Friday, January 23, 2009

The Story of Eve/chapt 3/The Prepackaged Opinion

Male dominated institutions, especially corporate interests, see the dangers posed to them by love's escape. Women who love themselves are threatening. But men who love real women, are even more of a threat. Naomi Wolf The Beauty Myth.

Mainstream media has been described as one of the most widespread tools of social control. Through films,TV, music and videos we learn what to eat and what to hope for; where to live, what to desire and what to dream. Mainstream media impacts these values in such subtle ways that it's downright scary. From day to day, hour to hour we are ingesting them -- values racism, sexism, classism and we're not even aware of it.

As Meehan, author of Ladies of the Evening found that some of the roles models we see on TV we ignore. Not many of us, for example, want to learn how to be a prostitute. But many other fantasy characters we see are parents, neighbors and lovers and these we do pay attention too.

People learn how to behave from television and film roles models just as they emulate real ones. Research has even shown that we can take on the attitudes, ideas etc from popular culture's portrayal of our group (e.g. Black women) then go on to make assumptions about how we think other groups might behave (e.g. Black men)! Many are afraid to disagree with these stereotypes because they're afraid of being laughed at or called an outsider -- so they spread in what has been called a spiral of silence (Price, 1989).

If all of this sounds like science fiction consider the OJ Simpson trial: the defendant in question a Black male celebrity and former pro football star accused of murdering his white wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her male friend, Ron Goldman. Psychologists Friedland and Potash commented that we, as a culture, looked upon OJ as fallen hero and that we were both betrayed and stunned.

And the media's gory coverage of Simpson trial, including the manipulation of Blacks and Whites into opposing boxing corners, makes one wonder just who and what was being tried? Simpson's guilt or innocence or a man's right to own and abuse his property -- his property in this case being Nicole, especially since he was paying the bills? (As a case in point I talked several white men who swore that he was innocent!) Or perhaps the millions of Black folk who've been screwed by the judicial system were on trial and Nicole and Ron were sacrificed to their collective rage?

Hallis has described TV News as an ideological medium: providing not just information and entertainment but pockets of consciousness -- clues for reacting to social and political reality. (From Bell Hooks Yearning. ). I couldn't agree more.

Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson Copyright 1997, 2009 all rights reserved.

This is from a book entitled The Story of Eve which I finished in 1997 and never published. Much of the research is, I admit, dated; but I'm astounded at how much of it still applies to how we view and ingest media. Anyway I've been threatening to post some of it for months so here goes:) Comments and critiques are welcomed:)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Story of Eve

Chapter 1: what's a backlash?

Mainstream media is possibly the most fascinating of social entities. It is a paradox -- a riddle -- that keeps one searching for answers. This is because popular culture, films, TV, music, reflect and encourage cultural change or slow it down to crawl.
Another thing about the media is that it creates a contextual dialogue: an ongoing conversation between past and present events. Popular music is nothing if not dialogic, the product of an ongoing conversation in which no one ever has the first or the last word (Tricia Rose /Black Noise/1994). The most ready example of this are Rap music artists who dub over older melodies so that you actually have one musician "speaking" to another.
History repeats itself and thus so does the media.
But what has all of this to do with a backlash -- and just what is a backlash anyway? The backlash against women is an attack on women's rights -- and by extension everyone's rights -- by conservatives. Conservatives seek to keep women oppressed by reversing the femisnist gains that began during the 1970s.
And how is this attack being mounted? Well there many literati who maintain that cultural stereotypes or mythology are the food of conservative politics. Current myths such as "women can't raise children alone (especially males)" have actually been around for centuries and are recycled from one decade to the next. Thus though much hubbub was made over the 1980s-1990s backlash against women there have actually been 3 (4 if you count the last 8 years) during 3 distinct historical periods: the 1930s, 1950s and finally the 1980s-90s.
To illustrate what I mean lets look at some current issues. Women's reproductive health is a current issue. Or is it? Anybody ever hear of Roe vs Wade? And did you know that women have been fighting this battle since the 19th century? The man is the proper head of the home. Is he now? I thought we thrashed this one out during the 1970s. Well Americans during the turn of the century thought so too.

Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 1997, 2009 all rights reserved

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Story of Eve/The Eve Sydrome con't

In contrast, if a woman is not a virgin then she is mythic whore. Whores are aggressive, self seeking and passionate. Whores have their own minds, they are independent and have sexual desire. Moreover a whore's sexuality is hers and hers alone to control. Thus, a whore is good for one thing only : to be used sexuality and be tossed aside. Ultimately she must be destroyed.
And isn't this the case in popular films where the "whore" is blown up, stabbed, choked etc? Germaine to this myth, feminists are whores.

Copyright 1997, 2009 Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson all rights reserved

My Man Peter Gabrielle/Sledgehammer

The Story of Eve/The Eve Sydrome

Here we are in ancient Western Civilization. It is here, in the early church that the mythology of our church began: imagery that became fantasy in TV, films and music. It is here that the myth of woman as doppelganger began: the janus-headed bitch goddess of modern media.
The myth of woman as bitch-goddess or as virgin-whore is both sexist and racist. Thus is distorts the image of God so that He is perceived as racist and sexist. At this mythology's core is the oppression of all. And according to it, if a woman is a virgin, she is the chattel of man an she nurtures him. She has no sexual desires, or if she does, man controls them. She is passive and poses no threat to him. She and only she, mythic goddess, is worthy of becoming wife and mother. (This is part of the reasoning behind the anti-abortion movement. In the minds of conservatives women's bodies belong to men. So if a woman becomes pregnant, she has to give birth whether she wants to or not.

To be continued...

The Story of Eve. Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 1997, 2009 all rights reserved