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The Transformative Power of Feminist Media

PART 1

It is powerful and necessary to tell stories. The representations of characters within the stories we tell is also a powerful element that must be understood deeper. In a cultural landscape where a vast majority of adventure stories feature men as the main hero or protagonists, where can young girls find the independent strength and determination to conquer life’s challenges?

*Throughout this piece, I will share several sections from my personal zine creations.

From my 4th Year Research Creation project

The earliest women’s suffrage movement depended upon the publication of a “widespread and innovative print culture” (Groenveld, 5) which influenced women’s ability to participate further in a male-dominated landscape. This meant that by transforming previously oratory knowledge into accessible print-based means, women were able to start impacting government policy, documenting their movements as a larger group, and to tangibly build a following that could be quantified through readership (5).

Drüeke and Zobl claim feminists have “long recognized the importance of self-managed, alternative media” (11). They understand this term “feminist media” as any self-identifying feminist or women’s centered media project based around a desired process of social change. Therefore, feminist media in this broad context can include things like zine production, flyers or websites, and expands to include graffiti or performance art. Their research explores the cultural citizenship behind the creation of feminist media.

4th Year Project: analyzing male responses to women’s issues

In their book, they seek to understand how feminist media producers engage in “participatory spaces, networks and cultural citizenships” (1).  (Zobl, Reitsamer & Grünangerl) note that these participatory spaces have been used both individually or collectively “to inform, motivate, and mobilise political action on behalf of women, as well as to critique the structures and content of dominant media” (21). Without the creation of alternative options, dominant media would be the only source of representation for women. This could lead to even further obstacles for developing feminist mobilizations, as without representation, it is difficult to understand where your place is within society.

4th Year Project Cover: (future is not just ‘female.)

The creation of a feminist participatory space develops friendly creative space where women feel empowered to express themselves safely, specifically without the scrutiny of a gender-based discriminatory response. With my own zine creations, I found freedom in artistically expressing opinions that might put me at risk to violence or retaliation online. Having the option to be creative in a safe space offers a release of energy, tension and fear. It opens up the door to connect with my truth and my needs.

4th Year Project: cries of desperation for change.

References

Drüeke, Ricarda and Zobl, Elke. (2012) “Feminist Media, Participatory Spaces, Networks and Cultural Citizenship.”

Groenveld, Liz. (2016) Making Feminist Media: Third-Wave Magazines on the Cusp of the Digital Age. Waterloo: Laurier Press.

MARG Presents Immaterial Commons Research at Lakehead Research & Innovation Week 2019

From March 4-6 2019, Lakehead Orillia participated in Research and Innovation Week. It’s part of the bigger Lakehead R&I Week hosted the week before on the main campus in Thunder Bay. This week of celebrating research always kicks off with a ceremony, where community leaders and University faculty convene to offer their remarks on the importance of education and research. In Orillia, Mayor Steve Clark made an appearance, as well as special guests The Orillia Native Women’s Group who were honoured during the ceremony; they were attending to showcase the first day of an incredible display of their group’s mixed media artwork.

The opening ceremony is followed by lunch and an opportunity to browse the many academic posters and presentations located around the Universities. For Orillia, the posters were based in the Learning Commons, where you could find a captivating variety of research topics, anywhere from children’s behaviour and education to breakdowns of very specific scientific discoveries.

R&I week is all about celebrating the research achievements of faculty, staff and students, so naturally MARG members Jaina and Cassidy attended the Orillia event to present the findings of MARG’s newest research paper, titled: “Sustaining Horizontalism: Affective Digital Labour in the Immaterial Commons”, and explores the impact of what we identify as the “Immaterial Commons”, or a shared set of skills relating to community empathy, holding space, caring for one another and recognizing mental well-being as an essential requirement for success in digital media activism and broader social movements. The paper is in the editing phase and will be published in a book called “Organizing Equality”.

MARG member Cassidy who played an essential role in our research.

Why is it that we dedicate a whole week to sharing our research with our communities? In a piece for The Conversation, Science Communication researcher Marina Joubert analyses the importance of sharing research with a broader public audience. She consults Matt Shipman, who offers peer-reviewed evidence to show that public communication: “helps scientists to attract top students, impress their funders, network with other researchers, form new collaborations and draw interest from industry and government” (2016).

The more that a community understands the work being done, the more support is available, and this public communication effort certainly includes engaging on social media. Dominique Brossard, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication, weighed in on the power of social media to increase citations: “Instead of thinking of time spent on social media as a distraction, researchers should see it as a way of making their work more accessible to broad audiences.”

In this way, MARG is perhaps ahead of the curve, but we have good reason—our focus is directly in the field of media production and furthermore, we employ a Participatory Communicative Action Methodology. Therefore, we are already active within networks that use communication as a method of social action. Additionally, MARG has continually worked to develop and share media outside of academic circles, linking texts and video to our website; supporting media projects and facilitating workshops on media activism.

The poster being displayed in the Learning Commons at Lakehead Orillia
Sharing our findings with Dan!

References

Joubert, M. (2016, August 23). Scientists have much to gain by sharing their research with the public. Retrieved February 28, 2019, from https://theconversation.com/scientists-have-much-to-gain-by-sharing-their-research-with-the-public-64129