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May 14, 2008

If You're Reading this blog...

This blog is a course blog for GWSS 3390: Feminist Media Making, in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, Fall 2007.

The course has ended.

Please feel free to browse the site, and remember blogs happen in reverse chronology, so if you want to start at the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom, or browse the links on the right-hand sidebar.

If you'd like to start at the beginning of this page (which is the end of our course), you will be reading reflections on our course journeys, then viewing final media projects (posted with final paper reflections).


Reflections on the Semester

When I walked into class on the first day I barely knew anything about media making. I had never used any programs like iMovie or Final Cut before. Come to think of it, I hadn't even figured out how to use iTunes yet.
I'm not technologically inclined. I'm from a farming community. We had dial-up for the last few years of my stay there. None of my friends had hobbies that involved computers. I never took a computer class in high school, instead I took woods, welding, and other 'practical' courses.
There were some days in this course that I wish I had taken at least one computer class. The fact that the closest I had gotten to reading a blog was reading my older sister's hand-written diary when I was in grade school was an embarrassing fact that I chose to keep to myself. I had never "YouTubed" I enjoyed videos that others made, but always told myself that I didn't have the time to do a project like that. I'm a pretty practical person. If I am going to take the time to work on a project it must get good use. Constructing a piece of furniture has always been a worthy project, but a media project? Never!
At the beginning of the course, and even half-way through I never thought that this opinion would change. I didn't even see the change coming, and was shocked when I realized it was here.

The first assignment I remember to be challenging and overwhelming. We had to post on the blog a few sentences about ourselves and post a picture. I worked for hours one afternoon trying to complete this task. I received some help and was able to submit it on time.
Other projects I attempted with the trial and error method. Actually, all of my projects were done this way. For my documentary and final project over half of my videotape clips had to be thrown out because of unsteady taping, wind, bad film, or some various other reason. This proved to be frustrating. I always assumed taping would be easy. All the other times I had done it the tape turned out fine. But then I thought of those other times, all of which had been at indoor parties where I passed the camera off within minutes. I'm not so sure if drunken video-taping counts as media making. And now that I really think about it, I'm nearly certain it doesn't.
For my final video a few of my teammates didn't want to be taped. Most didn't care. It was also frustrating having to switch my project theme from something less taboo to another topic. I learned that film is not exempt from the rules of life.
I learned more things than I can describe on one blog post. But most of all I learned a few things about myself. I'm not one for talking about my feelings, but when you say it one screen it makes it easier to find the words. Not any easier to watch later, but easier to put the feelings out there.
Looking back on how much I have learned and how much I grew, I know that I will take what I have learned in this course and apply it to my life. I plan on making many media projects this summer and posting them on the internet. One of my sisters will be in Kenya with internet access only. I hope to make a few projects for her to enjoy and show to her village. A few of my friends will be out of state also, so I hope to make a few videos with my friends as well.
The biggest this I realized was that videos do last a long time. Like any other project I take on, they will prove to be worthwhile and get their point across. Whether it is to document times with friends, create entertainment, or to send a personal message I now know of another 'practical' project.

May 10, 2008


My feminist media journey has been one of self-doubt and panic followed by empowerment and self-realization. One of the hardest parts of the course was figuring out how to take the risks I wanted to in my work, balancing my relatively low skill level with the messages I wanted to get across. In the end, I’m satisfied with my work and I know that my values as a feminist and as a journalist (member of the media) have been upheld.

To my peers, I would like to say that you all did an excellent job of creating meaningful stories, even out of topics that might have seemed a bit boring on the surface. I hope that the experience in the class will encourage us all to keep having a voice as media makers of some kind, because we all have valuable viewpoints.

I’ll take the lessons from this class along with my personal journey and use it to keep myself strong, even when others might not believe in what I’m doing. I know that I’m smart enough and thoughtful enough to keep putting ideas in to the world that will help make it a better place. It’s clear to me now that the most important thing is to have faith and confidence in my ideas and my values. I hope to have a career in journalism, and I think that what I’ve learned about my own abilities in this class will provide me with the confidence to be an innovator.

May 9, 2008

final thoughts

This class proved to be an incredible wealth of information for me. While at the beginning I was very frustrated with the lack of actually creating we seemed to be doing, in the end, I did discover a lot about myself and my media making abilities.

The most important lesson I learned was probably the day when Eli came to talk, his message about doing things for a point really hit home with me and his impact really influenced my projects. I have really enjoyed learning the history and background of feminist media making, but I feel i learned the most when I was actually creating.

final thoughts

My journey in this class has been both hard and inspiring. I have been struggling this semester with life stuff and taking on more than I should, and it's been hard for me to fit everything I've been wanting to do into the time that I have. It's been good for me to take the time and space in this class to reflect, and to make media. Making media has been a humbling process for me - I have had to start from scratch and learn from the ground up, and figure my way through technical and other difficulties along the way. It's also been empowering to know that those tools and knowledge are something that I can use and teach other people as well.

My classmates inspired me so much. I really appreciated everyone putting themselves out there to tell their stories, especially the really personal ones. I feel that I've gotten to know everyone through the course of the semester, and even though we can have really different life stories, dreams, and interests, I feel like I can relate to a lot of the stories that people have told. It's been beautiful to be going through this process of frustration and creativity with everyone. I'm also in awe of how hard everyone has worked and how dedicated everyone has been! You should all be proud of what you've accomplished, for real. And I've learned a lot from you.

I'll be taking the praxis and lessons I learned from this class into the world I live in and the community I work in. I doubt I'll be making any more digital stories, but the technical skills I've learned in making and editing digital media will be very useful in making propaganda and in doing other projects someday. The inspiration that comes from everyone's commitment and dedication to self-exposure and voice, as well as the great advice I've been given in the process of going through this class, are things that I will take with me throughout my life. It hasn't been an easy journey, but it's been a very instructive one, and I will take it into the future with me. I hope to live up to it someday, and I will be working to do so.


It has been such an amazing class! I started the class getting a little overwhelmed with theory and praxis, but at the end of class I really feel that I have learned so much. I really enjoyed this class because I got to exercise my photography and video production skills, and really learned a lot about editing and other technical aspects of media making.

Also, a funny thing about my videos, I made a name "REEL Change Productions." Mainly just for fun, because I'm sure somewhere someone else has it copyrighted, but underneath that title is always ".adila." which Arabic for just. I kept forgetting to explain, but it was a constant reminder that I have another purpose to make media - even though one video might be all about my trip to New York, that word always brings me back to my original passion for social justice and my goal to make media to reflect that.

Thank you all for sharing and listening this semester. In the beginning I felt like I wasn't very connected to any of you, but as the year progressed and we made ourselves vulnerable to each other by sharing our stories, I felt so much closer. It was really challenging to open up and share things at times for me, so when you all were so receptive and supportive, I really felt at ease and comfortable in class. Thank you all for pushing yourselves as well and not doing things the easy way or choosing the superficial story, you all challenged yourselves with the tools and content, and that really gave me inspiration to push myself as well.

I really think that I want to shoot a documentary after taking this course, well, I kind of knew that I wanted to make some sort of media for a larger audience in the near future, but now I really have a realistic grasp on everything that shooting a documentary would involve. It's so cool that I learned so much in this class, and it's actual stuff that I really will use! In terms of theory I really learned to rethink my motives for doing something and it really gave me a reality check to make sure that I make media in something that I am personally invested, or it will show in my work that I wasn't. I learned that I'm never going to be perfect, and I'm still not okay with that, but I'm getting better at accepting that as soon as I release a video, I'll find something else that is wrong. This class really let me explore my techy side, which I love! Sitting in the lab was amazing for me because love producing electronic media and it was great to be actually challenged with computer difficulties for once, and I got to learn how to use a MAC more, which is awesome because now it's on my resume as a skill. :) Finally, this class really inspired me to be true to myself, my sources and my story, and when I'm uncomfortable or feeling especially challenged that I need to own that and grow from my experience.

Final Thoughts

This class has been a real eye-opener for me. I decided to take it because I thought it might be a good link between my theatre major and GWSS minor. I didn’t expect it to be something very unique to what I’ve learned in either department or something that I would enjoy so much. I was always just interested in all the topics I’d learned about in GWSS classes, but now I feel like I have an outlet to actually be involved in the dialogue about the issues and the issues themselves. I’m glad that I have a media knowledge that will allow me to contribute to the community in my own way, and allow me a creative outlet that stage managing for theatre simply doesn’t. All the organizational aspects of my “job? are so rigid and structured I was so glad to find an environment that allows me to play and be creative and feel like I am being heard, rather than the invisibility of being backstage during a show and the rehearsal process.

Creating media makes the theory of GWSS seem doable. It also makes the technological trend in theatre within reach for me. I’m so grateful for this class which finally has pulled me into both of my departments in a more tangible way. I’m so anxious to start my job in the lab and have it be open with my schedule and have lots of time with those tools and to help others to use and explore them as well. I registered for a Video Technology class with the theatre department as well, so I can have more in depth skills and techniques for the actual filming process.

I’d also really like to thank my peers in this class, you really kept me interested and driven to create things that would impress such a talented smart group of people. I wish we could have had another class together in which we could have had more discussion.

Thanks so much for this class Rachel, I beat the dead horse already, but it has really made a big difference in my college career.

Media Making Reflection

I came into this class hoping to merge together my former love for editing and filming with the my current love of gender studies and I really am happy the way things turned out. I was a communications student at my first college and in high school I edited, filmed,and hosted our student television announcements, a senior citizens television program, and was the advertising director for our school store. I used to LOVE making media. Then I got to college and hated it. I also got into the sports communication department which made it worse. I got a lot of hands-on work at our school's tv station but the classes were meaningless. That's why I was really quite nervous for this class. Since I knew media making was something I loved, if the class was bad I would hate it even more. But I can honestly say that I appreciated all that I learned throughout this class. The assignments had a purpose; I wasn't in a meaningless public speaking class or boring communication research methods class. I felt like I was going somewhere and doing something practical with what I was learning.

Since I am moving next fall, this class really encouraged me to look into documenting my travels. I am hoping to be able to afford a DV camera and really want to capture what Haiti will be like for me when I am there. So in short, I think I really will take some practical knowledge moving forward and I now have the motivation to do something with my love for media making.

Final Thoughts

This course was actually pretty well-timed for me. It stressed the bejesus out of me every time I had to do new project, but when I finished, with every project I did, I really was proud of myself. I also feel like it was the first time I actually got a chance to study foundations of feminist art. To me, when I think about “feminist art? Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party? is actually one of the only things that comes to my mind. I’ve never thought about constructing anything of my own, either, simply because it seemed out of my realm of capabilities. I’m proud of everything I did. I really did learn to make a statement, I think, by the final project. That was my real attempt to say something political.

I also got great feedback from other class members. I wish the course lasted longer, because there were pieces that they implemented that I wish I could put into practice myself. I can, but I would like to be able to use music the way that Bethany did. I always stuck to one or two songs, but the way she incorporated different music to fit different feelings in her pieces really shaped things well. Obviously, everyone has a different way of editing and incorporating pieces, and I really enjoyed seeing everybody’s final projects. I think, given more time together, we all could have grown a great deal.

I know that my future doesn’t consist of anything particularly media related. However, I am a GWS major, and I’m not sure those issues are directly related to my future, either, and I intend to maintain principles I’ve learned throughout my undergraduate career. I have imovie on my mac, and I want to use it as a recreational tool. I also know that youtube is a safe-enough outlet for me to use if I want to put things out there. I might pursue something with the first project I did; I’ll work on it some more, but a friend recommended submitting it to a treatment organization of some sort, and once I feel it is up to par, I think I will do something with it.

May 8, 2008


The power of media was a brand new concept for me. Granted I wasn't completely naiive when I started this class, but this was definitely an eye opening class. I was taught that my own ideas can be incredibly powerful if I put my theories into practice. The more knowledge I acquire, the better it falls into place. I learned a great deal about the struggles women have faced for too long in this society, and am proud to say that I am using my own voice to speak out. My feminist media making journey brought me to new ideas and concepts that I don't think I would have experienced without this class. This class enabled me to use creativity that I didn't even know I had. I had the opportunity to meet Beth who spent a few hours just talking to me. She instilled the idea that "the journey is just as important as the goal". This seems to be very true in every aspect of my life. I also got to learn about my own family and the history that built me as a person. I gained knowledge about where my mother came from and realized that sometimes the strongest people in the world are closer than you think.

My peers were amazing. They were so insightful and helpful that I felt that there was constant encouragement coming from the entire class. This class had a certain sense of reality that none of my other classes have. My peers in this class were so unique and intelligent that I have become very thankful for each one of them. I learned that it's impossible to be comfortable unless you are comfortable with yourself. I learned that it's important to put yourself out there because there are experiences and ideas that are individually unique and could be very insightful for others.

The lessons that I learned in this class will be applied to my life. I now have the skills and knowledge to create media, but more importantly, I have the mind set to do it. I have the confidence and motivation to do it. I learned that the work that I put out there shouldn't just be for me to view, but it should be to get other people thinking and inspired. Again, it goes back to giving life to ideas and theories and moving them from the mind into reality and sharing it with others. It helps that I am now familiar with both iMovie and Adobe Premiere and am enabled to create my own thoughts into pieces of media. I will hopefully evolve in these skills and use them for future ideas and projects.


When I decided to take this class, I really didn’t know what to expect. All I know is that this class has exceeded any expectations that I could have had. I have learned so much from this class. Not only have I learned how to create media, and how to interpret feminist theory, but I have also learned some new things about myself. I have learned how to use feminist media making to deal with my own personal struggles.

When I decided to take this class, I really didn’t know what to expect. All I know is that this class has exceeded any expectations that I could have had. I have learned so much from this class. Not only have I learned how to create media, and how to interpret feminist theory, but I have also learned some new things about myself. I have learned how to use feminist media making to deal with my own personal struggles.
When I first started taking women’s studies classes four years ago, a lot of what I read about was way over my head. This class has really brought a lot of that together for me. I have always understood the main concepts, but actually creating something and applying those concepts in a deeply personal way has really lit the light bulb for me. The readings in this class (particularly Michelle Citron) were phenomenal. Great choices Rachel! I have also learned an invaluable lesson in how to access and use media in new and exciting ways. I love making movies, and using them to tell stories. I am a writer and love written words, so finding a new way to express myself has really been a lot of fun. I have also learned that creating media is really hard work! I have a much larger appreciation for the time and effort that goes into creating just a few minutes of media.
Through my classmates I have learned that taking risks and putting yourself out there is really the only way to create something with true meaning. I never talk to anyone (not even my best friend) about my dad’s death or how my mother tells me I should get married. But within our class, a community of trust and openness was there that gave me the courage to put myself out there. Knowing that others in our class were willing to put themselves out there as well was also a good motivation. And, hey, we all created some pretty amazing pieces of feminist media art!
I know that what I have learned in this class and from my classmates will easily transition into what I want to do in life. I plan on taking a year off and then applying to the Library and Information Sciences masters program at St. Kate. As a librarian I would love to share and use my knowledge of media making. I used to think that my only artistic talent was writing, and have happily discovered that I am wrong. I can create art through film, pictures, and media as well. I have truly enjoyed and will greatly miss this class; it was by far my favorite GWSS class that I ever took and I hope that many more students in the future will be given the opportunity to take it as well.
Ciao Everyone! Have a great life and always dream big!

My Journey

This class has taught me many different things and i have tried my best to demonstrate those skills into my final project and I hope that everyone sees that as well. Content, context and form are the main features to begin any story and to me these three are the basic tools that help shape the entire story.
I also, got to hear my classmate’s ideas and thoughts about my ongoing projects, which I thought was very supportive and honest feedback that I have ever got in any class. Moreover, I also learned about their stories and their media making experience, which makes me, realized that we were all in the learning phase. All the blog post and videos that we created was just too good to watch because each and every single person used different ways to tell the story. Some chose to bring the personal aspect of it and some were for the educational purposes.

I also learned the technical aspect of the media making such as holding a camera in a proper position and when to take an eye level shot vs. when to bring the shot from the bird angle. In addition to that, I learned about the various feminist media makers such as Judy Chicago and her personal take on media making. It was fascinating to see how motivated she was toward her work and she can be call as an inspiration for many people. I personally, liked her take on the feminist media and how one should go beyond to achieved the desire goal. I will take all of this aspect of theoretical and practical tools further in my future work. In addition to that, I will continue to make videos of my family and my personal experience in life. When I made the videos for the class it gave me a sense of satisfaction and achievement and I will continue on this journey throughout my life. Although, I wish I could learn the Final Cut as well but I guess there is always a next time.

May 7, 2008

Rachel's Reflections on our Journey

To all of the students of GWSS 3390's first-ever section of Feminist Media Making:

Thank you for such thoughtful and critical engagement with the theories and practices of feminist media making. I greatly admire and appreciate your honesty, thoughtfulness, and willing to commit. Many of the stories and aspects of your lives that you chose to share were courageous, powerful, and important. Thank you for trusting in me, in our class, and in the process. I hope you feel proud of your accomplishments, I do!

I am proud of the way that you all respectfully engaged each other, viewed each other's work, and offered constructive feedback throughout the class. From the first day of "feeling exposed" (the recording of the digital storytelling v.o. in front of each other) to the screenings of your final projects, you created a community of learners/media makers that worked to build each other theoretically and technically. I believe that this class was a true community of learners, where each of you inspired the next.

As a feminist media maker and teacher/mentor, I worked to help each of you articulate your theoretical frameworks, and give you the practical tools (technology) to achieve your vision. I tried to balance the "hand holding" type of teaching with active learning strategies to push you to reach your goals.

I am committed to making feminist media, and will continue to expand my body of work. As a teacher of feminist media praxis, I will continue to develop lessons, exercises, handouts (I think basics of editing handouts will really help), and will work on grants to get Final Cut on every station. I think that starting on iMovie forced you all to think about structure and storytelling in a shot by shot way, but many of you surpassed the capabilities of iMovie after the first video project. I know many of you didn't like the personal blogs, but it was a way (for me, and I think each of you who read other student's blog) to see what interests you, informs you, and sparks your creativity. I do think, however, that in future classes, I should find better ways to integrate the personal blog into classroom time. I would also like to do more group work (discussion of the readings, peer reviews, and other exercises), so that you can have more time connecting with each other in our classroom community. I must say that teaching in the computer lab provides some great benefits (especially for the technical workshops), but is frustrating when you all are clickety-clacking during lecture and discussion time. I worked to resolve this with the "turn your monitors" approach, but it felt a bit high school to me... I think I'll use both the FMC space AND more of the lounge/conference room space next time.

Again, I thank you all and welcome course feedback on the blog and via email.

Best to you all & I hope you continue on your journey of feminist media making, both in theory and in practice!


May 6, 2008

Final Assignment!

Post: Category 7. Final Thoughts

In a few sentences, phrases, word, bullet point, images, or whatever will best express what you are thinking and feeling, please leave your final thoughts on the following:

1 - your feminist media making journey

2 - thoughts for your peers (things you learned with/from each other)

3 - where you will (or at least might) take the lessons you've learned from this course (theory, practice, tech skills, inspiration...)

Final Project

This project was about my mother. As I am sure many daughters think of their mothers, I think my mother is one of the bravest and most intelligent person that I know. She transformed her beliefs and thoughts into actions. She went against all cultural norms and the narrow-minded views of her family and fought for what she believed was best.A photo album that I found while unwillingly cleaning a living room closet inspired this project. My mother and I went through the pictures and I learned about my mother’s past. The realization of how unique my mother is from anyone I know inspired me to put this project together.
I think about the stories that were told as I grew up, and I realize that bravery was portrayed as a male trait. Men were to be strong, brave and courageous, while the women were to be rescued and saved by men. To generalize those characteristics to a specified gender or sex is something that was taught, but also something that I never believed in.
In Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s Representing Women: The Politics of Self Representation, she describes how she desires to, “represent the truth of ‘woman’ or female subjectivity? (p. 300). She talks about how art is a powerful form for women to share their experiences and their lives. The views of women are very different from men, and it is important to express them and contribute them to the world. Men generally conduct politics in this society. The government has the ability to affect everyone. This makes it very important for women to stand up for their views so that our thoughts and beliefs are influencing decisions that will contribute to how this country functions. Art is a form that is a tool for feminists. Whether it is in the form of visual art, video, music, painting, dancing, or even creating a protest against a segregating force, art is a gift that women need to use to show how powerful we are. The article expresses how powerful women are and how we need to show it.
Media is an incredibly powerful form of communication. People can gain access to information about any subject possible. The media enables us to think, but our own experiences and teachings negate how we decide to act. Media provides knowledge that can be shared with anyone. It also gives us the ability to learn more about any given topic or subject that we feel is important.
My theories that related to this project involve this media revolution. The internet especially has enabled me to gain information about topics that I would have no other way of getting. Although it is important to have an idea of what is and is not direct information, the internet does provide us with a great deal of facts that help us gain knowledge about the world around us. This project used photography to express a story. The photos of my mother show how althought she grew up in a conservative Japanese culture, she evolved into an independent and intelligent woman. She had an idea in her head that transformed into a belief, and she applied this belief to her life.
My mother has taught me that my views are important. My thoughts can be life changing if only I was to share them. Her story inspired me to share it. She stresses how important it is to believe in what you are doing and that learning and experiencing life is what makes you who you are. Humans are always changing. She taught me that I should constantly evolve.

Christina Moser
GWSS 3390
May 6, 2008

Three Generations of Women

“How we love, are inspired by, want to recognize, finding meaning
in our relationship to, another person or even pet, is deeply important to
us. Perhaps the majority of the stories created in our workshops are about
a relationship with a singular other. And in the best of stories they tell
us more about ourselves than the details of our own life story? (Lambert
27). This paragraph was the inspiration for my final video project. This
past September I made the decision to move in with my boyfriend, much to
the dismay of my deeply religious mother. Ever since then, she has
constantly been nagging me to “at least get engaged?, reminding me that
“what I am doing is not right with God.? I decided to use this documentary
as an opportunity to look into the past and see how my grandmother and my
mother handled their romantic relationships. I’m not sure what I expected
to discover, but I at least hoped to ease that guilty feeling that I always
get when I do something that displeases my mother.
I soon found, through my interviews with my grandmother and my
mother that they both had stayed from their parents’ wills when it came to
their relationships with their significant others. My grandmother deviated
from her parents’ will by marrying my grandfather, whom her parents found
unacceptable. My mother also upset her parents by dating someone much older
than her, and I have displeased my parents by dealing with my relationships
in a non-traditional manner. It is in this that I see a commonality between
the three of us. We are all stubborn, determined, smart women who all must
do things their own way.
Just as both my grandmother and my mother defied their parents’
will in their choice of relationships, I have as well. I met my boyfriend
Nathan when I was a sophomore in college, and we have been together ever
since. We both feel very strongly that it is important to establish
ourselves career-wise and financially before taking the next step in our
relationship and deciding to get married. We are also very aware of the
growing divorce rates, and want with all of our hearts to avoid ever having
to go through a divorce. When we decided to move in together last fall, my
mother had a fit. I have struggled with this for a long time. It is
difficult for me to know that my mother disapproves of my decisions, just
as I am sure that it was difficult for my grandmother to know that her
mother disapproved of her marrying my grandfather.
Through my documentary, I hope to show this common thread that
connects us as family. Even though I sometimes feel very alienated from my
mother because of my decisions, I take comfort in knowing that, at some
point in her life, she must have felt the same way. I wanted to portray
this connection/disconnection visually by allowing my audience to see old
pictures of my grandmother and mother, and them speaking in the present
about the past. As Michelle Citron said in her book Home Movies and Other
Necessary Fictions: “In home movies (as my interviews sort of resemble) we
often connect directly to the person behind the lens…With parents and
children…the image often reproduces the power dynamic existing outside the
frame? (Citron 13). Again, it is this connect/disconnect that is the common
thread that runs throughout my film.
It is a connection because we are family, we are women, we all
have a love story about a man that we all care deeply about; but, at the
same time it is also a disconnect because our stories are different. They
occur at dramatically different points in history, and most obviously, my
grandma and my mother both married very young and I have not. This project
has truly helped me come to terms with a deep internal struggle. On one
hand, I want to please my mother, but on the other, I know that I must do
what is right for me. Yet, I take comfort in knowing that I carry on my
mother’s and my grandmother’s ambition to do exactly what I believe is
right for me.

Sisters of an Only Child

Here is a little context for this piece...

When I was younger, I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around. I tended to pout a lot, read a lot, and listen to my c.d. player at almost all family functions. I guess I thought it was cool to be "misunderstood" by my family (I swear, no one really did understand me). I eventually moved out of my parents house, came to college and realized that it takes a lot less energy and is so much more relieving to be positive.

That said, this piece is a sort of personal penance to my family for the cold shoulder I gave them for a good eighteen years. It is my realization of how much I really am a part of my family and how much they mean to me as I get older. As an only child, my extended family is all I have to replace sisters and brothers; that is why they are Sisters of an Only Child.

Reflection Paper:

For this final project, my initial project fell through; however, the project I ended up creating will probably mean more to me as an artist and person because it is something I connected with. The story of Amazon Feminist Bookstore is no doubt important, but my family means more to me than that bookstore ever could. That said, the theory and practice of creating my final project “Sisters of an Only Child,? allowed me to produce the most sound project to date in this class. Though I dealt with some technological problems early in the process, the end result is most certainly a project I am proud of.
To create “Sisters of an Only Child,? I moved up in editing tools (from imovie to Final Cut). Final Cut has considerably more editing options than imovie does that helped me create the look I desired. Final Cut allowed me to create a well-paced piece by allowing me to play with transitions (length, type, beginning position, end position, opacity, etc.). The program also allowed me to easily edit the sixteen short video clips of my family that I shot. The video editing tools kept the audio and picture in sync which proved to be a problem in previous projects. Minus some importing and transferring issues at the very start of the project, the technological aspect of my final project ran fairly smoothly. Learning Final Cut vastly improved the quality of editing I was able to achieve; consequently, I am happier with the overall outcome of the physical appearance of this piece than of any of the other pieces created this semester.
The other portion of this project, the theory behind it, proved to be more difficult than the practice (which, might I add, surprised me a little). The most important lessons I’ve learned in this class in relation to media making include ideas such as to make the work personal, don’t let the story get too long, and that how one remembers things is not always (in fact, rarely) what really happened. Michelle Citron discusses memory and it’s creation in her theoretical piece, Home Movie and Other Necessary Fictions. She says, “Explicit memory is hypothesized to be an actively constructed narrative built from an interplay between a few important details and the feelings attached to the event. This memory is continuous, storylike and easily verbalized? which became especially important to my piece because I chose to narrate how I remember my relationship with my family (10). The other piece of theory that Citron added to my piece I actually used inversely. Citron says, “We record the noteworthy, the celebrated, the remarkable and the extraordinary. Or perhaps their memorialization on film codifies these events as such? in response to recording/filming/capturing specific moments in life and creating memories from them (28). This quote informed my thinking on where family is found and how it is felt. The start of my piece is about how family is in the day-to-day actions that go unrecorded; “Sisters of an Only Child? is a reflection of the belief that family is in those unrecorded moments—the moments I chose to record. This theory informed my active choice to record the relatively unremarkable event of a family barbeque in order to demonstrate my evolving relationship to my family.
The other important part of theory that I had to consider was the politics of representing my family. Reframings talks about the idea that in telling a story, one re-presenting the story as he or she interprets it. Because this piece is about my family, I had to pat particular attention to how I was representing these people that mean so much to me. It would have been easy to use staged shoots of my family, everyone smiling and happy, but that is not my reality. The choice to use spontaneous shots for the majority of the piece reflects the (more) “true? nature of our family dynamic (as I see it). Through the theory of Reframings, I was able to more accurately portray my personal story because the representations I chose told (relatively) the same story. I chose to leave myself out of the piece until the end because that was the story I wanted to tell. The pictures reflect the story of my integration into my family, making theory an extremely important part of my final project.
Overall, this class taught me that the combination of theory and practice proves to be very difficult, at the least, challenging. However, it did also demonstrate that when theory and practice even sort of converge, the results can be amazing. The relationship between theory and practice is extremely symbiotic: one informs the other. As a person more inclined to grasp theory, the practice was a challenge that was eventually (sort of) overcome. More than anything, this final project is a reflection of the technological advances I’ve made (with LOTS of help).

Freaks in an American Culture


Details of the project is listed below,

Theories and Practice:
My final project is based on a history of two individuals Ota Benga and Ishi both suffered greatly due to being Native in this American land. I was inspired to do this project by reading articles for my women studies class on the topic of Freaks and how freaks were mistreated and became the object of gaze. In other word they were called as “monstrous? and “Freaks? because they were not normal like other people.
My project is about a story of two individuals, Ota Benga and Ishi who were bought to the U.S. through slavery and later became part of the freak sideshows. In 1906, Ota Benga was sold into the tribal slave market where Samuel Verner purchased him. The same tribe killed Ota Benga’s family so he did not have a reason to return to home after the suffering. Ishi on the other hand was found in the slaughterhouse in Oroville, California in 1911. Ishi died from tuberculosis and Ota Begna committed suicide.
Freaks have always been seen as monstrous people and our society has never accepted them. What is more is that I came across several different racial types of freaks during my readings; but never once did I come across any Americans who were also called as Freaks. That indeed inspired me to ask the question why is that we call freak to only native people? And not to any Americans? I began my journey by searching more about the history of Ota Begna and Ishi. I chose those two individual because they both counterpart each other in some ways. Ota Benga was highly mistreated by his fellow who brought him to the U.S. and later kept him at the monkey house as a savage. He became the object of the display and many people gathered to see him all over but no one ever came to fight back for him. On the contrary Ishi, was given respect and was taught some manners but still he worked as a janitor in the university’s heart museum of Anthropology museum. I wondered how many professors around the university were treated that way around that time? That led me thinking more and more and I found the history of Ota Benga and Ishi. I found articles and book that talked about freaks more in depth. I search for their images. I also saw the video piece made by Fatimah Tobing Rony On Cannibalism, which dealt with a very similar question that I wondered. Rony also wrote a book call “The Third Eye?. In her book she talks about her practice and theories for the video. She gives a great insight of how she perceived native peoples have been looked at. According to her, “ ‘[t] hat man is Alive!’ The irony is that in order to look most alive, the “native? must be perceived as always already dead? (116).
Moreover, she mentioned that, “ the continued proliferation of images of indigenous peoples as spatially and temporally distant, however, sustains a denial of the history of native people’s struggle against colonialization and genocide, and their ongoing struggles for cultural identity against the forces of an image-hungry dominant culture which sees them as always already dead? (198). While constructing with the video I have tried to bring all the aesthetic and visual tools that I learned in this class throughout this semester. I liked the idea of telling a story through pictures and audio narration and you can see that in my final project. I have also tried to bring the history and struggle of these individuals and my goal is to make people think of what happened in the history was right or wrong? Like how Rony mentioned that, “ film and the discourse surrounding it can tell us about the nature of anthropological knowledge and the role of visual media in legitimating that knowledge and other regimes of truth? (100) and I hope that I succeed in my project.
Although, I dealt with some technological problem throughout the making of this documentary but in my final piece I believe I achieved a better documentary. In my project I have dealt with the racial difference that existed throughout the history. And my hope is that after seeing the video it will provoke the audience to think over and eventually it will do well to our society in the future.

bad mother what?

My paper is on media images of motherhood. I begin by analyzing and critiquing the problematics of corporate media's images of motherhood, which are often stereotypical and offensive. I then argue that feminists need to make and use their own forms of independent media to put forward more complex and positive counter-images.

Corporate media often shows motherhood as a series of idealized or demonized stereotypes. Mothers can be depicted as frumpy housewives, sexy MILFs or racialized, classed and pathologized welfare queens, but they are rarely shown as the complete or complex human beings they are.

Fortunately, corporate media is not the be-all and end-all of media. Independent media is very much alive and thriving, particularly in the technological age we live in. Forms of media such as blogs, vlogs, documentary video and digital stories are some of the ways that people who may not be heard by the mainstream media can put their voices and messages out there with relative inexpense and ease.

Feminist mothers can and must make their own media to can put forward their own images of motherhood, that show motherhood in all of its powerful, terrifying beauty and mothers in all of their intensity and complexity. These images can allow mothers to tell their and their childrens' stories. In doing so, they can show the world the ways that intersectional identities affect motherhood and vice versa, counter the stereotypes, and create a new narrative that can only have positive effects for them, their children, and motherhood itself.

gwss final video

paper inside

to begin my process of my final project, i had to take a long look at my consumption of celebrity and media exposure
and evaluate how i personally felt affected. i read us magazine, a watch the 'e' news network sometimes, but even if i didnt, i would still see celebrities on the nightly news, internet advertisments, etc. celebrities really do have a strong hold on what is shaping feminity for today's women. in my research, i looked at scientific studies (explaining links between media women and the affects on women's bodies), editorial articles, and a very interesting book entitled 'fame junkies' that really asserted my theory for my project.

making feminist media is something that is very important to me, but i also feel that it shouldn't be an option, feminist media should be the only type of media there is, why is some media 'unfeminist'? my piece is obviously one of feminist media, but i think it has a universal theme.

the construction of my story began with deciding between video filming and a photo essay. i originally decided on both, but the shoots i used seemed a little too 'home movie' (michelle citron style) and didn't flow with the other photographs i used from the internet, artist's collections, and books. the pictures, effects, and transitions all were used to heighten my position on what the focus should be of the pictures, and the corrollation to what i was trying to say.

all in all, i really liked my piece, but there are still some changes i wish i could have fixed. the sound was obviously very choppy in the speaking parts, and i needed a stronger filter. i also wished i could have discussed the second two points of effects (behavior and love/procreation) but i could not find the right pictures that were illustrating what i was trying to say, and then i didn't think i would have enough time to edit it well enough.

statement/theory of my piece:

Celebrity as Queen: the Tabloid’s Interpretation of Femininity
Celebrities have become the modern American’s royalty. Any citizen paying attention in a society where Hollywood updates come before war casualty numbers on the nightly news, where magazines that keep readers updated on the latest star’s bar of choice sell before the local newspaper can begin to watch a certain person of fame come of age, then is able to analyze her messy love life, celebrate with her on her wedding day, obsess over the baby bump, and then do it all over again after the divorce. Many people believe today’s culture’s celebrity obsession is harmless, a distraction in the distressing events that have come to trouble the world, but the affects of celebrity worship have incredible damage on how the people, especially women and girls, living in America see themselves. The results from a survey conducted of 653 middle-school students show that given a choice of becoming the CEO of a major corporation, the president of Yale or Harvard, a Navy SEAL, a U.S. senator or "the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star," almost half of the girls, 43.4%, chose the assistant role (Halpern, 3). These statistics only begin to show the innumerable ways celebrity worship is changing the way women are viewing their role in the world. Women surviving in today’s age are strongly impacted by the impression of how life is supposed to be as role modeled by celebrities, as they are informed on how to dress, behave, find love, procreate and be a good mother.
Appearance is one of the biggest influences celebrities have on today’s society of women. The biggest and most obvious example is the media’s incredibly large impact on eating disorders. The average celebrity is about 35 pounds heavier than the average American woman (Glamour, 273) and the toll that can have on any woman’s psyche has effects so grand, it has changed our modern culture forever. In accordance with critical thinking, one study done in Australia shows that “media exposure causes women to feel heightened dissatisfaction with their body shape. Women are effected by media exposure due to their own perception of females in the media, and the media has a strong role in body dissatisfaction and dieting disorders? (King, 2). This study clearly shows how the modern day celebrity affects how women across the United States look down and see their bodies. The ways in which this has changed the world are numerous. From the creation of new multi billion dollar diet and fitness industries, to pornographic images becoming more and more focused on the idealization of women (created by celebrities) as prepubescent girls, it seems celebrities have changed the outsides of how women look in almost every aspect.

Final Project/Paper

Here are the links that I would have placed in the Youtube Sidebar:
A great video about defining the male gaze by bsroda

A creative film about the gaze, watching, and being watched

I’ve had the idea in my head for this project for a very long time. As I’ve slowly become more and more involved in YouTube, I check it as often as my email, I’ve wanted to contribute to the community.

The accumulative theory I used to create my personal definition of feminism comes mainly from class discussions with Jigna Dasai about binaries and Professor Zita’s lectures about the wheel of power. My main understanding of the male gaze comes primarily from Laura Mulvey’s article Visual Pleasure and the Narrative Cinema and discussions in Professor Zita’s film studies course. This has been a fascinating topic for me while watching vloggers and video makers on Youtube. Youtube is a place with lots of creative people who cumulatively have lots of time to create visual media, so I think this is an audience that would be very beneficial to reach out to about these feminist topics.

In compiling information about these feminist ideas and searching for youtubers and their videos to use in this project, I compiled a two scripts that ended up taking about 15 minutes a piece. My Youtube compatible goal was 3-4 minutes a piece, so I had to cut things down. I’m worried that I cut out the things of substance required for this project. I’m hoping to rectify that by putting information in the sidebar of each video on the Youtube page. Time was my biggest constraint for this project. I knew that I would have very limited time to edit this project, so my goal when shooting them was to get them all in one take and not have to do much editing, as my three hour block of time would probably be eaten up by simply getting the footage into the camera. This is something you see on Youtube sometimes, but usually some editing is done to improve performance. I was falling back on my theatre and speech background to get the best performance possible in one take when I had the time, at 10:30pm. I realize that this was a copout in a lot of ways. I am just a talking head through thirteen minutes of video, which is quite boring I’ll admit. I know a final paper isn’t the place to make excuses, but I believe that I did the best project I could knowing what time constraints I would have with the building hours. I really wish I had a Mac. If I could do this project differently I would choose to use clips from videos rather than just linking to them; I just need to learn how to do that. I also would use direct quotes from theorists instead of summarizing their arguments in my own words.

I hope that I can be graded on what I feel is the most important and significant part of my project. I feel that reaching out and creating a piece of media for a certain audience and placing it where it has the potential to be seen is really the overall point of this class for me. I think it was what you were getting at as well, Rachel. I’m really planning on continuing this project throughout the summer. It will keep me reading and thinking about something other than my day job.

The University of Minnesota Women's Rugby Team

2007-2008 Season

The University of Minnesota Women’s Rugby Team

I did my final project on the University of Minnesota Women’s Rugby Team. I am a member of the team and feel that the team is not treated how it should be. We are a club sport, but put in as much time and commitment as Varsity sports at the U. My first goal of this video project was to investigate why we get less funding than other sports. Some of my teammates have theories on this ranging from how cheap the university is to lack of funding due to the sexual orientation of some of the players.
I was really set on making this piece about the amount of funding received, hoping that I would be able to make a difference either by receiving money from the university or a private donor. This however, was not to be the case.
These problems were put in front of me and I still had to find a way to get around them while making a meaningful video. I considered the shots I had and the questions that I had asked on prior video takes. Also after input from my classmates I was able to decide a new direction for the film. I decided to focus on more of the team as a whole, how the members are more like family than a group of athletes.
At first I wanted to take short video clips like the Grace Lee project. I taped and asked a variety of rugby questions, still unsure of where to go with the project. I figured I was making a safety net by asking a wide variety of questions. I was planning on sorting through and choosing the clips I wanted, like the Grace Lee film. But then less than a week before the due date I had 3 video tapes in my gym bag (yes I know a bad place for them.) They broke and I had only one tape with about half an hour of film left. I was able to bounce back from this because I have many pictures from games, so I decided to combine documentary with digital storytelling to make the piece. I think it worked pretty well, and when I finished it ended up being what I pictured it would be.
My theory for the piece is a variety of things. I took my opinion and personal feelings for the team and used digital storytelling and documentaries to get my point across. I also tried to use images that I felt portrayed a lot of emotion and focus on them a little longer. This I picked up from Judy Chicago. Instead of trying to cover up the embarrassing faces that are contorted from the effort of the sport I wanted it to be shown, much like Judy was trying to get across when her student casted her body and then chose to cover it up. A few of my teammates weren’t big fans of some of the pictures, but by choosing not to use some I felt I was covering up the sport.
A few times in the movie there are little play-by-play action shots of still frames that were captured by the photographer. I used this like “The Party? apiece that Michelle Citron talked about. I took the shots in the order they were taken and tried to create a near moving image. I made those picture clips shorter to do this affect and I feel that it worked out quite well. I also tried to order the other still frames with like pictures. For example the scrums are together with scrums, lineouts with lineouts, and tackles with tackles. I tried to keep most of the game clips together so people who had never seen a game can watch it and get a good feel for the game, as many people haven’t ever watched a game.
I also wanted to get the point across at how close of a team we are. I hope that the pictures and video clips portray that. I know what I am thinking, and want the viewer to see. So if viewers feel excited about rugby and can see how tight this group of girls here is then I have succeeded.
This project has meant more to me than I thought it would. My teammates knew I was doing this project, but they think it is to promote rugby. What they don’t know it that I am using it to say goodbye. This summer I have to have a surgery that will make me unable to return to Minnesota in the fall. I may be eventually able to return, but the doctors are telling me that I may never fully regain use of some of my motor functions. Right now none of my teammates know that I will not be returning for the fall semester. It is hard for me to tell them because they have been my closest friends for the last 8 ½ months. This video will be shown at the end of the year banquet, in a week and a half. I might tell my teammates before the banquet that I will not be back for fall this Friday. I am still not sure yet.
I never thought media like this would help me be able to tell something that was hard for me. Now I am thankful that it can.

My Mother

For this assignment, I picked my mother as the subject of my documentary. Basically, I picked out a few key stories from her life so that I could tell the viewer a little bit more about my mom that one wouldn’t necessarily know just by looking at her. I choose to film her in front of a wall that is located in the main entrance of our house which is filled with family pictures that we take every year; our family is very important to my mom, and I wanted my placement of her to reflect that. Also, since she is instrumental in getting us all together every holiday to take a picture that she then sends out to our family and friends, it seemed only fitting that she be filmed in front of the wall of yearly Christmas greeting card pictures. I wanted my mom to the subject of this documentary short because she doesn’t usually get to talk about herself all that often, she is usually recounting achievements of her kids or taking care of us, so that is why I wanted to see what she had to say if I just put a camera in front of her and started asking her questions.

As I reflect on my mom’s story, I conclude that I don’t see stories like hers being told in Hollywood or Bollywood (Indian’s Hollywood) very much. Yes, the once-in-a-while immigrant story, the domestic abuse story, the sexual abuse story, or the mother story, but if I were my mom, I wouldn’t really find representation of my story and myself in the media. Stories like moms are present in feminist literature and the like, but I really don’t think that style of writing is accessible to my mother and others like her. That is one of the reasons I struggle with overly-academic work is that I don’t think it is accessible to all walks of life, but I do recognize that in order for writers such as bell hooks to be accepted by their scholarly peers that they must produce overly-academic work, most of which, is supposedly is for the “common people.?

Thinking back to all the various theories and praxis that I learned in the beginning of this Media Making class, I look at my justification or turning the camera on my mom and what it means to me to be the person behind the camera. Actually, now that I think of it, most of the time media is being made via camera or videotape, I am usually the using the tool. Mostly, because I’m “techy,? but ever since I was a little girl, I have preferred to be the active media maker in my family. My mom? Not so much. When it came to my parents, my dad was always videotaping and adding himself into every scene by adding comments that were picked up by the microphone. I would like to think of myself as an invested media maker, I empathize with my mother’s pain and her happiness as we create new bonds that strengthen our relationship.

In terms of my personal reframing of my mother’s life and her everyday reality, I publically reveal her moments of pain, as well as the times of her greatest happiness. Michelle Citron, in her book, Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions, she wrote about selective filming and how the “sunny side of life is preserved (pg. 19),? so only our happiest memories are recorded, but our most painful are not captured by a photograph or video because no one want to remember them. My mother has been through so much pain and sadness, but flipping through hundreds of pictures old and new, there is not a picture present in the albums that signify a sad or painful event. I wanted to represent my mom’s life accurately in my documentary short, yes, she has had many joyful events in her life – but she has also had plenty of sorrowful times as well. By reframing her life and including significant events that has caused her lot of pain, I hope that I made it clear that her stories of sadness are noteworthy and that they deserve to be heard.

Another aspect of my mother’s life that I (still) really struggle with is her relationship with my father. Looking through all the pictures of my parents together, one for each anniversary and special event, it was easy to imagine what an outsider would see. Someone who didn’t know my family wouldn’t see past the beautiful smiling faces to see the nights where my father hit my mom, the many times when he threatened to kill her, when he got so angry that my little brothers and sisters hid in the closets in our room for fear that he would come after us in his rage. They wouldn’t see his repeated attempts of attending anger management, apologizing to our family and my mom, swearing each time that he was sorry and he didn’t mean to cause the irreparable damage that he had done. Citron wrote about photographs being, “spontaneous and directed, authentic and constructed, documentary and fiction (pg. 19).?Looking at my parents pictures I see the love and good times in every picture, but I don’t see the second-half of that reality – I don’t see all times that she ran out of the house with barely the clothes on her back in fear of her life, I don’t see little children that adored their father crying for their mother pleading with him not to hit her. Maybe it’s better that the latter memories aren’t available for tangible review, but I know it’s imprinted in my mother’s mind, as well as mine; it is this paradox that is troublesome to me – I assume other families have their secrets as well, but what does this mean? I don’t really know.

This project has been a good reminder of all the sacrifices my mother has made so I could be where I am right now. At first I was frustrated because she didn’t talk about social justice as much, and she didn’t have much to say in terms of feminism and activism, but I realized, that’s not her reality, she hasn’t had the privilege to learn the justice-lingo or read up on theories, she has been living to survive and ensure that I can comfortably live.
I believe that my mother telling parts of her life’s story to me as achieved several things: First, it has brought us closer together because she shared things that she had never told me before. Second, she passed on years of experience and wisdom that I will use as continued inspiration to fight for social justice. Third, by sharing her pain she is able to heal however slowly. Joe Lambert in his book, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community, wrote that, “We all have stories like these. We really must share them. Or we cannot heal (pg. 41).? This therapeutic style of storytelling is so effective in the healing process – which is how I justify recording my mother’s tears for this project and mine for that matter that fell as I interviewed this amazing woman and when I was editing this painful piece.

My Thoughts on Feminist Media

When I came into this class my view of feminist media was very low to say the least. I didn't understand what all those women where complaining about. They always seemed to be complaining about how men and women didn't get equal treatment and how their art was just as good. Blah blah blah. You know.

What I really thought was that if their art was just as good then it would be up there right next to the mens' art. But it wasn't. So maybe they should try harder. Or maybe if their art wasn't so boring or overly-expressive then people would want to look at it.

Okay, but now you can stop letting all of the hot air out, and pick up your jaw because I have learned. I really have.

I have come a long way since my first slanderous critique of Judy Chicago. I realized for one that opportunities are not equal yet in the art world. Just like in women's sports the funding and pay is lower in art.

I also have gone back to the Walker and viewed other art exhibits. I have found that many of the female artists I appreciate more. I think this is because we have the same view points. I enjoy talking to women and hanging out with women more than men. Why is it so different with art?

It isn't! Just as it is easier to talk to women because I have more in common with them it is easier to understand and appreciate their art. I'll admit it most times when I talk to guys I don't know what they are saying, trying to say, or not saying.

This is because we aren't coming from the same place. This revelation was huge to me!

Also I learned from this course that feminist media comes in many shapes and forms. There is a wide variety and a lot of it. You just have to know how to find it!

Higher Education: The American Dream

For my final project, I wanted to focus on the issue of student loans, and the rising cost of tuition. I am a senior, and now that I am almost done with my undergraduate career, I have to face the fact that I am in substantial debt. I am lucky enough (lucky?) to have parents who, since my elementary school days have told me that I WILL be attending college...but hey, they will pay for my undergraduate school. I’ve still got a number of years of school in front of me, all of which I will be covering myself. HOwever, knowing my parents were covering my undergraduate schooling wasn’t necessarily enough; I saw my credit report this summer, and saw all of the loans being deferred on my report. That is going to become huge soon. I have also been looking at the price tags that come with law schools, and have had to alter my school choices in accordance with affordability. Further, my logical solution is the same as many law students: sell out and practice corporate law long enough to pay off debts, then do what you really want to practice.

This kind of thought pattern, and talking with friends in similar situations made me think it was a worthwhile topic for a final project. All semester we’ve gotten the advice to make something that matters to you, and I guess the amount of stress I feel over my debt suggests that this probably matters quite a bit to me. Its less personally exposing than my first project, which is also something I took to heart--it seemed to be what Judy Chicago preached the entire video we watched--but I had to come around to realize that there is substance without that piece as well.

I wanted to fix the plight of local students within the national debt spectrum. Over the course of the semester, I think I took the most from the “Digital Storytelling? excerpts, probably because it was easily laid out. I like documentaries wherein the documentarian is absent except from the overall construction. I wanted my interviewees and clips to tell the story. The point of view is a powerful thing, and I wanted to be able to see the point of view of students. “In well-crafted stories, the point may be a little less apparent than the moral of a fairy tale, and it might require some thought, but if the story touched you, chances are you can find some central points or the transformative realizations the author intended.? Well, I don’t think my point is hard to figure out, but hopefully the situation of these students is close enough to my audience and my story was powerful enough that people understand the statement I’m making. In case they don’t, tuition needs to stop going up, because we are going to be in debt forever. Coming out of college has become terrifying not only because you have to start real life, but because you are faced with all this money you have to pay back, so you better find a job that pays well.

The other thing that I know I can do with a project like this is subtly incorporate gender. I personally, found myself more limited than I assumed I would be in regard to interviewees (I didn’t want to force anyone who was uncomfortable in front of the camera to interview for me), but I use clips from hearings on the House floor in my project, and I wanted to incorporate female legislators. Looking at it now, I remember being unable to use one of the clips, so my original idea that I would have mainly female politicians speaking about this issue isn’t as strong as I had intended. Still, I would like to be a piece of politics in the future, and I feel it is important to show women in the legislative process. Pozner remarks that, “the appalling scarcity of women’s voices in media has had serious ramifications for journalistic and legislative responses.? I wanted to, as a sideline for my project, reveal the presence of women in the legislative process.

When I was constructing my project, I wanted to media from various perspectives in order to round out my story. I liked the idea of using news commentators because they are seen as very professional and truth-telling, and I like the emphasis you get from their delivery. It was a way for me to drive the story home as something very present in the lives of today’s students.

I also took clips from the House floor. I was trying to point out that there are people trying to take action to alleviate a degree of student debt. This isn’t a hidden issue; the country is certainly aware of the problem.

I also used personal interviews, and showed expenses of a large number of area post secondary schools in order to bring the issue home to a nearer audience. Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted the majority of my story to be told by my interviewees; I just wanted to piece it together. I wanted to make the story light enough to swallow, though. I used really carefree and upbeat music to describe the fictionalized college experience, and then drop the expense issue on my audience, as a way of putting an aspect of humor into the piece.

Feminist Media Lessons

After finishing this project and last Tuesday’s class, I think I have really grown as a media maker and simply as someone who actively practices feminist theory—which is what was really important to me in the first place. The primary lesson that I take away from this class is to care about what you do. Working on a project just to get it over with is meaningless and it also shows in your final piece. I actually cared about all three pieces of media that I worked on in this class and also my portrait that I posted on the first week. This is honestly a first for me. To care about what I produce throughout a semester, through mid-terms, finals, internships, etc. I worked it out so I could would on my projects and spend hours upon hours in the feminist media center. This all happened simply because I actually cared about the final product instead of receiving a grade or participation points.

As I have stated before in my midterm, putting a personal voice to my work has always been a challenge. I think that my final piece on Haiti reflects on how I has grown as a media maker and how I have grown comfortable infusing myself in my work. At the beginning of the semester I would have freaked if I knew I would be interviewing myself and including it on something I posted onto the blog. Now, after calming down a bit, I have forced myself to get over my lack of confidence; I feel at ease in including my personal voice into important projects such as my final video on Haiti.

Hollywood Studio of Dance

More information on Hollywood Studio of Dance can be found on their web site

Hollywood Studio of Dance Paper/Discussion

In their writing in “Feminism and Documentary? Janet Walker and Diane Waldman discuss the feminist perspective as that of an intersectional approach centering around gender and often including race, sexuality, class and the other multidimensional aspects that create identities. They write “… because the commitment to social change underlies all of this, we have come up against the need to acknowledge simultaneously the discursive nature of representation and also the material realm that writing, including filmmaking, contends with? (Walker and Waldman 2). In the making of my video, representation and issues of subjectivity were foremost. As an outsider to the community I was filming, I felt that to make a feminist documentary meant to provide filmic space for the women of the organization to tell their own story. Hollywood Studio of Dance is made up of almost all women and they are at the center of a community of families working for social change, and I think that’s very powerful, and I wanted it to stand on its own in this film. So my challenge was to come in to the space and film and get perspectives and to do the best that I could not to mitigate the experience that was transferred in to my short documentary. As Walker and Waldman said, because feminism is about discussing oppressions and the need for social change, I tried to focus the film on these parts of what Hollywood Studio of Dance does. I left out day-to-day operations, performances, awards, costumes and choreography so that I could use my 10 minutes to try to tell the story of empowering young women to be tomorrow’s community leaders.

We read in Reframings about women in art, and read Laura Mulvey’s theory on the gaze in narrative cinema. In both of these texts, the past of film making and visual arts objectified women, and it is the place of the feminist media maker to bring women subjects with agency and power in to the frame. Diane Neumaier writes “…feminists have argued, in different ways and to different degrees, that representation – visual, verbal, or any other kind – profoundly affects women’s lives. As far back as can be traced, the idea of the feminine has been represented and, some would claim, controlled? (Neumaier 1). For my video, I wanted to rewrite the feminine and reframe the female dancer. While in the past feminine might have meant polite, calm, refined, subservient, I think the feminine can mean a multitude of qualities, including strong, motivated, successful and empowered. The women of the Hollywood Studio of Dance are an inspiring example of this, and that was one of the many reasons I chose them as the subjects of this documentary. In the video, the founder, Diane Elliot Robinson, talks about how she intends for the lessons the girls learn about dance to be carried in to the rest of their lives. Dedication, confidence, and community building are central to HSD’s mission, and the people who work there see those as elements to successful academics and careers as well. Ms. Robinson spoke to me about how she believes that seeing the adults who are involved at the studio provides the kids who dance there with an opportunity to see more positive role models than what they might find in the neighborhood. Robinson grew up in North Minneapolis and located her dance studio there so that she could be a positive part of the community and pass on to students the life changing experience that dance has been for her. She is quoted on the organization’s web site saying that while she was labeled a trouble maker in school and placed in special education classes, “dancing gave me the courage, replaced my fears and anxiety with pride, self worth and self presentation. Dance is not only a form of expression, for me it was the road to success.? I think that message is not only powerful, but is present in every aspect of HSD’s operations. They are entirely community built and run, and that involvement and investment shows in the success of the students there. HSD is reframing women in the arts by putting them front and center and empowering a lot of girls. And I hope that my documentary about them captures all of this amazing, and I would argue, feminist work.

May 5, 2008

Final Reflection

I really slacked in my blogging since the second half of the semester. I really appreciate this opportunity to finally sit and reflect on everything that seems to have happened so fast. We really jumped into the actual practice of feminist media making towards the end of the class and it was intense so now I am happy to just write about everything that’s been floating through my head as we wrap up our final projects.

I wrote in my midterm how important the “I? has become to me through my writing and media projects. This class has helped me question the exclusion of the personal narrative and the personal voice. The first few classes rattled me a bit because I was hesitant to get involved in my projects in such a personal level. I am a senior wanting to graduate; the last thing I wanted to do was to burn out over a GWSS elective, to be honest. The challenge, however, was so beneficial on multiple levels. I feel I have developed not just as media maker but as a feminist willing to put my theory into practice. I now have a thing to point to and say I made this and there is theory behind it, there is a feminist narrative to this work. I can relate to Michelle Citron in that panic of “Oh dear God what will my mother think,? especially with the first few projects. However, I think my final project has a lot of my mother’s voice in it (not just literally speaking). I feel that I can see my mother in myself in my final project. My mother’s faith and commitment to Haiti oddly enough started with my initial interest in traveling to Haiti in high school. She took it one step further than I did and kept going back. Now I see myself being heavily influenced by her. My growing spirituality and desire to do mission work really is rooted in her. I think I could share this piece with her but in typical mother fashion she would cry. Then again, she cries at anything I do.

What really got me the first few weeks was the film on Judy Chicago. I was one of the people who were unnerved by her tactics. Her “handing holding? coupled with her honesty and shear talent made her someone I knew I should look up to. However, I was afraid to. As mentioned earlier, the trouble I had with this class initially was the personal involvement and the “I? factor. Judy would drag that out of you and force you to become exposed and vulnerable. To her, it was a key to producing feminist media. Even though Judy wasn’t in the room with us, I felt the pressure of her ideology and theory. I think that was when I knew I couldn’t half-ass it for the semester. This was a challenge at the time I didn’t think I was prepared for. I think it was easy to attack Judy for her tactics than to just shut up and listen. So another added thing I learned from the video and her work was that it is just so easy to condemn others and be hyper-critical. But after producing my own media and having my own problems, I have learned to shut up a bit and just appreciate the effort, the personal story, and encourage others to do more.

One thing I am concerned about with my final piece is Mulvey’s concept of the gaze. I still feel that there is this aspect of us as viewers seeing images of Haitian and those affected but the country’s poverty and viewing it from this first world viewing the third world idea. I tried really hard to contrast images that were taken from various media outlets and created a title page trying to remind people that these are still people here. Julia Davis, Matt Finkel, and myself have (or will be) personally involved with the people of Haiti and I wanted to justice to Haitians. When I have been back to Haiti the past two times, I have definitely adapted this idea of a gaze. I feel extremely uncomfortable taking pictures of everyday life and people I don’t know. I feel that in possession of that camera I exercise a form of power and place them as an object of my photography. That is why I do have a lot of landscape shots. A lot of the children I photograph actually ask to be photographed so they can see themselves afterward in the digital camera. Since this article, I have been very careful of my own role as media maker, even if it is just as a tourist in a country that I don’t belong to. It’s easy for me to take pictures of a dire situation, especially when I go back to my bed at my parents house; but Haitians, live in those situations sensationalized by other careless media makers everyday. I feel I trivialize their lives by taking a snap shot to send back home. So I chose carefully when and where to point my lens and direct my gaze.

I stated earlier that this class really helped strengthen my identity as a feminist. I feel that I have completed more than just a paper on feminist theory or been involved in a discussion. I really appreciate that actual final work that comes from this class. It’s a “thing? that I can share with others instead of some heady theory or lengthy discussion. This accessibility is so important to why I am a feminist and I am happy to actually have what I feel to be skill that accompanies my feminist ideology.


Here are some links to organizations, photography, and artwork, mentioned in this video.

Julia's Art

Haiti Outreach

Christian Services International

Facebook Photo Albums:
Winter Break

Feminist Media

This class has taught me the power of media. The power and ability that it holds and the accessibility it grants to people all over the world. The media is virtually everywhere. Advertisements, magazines, newspaper, radio, and the internet are only a few of the direct contacts that we get from the media.
The media gives feminist artists a voice. It gives us an opportunity to share and express various views and experiences that are unique in this world. This class has also taught me that ideas are useless until they are put into practice. The theories that are born in our minds need to be put into action to live and to have an effect on the world. I was taught that media is a powerful way to put these theories into practice.

When I first started in this class, I had no idea what feminism was. I knew it was a label, and not being a fan of labels I was skeptical. But feminism is far more than a label; it is a title, a lifestyle, and a belief. It represents a struggle for equality across race, class and gender. It holds an incredible view that needs to be constantly active in society. Women think differently than men do. Our brains are literally wired differently than a man’s. For sometime, this difference has been viewed as weakness and as unimportant, when in reality, it is vital. In this class, I had the opportunity to learn about various artists. I believe that their emotional drive has inspired me to live and think differently about society. Because we are women, are experiences are different. It is because of this difference that our voice is so important and must be expressed and shared with the world. These experiences should be factored into political decisions as well a societal laws. These experiences are just as human and as necessary as those of a man’s.

May 4, 2008

Feminist Media

Feminist media makers work with an aim and goal and they are determined to bring the truth no matter what the consequence are. The lesson that i have learned from the feminist media makers is that the content, context and form are the definite tools of the media maker. Moreover, there are always many ways to tell the same story and it is up to the media maker to present whichever way they want to present it to their audience. A successful video is focus toward the main point and is not lengthy and it has a feminist analysis lens attach to it.

Feminist Media

Feminist media to me is creating an alternative to everything else that is out there. I love that when we have discussed our media making, it has been in the spirit of analyzing and thinking about the aspects of media that are usually overlooked. It is important to think about the person that the lens is portraying, it is important to think about how the person behind the camera can affect how the viewer thinks about the person in front of the camera.

Feminist media to me is creating an alternative to everything else that is out there. I love that when we have discussed our media making, it has been in the spirit of analyzing and thinking about the aspects of media that are usually overlooked. It is important to think about the person that the lens is portraying, it is important to think about how the person behind the camera can affect how the viewer thinks about the person in front of the camera.
In our media obsessed society, it is comforting for me to know that not all media makers are only concerned with selling their product. Also, I am sick of looking at fake images and listening to shallow messages. By putting a feminist lens on a camera we are able to create much deeper meaning. I also believe that as a technology obsessed society that this issue is becoming more and more pertinent. Media is the future. I love that I can access many years worth of credit card and bank statements online, making big, bulky, time-consuming filing a thing of the future. I love being able to go online to get a map, or answer a question in seconds.
I believe that it is also important that the internet is providing more spaces for open discussion about topics that do not get enough attention. It is important that people can find communities online that they may never be able to find in everyday life. The space that feminist media provides for women to openly discuss topics that they really care about is liberating. I look forward to what the future holds not only for feminist media, but for technology (a large part of feminist media) as well.

"Making Media by Any Means Necessary"

Thinking back to the beginning of class I remember feeling a bit frustrated that I wasn’t making media, just learning theories and such, well, now that it is nearing the end of our class and I can definitely say that I have had my plate full of media making this semester.

In terms of praxis, I learned to how to implement theory into my media making efforts and strengthen my work with well-thought out theory. It was definitely a challenge to follow through actually practicing theory, it was one thing to learn, but when it came time to implement it, sometimes I forgot about theory altogether. I personally think that it is important to not let theory become over –bearing and finding a balance between academic privileges and making tangible work was tricky.
Theory is one aspect of feminism that I find to be boring and at times too far removed from emotion, so this class really pushed me to come back to theory and figure out how to strengthen my work by forcing me to work with it. I really learned a lot from the Reframings readings and other digital storytelling readings - it was great to get a firsthand account of other media makers and their theories. I also learned much more about “the gaze? and many ways power I transferred or forcibly taken – The native or naval gaze was an interesting part of the gaze theory that I hadn’t heard of before, so I definitely will be tying that idea into my final paper. It was interesting for me to be on the other end of the camera and to be the purposeful media maker instead of a passive subject.
This class also helped me to learn more about actually media making and practices of a media maker. We looked at the Guerrilla Girls, and how they remake media to say the message they want and I came away really inspired to (re)make messages into what I want them to be. I also have throughout the course of class, have had to rethink the politics of filming and authorship and really ascertain what my role as a media maker is and how it should be. I also learned a really important idea and that is to use whatever tool you have access to in order to make media. I think I haven’t done so before because I had the excuse of, “well, I don’t have a video camera? or whatever, but I thought it was really good lesson for me to learn – to make media by any means necessary.
Some other lessons that I learned was that practice doesn’t make perfect, it just makes it better. As a perfectionist (especially in regards to creating tangible work), it was such a struggle for me to come to terms with that fact – I can make it perfect. I also learned to overestimate in terms of time for everything when it comes to media making, it is an extremely time-consuming process! I have also learned how to shoot and edit video - I have a new respect for film editors and a film production crew. It was cool going behind-the-scenes for a sneak peek of how “real? films are edited and I every time I watch a Hollywood movie now, I look for editing glitches and to see what techniques they used and how they cut their films. I also go to develop my photography skills more and I worked with gathering and editing audio and all the technical stuff that comes with that. I learned the important lesson of saving every two minutes and backing up my files when finished, because I didn’t do it once, and it cost me a day of editing. I also learned to use my own tools such as camera and laptop whenever possible, because I used a public lab once to edit films and it’s just as not as reliable.
Every class it seems like teaches me another way the internet is amazing, and this class is not exempt. The Net has unlimited possibilities to get my thoughts actualized and my voice heard. It was a great way for me to get my thoughts out into the world and to get feedback from friends and others who have watched my videos. Even if no one watches my videos, it still is a great way for me to process and rework my thoughts – which really helps me achieve my ultimate goal: to grow as a media maker.

feminist media

To me, feminist media makes a statement. Feminist art makes a statement. Feminist media brings that into another creative spectrum.

I feel like feminist anything really equates to putting yourself out there. I think even feminist theory requires a personal look at yourself. You can’t produce true, good feminist media without caring about the issue. It is revealing, it is making a statement, it is forcing your audience to hear your statement.

Feminist media is taking the tools you have...whatever they may be...and using them in diverse ways in order to create something unique and impactful. The shots are deliberate, the editing is deliberate. It is being conscious of the story you are telling, and making the subject the most important thing...embodying the right persona. It is making sure the subject is also the director...the story is shared by the subject material and the director.

These are the lessons I have taken from feminist media thus far. I know that there are still lessons to learn, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to learn more in the future.

May 3, 2008

My ideas on Feminist Media

I must say that I have learned a lot from this class this semester. I am taking a feminist media making tools to create my own documentary in the future. I am also taking all the bitter and joyful experience that I had while working on these projects but at the end I have learned a lot by my mistakes. In the past, I did not even know how to use an imovie but now I certainly do know how to use an imovie and how to audio and shot a video through it. Moreover, I know while learning I was frustrated about making videos but now that I know how to work my through this phase for, which I am so proud off I can definitely say that I am taking some great experience from this class. In fact, I am taking some great tools of media making which includes context, content and form to create a story, which will help me build a stronger and better documentaries in the future.

Feminist Media thoughts

Creating feminist media is about doing work that has an empowering and equalizing voice for women. In class we discussed the male gaze as a theme of “mainstream? media, and I think one of the important roles of feminist media makers is to break out of the standards of routine objectification of women and other subjects. Much of the feminist media we’ve watched in class uses the real lives/stories of individuals to talk about social issues and often portray a positive message of empowerment and community.

The main lesson from feminist media that I will take away from the class is that its important to have new voices and a viewpoints in the reality of our very narrow mediascape. Corporations have control of many of the messages we see every day, and it’s important for feminists and other activists to use the same tools to create something better and different. I think the most important thing that feminist media students/makers/thinkers should be doing is encouraging eachother to have viewpoints and to use their experience and knowledge to creating something positive for women.

May 2, 2008

Movie reflection - Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

I liked this movie, but not nearly as much as I liked Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. What I liked especially about the first one was how sociopolitically enlightened it was. Usually when comedies are this broad, raunchy, and joke-packed, they fall back on tired jokes—hackneyed types that have become stereotypes. But the Harold and Kumar movies are only nominally stoner movies; they’re also satires about race.

I only wish this movie were as refreshingly modern in its attitudes toward gays and women as it is towards people of color. The whole joke of Harold and Kumar’s time in Guantanamo Bay (which is thankfully brief) is that they’ll be forced to perform oral sex on a guy. Seriously? Is that still comedy?
Another disappointing scene is when they visit their friend, who’s having a bottomless (rather than topless) pool party. Of course, the vast majority of the party attendees above jacuzzi water level are female extras. The scene is a sea of women for eye candy, and then there’s a dick shot at the end, for comic relief.

In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,? Laura Mulvey describes how women movie viewers counter-identify through the male protagonists; to paraphrase, the camera is (still) almost always framing things from a hetero-male (not to mention white, upper-class, American, etc.) point of view. In order to go along with a movie—to enjoy the funny parts, to be scared at the scary parts, and so on—women have to accept the parameters of the movie. To use the Harold and Kumar scene as an example, the comedy of the scene hinges on our acceptance of the scene’s hetero-male parameters: women’s bodies are hot; men’s bodies are funny. I don’t have a problem with this idea—of course straight guys find vaginas hot and penises funny—but I do have a problem with the fact that this is part of the logic behind most movies. In order to enjoy one of our most populist forms of entertainment, most people—by which I mean all women, gay men, non-whites, the poor—have to agree to align themselves politically/socially/sexually with the straight, white guys who are making them.

May 1, 2008

Final Thoughts on Feminist Media Making

The most important lesson I have taken from this class is that media makers, especially feminist media makers must have a purpose; one must have a message.

Art for art’s sake is something I firmly believed in before this class. And to a certain extent, I still believe that art can exist for purely art’s sake. Something can be moving or beautiful or personally interpreted and these qualities do not decrease art’s value. But art (I consider media making an art) means the most, can be translated and touch more people, if it means something to the person who made it. I suppose in this way, where I originally disagreed with Judy Chicago’s lessons in Feminist art, I now full-heartedly agree. Art is a personal journey that, if one is able to say what one wanted to say, will be translated by its viewers. If anything, work with intention and the end result will be worth the effort that went into the piece. The major concept this class discussed was praxis (the joining of theory and practice) which I find particularly important in intentionality. By thinking about what one wants to say, how to say it and then actually creating something, the message is reinforced. The most important thing for media makers to be doing is creating art and letting their voices/messages be heard and considered.