Van Zoonen: Feminist Perspectives in Media

Now that we have started to understand how ideology works we now need to extend our knowledge to other critical media theories. One of the theorists the Specification asks us to look at is the concept of patriachy by Liesbet van Zoonen.

You can read her original essay, Feminist Perspectives in Media, here: Zoonen_Liesbet_van_-_Feminist_Perspectives

According to Van Zoonen the media represent women with stereotypical images and this behaviour reinforces ideological concept of what it means to be a woman. The media does this because they believe it reflects dominant social values (dominant ideology) and male producers are influenced by this. All of this contributes to the concept of a patriarchal society. 

Let’s explore the different types of feminism.

Liberal Feminism

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.36.39

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.38.41

Radical Feminism

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.41.42

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.42.34

Socialist Feminism

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.45.31

What are the Waves of Feminism?

Check this site for a brief introduction to the waves of feminism. It outlines the Three Waves. 

But wait, there’s now a FOURTH WAVE?

This is a pretty good discussion of the so-called Fourth Wave. It’s all about the use of online activism and something called, intersectionality.


Wikipedia offers a really good introduction:

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.56.51

Later on in the week we will be looking at Judith Butler and her theories of gender. So, if you want to get ahead then start research in your Private Study time.

The purpose of doing all this is so we can analyse news media with depth and sophistication and offer a detailed exploration of how news media portray and represent ideas, values and beliefs.


Representation of Transgender People on Television

Textual Analysis & Representation

This is an area which we haven’t explored as much as the others so I thought I’d put something together.

Here’s a lesson plan and glossary terms which you will find really helpful:lesson_transgender_representations

Here’s an article from GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) where they review the last ten years of trans representation.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.17.09

Here’s a pretty good Prezi about representation of trans people from the past to the present. Some cool things in it which could be useful.

And from The Independent:

TV has hit a record high for black and transgender representation, GLAAD report finds

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.38.06.png

But remember, it is all about how:

  • Mise-en-scene
  • Position, movement, proxemics
  • Editing
  • Sound

is used to represent trans people. We will look at a clip from either Transparent or Orange is the New Black in class today and apply our understanding of ideology and representation to it. We’ll be focusing on how the technical areas challenge or conform to ideological representations of trans people and issues.

Representation of Disabilty

Textual Analysis and Representation

Interesting article on the BBC today about the representation of people with disability.


Things to consider:

  • How does this conform or challenge our dominant ideology?
  • What role do the programme makers play in positioning audiences? Think about Stuart Hall’s theories on representation.



Adam Curtis’ ‘HyperNormalisation‘, available on the BBC iPlayer. 

“We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed – they have no idea what to do.


This film is the epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening – but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.

It shows that what has happened is that all of us in the West – not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves – have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all around us we accept it as normal.

But there is another world outside. Forces that politicians tried to forget and bury forty years ago – that then festered and mutated – but which are now turning on us with a vengeful fury. Piercing through the wall of our fake world.”

This will be a great piece of additional work for you. Not only is it a brilliantly edited documentary with a wealth of found/stock footage montage but it also presents radical ideas. Please watch and then we can all get coffee one afternoon to discuss.

Introduction to Critical Thinking

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.08.42The philosophy instructor Geoff Pynn of Northern Illinois University and doctoral students Kelley Schiffman of Yale, Paul Henne of Duke, and several other philosophy and psychology graduates have produced this excellent series of animated philosophy videos which will teach you all about Critical Thinking.

You can watch the introduction right here but check their YouTube channel for the remaining videos.

Nothing Is Original

It can sometimes be really difficult to come up with an original idea for coursework as so many things have been done before. But actually, that is ok. What we must do is to look to the past and take inspiration and ideas from it and then apply it to our own cultural experience.

Everything in art and culture is connected to what came before it. Even the most basic YouTube video has some connection to the history of cinema. This recent article by David Byrne looks at how artists have been stealing, borrowing or appropriating each other’s work. It’s a fascinating read and most likely be a source of inspiration for your next creative piece. Have a read here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.03.08

The Echo Chamber

This is a fascinating concept and one  connected to our role as Media students. It is also something incredibly relevant to our lives, especially recently.

The night of the European Union Referendum I checked my Facebook and various online media sites and then got ready for sleep. It seemed quite clear how the vote was going to go and  many of my friends on Facebook had shared how they voted so I felt pretty confident about the outcome. I went to sleep expecting to wake up still in the European Union.

xE9pKYou all know what happened when we woke up that morning. I picked up my phone and clicked on the news app where it revealed that Britain had voted to leave the European Union. I was flabbergasted. I read on and checked other news sites and they all confirmed the same thing. I felt like I had woken up inside a Kafka novel. Turning on Facebook also revealed that nearly all of my friends had also been as surprised as I was at the result. Everyone, it seemed was absolutely livid.

But how could this be? Everywhere I looked online had revealed a ‘Remain’ outcome and especially my Facebook. I had unexpectedly fallen into the Echo Chamber.

The Echo Chamber is a place where your own ideas, values and beliefs are echoed by all those around you. It is a place where likeminded individuals repeat and often amplify these views so much that opposing views are either drowned out or are never heard. The views are echoed so much and so successfully that you end up convincing yourself that yours is the only view or at least the most valid. From Wikipedia:

Participants in online communities may find their own opinions constantly echoed back to them, which reinforces their individual belief systems. This can create significant barriers to critical discourse within an online medium. Due to forming friendships and communities with like-minded people, this effect can also occur in real life. The echo chamber effect may also prevent individuals from noticing changes in language and culture involving groups other than their own. Regardless, the echo chamber effect reinforces one’s own present world view, making it seem more correct and more universally accepted than it really is.[5] Another emerging term for this echoing and homogenizing effect on the Internet within social communities is cultural tribalism.[6]

But is this a problem? Surely, it’s a good thing to be surrounded by like-minded people? Perhaps. And perhaps not.

By existing in the Echo Chamber we run the risk of not really knowing what the world is truly like. When I went to bed that night I honestly thought most of the country had the same point of view as me regarding the EU. I was wrong.

This is dangerous because it can lead to limited critical thinking on very serious topics. We need to expose ourselves to opposing ideas, values and beliefs to both understand them and if appropriate, argue against them. But we can only do that if we allow ourselves to exit the Echo Chamber. But if we do we run the risk of listening to views we disagree with, we might get offended, we might get upset. However, we also might have a better understanding of the world around us and that, my dear students, will always be a good thing. Even if we discover truths we consider ugly.

To find out more about the concept of the Echo Chamber and its place in mass media, party politics and culture then head over to David Byrne’s website to read his article.