It has been argued that there was a lot of sexism involved in the media coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Women's athletic accomplishments were sometimes attributed to their husbands; some commentators praised women athletes by comparing them to men, and NBC's chief marketing officer patronized female viewers by suggesting they don't actually care about sports.
Yet sexist coverage is not unique to sport; similar arguments were made in Hillary Clinton's Presidential run; these comments were not only made by her opponents but also by the media outlets who were reporting on her campaign.
This course focuses on representations of beauty in the media (i.e., broadly defined as idealized representations of the body for both men and women) and how such images contribute to gender inequality in many realms of society such as the home environment, politics, and sport to name a few.
The texts we will read in this class are varied (e.g., research studies, blog posts, newspaper articles, music lyrics). We will focus the reading on trying to answer several broad questions:
- What is beautiful? Where does our idea about what is beautiful come from? Is it biological? Is it societal?
- What kind of images are we mostly likely to encounter in the media? Why do these images persist? Is the industry presenting such images because it is "consumers want" or do these images exist for other purpose(s)?
- What are the ramifications for those individuals who do not conform to conventional beauty standards?
- How do media texts uphold or subvert the kind of imagery we see?
- What kind of images hold the most power? Can imagery be used to weaken power or authority among marginalized communities?
- How can we change the images that we see? Should we? Do we have the power to do so?
In attempting to answer these questions, you will not only learn, but actively contribute to this body of knowledge. The course will culminate with a scholarly presentation on a research proposal of the student's own selection. Students interested in psychology, media effects, gender studies, sociology and pre-law are encouraged to enroll in this course.
Catalog Information: COLL-S 104 FRESHMAN SEMINAR IN S & H