When Is Enough, Enough?

Guest Post: Paige McDonald, Aspiring Strategic Communications Professional

Like a large majority of other women, I could go on forever about how much it disgusts me that Donald Trump not only SPOKE of sexually assaulting another human being, but BRAGGED about it. Truly, the sound of his voice on that tape haunts me to a degree that makes my skin crawl and my stomach flip. Unfortunately, there are a number of women in my life whom I hold very close to my heart, who have been victims of the kinds of sexual assault that a potential future leader of our country boasted about. These women are strong, intelligent, courageous, and beautiful, and they were left to feel weak, ashamed, and powerless. As I sat and watched the tape that the Washington Post released of Donald Trump on October 7th, I thought of these women. I thought of how undeserved their pain and their strife on their road to recovery was. A road that they never wanted to or planned on taking. A road that seemed to have an endless number of “no outlet” signs. Then, I thought of the countless number of other women who have been forced to go through the same exact thing, often times simply because they are a woman. This is when I truly reached my breaking point. Time and time again throughout my mere 21 years of life, I have watched women of all kinds be made to feel as if their sole sense of worth can and should be found in the way that they look and the body that they possess.

I have a mother who divorced my unemployed, alcoholic father and raised my sister and I in a two-bedroom apartment on a retail salary. She gave us a roof over our heads when we very well could have been left without one. She endured undeserved anger from both of her daughters who did not understand why their family had been torn apart. She taught me the value of hard work and what it means to be part of a family.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in the curve of her waist?

I have an aunt who radiates unconditional love and has never put herself first. I watched her as she took care of her father when he became too tired and frail to do it himself. I watched her sneak groceries into my family’s kitchen when money was extra tight, but never search for any recognition. I watched her show love and support to any and every person who is lucky enough to know her without ever demanding anything in return.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in her dress size?

I have a sister who is braver, stronger, and more vigilant than anyone else that I know. She taught me the importance of standing up for myself, but also how much more important it is to stand up for the people that we love. She made feel courageous in the face of conflict when nobody else could, and there are few feelings as important as feeling worth standing up for.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in her long legs?

To me, Donald Trump is the face of these problems. He is the face that I associate with women all over the world not feeling good enough because they aren’t what the media tells them is worthwhile. He is the face that I associate with women being afraid to “drink too much at a party” for fear of being taken advantage of. He is the face that I associate with not feeling safe to walk alone at night on the streets of any city simply because I am a woman.

While the relentless media coverage of candidates throughout the election process becomes draining, to me, this is what it is here for. If this is not its saving grace in the process than what is? If as citizens we are forced to look at a face every day, are we not entitled to know exactly what it is the face of?


Ashley Madison VS Donald Trump: Want VS Need to Know

Guest Post: Allison Dikanovic, journalism student

I sipped coffee on Sunday morning, scrolling through headlines instead of working on my media ethics presentation. Suddenly, I felt the coffee churning violently in my stomach as I watched a video of a major presidential candidate flaunt his ability to sexually assault women without repercussion.

Though not surprised, I felt a breed of contempt for Donald Trump that I had yet to experience in such a personal way.


Source: The Washington Post 10.10.16

Despite my anger and hurt, I couldn’t help but think that I am happy the whole country is watching this. I am happy that we can hear and watch those words come from his mouth and deal with how horrible that feels. If all of Trump’s hateful comments over this past year have failed to put up red flags in voters’ heads, then this finally might. This is something people need to hear.

That was when the concept of “need to know” vs. “want to know” made sense to me. I thought of the journalists’ decision to publish that video.

This information was necessary for public knowledge beyond personal curiosity or desire to gossip. The journalists were obligated to publish it because it is reflective of Trump’s character. Knowledge of character is necessary when the person may quite possibly be elected to the most highly esteemed office in our country.

In November, we will not only be electing an individual. We will elect the systems and structures that each stands for and hopes to perpetuate or change. Voters need to know if one of the primary candidates explicitly and boldly supports an oppressive, patriarchal rape culture that devalues half of the country’s population.

The response I had to the video also provided insight into how I viewed our case study, the Ashley Madison data breach. Utilizing Rawls’s veil of ignorance, I can see reasons why I would have hesitated to release the names of registered Ashley Madison members if I was a journalist assigned to cover the hack. I understood that in most cases, it was a “want to know” matter.

However, for Trump, it is incredibly difficult and could even be considered unethical to employ the veil of ignorance. The behavior of Ashley Madison members affected select individuals, whereas Trump’s behavior could affect every single person I saw when I looked around that coffee shop on Sunday morning and every person I’ve seen since.


Lands’ End Misses the Mark, Falls Flat for Feminism

Guest post by: Haley Koren, Strategic Communication Critic

By no surprise, a lovely feature article in Lands’ Ends catalog featuring feminist powerhouse Gloria Steinem was pulled in late February 2016. This article, as many soccer moms and PTA warriors alike, insinuated that Lands’ End promoted abortion. While I did understand the ethical dilemma at hand that Lands’ End faced, I do not think that they should have pulled the advertisement. In pulling the advertisement, it inherently admitted guilt and placed itself on a side of an ethical drama they were obviously blissfully ignoring.


Media source: The Blaze 04.19.12

Unfortunately for Lands’ End, it as a company got in this situation. I am unsure as to why Lands’ End believed that was not placing itself in the center of a controversy or was about to create one. Ethically, this was well-intentioned, as were it was so terribly embarrassed of its feature that it ended up pulling it to save face. On the other side of the coin, the cynic in me thinks that Lands’ End developed this campaign to create controversy and restore interest in the brand. While this cynicism is hopefully misguided there have been many companies in the past that have behaved in this manner.

I am always truly surprised by the fact that both men and women care so much about the choices that do not even touch them. Instead, they are preoccupied with the fact that their religion entitles them to tell others what and what not to believe. This is a personal passion of mine, as I do believe that every woman has the right to adequate healthcare, this includes abortion. My ethical dilemma came from the fact that, while reflecting on our case study, I truly felt disdain for Lands’ End as a brand. I did not respect the fact that Lands’ End pulled the advertisement. I felt as if it made it look like a spineless brand. Instead of being able to back up what they published, in this case an interview with Gloria Steinem, a feminist icon and trailblazer, they pulled the feature. This is true admission not only of ignorance, but of sheer fear of consumer power. This is why I find Lands’ End to be entirely unethical.

Happy Labor Day

I always remember my father with fondness on this day because of his tenacious embrace of the labor movement.

As the American economy becomes more and more service based we may forget labor’s historical gravity. The first Labor Day celebration was on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, promoted by the Central Labor Union. The Union held its second Labor Day celebration the next year on September 5, 1883. Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday of September ever since. Its launch came at a time when America was moving into the industrial revolution and the conditions of workers were often difficult.

My dad, a WWII vet, frequently teased me about Rosie the Riveter and powerful women. I was young and didn’t understand how much her iconic image meant to him. I’m guessing that in some small (and not so small) ways I must have reminded him of the power she signified. Doing a little research on her image this morning, I learned a few things I didn’t know before.

There were two iconic Rosies.

Rosie Riveter norman rockwellThe first Rosie – the one most of us remember – was painted by J. Howard Miller. He was commissioned by Westinghouse to make a series of posters promoting the war effort. Miller inspired the Saturday Evening Post, whose covers tended toward civic inspiration. With WWII raging the Post hired Norman Rockwell. Rockwell’s Rosie appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post (May 29, 1943). It was the Memorial Day issue. She’s muscular and dressed for a hard day’s work, just like the Rosie most of us might recall. We also know she’s Rosie because of the name inscribed on her lunch pail. However, what might surprise many of you, as it did me, this Rosie is stepping on a copy of Adolph Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. Now this is serious symbolic propaganda.

We_Can_Do_It! J. Howard MillerOn the heels of Post’s highly successful cover, stories about real life Rosies began appearing in newspapers across America. The U.S. government took advantage of Rosie’s popularity and embarked on a recruiting campaign named after her. The campaign, done by J. Walter Thompson under the auspices of the Advertising Council, used J. Howard Miller’s Rosie. The campaign brought millions of women into the workforce. To this day, Rosie the Riveter is considered one of the most successful government advertising campaign in history. On May 25, 2012 the Ad Council threw a 70th Birthday Bash for Rosie, noting that Rosie the Riveter remains an enduring emblem of empowerment for women everywhere.

Dad, thanks for teaching me the value of a hard day’s work. I miss you.

Happy Labor Day everyone!


Photos in Today’s World: A Change in Moral Authority as We Know It

Guest Post by: Katera Berent

We’ve reached a point in time where the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen” no longer rings true. A photo of something isn’t as trustworthy as it was thirty years ago. We edit every imperfection, change the highlights on lighting, change the curves on a woman and airbrush the muscles on a man.

The models within many ads are edited to almost unrecognizable extremes. The photo below was taken from this video, in which viewers can watch the transformation of a model happen. Is something like this considered photo manipulation? Where is the line drawn?


I personally don’t have a problem with slight edits to enhance the features in a photo. It’s been done since the dark room days, when people used techniques such as burning and dodging. Yet sometimes it is taken too far. The video above recreates an already beautiful model with a type of perfection that is seemingly unachievable without photo editing. There are serious ethical implications with this.

The first is that when photos are over-edited, it sets unrealistically high standards of beauty for girls and boys, women and men. Consumers begin to think that they must look like what they see in magazines, on billboards, on television—except the models don’t even look like that. Is it possible to combat these ridiculous ideals without shaming those who are in the ads?

Another ethical implication that comes with editing photos is an inherent skepticism of what is reality and what isn’t. When photos are published in news articles, it is assumed that the photo is an accurate representation of whatever was happening. In 2003 a Los Angeles Times reporter was fired after combining two images from the war in Iraq. Regardless of whether or not the photo was more aesthetically pleasing when combined, it depicted an entirely different story of what was going on.


Credibility relies on trust and truth. When photographers alter photos in such a massive way, it becomes active manipulation with the media is telling the public what to think. Media are supposed to be watchdogs, but if they’re allowing themselves to doctor photos to suit their needs, who is going to be a watchdog of the media?

It’s important to consume media responsibly and holistically. Without it, we lose ourselves and the world surrounding us.

Celebs and Privacy

Guest Post by: Alexa Hackfort, aspiring communications professional

It seems privacy and celebrities don’t mix well. From Kate Middleton’s encounter with the paparazzi to Adele’s son winning a lawsuit for pictures taken of him, it appears that celebrities have to constantly fight for their privacy.

But do they deserve this privacy?

I think they deserve some. Many actors and musicians became famous for something they love to do. It’s their job. It’s how they provide for their families. While some may have wanted the fame that comes with it, not all have that goal in mind.

So yes, many of the celebrities do deserve privacy. But will they get it? Not necessarily.

Knowing information about celebrities isn’t a right or a need, it’s a want. Some people want the latest gossip on the people they see on TV and the Internet, just like some people want to know what’s going on with their neighbors.

D HackfortSo when more than 200 photos of celebrities were shared on the Internet from personal iCloud accounts, many of them nude photos, I felt bad for them. Celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Upton were targeted, as well as Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, who was under 18 at the time the photos were taken, making this a child pornography issue.

Kirsten Dunst criticized Apple for not having enough security for iCloud, but Apple stated that it wasn’t an iCloud security issue. These hackers did research, and with a little bit of luck, they figured out email addresses and passwords for these accounts.

Some may argue that celebrities shouldn’t have had any nude photos on their iCloud accounts at all. While that may be sound advice for everyone, I can only guess how many non-celebrities have nude photos saved electronically, but they weren’t the ones hacked. The hackers targeted people who are well known.

Lena Dunham, of Girls fame, made some comments on Twitter about the leak and those who chose to view the photos. One of them was “Remember, when you look at these pictures, you are violating these women again and again. It’s not okay.” Not only are the hackers unethical, but the viewers are also unethical. Choosing to look at something so personal and private, which was posted without the owners’ permission, is wrong.

Celebrities may spend much of their time in the limelight, but they deserve to have their privacy respected. Yes, paparazzi may snap pictures of them going to Target or running another ordinary errand. However, posting these pictures crossed a line. Celebrities have had too much of their private lives revealed to the world. That’s something no one would want, famous or not.

Growing Up in the Age of Photoshop

Guest Post by Makeda Touré, student

Until high school I didn’t know photos were edited to the extreme that they were and sometimes are being today. I didn’t look at how skinny or big women were, never paid attention to how long someone’s neck was or how thick their thighs were. I was interested in one thing, will my mom ever buy this for me? Of course this wasn’t through my whole childhood, when I got into high school I started getting more concerned of my weight and what I looked like. I was always super skinny and lengthy so body image never was a huge issue to me. The real issue that started surrounding my image was the color of my skin. Don’t get me wrong I love my ethnicity, race, sex and every little thing about myself. However, around middle school this became another story.

Everywhere I looked there were white, skinny models. Going down fashion runways, on the cover of Seventeen magazine, on billboards and in all of the toothpaste commercials. I always wondered, where all of the people of color were. I am from Minnesota which I wouldn’t call extremely diverse, but everywhere I went to school I was diverse and we didn’t form cliques or friend groups by race. Somehow this misrepresentation in media was affecting me. Yet, it wasn’t until later that I realized that my self-worth had nothing to do with if I was being represented in the media or not.

B ToureThinking back to the alteration of photos, before high school I never paid attention to the curve of a model’s waist. Although, I certainly knew people who were paying attention to model sizes. Some of my girlfriends who weighed 120 pounds soaking wet and with rocks in their pockets were constantly worried about if the pink ‘Barbie girl’ t-shirt they had on made them look fat and I couldn’t understand it. Freshman year of high school I was a bit of a tomboy and I thought it was strange to care about stuff like this. But as I got older I started to care more and more about if looked fat in my purple ‘Barbie girl’ t-shirt.

Is there such a thing as ethically using Photoshop? I believe there is. To be honest sometimes fixing blemishes does enhance an image, unless this makes my senior photos unethical (oops). But there is a line that is often crossed to a point of no return. When people start changing serious proportions of a body by making a woman’s hips smaller than her head we have a problem that is much bigger than software misuse. When we start creating these false images in media, we tell people this is what a woman is supposed to look like. If she doesn’t look like this, you don’t want her. Women and children are often overlooked in society. Yes, there are steps being taken to change this but are they enough and will they work? I certainly hope so because future generations need something more than a pretty face and a skinny waist.