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Gender and the Media (follow-up)

Once again, I really enjoyed our discussion on gender and the media last night during class. If I had to summarize my main points from the lecture, I would say this: gender is a social construct, not a biological fact. And, once you begin thinking about gender as a “constitutive element in social relationships� and a key framework for organizing relationships of power, then you can use the lens of gender to analyze not only historical events and ideas, but the world around us as well.

So that’s my point, but I heard from several of you and hope to hear more of your ideas on this topic. I left last night with a ton of questions, hopefully we can discuss some of them here. If gender is something different than biology, how do we make sense of the correlation between the two that takes place in biology labs and psychological testing (e.g. showing that men are more aggressive than women because of increased adrenaline levels)? I hope someone will challenge my take on this issue. Perhaps people have more to add on our contemporary gender norms. And comments about the readings are welcome as well.

But there were other questions. How should we resolve the tension between media corporations existing as business entities, with an imperative to make money, and as servants of the “public interest� (although, as we discussed last night, that’s a loaded word)?


When I interpret gender, the first thing that always comes to my mind is the situation of when a baby is first born. What is the first question people ask? “Is it a girl or a boy?� It’s the first of many classifications everyone goes through. After a child is categorized as a boy, then people start giving presents with sports icons and blue colors. If it’s a girl, they get things with flowers, hearts, and the color pink. People use the gender designation as a basic guideline for treatment of the child. As you grow, boys are encouraged to be aggressive and girls are encouraged to look pretty. I think this is the start of the idea of ‘what is a boy’ and ‘what is a girl.’ The stereotype of each gender is nurtured, and what ever uniqueness, in relation to gender, is usually looked on with more suspicion.

"How should we resolve the tension between media corporations existing as business entities, with an imperative to make money, and as servants of the “public interest�"

How do we figure out if this tension is a good thing or a bad thing? I think it is a little bit of both, but I also think that it is a given in our world today. It's all about how people interpret things (like "public interest"). Everything is interpreted, and then left up for interpretation for others. Everyone can then choose how to interpret it. I believe that as long as we depend this heavily on media, the media will at least partially shape what "public interest" is. How does the public get interested in something? They first have to know about it before they can get interested in it. How does the public find out things? Mostly through different media sources.