A Visual Feminism

6 Oct

Examining the question, “Why Women’s Studies?” led to me provide a visual answer to the question that was behind it, the real question that other students have been asking me: Why Am I  A Feminist? I initially felt put-off at having to explain myself.  But then I realized that I was looking at the world through a specific lens.  So, I decided my visual answer to the question could involve, to some extent, a look through my lens (at what I see, how I see connections between isolated incidents, and why I see any of it as relevant).  I found that the research process served to further legitimize my focus on gender (in academics and in my personal life).

Nothing in my video is more than 3 years old.  Most of the news images and clips are from the past month.  The audio clips were just over one year old.  This video only contains a small fraction of what I found scanning the news over the past month.  That process, of editing and leaving out so much information, was perhaps more meaningful than the final product because I was forced to look at something, to see it all lined up, together.  In other words, this video contains 5 minutes of what could have been an hour.

I also utilized some very specific audio to create an ironic/uncomfortable feel during certain clips.  There are images of portions of women’s bodies, with music suggesting you see them as sexy, confronted with text that simultaneously suggests women should not be seen only as sexualized objects. Then we see images of men known to be involved in sex scandals, and we see their faces, their suits and ties amid headlines detailing their sexual exploits with younger women.  The music, at this point, creates a different level of discomfort that shifts to dark comedic irony (intended to evoke a feeling of disgust at the thought of perceiving these men to be sexy).

Finally, while I advocate for strong reactions to create change, I provide no evidence highlighting the reactive social movements, or the organized efforts to combat gender biases, that have emerged in response to such blatant examples of sexism.  While there are ongoing efforts, I maintained a focus on the problem–since the problem (and its visibility) is my best attempt at  providing an answer to the question I examined. More specifically, my intent was to create a lingering level of discomfort that would mirror my feeling upon being asked, “Why are you a feminist?” (suggesting my retort to be along the lines of “Why wouldn’t I be?”).

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3 Responses to “A Visual Feminism”

  1. MP:meal October 8, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Katie: What a great video and thanks for the framing essay. I think you do leave us distrubed, but I continue to wonder why this is your strategy: to provoke response, action? After years of making videos I’m not sure that must videos are powerful enough to get a person to move and being an action…Althogh they certainly inform, and perhaps create a strong feeling (distyrbance) that itself can be returned to at a later date. We all know there are 5 hours not to mention probably 5 years of such images. I think the way you condense and edit them adds to the power of your mesage. We know that these simply point to an endless field with which we are already familiar. Given that familiarity (the very air we breath), this is another reason to think through showing some response, or solution, or alternative (these we are less familar with, and they feed us and remind us). I guess, in the end, it also depends on who the piece is for: people who undersntad why you (and they) are feminists, or those who do not. In any case, powerfully made, and carefully conceived.

  2. amandajslee October 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Katie, one of the most compelling parts about your video is just how current the information is. The way that you constructed all the disturbing information into a cohesive video-essay is moving. I especially appreciate your little blurbs in between the images and clips because I could hear your the passion behind your voice even if it wasn’t necessarily audible. Your video certainly makes it clear that there is more work to be done in the world to protect and empower women. Great job!

  3. femfussKeeonna October 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    Katie I really enjoyed your video essay. As a Women’s Studies student myself this certainly answers the question of why we need women’s studies and why I’m a feminist! Great job.

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