is because I was like most people, I was blinded. I was looking at single pieces of a huge puzzle, unknowing that they all fit to make a bigger picture.

There is no single type of oppression, and there is none that is most important to tackle first. We must look at how these oppressions interact with one another and attempt to mitigate these circumstances. We can never get anything done if we continue to think one-dimensionally.” – Zoe Starvi (2014)

Many of times, issues relating to black women comes into focus as their unique situation at the focal point where two exceptionally powerful and prevalent systems of oppression come together: race and gender (Collins n.d.). Similarly, Muslim women across the globe who face adversity as a result of their practices of wearing burqas and hijabs also fall under the microscope for scrutiny. More than one factor is at play once again; this time it points to gender and religion. These two simple illustrations are adequate to call attention to the fact that the systems of oppression, domination or discrimination are governed by more than one variable at a time; the interplay of each variable results in multiple dimensions of disadvantage (Macionis & Gerber 2010).

Therefore, it can be said that the issues that we face today, all forms of oppressions, every form of ‘isms’, will perpetuate until the day that people see the bigger picture.

 

References

Collins, PH n.d., Intersecting Oppressions, accessed 6/6/2014, http://www.uk.sagepub.com/upm-data/13299_Chapter_16_Web_Byte_Patricia_Hill_Collins.pdf

Kidd, D 2009, Intersectional Theory, accessed 6/6/201, 4http://www.slideshare.net/dustinkidd1/intersectional-theory

Macionis, JJ, Gerber LM 2010, Sociology Seventh Canadian Edition, Pearson Education, Canada.

Starvi, Z 2014, Media Feminists and Intersectionality, The Occupied Times, accessed 6/6/2014, http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=8045

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Facebook- the new diasporic media of our time?

Half a decade ago, there seemed to be little significance and need for diasporic media. The call for such media grew along with emigration trends which started picking up in the 80’s. Hence for a better understanding of the term, diasporic media refer to the media outlets in various forms whether print or electronic, that exist to cater to audiences who are away from their country of origin and are reluctant to consume foreign media because they feel uncomfortable or uninterested in content that are not produced in their same culture or in a cultural environment similar to what they are accustomed to (Santoyo 2013). According to Cottle (2000), diasporic media also exist to represent and help minority communities establish a sense of who they are in relation to who they are not. This would in turn empower and give minorities confidence in their host country.

A fine example of diasporic media would be the many media outlets around the world catering to the Greek diaspora- Neos Kosmos, Australia’s leading Greek newspaper; Emphasis, a magazine in Canada which focuses on Greek-Canadians who have made a difference in their community; London Greek Radio, as its name suggest, a Greek radio station operating in London (The Secretariat General of Information & Communication n.d.).

Unfortunately, due to the limitations by law and resources, not every diasporic group across the globe are entitled to such media. Over the years, Malaysia has seen a rise in numbers of its citizens emigrating out of the country, a phenomenon labelled as brain drain. This is where highly skilled and knowledgeable professional flocking out of the country for better opportunities abroad. However, many of these people who are currently living abroad are still connected and informed about local affairs, mainly via social networking site, Facebook. With this said, could Facebook be considered one of today’s diasporical media for various communities all over the world?

Take Bersih 3.0 for instance; a peaceful rally held in Malaysia to advocate for cleaner electoral roll, reform in postal voting, and free and fair access to mainstream media in 2012. Malaysians all over the world were enthusiastic towards this movement and showed support mainly through Facebook. Many online groups were formed for the purpose of discussion and exchange of information; and this helped fulfill the very purpose of diasporic media- to give minority groups an identity and empower them in foreign land. Hence I would personally deem Facebook a global diasporic media that knows no bounds; it reaches and connects people from all over the world (except for a few specific countries) affected by little (or none) external factors. This is said as a social media account is so easily set up in most countries around the world as compared to establishing other forms of formal media such as a newspaper publication or radio station.

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Screenshot of Bersih’s official Facebook page

 

In 2011, social networking sites are said to reach 82% of the world’s internet population (Radwanick 2011). The figures today would have grown notably. Thus, I truly believe that the future and development of diasporic media lie with the advancement of the virtual Internet world, especially in pertinence to social networking sites.

 

References

Cottle, S 2000, Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries, Open University Press, Buckingham, UK.

Radwanick, S 2011, It’s a Social World: Social Networking Leads as Top Online Activity Globally, Accounting for 1 in Every 5 Online Minutes, media release, accessed 30/5/2014, http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2011/12/Social_Networking_Leads_as_Top_Online_Activity_Globally

Santoyo, LPS 2013, ‘Media Globalization: What are diasporic audiences?’, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, accessed 30/5/2014, http://web.udlap.mx/co33701/files/2013/03/What-are-diasporic-audiences.docx.

The Secretariat General of Information & Communication n.d., Greece in the World – Diaspora Media, accessed 30/5/2014, http://www.minpress.gr/minpress/en/index/information/greece-world-2/diaspora_media.htm

Cultural Hybridization

In today’s fast paced society, almost every organization and individual is going on about globalization, glocalisation, hybridity and whatnot. The term globalization basically refers to process and context of the world becoming integrated (Shim 2006). Evidently with the assistance of modern technology, our world has become a smaller place, almost a seamless, borderless globe, where each nation is connected by means of trade, political alliances, culture exchange, sports and other forms of interdependence. In the realm of communications, globalization is looked at from a social aspect, where ideas, perceptions, and attitudes are exchanged transnationally blurring the lines that distinguish each culture. It is as if the world has become one big melting pot, with people..

..dressing the same way,

speaking the same language,

dancing to the same songs,

and carrying out life in a (somewhat) unison pattern.

 

Since the beginning of time, the United States of America has been and still is under the spotlight for invading the world with their culture, taking the lead in cultural imperialism. Come to think of it, it is pretty amazing how the many parts of the world is affected and influenced by mainstream Western culture. In Malaysia itself, even our radio announcers and television personalities speak with foreign accents!

However, over the last decade, a new contender has emerged to give USA a run for its money. The Korean Wave (also known as hallyu) took the world by storm ever since its emergence in the late 1990’s (Do 2012). Today, children are singing along to Psy’s Gangnam Style despite not knowing what each word means, adolescent girls are more open to plastic surgery, young adults are dressing and styling their hair according to what they see on screens, aunties are ogling at pretty Korean lads, while Korean eateries are mushrooming around the city. In 2011 alone, hallyu is said to have contributed more than £2.3bn to the South Korean economy (Cox 2012). All this in essence points to the fact that the Korean culture has seeped into cultures all over the world, resulting in cultural hybridization. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, about this cultural evolution, rather this reinforces Marshall Mcluhan’s theory on the global village. We have come to a point in life where electronic mass media has collapse space and time barriers in human communication, enabling people to interact and live on a global scale (Symes 1995).

 

 

References

Cox, J 2012, ‘Seoul searching: on the trail of the K-pop phenomenon’, The Guardian, 28 December, accessed 23/5/2014, http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2012/dec/28/seoul-k-pop-gangnam-style

Do, TE 2012, ‘Emergence of the Korean Popular Culture in the World’, Bachelor’s Thesis, Turku University of Applied Science, accessed 23/5/2014, http://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/42870/Do_Thao.pdf?sequence=1

Shim, D 2006, ‘Hybridity and the Rise of Korean Popular Culture in Asia’, Media, Culture & Society, vol.28(1), pp.25-44, accessed 23/5/2014, http://mcs.sagepub.com/content/28/1/25.full.pdf+html

Symes, B 1995, Marshall McLuhan’s ‘Global Village’, accessed 23/5/2014, http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/bas9401.html

Media and its (Mis)representations

In my previous blog post last week, it was said that the media reflects society as it is owned, ran, and controlled by people who coexist in the same society. Hence the television shows we watch, ads we see, music we listen to, they are all reflections of our culture and society. Many rebut this statement with proof of media misrepresenting certain issues to distort them from their original meaning or context. Examples of such malpractices are seen through media messages that come across as racist, sexist, or any forms of other ‘–ists’ that indicate biased and prejudicial representation.

Controversial media content are rampant especially in the advertising world, some being more blatant than others. The ads highlighted below are ads with varying degree of racism in my own opinion;-

The PlayStation ad in 2006 announcing the launch of its white portable game console sparked anger and disgust among many communities all over the world. The ad which features a Caucasian model dressed in white holding another model of African descent by the chin came across as racist. The dynamics of the advert itself speaks for itself; with the posture, dress up, along with the ad copy, position of power and superiority is somewhat demonstrated. Looking at the ad from a semiotics point of view, it looks to me that the ad is trying to convey ‘whites’ as being more sophisticated, elegant and premium. If the main purpose of the ad was in actuality to promote the new white portable PlayStation (and only that), I am pretty certain that there are better, more brilliant and polite ways to convey the message without meddling and stirring with racial issues.

 

Another ad that caught my eye and would particularly fall into the category of racist would be the one by the China Times restaurant in Dubai. Faces and skin of three models of different descents- a Sikh, an African, and an Arab- were distorted to be fairer and to have slitty eyes to ‘bring out the Chinese in everyone’. It is shallow to generalize and poke fun at Chinese for being ‘yellow’ and slitty eyed. I personally don’t think physical attributes as such distinguish the Chinese from the rest. There must be a better illustration for this! While I am all cool about these not-so-humorous remarks, some people may be offended by it.

After all, not all Asians are ‘yellow’ and slitty eyed 😉

With the current generation of people being ultimately reliant on the media for all sorts of reasons from mere entertainment to the serious business of gathering information and formation of thoughts, the media is being fed with so much power and its authority is only growing stronger each day. It is certain that the media is capable of painting strong mental images into the minds of its audiences despite theories that suggest otherwise. In many instances, I feel that the Agenda Setting Theory is still in play even in today’s liberal and democratic society. With powerful individuals and geniuses playing their part behind the media scenes, they are able to disguise the media as an empowering tool while they manipulate it to corrupt and pollute the minds of innocent media consumers.

Many of times I cannot help but wonder, why do people in power deliberately disrupt peace by creating problems that we all could do without? May it be for political means, financial gains or other reasons that I fail to fathom, I still stand by my point that media reflects society and reality because it is always more than what is shown on screens or published on papers. Reality is that our society is infiltrated by social parasites and diseases that attack our logical brain and belief systems. Racism, sexism, and any other forms of ‘-isms’ prove to still exist in our society as long as our media is publishing such materials. The fact that media gatekeepers allow such content to be published, it is less of a misrepresentation problem, but rather a representation of the cold hard truth.

Television & Gender Stereotype

Living in the twenty first century, surrounded by computers and robotics, media is made so accessible to us that it has interwoven into our everyday lives. We are constantly immersed in media that sometimes we just get lost in it; from the moment we open our eyes in the morning till the moment our heads touch the pillow again at night, we are easily exposed to millions (possibly billions) of media messages. But going back to basics, what does the media do for us? Why does it play such a pressing role in our lives that we seem to be unable to disconnect from it?

On top of its fundamental purpose of informing and entertaining, the media is said to represent reality. According to Buckingham (2003), ‘the media do not just offer us a transparent ‘window on the world’ but a mediated version of the world. They don’t just present reality, they re-present it.’Think about it, the statement actually holds a lot of truth. The television shows we watch, ads we see, music we listen to, they are all reflections of our culture and society. There has been a lot of discussions taking place debating which one came first, whether media is a reflection of society or vice versa; but personally, I believe it is similar to the case of the chicken and the egg where no absolute answer can be found. However, I choose to believe that the media is a close reflection of our society. After all, the media is ran and controlled by people who coexist in the society.

Decades after decades, the media has been slammed for all sorts of stereotypes, from religion, gender, race to ethnicity and whatnot. In my blog post this week, the main focus revolves around gender stereotype and me being me, it is my utmost pleasure to take Sex and the City (SATC), one of my all-time favourites, as a point of reference in helping me express my thoughts on the subject of gender stereotype on television.

 

Despite its name, SATC has very little to do with sex or the city but rather it revolves around the lives of four women in search for love in the Big Apple. Throughout its 94 episodes that aired between 1998 and 2004, gender stereotype was evident for both male and female. The lives of the four main characters were centred on men, they were constantly looking for the ‘right’ man, which the show suggest had to be tall, handsome and rich. This is an unfair representation for both the sexes. Not all women’s life objective is to look to and depend on a filthy rich investment banker, not all women are unable to move on from their past, not all women think perfect marriages are built on huge diamond rings and a condominium unit facing Central Park, and certainly money, property and sex appeal does not make any man the perfect man.

However, the show balanced out its gender stereotype with a slice of reality. Strong, determined and hard-headed characters like Samantha and Miranda show that not all women are dependent on the not-so-fair sex. These two characters did a great job at showing the world that women did not have to need men but rather they like men are free to want them instead (Milford n.d.). Characters like Harry and Steve on the other hand justify mankind. They reminded us that money and looks weren’t the most important traits in a partner. Hence making the statement of media reflecting society somewhat true. It is no wonder the show took the world by storm during its peak, airing in countries across the globe.

In conjunction with the stereotype and gender lecture last week, a little fun was injected into class with a special screening of Frozen, courtesy of our beloved lecturer. Through the popular animation, we also learnt a little something about gender stereotypes. I personally thought that the film was a cliché in its content except for its ending. The plot twist where Anna decides to save Elsa instead of herself caught audiences off guard as typically they would see her running to Kristoff seeking ‘true love’. Instead of needing a man for love, the show drew attention to different types of love that would warm our hearts banishing the classic stereotype (Misa 2014).

 

 

References

Buckingham, D 2013, Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK.

Milford, C n.d., Should Feminists Watch Sex And The City?, accessed 10/5/2014, http://feminspire.com/should-feminists-watch-sex-and-the-city/

Misa 2014, Gender Stereotypes Take Center Stage In Disney’s Frozen, weblog comment, accessed 10/5/2014, http://amandadecadenet.com/conversation-starters/review-frozen-gender-stereotypes-alive-well/

Journalism and the Malaysian Political Climate

With a population of over 30 million people made up of different races and ethnicities, Malaysia is blessed with cultural vastness, from language, festivals, to food and whatnot. This has also indirectly impacted the local media scene, where we have over 40 different print newspapers in Malay, English, Chinese, Tamil, and Dutch; and at least 9 online newspapers in various languages. The Star, New Straits Times, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, Sin Chiew Jit Poh, and Nanyang Siang Pau are among the major newspapers with the highest circulation in the country (Murphy et.al 2013).

Although the figures indicate that Malaysia has a variety of news outlets in terms of printed news, but the numbers do not necessarily correlate with the types and range of news the members of public have access to. This is said as many media outlets are either owned directly by the government or by parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition government. Take Media Prima for instance, the media empire consisting of television networks, radio stations and print media is owned by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) (Murphy et.al 2013). It can then be inferred that the types of news Malaysian citizens are exposed to are similar in nature. Anuar (2005) points out that there has been a significant proportion of coverage bias across newspapers during the 2004 Malaysian General Election as illustrated in the table below.

blog

 

Until the emergence and popularity rise of new media, Malaysian citizens relied heavily on media owned or moderated by the government, giving the ruling party the upper hand of communicating to the public while opposition parties struggle to be heard. As we slowly inch towards media proliferation, Malaysians are gradually adapting to change and getting two sides to every story. Today, almost every political party and leader owns a social media account, may it be personal blogs, Facebook, or Twitter, as alternative avenues to engage and communicate with the general public. As a result, there has been a notable shift in the way people consume media. In 2008, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions’ report on individual households’ internet usage shows that 94% of Internet users search for political information, blogs or online newspapers; a huge leap as compared to a mere 40.5% three years before (Knirsch & Kratzenstein n.d.).

Social media played a crucial role in the most recent election last year with campaigning done through numerous online platforms from twits, music videos and advertisements on Youtube, to live streaming of demonstrations (Gomez 2013). Basically, political news is now at the fingertips of Malaysian citizens who actively participate online. This is a breakthrough especially for the opposition parties as they have finally found a loophole in overcoming mainstream media to make themselves heard.

 

Based on my humble opinion, slowly but surely we are achieving democracy one day at a time. Unlike printed press that requires license renewal annually and faces risk of revocation, online news sites are spared from pressure invoked by the government. With websites like Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider which report freely without government censorship, hope for press freedom prevails.

🙂

 

References

Anuar, MK 2005, ‘Politics and the Media in Malaysia’, Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, vol.20, no.1, pp.25-47, accessed 24/4/2014, journals.upd.edu.ph/index.php/kasarinlan/article/download/448/413

Gomez, J 2013, ‘Malaysia’s 13th General Election: Social Media and its Political Impact’, Political Outlook, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, accessed 24/4/2014, http://www.academia.edu/4446983/Malaysias_13th_General_Election_Social_Media_and_its_Political_Impact

Knirsch, TS, Kratzenstein, P n.d., ‘Press Freedom, New Media and Political Communication in Malaysia- A Society Flux’, accessed 24/4/2014, http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_19710-544-2-30.pdf?100526132301

Murphy, M, Liu, P, Sabine, P, Shao, LY, Wang, R 2013, ‘Malaysia Media Environment’, accessed 24/4/2014, http://medialaw2013.law.hku.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Malaysia.pdf

Aesthetic Journalism

Before entering the BCM310 lecture last week, journalism has always been defined as ‘the eight o’clock news’ and ‘printed newspapers’ in my head. It was beyond my imagination that journalism could be extended into other avenues, from verbatim theatre, arts, festivals, to fashion. Learning about this in class was an enlightening experience, so many times I just found myself in awe of the depth of journalism and its evolution since the beginning of time.

Coming to think of it, it is very possible for journalism to be extended into different forms and styles. As mentioned in my previous post, journalism is the method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information (Harcup 2009); in times of change, the rise of creativity and innovation is inevitable, hence resulting in the various expressions of thoughts in regards to current issues and news. We have now come to a point where we ‘inform without informing’.

Taking Cuban artist Erik Ravelo’s 2013 work for example, Los Intocables– which translates to The Untouchables- is a thought provoking art project that aimed to shine light onto issues affecting children all over the world. Each piece of art features a child crucified on the back of an adult who poses as a contemporary evil to tell a different story about the loss of innocence (Frank 2013).

Pictures taken from: http://erikravelo.info/los-intocables/

Pictures taken from: http://erikravelo.info/los-intocables/

 

It’s art, it’s communication’ – Erik Ravelo

 

Ravelo’s work can be closely linked to art theorist and critic Alfredo Cramerotti’s theory on aesthetic journalism. Cramerotti (2009) reckons that aesthetic journalism should work on the borders of reality and fiction, using documentary techniques and journalistic methods but self-reflecting on those means because at the end of the day it is not about delivering information but questioning it, reversing the tradition of both field of art and journalism. Just by looking at the controversial pictures of Ravelo’s work, we are informed about the issues that he is raising, from gun violence, child molestation to health, without even having to use words; clearly exhibiting Cramerotti’s concept of inform without informing.

It is truly amazing to be able to look at journalism from a bigger perspective, learning and seeing it function in different ways but to achieve the same purpose of reporting and raising current issues. When art and journalism are looked at individually, it is difficult to see their correlation; but when put together, they make perfect sense 🙂

 

References 

Cramerotti, A 2009, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, The Mill, Bristol, UK

Frank, P 2013, ‘Controversial Art Project Addressing Violence Against Children Is Censored By Facebook’, accessed 19/4/2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/erik-ravelo_n_3900061.html

Harcup, T 2009, Journalism: Principles and Practice, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California

Ravelo, E 2013, ‘Los Intocables’, accessed 19/4/2014, http://erikravelo.info/los-intocables/