Thursday, November 08, 2007

Media Action Pre-Launch

A new media watchdog network, focused on gender representations in the media, pre-launched its site today to coincide with the release of a new report on young women's responses to media portrayals. Media Action, a reincarnation of Media Watch, is a Canada-wide initiative led by some pretty amazing people, including its director -- well-known (a.k.a. Governor General award-winning) social activist and media critic Shari Graydon. The new report, conducted by EKOS Research, found that young women in Canada are frustrated by what they see as a double standard when it comes to gender representation. Here's the press release and description:
In conjunction with National Media Education Week, Media Action (formerly MediaWatch) has released an EKOS research study looking at young women's responses to dominant media portrayals. Young women in several Canadian cities expressed almost universal frustration with pervasive images of "flawless" female bodies, and the disproportionate media attention paid to women as sex objects and "those who mess up."

The report reveals the conflicted relationship young women have with pop culture, simultaneously engaging with many forms of traditional and emerging media, while rejecting and resenting many dominant messages about female sexuality and appearance. They were particularly quick to note the double standard that exists regarding the greater diversity of male body types and portrayals.

Young women noted that "society worships guys who come across as good or bad, tough, responsible, independent and even weird," and "They don't have to conform to one specific image."

According to director Shari Graydon, "This research reminds us that despite the enormous gains women have made in recent decades, many media practices continue to reinforce limiting and destructive stereotypes. Media Action's investment in improving the picture and giving women a voice on these issues remains timely and relevant."

While the site doesn't go live until January, it already provides a number of downloadable goodies, including a PDF of the report itself, and some background documents: "It Just Sucks You In": Young Women's Use of Facebook by Leslie Regan Shade, and Popular Culture and Female Sexuality: Consuming the ‘Representations'.

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