By Emma Houser
Throughout the course of this section on media I have begun to question even further the nature of the news we are subject to in today’s society. After reading these three articles though I really began to see just how biased the information that we are constantly exposed to really is. Stabile and Kumar’s article highlights the Afghan women’s issues in the media and how this has been systematically fed to the US public as a cover for the war. Many of us have at some point heard that the government in many ways uses the media to their advantage, controlling the information that the public hears. In the context of this article though it was interesting to see how blind most people really are. If we really looked back at the information we can see that the US played a fairly significant role in the development of the situation that Afghan women face today, but most of us would never know this. We fall prey to the information that is being fed to us and fail to question anyone’s intentions when the media suddenly takes notice of women’s issues.
When I turn on the TV or open a newspaper I rarely question the news I see. I read about what’s going on in other countries and take the reporters word, but this article really opened my eyes to the fact that we have to take everything we hear with a grain of salt. Stabile and Kumar discuss the fact that the news surrounding Afghan women and the war was focused on the burka and education and ignored other issues that the war would actually make worse, such as issues surrounding refugees. Further, when they actually looked back at the issues in the news, there was very little coverage on Afghan women’s tragic situation until it proved useful to the United States’ decision to invade, specifically after the September 11th attack.
Similarly, Uma Narayan’s article discusses the way that we process a lot of the news that we hear about other countries and how we use this information to form ideas about their cultural and religious practices. In her article, Narayan compares the practices of dowry-murder in India and domestic-violence in the United States as well as the news surrounding them. What really stood out to me was the difference in the way that these two issues were reported on the US. She mentions that in doing research she had a difficult time coming across information on how many women die as a result of domestic-violence. In our society we tend to focus on the victims ho have survived as we discuss the issue of domestic-violence as a whole, but when we look at the practice of dowry-murder in India, we focus on the fact that women are being murdered. In both cases women are dying at the hands of their families, but in India it is the result of the Hindu tradition. Little do most people know, and for that matter care, that as a practice dowry-murder is nearly extinct.
It seems that the US is always innocent. Our issues are due to external factors, such as alcoholism and sexual jealousy, and don’t have any connection to the cultural practices of American’s as a whole. Narayan’s proposed a book titled “May You be the Loser of 100 Pounds” in her article. It was really interesting to think about such a book finding it’s way onto bookshelves in the United States. We so often look at other societies and judge them based on the cultural practices that we hear about them, but we rarely ever question our own cultural practices and the effect that they have on our own society. Why is it that we feel the right to attribute all of the negative aspects of other countries to their cultural as a whole, but we blatantly ignore similar aspects within our own culture?
“The Burka and the Bikini” really drives these points home. We are so unaware of the effect that our own cultural practices have on our society and on societies around the world. We judge other cultures based on their cultural and religious practices, but here we have young girls and women suffering from eating disorders as the result of our cultural norms. We are so quick to judge the Taliban as cruel, and rightfully so, but we also need to look at the role that we play. In many ways our cultural values and norms are just as cruel and hurtful to the women in our society. As Burmberg and Jackson state in their article, “the burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum, but each can exert and noose-like grip in the psyche and physical health of girls and women.”