This morning I had the privilege of addressing the Houston Women’s Group on the topic of Gender and Gendered Language in Media. This was my second meeting with the group. They do not fool around when they get into speaker recruitment.
Gender in Media a huge breadth of topic, so I started large to let the discussion sort of guide itself. These ladies are very well-read, very politically active, and very willing to talk!
I had a great time doing the research for this, although honestly after a while the rage would rise and I needed to take a break. One of the best sources for gender representation in media is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Their research archives are wonderful resources for anyone who is interested in numbers and facts about the portrayal of women and girls on film and TV, not to mention the presence of women in production and financing.
For other inspiration to guide discussion, I consulted that behemoth of cultural flotsam, Tumblr. I love the social justice side of Tumblr, they have brought me so much knowledge and sent me down so many rabbit holes of internet research. I found the paths to most of my visual aids there.
Based on comments from the attendees last week, I started my presentation with a brief introduction to terminology. Sex, gender identity, gender presentation, trans- versus cis- in gender discussions, sexual orientation, and more. The ladies were very receptive and appreciative. The discussion then ranged widely, covering perception bias in gender numbers, the portrayal of gender stereotypes on screen, advertising as gender indoctrination, sex education, healthy sexual relationships, and voter registration.
It’s so interesting to me how the language shifts that are happening among young, connected activists are becoming more and more common in high schools, and the adults who are in the mix are learning fast. I’d love to see these older ladies in conversation with some of the students in local schools’ GSAs or feminist clubs.
I look forward to more discussions with these wonderful women.