By Seila Rizvic
Being a media-literate person is no easy task. The more you learn about oppression the more painfully obvious it appears in the world around you and some days, you’ll be forced to confront patriarchy more times than you may be able to handle. Luckily, there is an online community of like-minded oppression-haters that you can retreat to. There are people out there who are articulating your speechless rage into eloquent and powerful (or maybe hilarious and witty) expositions. Best of all, not only is there some fantastic media criticism out there, there is also some media creation going on as a part of that criticism. Here are just a few examples.
Target Women with Sarah Haskin
This segment on the CurrentTV show infoMania has become a YouTube favourite even after the show’s cancellation this past summer. Sarah Haskins brings together a selection of commercials under a common theme (some examples include Dating Advice, Laundry and Hair) and highlights the absurdity of what these advertisers are trying to sell and how they’re going about trying to sell it. It’s a laughing-to-keep-from-crying kind of deal and it’s what we feminists need after a long day of smashing the patriarchy. A personal favourite of mine is the segment on Yogurt, where Haskins presents to us the disturbingly consistent and consistently hilarious trend of commercials that portray yogurt as the “Official Food of Women.” And not just any kind of woman, but the health-conscious, dieting woman, whose wardrobe of comfy-casual gray hoodies is meant to convey the message that, in Haskins words “I have a master’s degree but then I got married.”
Feminist Frequency with Anita Sarkeesian
Feminist Frequency, recently nominated for the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award, is an excellent example of media criticism done right. Anita Sarkeesian, the commentator and host of the Feminist Frequency web series and a political remix video and fair use advocate, delivers insightful and witty commentary no matter what the subject. Another YouTube favourite, her six-part series “Tropes vs. Women” brings to light “the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.” The shows often bring attention to tropes that may not be so obvious, even to those who consider themselves media literate, including, “The Manic Pixies Dream Girl,” “The Smurfette Principle” and “Women in Refrigerators.” These videos are a great tool to further our understanding of the many forms that misogyny can take and essential viewing for the discerning feminist.
If you’re looking to satisfy a desire for some great feminist media, googling “feminism videos” is not the best way to do. The same search on YouTube will give you even less satisfying results. This lack of a single, effective way of aggregating feminist videos from across the internet and putting them in one place, is what makes the creation of a site like nist.tv so necessary. The enormous variety of content on the site reflects the variety of issues that feminism tackles, a quick look under the “Popular” videos heading takes you to clips from a panel discussion hosted by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, a trailer for the documentary Taxi Sister about female taxi drivers in Senegal, and a talk by porn actress Vanessa del Rio as a part of the Sex Worker Literati series.
The best thing about videos is just how perfectly shareable they are. Posting a funny/insightful/interesting/ thought-provoking video clip on a friend’s Facebook wall is a great way to get them thinking about feminist issues. It’s the kind of gentle encouragement that can sometimes be very effective. At the very least, it will start a discussion, get some wheels turning in the minds of casual misogynists and encourage more people to adopt the feminist cause.