Sunday, May 31, 2009

Final Blog Post Project

OMG! This is the final project and final blog post for class. Please enjoy.

Also, keep in mind this is my first attempt at Flash and Audio Editing (which did not go well) so keep your volume at low-medium.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Conflicting Images of Sex and Motherhood

Young girls are being bombarded with contradictory images of thin, sexy women portrayed as the ultimate role model of femininity and all things woman. However, lately there has been a trend in pregnant celebrities to show off their newly acquired tummies in "tasteful" layouts and celebratory spreads. One of the most well-known American Sex Symbol is Britney Spears. While controversy rocked her marriage to Kevin Federline, her career took an unexpected turn south. Spears, previously portrayed as the virginal girl-next-door (while dating Justin Timberlake), suddenly appeared in tabloids with her nipples showing and the presence of her undies coming into dispute. Her lifestyle changed drastically from a wholesome girl to a party animal. The images shown in this post (collaged by me) are meant to represent some of the conflicting images used to portray Spears in the past few years and question what message they send to young girls about their own bodies and self-worth.

Here are two pictures from infamous times in Britney's career. At the top, Britney posed for a fully nude and fully pregnant spread for Bazaar Magazine. Below, that is a picture from the infamous "nipple exposure" night where Britney's breast was pictured in several tabloid magazines and websites. Both pictures are of the same woman but both send very different messages. Jean Kilbourne, author of the book Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel reprinted an excerpt from this entitled The More you Subtract, the More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size. In this article, she explores the idea that young girls are bombarded with contradictory images in media and advertising from a very young age. She says, "Girls try to make sense of the contradictory expectations of themselves in a culture dominated by advertising" (Kilbourne, p. 259). She also speaks to the fact that young girls are "more powerfully attuned" to the "images of women" because they embody social expectations and show what we value in a woman. Media portrayals of women (such as the pictures shown here) prove that while being naked is still unacceptable in the general culture, it is alright as long as she is with child, the ultimate goal of every young girl.

The video below depicts stereotypical mixed emotions about pregnancy and weight. While being pregnant (and married) is not a cultural crime, being fat is. The ambiguity of the signs of both physical state make an awkward situation for women in early stages of pregnancy as they begin to see themselves and their bodies changing and now different.

Naomi Wolf wrote a book called The Beauty Myth in 1991. An excerpt reprinted from this publication summarizes the ideology that beauty is socially constructed to dis-empower women and pit us against each other. One of the ways she expresses this sentiment is through reproductivity. Wolf simplifies that the "Beauty Myth" perpetuates the archaic thought that "beautiful women are more reproductively successful" and that is why strong men compete for the most beautiful of all to mate with (Wolf, p.121). This, of course, is a misconception when it comes to reproducing. However, it then extends the thought that while one must strive for beauty everyday to catch a respectable mate, one must also exude beauty while being pregnant for that is the natural way. If Britney Spears is the ultimate woman, an American Pop Icon, then we can also liken her to Wolf's "Goddesses" in that "their only function is to serve as the Divine 'womb'" (Wolf, p. 122). Though Britney Spears is not a goddess, she is worshipped in much the same sense. And therefore, her part as a role model has now extended to "Mother Icon" and we must be able to tell the difference and re-evaluate our roles in response to her.

The images used in this collage can be found at the following places:

Works Cited:

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." Gender, Race, and Class in Media A Text-Reader. Minneapolis: Sage Publications, Inc, 2002. 258-67.

Wolf, Naomi. "The Beauty Myth." Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.

"YouTube - Is Britney Spears Pregnant???" YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 20 May 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Katy Perry's take on Femininity and Masculinity in her video Hot N Cold

Katy Perry’s Video Hot N Cold


Ever since 1985, the music video has become a staple in America’s pop culture. Every successful single has a music video that accompanies it and though the stage has moved from MTV to YouTube, they are still a lucrative marketing strategy for singers and rappers alike. Katy Perry, mainly known for her controversial “I Kissed a Girl” song, takes a new route into poking fun at the stereotypes of men in her new video Hot’n’Cold. By repackaging the common misconception that women are more apt to want to get married and men are more likely to have cold feet, she capitalizes on the unsteady thoughts of men and the women scorn by their heartlessness.

In the beginning, the dominant idea of femininity is called into questions when her Man-of-Honor is in a dress holding a small dog. Though we are not sure that transgendered person is a spoof or not, her unconcern for their presence is telling and supported by her other non-typical bridesmaids. Katy disrupts hegemonic customs of beautifully placed bridesmaids that are flawless and reflect the beauty of the bride. Tradition is steeped in the church filled with family and friends however she fights it in pieces because her (sexy but not feminine) dress would be considered very controversial with a large side bow and a bodysuit displayed underneath. Her hair is tousled and her veil is torn and off to the side. She bats her eyelashes in an attempt to subdue her anxious fiancé.

Newman emphasizes in his article that with the help of the media, women feel “ashamed and guilty” if they do not meet beauty standards and “feel that their desirability and lovability are contingent upon physical perfection” (Newman 92). By attempting to make herself more physically attractive and tempting to her counterpart, she demonstrates the lengths at which women will go to make themselves more desirable to get men to act the way they want. This lesson is taught to girls early in life by hegemonic standards.

A dream sequence ensues where her fiancé hesitates too long to give his “I Do” answer. She chases him through the city, detaching her skirt revealing a tight “playboy bunny” type bodysuit underneath. She proceeds to gather up other scorn brides, armed with baseball bats and smudged mascara (from crying), and attempt to corner him. This rage filled chase is not feminine by society’s standards, but her excuse is highly acceptable. The Hegemonic culture that America is bases women’s places in life around their marital status. They are taught to love a man for all of his faults because she is incomplete without him. Most women would tell her “If he doesn’t want to marry you, then good riddance” but society’s actions and standards of practice tell a different story.

Katy chases her beau through the streets, not to convince him to marry her, but to exact her revenge on him. She does not break down in tears or through a fit. This is another way that she disrupts the hegemonic customs of engaged women. She is empowered by her rage and so are the women that surround her.

Her lyrics, on the other hand, seem to support femininity and masculinity within the first four lines, “You change your mind/ Like a girl changes clothes/ Yeah, you PMS like a bitch/ I would know”. In this, she supports the dominant theory that women are picky about their appearances and attire. By comparing this feminine practice to him, she challenges his ability to make decisions, associating him with a flaky girl. Then, a few lyrics later she exclaims that he is no good for her. She asserts her independence of him as an unworthy mate, further disturbing the set of rules hegemony sets to govern women in such an emotional situation.

In the end of the sequence, she has come full circle. She is no longer dressed in her wedding attire but in street clothes while he is still in his tux. She has essentially left him behind. He is then ostracized and ridiculed by the other people that accompany Perry as she enjoys her freedom in the streets. This supports the theory that men who fail deserved to be ridiculed by society for not being aggressive or strong enough to stand up to her (his woman). Allan Johnson speaks to this in his article about Patriarchy in that a “patriarchal culture” teaches “what’s expected of us as men and women” and “how we behave and appear” (Johnson 95). This outlying social acceptance and structure is a sure component to his treatment.

At the very end, we return to the church waiting for his answer. This scene is very typical from movies where the dramatic pause occurs before the happy ending. Perry has her beau say “I Do” however the scene shows a lot of peer pressure from his surroundings to say yes rather than his original intention. This strongly affirms the hegemonic understanding that even if you might be unhappy, a person should do what is right. And what is right is not leaving your fiancé at the altar in front of friends and family.

Perry touches upon a lot of social norms and their comical counterparts. Contrasting the roles in which women and men react to a stressful wedding situation. The untraditional wedding setting from the start set the stage for common traditions to be broken while upholding others. Perry’s video for her song Hot N Cold is a prime example of the undercurrent fighting hegemonic views one video at a time.


Hot N Cold. Prod. Captiol. Perf. Katy Perry. YouTube. 14 May 2009 <>.

Johnson, Allan G. "Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us." The Gender Knot: Unraveling Out Patriarchal Legacy. Reprinted. Temple UP, 1997. 91-98.


Newman, David M. "Portraying Difference: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality and the Media."Identities and Inequalities Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, & Sexuality. New York: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2005. 71-105.

Monday, May 11, 2009

1st Blog Assignment

A Thousand Splendid Suns - an authentic tale of the resilience of the human spirit.

Blog Title: Another Part of Me: One side that speaks

Author: Dapatkan Mesej Bergambar di Sini

Harry Potter and the radical multiculturalist agenda

Blog Title: Orbis: Aplifying Venderbilt's Progressive Voice

Author: Claire Costantino

Investigating Dan Brown's Angels and Demons

Blog Title: New Life Blog

Author: Pastor Chris Jordan

Rules For Media Coverage of Feminists

Blog Title: Thus Spake Zuska: A blog for all and no one

Author: Zuska

Grissom & Sara

Blog Title: the F-word: Contemporary UK Feminism

Author: Bill Savage

Link to main gender & pop culture blog

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