I want to start off discussing Rosalind Gill’s Gender and the Media. Just before I sat down to read this chapter, I attended an event on campus meant to inform English majors a little more about what fields they may enter into after college. This panel discussion consisted of four female alumna of Connecticut College, two of whom work as editors in publishing, one who is a full time writer and one who used her degree to go into marketing. Towards the end of the discussion, each woman had finished telling the group of eager students how they came to be in their positions, the lifestyle they lead and various other helpful tips. What I realized after hearing all of these details is that each of the women had also alluded to the fact—if not said out right—that they landed in their career position by sheer luck. After discussing this issue in a previous Sex, Gender and Society class, I realized that it really is true: more often than not, woman attribute their success to luck rather than their own qualified merit. In addition, each one of them declared that one or more of their English professors throughout their college experience were the reason they even had a shot at being successful. It was frustrating; I wanted them to say that they had worked their butts off to get where they are, I wanted the writer—whose first novel came out in April—to admit that she is simply a talented and hardworking writer. Instead however, each of these successful women awarded their success to luck and other people.
This experience just before reading Gill’s chapter changed how I read it. The section where she discusses the bias against women in regard to serious news reporting (especially as war correspondents), made me so frustrated. The issue, as she says, it that “part of journalist’ professional ideology requires them to be available twenty-four hours a day and to be able to travel anywhere at a moment’s notice—not something easily reconciled with family responsibilities for men or women” (122). Gill points out that the bias against serious female journalists exists because people assume that only women are struggling to balance work and family, when in fact the men struggle to do the same. And I think women sometimes assume this of themselves as well. They think that if they want children, they must give up their career, but I believe that this is not the case. I realize that it is difficult to balance family and work, no person can be everything all the time, but there is also the possibility for family responsibilities to be shared more with a partner.
Between Gill’s article, my seminar experience and Sheryl Sandburg, the biases women face in the workplace upsets me. And as I previously pointed out, it is not simply the men running corporations such as NBC that are to blame. The women are not giving themselves enough credit or confidence in order to push the stereotyped boundaries that we have seen are so prevalent in journalism of today.
Jennifer Pozner’s Reality Bites Back: the Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV was a pleasure to read. As someone who personally watches The Bachelor every week, I found this article extremely accurate. While I am not totally proud to say that, it is important to also examine how the audience receives the reality programming. Pozner’s writing looks at each version of woman that is portrayed within reality TV shows, but I think it would be interesting to examine how people react to the shows as they are watching them. Yes, audiences are absorbing sexist and demeaning images of woman, but there is more substance to their viewer ship than subconscious learning. Nowadays, reality shows have live Twitter feed comments or blogs that follow along with an episode as it airs. If viewers do not participate in this interactive style of commentating, then more often than not they are shouting at their TV screen or looking at their girlfriends in shock, saying, “Oh no she didn’t!” Reality TV has become a brand of television where the audience is so wrapped up in the fictitious drama that they actually want to involve their own opinions and comments. What does this say not about the content of shows that broadcast companies are putting on the air, but rather the viewers that watch the shows so intently?