The Power and the Problem of Canadian Feminist Media
How does use of the media inform and propel the feminist movement in Canada?
How is media used as part of the feminist agenda?
What is the history of the media in reference to feminist communication in Canada?
How can Canadian feminists utilize media to its full advantage to support and promote the feminist agenda?
How does the feminist movement in Canada reflect or distort the actual struggle of feminists in Canada?
To clearly define the role of the media in the feminist agenda
To use the media to spread the feminist agenda and promote positive representation of feminism in Canada
To express the life experience of women accurately and thoroughly
To utilize media to its fullest potential so as to support a positive feminist agenda
To ensure that feminist media representations are accurate, current, and reflective of the full range of feminist thought in Canada
6. To communicate messages hindered by patriarchy and capitalism
7. To contribute to the struggle for equality in all facets of society with effective and productive use of media
Part III: Background & Rationale/Justification?
A great deal of the world's population experiences a shift in perspective and experience in the 21st century. The digital technology revolution and the social media revolution alter how people experience the world, the order of relationships they have, the methods by which they communicate, and affect their overall experiences of reality. For many citizens around the planet, the world is a more heavily mediated place. With the advent of mobile technology, people access media on such devices as mobile phones and iPads from wherever they are located, at whatever time they wish, in whatever form they choose that is available.
Areas of study such as media studies, media theory, media arts, media psychology, and media philosophy grow strength in their fortitude, practicality, logic, and necessity in the increasingly mediated reality of the 21st century. Media psychology, media philosophy, and media theory particularly stress the potential and the reality of the affects media have upon consumers or viewers. As time proceeds, the consensus grows that media directly affects consumers' attitudes, behaviors, perceptions, and ultimately their experiences. With a greater array of media forms, a greater array of communication methods, and a greater array of information to which consumers have access, consumers come into contact with and learn about populations of people they may not engage in their local lives. People with regular and stable access to the Internet, for example, may learn about cultures they have only imagined, or feared, or otherwise. Therefore, media has the power to broaden the experience and the horizon of consumers. Media can educate, entertain, and potentially enlighten. Of course, the disposition of the individual consumer and the cultural context within which that person is influenced contribute to the assimilation of the media into that person's experience. Nonetheless, the power and potential of media is evident; professionals across a vast spectrum of industries and underrepresented groups across the world understand this. Attempting to harness the power of media to empower and expose an underrepresented group, experience, or perspective is a worthwhile endeavor. Thus, the importance of a study of Canadian feminist media is apparent.
The research stands to make a few to several key contributions. A study of Canadian feminist media would include a comprehensive survey of the history of Canadian feminism and Canadian feminist media. The lack of evidence of the history of women and women's contributions to world history in all aspects of culture is a condition that feminism adamantly combats. Therefore, a study into Canadian feminist media inherently supports the feminist objectives relating to equal, fair, or at least evidence of representations of historical contributions of women and women in media.
Though in the 21st century, any consumer has the potential to be a media artist or filmmaker, at the professional level, media production and film production are industries heavily dominated by men, and still heavily stratified regarding sex. The statement does not disavow that there is an increase in female producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, audio engineers, etc., yet the paper cannot disavow that the a great deal of the most powerful positions in media & cultural production as well as in their distribution, are held by men. Researching Canadian feminist media exposes the women behind the scenes as well as those in front of the cameras and in the studios producing media about women, for women, and/or content from a feminist perspective or with a feminist message. A fundamental aspect of feminism is to expose the contributions of women, share the experiences of women, and communicate messages that support women. Researching Canadian feminist media aligns with such feminist objectives. The research will go beyond locating and analyzing feminist media; the research will take the extra step to understand and reflect upon who made the media and how the media was made as further evidence of feminism at work in the Canadian culture.
IV. Substantive Literature Review
Feminists struggle to articulate the state of feminism today, and do well to articulate the history of the movement as compared in the early and mid-20th century, as well as effectively articulate the differences between feminist perspectives of the 20th century and the 21st century. Media serves as representation of onscreen content as well as in the production methods and distribution of the media. Representation is a fundamental aspect of feminism as Godard contends:
…also note the workings of the ideology of gender, gender being an effect of representation. Gender is not a sphere separate from ideology but a primary instance of ideology, a set of social relations within which men and women are positioned differently in discursive formations. Ideology represents not the real but the imaginary in relationship to the real. The feminist project attempts to rewrite both the product and process of representation and self-representation. It explores the irreconcilable contradiction of being both inside and outside representation, of being constructed as woman within the dominant discourse, and yet experiencing the heterogeneity of historical subjects, of being women outside that discourse. The awareness of this conflict leads to our consciousness of complicity in the gender system. This, in turn, has led to a change in the focus of feminist inquiry since the 60's when the focus on sexual difference concentrated attention on the elaboration of hypotheses regarding gendered spaces. (1988)
Godard writes that gender is an effect of representation. Non-feminist media produce representations of women that effect how women are treated and perceived, usually in a negative, inaccurate, and/or stereotypically manner. Feminist media, then, has power to do the opposite, though Godard exposes contradictions to the feminist agenda within so-called feminist examples of media. Feminist media expresses the relationship and experience of women in relation to the ideology of patriarchy. Feminist media participates in this aforementioned process of and production of representation, and more crucially, self-representation. Godard also makes readers aware of the conflict in female and in feminist consciousness regarding the experience of representation within ideology of patriarchy and the conflict of the general gendered experience of women. This is a place where research of feminist media becomes useful and where the debate surrounding it becomes more apparent. What is feminism today? Is feminist media really feminist or actually subverting feminism? These questions as well as others the research would attempt to answer and clarify.
Groups such as the Toujours RebELLEs struggle for more feminist media and more media coverage or press attention for feminist media. (2009) Toujours RebELLEs confront the reality of the prejudiced perceptions of feminist media in Canada and the world. The group not only promotes and creates their own feminist media, but also it provides assistance to individuals, groups, or organizations with the distribution and promotion of their media. (Toujours RebELLEs, 2009) They provide instructions, advice, and the contact information for several media outlets to those promoting and distributing feminist media. The group stresses the importance of selecting a delegate of spokeswomen to represent the creators of the media and they stress the importance of presentation of press & new releases. (Toujours RebELLEs, 2009) There is a common theme among feminist media producers that media is representation; control over representation is a great power. Feminist media has the potential to profoundly empower women through the controlled and designed production and distribution of media that aligns with its objectives.
Canadian feminists across the country and around the world understand the potential for visual media as a site for political declarations and for resistance against anti-feminist and anti-women forces. For Tuer, video, film, and now, computers, and mobile devices are
…screens where images and consciousness interact, a self reflexive art practice, an interior journey, an imaginary TV, a utopian other. As receiver, video becomes a screen where consciousness and meditation overlap, where images are transmitted as cultural meanings, framed by the context of the world and the viewer. (1990)