Commission on the Status of Women 2017 Abstracts

Representation of Women Behind the Camera and the Power Play in Nollywood Industry • THERESA AMOBI, UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS, NIGERIA • Studies of the representation of women in Nollywood films have mostly focused on analyzing movie content in terms of the stereotypical depictions of women and not their roles behind the camera. Anchored on the Cultural Hegemony and Feminist theories, this paper focuses on the power play in Nollywood agencies and how this shapes the behind the camera roles the industry. Specifically, it interrogates the representation of women in terms of their numerical strengths, roles played, offices held in selected key agencies including the Nigeria Video and Film Censors Board (NFVCB), Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Film/Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN) and Association of Movie Producers (AMP). It also examines the AMAA and AMVCA Awards history and finally determines the factors inducing the structure of behind the camera roles in Nollywood. Using the triangulation research approach comprising Survey, In-depth Interview and Secondary Analysis methods, the questionnaire and unstructured interview guides were used to gather data for the study. Findings show an imbalance in the role structure with women occupying only 17% and 8% of decision making positions in the associations and agencies respectively, with sexism, discrimination, limited funding, lack of female role models and experts identified as factors inducing the imbalance. Although the inequity is impaired by mixed results and unclear trends in the AMAA and AMVCA Awards history, women have made a few forward leaps especially in the writing and video editing roles, where they appear to be dominating the awards.

“Ice cream is worse, and joblessness is not an option”: Gendered experiences of freelancing • Dunja Antunovic, Bradley University; Jenna Grzeslo, Penn State University; Anne Hoag • A rise in informal labor, characterized by contracted and non-salaried positions, has been observed in many business sectors including hospitality, transportation and journalism. In journalism, these individuals are referred to as freelancers or stringers. While opportunities for freelance journalists have increased, the journalism industry has simultaneously experienced mass layoffs. Using an international survey (n = 454), with quantitative and qualitative measures, this study assesses the reasons why respondents got into freelancing and pays close attention to gender differences in responses. While the survey focused on freelancing, the responses provide insight into the state of the journalism industry, full-time employment and gender dynamics. The findings suggest that while both men and women were affected by layoffs, their experiences are uniquely gendered in relation to pay and career advancement. Notably, women—but not men—reported leaving full-time employment for freelancing because of children. Scholars and educators, alike, should pay close attention to the prevalence of freelancing in the journalism industry, so emerging journalists are prepared for this changing field.

Combatting the Digital Spiral of Silence: Academic activists vs. social media trolls • Candi Carter Olson, Utah State University; Victoria LaPoe • Academics are increasingly using social media to share teaching resources and research collaborations. However, research shows that many academic women increasingly worry that if they engage in certain kinds of conversations, especially about feminist issues, they will face harassment or threats at some point. This article, which is based on interviews with 45 man and woman scholars, explores the ways that women and minority academics’ fear of harassment online leads to self-censorship, creating a digital Spiral of Silence. While many of our interviewees indicated that the only way to avoid negative backlash would be carefully censor what they said online, others indicated that online engagements—both negative and positive—are important for scholars to continue supporting one another and spreading knowledge.

Empowerment in the Information Age: How usable are college campus websites for sexual assault survivors? • Dawn Corwin, University of Tennessee; Erin Whiteside, University of Tennessee • Despite the opportunity and open doors that college campuses promise female students, they are also a space in which women’s likelihood of being sexually assaulted soars (Carey et al.; 2016; National Crime Victimization Survey, 2015). Making information on sexual assault awareness and related resources available to members of the campus community not only helps combat rape myths and provide important help to victims, but is also a key way to demonstrate institutional support and disrupt cultural norms that devalue women’s voices in relation to sexual assault. This study evaluates the availability of key information related to sexual assault prevention, awareness and response, and the usability of college and university websites that house it. Using a content analysis of 113 college and university websites, this study found that higher education institutions across the country deny their campus communities the opportunities to fully learn about and become better informed about sexual assaults on campus. Furthermore, only about half of all colleges and universities are meeting effective website usability standards, which may stymie student efforts to find necessary resources and detract from the content’s credibility. The findings are contextualized within the contemporary cultural climate toward sexual assaults on campus.

Have a Second Child?: A Critical Analysis of Second-Child Policy and Chinese Women • Zehui Dai, Bowling green state university • This paper highlights the interconnectivity between Chinese society, the discourse of one child and second-child policy and Chinese women. I used a critical feminist lens to analyze discourses about second-child policy and women in mainstream Chinese media. The results showed that media encouraged, promoted, and even enforced women having a second child. I argue that these discourses obscure Chinese women’s health and working conditions, individual willingness, and limit the reproductive autonomy of women.

Cocks, Glocks & Culture Shocks: Feminist Expression and the Protest Paradigm in Coverage of a Demonstration Against Texas’ Campus-Carry Law. • Deepa Fadnis, University of Texas at Austin; Kelsey Whipple, University of Texas at Austin • This study analyzed the coverage of the anti-gun “Cocks Not Glocks” protest held to oppose the campus-carry law in Texas. Working with the framework of social construction of news, it examines reporting of feminist expression and elements of protest paradigm, to reflect on the differences in journalistic values of national and local news publications. Content analysis revealed conservative usage of erotic terminology in national news publications, while visual analysis highlighted the lucid imagery of women protesters featured by publications in Texas.

Discarding the “Woman Card”: Exploring Gender Politics and Social Media Sharing of U.S. Election News • Summer Harlow, University of Houston; Ingrid Bachmann, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile • Gender politics took center stage during the 2016 U.S. presidential primaries when Republican hopeful Donald Trump accused Democrat Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman card.” Through a feminist lens with a mixed-methods approach this study examines coverage of the polemic using social media users’ reactions to the 400 most-shared woman card articles on social media. The findings show that while there was some focus on the issue of gender inequality, most stories failed to define the woman card, thus lending support to structures of patriarchy and further legitimizing constructions of sexism. In addition, stories that mentioned the gender gap, inequality statistics, sexism, and feminism were significantly related to increased Facebook likes, shares, and comments.

Locker Room Talk or Sexual Assault: A Struggle for Meaning in the Mediated Public Discourse • Dustin Harp, University of Texas at Arlington • Using a case study – vulgar comments President Donald Trump made during 2005, which aired October 2016 – to illustrate misogyny in American culture, the research investigates mediated discourse from a critical/cultural studies perspective during a moment in the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign. The discourse illustrates how struggles for meaning occur in a new mediated public sphere as competing ideologies enter into public conversation. Traditional patriarchal notions of “locker room talk” were countered with a feminist ideological perspective.

“Locker Room Talk” as “Small Potatoes”: Women of the GOP and the 2016 Presidential Election • Jiyoung Lee; Neal Powless; Carol Liebler • Through the lens of feminist standpoint theory, this paper investigates how women of the GOP experienced candidates Clinton and Trump, and how the media, candidates and party each helped to formulate their opinions. In-depth interviews with of 21 women of the GOP reveal that women used traditional norms as a lens through which to evaluate both Clinton and Trump, lending support to role congruity theory, and that their opinions reflected a system of white male privilege. This study overall integrates gender, political orientation, and perceptions on media.

“Be a badass with a good ass”: Postfeminist and Neoliberal Visuality Discourse in #StrongIsTheNewSkinny • Jessica Maddox, University of Georgia • “#StrongIsTheNewSkinny” has become a popular social media hashtag in which posters, typically women, use the words to encourage one to have a strong body instead of an ultrathin one. The idea of the strong female body has supplanted the old feminine beauty myth of the super skinny. Using discursive analysis, this work untangles some of the ideologies that inform, and are informed by, “#StrongIsTheNewSkinny”: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism, and the historical trajectory of bodily freakery. These tenets inform the discourse surrounding this contemporary beauty myth, which is more about prescribing behavior than appearance, and analysis shows that it is rife with contradictions that make the beauty ideal ultimately unobtainable. The contradictions indicate that it is socially acceptable for a certain type of woman to even attempt to chase the myth – that of the white, upper middle-class, heterosexual woman. Furthermore, discussions are made of how #StrongIsTheNewSkinny becomes ground for misogynistic critique.

Activist Knitting: How stitching together something so simple has created a movement • Robert Rogers, Baylor University; Mia Moody-Ramirez, 1968; Franci Rogers, Baylor University • This analysis focuses on how Facebook users framed the Pussyhat Project. A content analysis of “pussyhat” reveals findings indicating that social media allowed a directed viewpoint of a single voice to catch momentum, within private groups, hence building audience. Specifically, we address how the phenomenon of a fiber art project became an iconic visual symbol of the Women’s March, creating a sea of pink hats in Washington and beyond, with attention to the feminist perspective.

The Bitch is Back: Gender Stereotypes of Hillary Clinton in 2016 Twitter Images and Memes • Rebecca Nee, San Diego State University; Mariana De Maio, San Diego State University • Social media images and memes attacking Hillary Clinton were characteristic of the 2016 presidential race. Using role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders, this study reviews gender stereotypes historically used against Clinton. A comparative analysis of Twitter images posted about Clinton and Trump during the general election also is performed. Results show a pattern of gendered themes regarding Clinton’s biological traits and characteristics that are incongruent with socially constructed norms of the presidency.

Making Space in Social Media: Activism and Argumentation around #MuslimWomensDay • Rosemary Pennington, Miami University • The representation of Muslims in Western media has been historically problematic — with Muslim men being framed as violent and Muslim women framed as oppressed. Increasingly, Muslims are using internet spaces to begin to push back against such narratives of what it means to be Muslim. This paper examines such a move. On March 27, 2017 a group of activists launched the #MuslimWomensDay hashtag in Twitter in order to foreground the lived experiences of Muslim women in a social media space. This research explores how solidarity emerged among Twitter users and what challenges they faced as they pushed forward with their hashtag campaign.

To Love, to Mourn, to Commit a Murder-Suicide: News Framing Gender Violence in a Small Town • Roseann Pluretti, University of Kansas; Sara Erlichman, Penn State • In 2016, a double-murder suicide shook a small college town. How the media framed this tragedy could affect the town’s recovery and sense-making. Utilizing both performativity and framing theory, this paper examines how college, local, and national press framed this incident of gender violence. The researchers conducted a qualitative content analysis of 129 news articles. Results reveal gender norms that reinforce gender violence and that framing varies across each types of news.

The “Unprincipled Demagogue” and the “Dishonest Harridan” in Pink and Blue America: Gender and the Election • Urszula Pruchniewska, Temple University • This paper examines the gender discourses in liberal media during the 2016 U.S. Election. Despite The New York Times’ and The Washington Post’s overt support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a deeper analysis of the coverage reveals latent problematic gendered discourses. Gender inequality is reinforced in the reporting through: the division of men and women into a gender binary; the rhetorical devaluing and deletion of women; and the decontextualization of social issues. Ultimately, reporting in The Times and The Post upholds distinctly retrograde ideas about gender in American society, embracing postfeminist logic and hampering Clinton’s ambitions for the presidency.

“Rude Fairy Tales”: True Crime Narratives as Health Communication • Ian Punnett, Ohio Northern University; Wafa Unus, Arizona State University • The literary genre known as true crime is often erroneously described as a more sensational, less reliable iteration of traditional crime journalism. Utilizing feminist standpoint theory and the elite oral history of “the Queen of True Crime,” the late Ann Rule, true crime’s unique and prophetic role in mass health communication to at-risk female publics is reconsidered. This was Ann Rule’s last interview.

Dibs on that Sexy Piece of Ass: Hegemonic Masculinity on TFM Girls Instagram • Nathian Rodriguez, San Diego State University; Terri Manley, Texas Tech University • The study examines how TFM Girls Instagram, along with its followers, shape and maintain dominant discourses of masculinity. Mixed-method analyses revealed that women were depicted more in bikinis, posed in overtly-sexually suggestive poses, excluded the women’s eyes and faces, and included predominately white, fit, big-breasted women. There was a positive correlation between the number of likes/comments with breast size. There were also instances of misogyny and objectification manifested in the men’s comments attached to the photos.

Domestic Violence in Appalachian Newspaper Coverage: Minimizing a Problem or Mobilizing for a Solution? • Natalee Seely, UNC-Chapel Hill; Daniel Riffe • This content analysis identifies framing devices, sourcing, and mobilizing information within domestic violence news coverage across Appalachia. Societal and statistical context was lacking, with only 1 in 10 articles containing thematic framing elements. Police sources were found in about 80% of articles, while victim advocates were cited in only 8% of coverage. Victims’ voices were even more obscured, found in less than 2% of articles. Around 10% of news stories contained mobilizing information.

Fans and Victims: Understanding Audience Attitudes Toward Athletes and Crime • Welch Suggs, University of Georgia; Kate Keib, Oglethorpe University • “Sexual assault and domestic violence have become major issues for society and public policy in the past decade. The controversy over violence against women has gained particular valence in sports, where individuals and sports organizations have come under intense criticism from outsiders for their actions while fans have come to their defense. To understand how such issues play out in the media, scholars and practitioners need to understand what informs audience responses to allegations of sexual violence. A survey of college students found a positive association between the intensity of self-identification as a sports fan and agreement with the values associated with blaming victims. Moreover, both sports fan self-identification and endorsement of “binding” values are significant predictors for seeing the victims of sexual violence as tainted or contaminated rather than injured. As such, fans may be more willing to sympathize with athlete perpetrators than their victims.

#WhyIMarch: Protest Frames and Feminism Discourses on Women’s March Facebook Pages • Hong Vu; Hyunjin Seo, University of Kansas • This study examined protest frames and multimedia content on Women’s March Facebook pages and their effects on audience reactions to Facebook posts. Findings show that while activists adopted the call-for-actions frame most frequently, the information frame received greater levels of audience reactions. Videos received higher levels of audience reactions but were used least frequently. Activists adopted such feminism discourses as women’s freedom and liberation, and diversity and intersectionality. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Gender representation and occupational portrayals in primetime television: Has there been any progress? • Brittany Smith; Jan Wicks, University of Arkansas Journalism Department • This content analysis examined female characters on 70 primetime shows airing in fall 2013 on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW. Females were 39.7% of sampled characters, underrepresented compared to their proportion of the U.S. population (50.8%). Females comprised 37% of characters in professional and white-collar occupations, compared to 51% in reality. Similar to previous research, fewer married female characters held professional jobs, suggesting women should be single to hold a prestigious career.

An Exploratory Study on Chinese Female College Students’ Sexual Information-seeking via Internet • Yuanjie XIA; Xiao WANG • This article is dedicated to examine Chinese female college students’ sexual information-seeking via Internet. With both an introduction of Chinese context in sex-related information on web and a definition of online sexual information-seeking within the concerned scope, a series of analyses were conducted to examine the dynamics among gratifications sought from online sexual information-seeking, Internet use frequency and dependency in seeking, sexual knowledge, permissive sexual attitude, and everyday health information literacy (EHIL). Results showed that six gratifications, namely, information/variety-seeking, coolness & novelty community-building, voyeurism, embarrassment-avoidance, and bandwagon were extracted through a principle components analysis. Second, information/variety-seeking, voyeurism and embarrassment-avoidance were found to be significant predictors of Internet use in sexual information-seeking. In addition, Chinese female college students with higher use intensity in seeking sexual information online were found to be equipped with more sexual knowledge. Moreover, the higher use frequency kept in online sexual information-seeking contributed to more permissive attitudes towards premarital sex and close heterosexual relationship, whereas less permissive attitudes towards sexual assault. Finally, a mediation effect of information/variety-seeking gratification between EHIL and Internet use frequency was confirmed.


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