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?

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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!

Jean

Too Many

Thinking of too many dead Black men and too many American cities in crisis, the words of Baltimore Orioles COO John Angelos ring true for me.

” … my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.”

I wonder, what is the media’s role in keeping this broader – and essential – narrative in the margins?

May we heal as one.

Jean

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?

A

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.

B

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.