I’d rather be sexualized than wear fur.

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Pamela Anderson for PETA

    The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization is known across the globe for giving animals a voice and campaigning for the better treatment of animals in all industries. Many celebrities have modelled for the campaigns and expressed their support for the organization, including Pamela Anderson, Bethenny Frankel and Stephanie Pratt, whose campaigns are featured throughout this blog post. The organization encourages the public to “go vegetarian or vegan” by using shocking and usually highly sexualized images to capture the attention of their target audiences, and despite the fact that the organization’s purpose is to campaign for animal rights, many people believe that their message often gets lost in translation due to the sexualization of the celebrities in the images.

“The “ethical treatment of animals” motive gets lost in translation somewhere between women sucking on veggies in the hot tub and blatant implications of sex-based violence.” | About-Face

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Bethenny Frankel for PETA

Rebecca Watson of skepchick states, “I’m a supporter of animal rights who eats a mostly vegetarian diet (I occasionally eat fish). I support organizations like the Humane Society and the SPCA, and I would support PETA if they didn’t make a habit of lying, misrepresenting scientific data, and using images of dehumanized scantily clad and nude women to get money and attention.” It’s an ongoing issue for women that advertisers consistently objectify female sexuality in order to sell a product or an idea, and there has been outrage that PETA would do the same – sometimes to the point where an advertisement is banned – in order to generate such an important topic of conversation throughout society.

“Go Vegetarian” PETA ad – Banned on the Superbowl broadcast

In Emily Gaarder’s book, Women and the Animal Rights Movement (2011), she analyses the perspectives of women activists on the sexualized campaigns released by PETA. According to Gaardner (2011), 44% of the women interviewed completely opposed PETA’s ads, whereas 26% felt mixed feelings towards them. The remaining women supported the ads, claiming that it was important to do whatever it takes to get their message across to consumers, and that the advertisements do well in attracting attention to the organization (Gaarder, 2011). The women’s activists opposed to the PETA advertisements disagreed with these notions. For example, Diane “…wished that the animal rights movement would have a better understanding of the way ‘women are all victims of this kind of advertising in our culture, in the fact that we’re supposed to be so beautiful and unnatural’,” (Gaarder, 2011, pp. 120).

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Stephanie Pratt for Peta

An organization campaigning for the better treatment of animals shouldn’t need to further the unfair treatment of women in the media in order to grab consumers’ attention and get their point across. The nudity and various other sexual themes of the campaigns are merely for shock value, and the “I’d rather go naked” statement only appears to have been thrown in there to justify the sexualized images. Instead of raising awareness for animal rights and promoting animal activism, the nudity of the celebrities gracing the pages of the campaigns steals the spotlight, and suddenly the advertisement becomes about the naked celebrity – not better treatment of animals.

“Boyfriend Went Vegan” PETA ad

The above advertisement about the boyfriend’s sex life improving upon becoming vegan yet another example of PETA desperately trying to gain attention for a campaign that doesn’t even relate to sex. Shock value can be an effective tool in advertising, but there is a fine line between using sex as a selling point and shamefully objectifying both men and women unnecessarily.

REFERENCES

  • Gaarder, Emily. “The Animals Come First” – Using Sex(ism) to Sell Animal Rights in Women and the Animal Rights Movement. Piscataway, NJ, USA: Rutgers University Press, 2011. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 2 March 2016. Copyright © 2011. Rutgers University Press. All rights reserved.

Let them take selfies.

A ‘selfie’ is a self-portrait photograph that is typically taken by a digital photograph or phone camera from arm’s length or in a reflective surface, such as a mirror (Tiidenberg & Cruz, 2015, pp. 78). ‘Selfies’ can be used for a variety of purposes, including promotions for particular products or clothing, to express sexuality, and, let’s be real, to show our followers how ‘on fleek’ our eyebrows are looking that day. They have taken our social media platforms by storm,

Despite the fact that everyone does it, there does seem to be a certain stigma existing around sharing our ‘selfies’ to our friends on Facebook or our followers on Instagram and Twitter. Some believe it to be quite vain, and that the only purpose a ‘selfie’ provides is self-gratification. In some ways, that may be true, but is that so terrible? Our Facebook and Instagram feeds are our own to decorate and fill with whatever we like, and in a world of low self-esteem and body image issues, no one should be judged or condemned for posting a photo in which they believe they look good.

A recent victim of the ‘selfie debate’ is Kim Kardashian-West, who posted a nearly naked selfie to her Instagram account on Monday the 7th of March, and received a mixture of supportive, complimentary comments and comments that condemned her for posting such a “racy” photo.

When you're like I have nothing to wear LOL

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

A range of celebrities took to shaming Kim Kardashian on Twitter, condemning her for her decision to post the naked selfie on Instagram, where many younger girls will be easily influenced into thinking that it’s okay to share their own “naked selfies”.

 

To which Kim K replied:

I think it’s safe to say that we all got a kick out of Kim’s replies, and in all fairness, she has a right to be as sassy as she was. This isn’t the first time that Kim has shared a photo like this on Instagram, so why are people continuing lose their minds each time it happens? She did censor her own photo before posting it, so if you really think about it, we’re only seeing what we’d see if she was wearing a bikini, and had she posted a bikini shot instead, would she have received the same reaction? I’m guessing not.

 

“I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.” – Kim Kardashian

P!nk’s tweet was a tribute to those “across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent…” whilst also shaming those who share their bodies, like Kim did on Instagram, but isn’t that a bit discriminating? Shouldn’t we be celebrating and empowering all women, regardless of their careers, intelligence and what they post onto their social media platforms?

Nancy Jo Sales, author of  American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers doesn’t think so, stating, “It’s easy for someone like Kim Kardashian, who already has a lot of power, to talk of being empowered by posting nude photos… But to fail to acknowledge the potential harm that can come to girls from sharing nude photos — in fact to dismiss this danger — is to fail to defend girls from harm and to fail to support them in their healthy and empowered desire not to be harmed.” In her book, Sales investigated the possible implications and consequences of young girls sending naked pictures to boys who were interested in them, and therefore believes that Kim’s actions can be especially harmful in that way. Sales says, “…you wonder what Kim Kardashian is thinking when she puts ‘Send Nudes’ on a piece of Valentine’s Day candy [which she tweeted], as if it were something funny and cute. Does she have any idea that, for some girls, this has been uttered as a kind of threat?”

Sales raises a good point, but in my opinion, it seems a lot more harmful to shame women who choose to share their bodies on social media, as it furthers the notion that women are not allowed to express their sexuality or take pride in their anatomy – whereas men are. Kim Kardashian’s naked selfie represents not only how far we as women have come in being able to express ourselves, but also how important it is to recognize and appreciate our beauty during a time where low self-esteem is at an all time high.

References

Cruz, E.G., Tiidenberg, K. 2015. ‘Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the Body’ in Body & Society. Vol. 21 (4). The Author(s). SAGE.

Have communication technologies made us too accessible?

As a result of social media and the ability to be accessed through our phones and other communication technologies at any given time, we are a society that is constantly bombarded by information, whether it is from the news outlets we are subscribed to or messages from our friends and family. We’re the ‘technological generation’, and the fact that we are consumed by technology is simply a result of its dominance in various aspects of our lives. However, is it possible that we’ve become too accessible, and is our ability to be contacted at any time accompanied by the expectation that we are always available to talk?

Devon Travern of Digital Pivot wrote an article called, ‘Are We Too Accessible?‘, and this article became the foundation of my research, as Travern expresses the same thoughts and concerns that I originally entered this project with. Travern states, “Generally I am in full support of the way social media has improved communication… However, now it seems as though in order to truly get some peace and quiet you have to literally disappear. You can’t post a simple tweet because that indicates you are free and available… These popular social platforms are supposed to be for fun and leisure. If I’m trying to stay to myself it seems I cannot even interact on these platforms without opening the door to messages and conversations… I think we are losing the ability to respect one another’s space.”

In regards to this assignment and the notion of the media, audience and place, the media in question are our everyday communication technologies, including Smartphones, laptops, and social media accounts. The audience is the users of these devices, as we live in a society that is practically run by technology and a good portion of our daily lives is conducted through Smartphones and platforms of social media. The ‘place’ refers to social media networks, as the majority of our messages and connections occur through websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr & Instagram.

In considering the spatial sense of communication technologies and our accessibility, I believe that our ability to be ‘accessed’ from anywhere, at any time, erases the distance between ourselves and those who are ‘accessing’ or contacting us. There are also blurred boundaries at present, due to the fact that many people may not wish to be contacted at a particular moment – however, their Facebook friends are eager to ignite a conversation or discussion, unintentionally or intentionally ignoring any boundaries that the person may have set in place.

Due to the fact that I have often wondered whether communication technologies (including mobile phones, laptops, tablets and various social media platforms) have made us too accessible, and whether or not this is, in fact, an invasion of our personal space, I decided to use my assignment to research this matter and find out if anyone shares these concerns. In order to do so, I searched online for any academic readings or blogs relating to the subject matter, and also filmed some interviews with friends and family, gathering their opinions and comparing the answers of two generations (two interviewees being 20 years old, and another two being 38 and 44). I also filmed some incoming messages and calls on my iPhone in different settings and situations, in order to highlight the expectations and ‘unsaid terms and conditions’ that accompany the use of communication technologies and social media networks.

The interviewees were asked a range of questions based on their communication technology usage and their thoughts on these technologies being accompanied by the expectation that we, as a society, are available to talk at any given time. I found that all of my interviewees believed that communication technologies and social media platforms have made us too accessible or ‘available’ to others, and this is due to a range of reasons, including the fact that WiFi is now available to us almost everywhere we go, and it’s quicker to connect or get in touch with friends and family using these communication technologies. They also agreed that the expectation to be available to social media friends and other contacts at any time of the day is something that we all experience. However, it was pointed out by one interviewee that it is up to us to manage our accessibility, meaning that we have the option to decrease or increase our availability to those attempting to connect with us across these communication devices.

After a lengthy scroll through various search engines, I was unable to find any academic readings or journals relating to my chosen subject. There were, however, many texts in which the use of social media and its benefits were outlined, including Erik Qualman’s book, ‘Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business‘. Qualman discusses social media’s influence on the way in which we do business and reach out to clients and potential customers, stating, “Social media is your customer today, customer tomorrow, employees, etc.” In terms of business, social media is extremely useful for networking, brand development, and employment recruitment. Otherwise, it is an excellent tool for staying in touch with distant relatives and old friends, or remaining up to date with the world’s most recent events and breaking news.

We can’t deny the positive impact that social media and the use of communication technologies has had on our lives, but at what point does it become too much? Having the ability to contact friends, family or co-workers with ease through the use of our Smartphones, tablets or social media accounts is something we should be grateful for. However, it must also be understood that having a social media account or a Smartphone doesn’t mean that a person is required to respond to messages or return calls at a time that is inconvenient to them. The expectation that we can reply to our contacts immediately isn’t realistic, and also proves how impatient these communication technologies have made us. According to Ian Barker of betanews, “A fifth of all social media users will check for a response at least once an hour, with one in 20 checking every 10 minutes or more.” Whoever decided that patience was a virtue clearly didn’t have any experience with Smartphones or Facebook!

Our communication technologies and social media networks can benefit us in many ways, whether that may be connecting us with family members or friends, or allowing us to grow our businesses and aid in brand development. However, it is also important to recognize the boundaries and personal space of those that we are communicating with, and acknowledge that a friendship or relationship of any kind is not always measured by the amount of time it takes for them to respond to a message.

Social Media & the Internet In General, Is It Too Accessible?

A helpful and well-written source for my BCM240 assignment!

Life, Love, Poetry, & Other Randomness

Social Media

Growing up, such things as Tablets, Smart phones, Ipads, and the like simply didn’t exist. And having a computer was a luxury, not commonplace. We didn’t have a computer, were on too limited of a budget for things like that. I wonder if these things had never been introduced to us, how we would be living right now. That is neither here nor there at the moment. I read a post by the lovely Jessica and wanted to expand on it. Her post was about social media in general, is it a good thing or a bad thing. I really liked what she had to say and the various comments. I like a good debate now and then. 😉

So, in general, I think social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Google, Twitter, and the like can be a very positive thing. Being able to network your business, your talents…

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Accessibility & Us – Final Project Ideas

I’ve finally started thinking about my final project and what I’ve been wanting to research, but at first I didn’t really have a clue. After taking time to finish other assignments and actually brainstorm what I’ve been wanting to talk about, I decided to focus on a question that I’d been asking myself for a while now:

Has the media made us too accessible?

Has our access to mobile phones, tablets and social media networks made us too accessible to others, whether it’s our family and friends or the websites we subscribe to for the daily news?

We are constantly being bombarded with information, and that’s even without the push notifications popping up every few minutes from the apps on our phones. I know that there have been many times in the past year or so that I’ve wanted to throw my phone against a wall and then ship it off to Timbuktu – or at least leave the group chat – because my phone JUST WON’T STOP GOING OFF. For one whole weekend in the last summer holidays, I kept my social media to a minimum and pretty much had my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ the entire time, only checking my notifications or returning when I actually wanted to. It was actually really refreshing, and it was nice to not have to constantly deal with incoming push notifications from apps such as Snapchat, Twitter or Facebook (as much as I love my friends, group chats will forever be the bane of my existence).

However, after my friends asked me why I hadn’t been replying to their messages for a while or answering their calls, I started to feel guilty that I hadn’t made myself accessible to them 24/7 like I usually do. I felt like a bit of a terrible friend because it seemed like I was completely ignoring them, when in actual fact, I was simply trying to prevent my social media networks and the expectations that come along with them from driving me to the point of insanity.

From what I’ve witnessed and experienced, it seems that the act of having a mobile phone with the typical social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, must also go hand in hand with your ability to talk to anyone or receive any piece of information at any given time of the day. In my case, that’s not really what I signed up for, but it seems that we’ve been given that condition anyway.

“…now it seems as though in order to truly get some peace and quite you have to literally disappear. You can’t post a simple tweet because that indicates you are free and available. The same goes for posting Facebook statuses and Instagram posts. These popular social platforms are supposed to be for fun and leisure… it seems I cannot even interact on these platforms without opening the door to messages and conversations. Have we reached the point where it’s become too much? Subconsciously, I think we are losing the ability to respect one another’s space.” – Devon Travern | Are We Too Accessible?

I feel like I know what I want to say with this final project, but I’m unsure as to how I should say it. Firstly, I was thinking of making a video and interviewing some people about their social media use and their thoughts on the notion of being too accessible, but then I wondered if I could present my ‘findings’ as a photo essay. Now that I’m going over those options again, I’m wondering how I could even begin to present this as a photo essay at all, so I’m guessing that leaves me with the video option. Would this be the best way to present my research?

Help!

Until next semester, probably…

“…the weblog establishes an accepted online presence which proves that the researcher is real to the digital space and not just a visitor with no knowledge.” – Torill Mortensen & Jill Walker | Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool

It’s that time of year again; we’re getting very close to the end of semester and the end of this year’s blogging experiences, and so here I am, on a 37 degree Saturday afternoon, writing another reflection. (It’s also not long until Christmas, so there’s that!)

When I first began my blogging journey in BCM110 last year, I was pretty excited about it. Finally I had a platform to express my own thoughts and opinions on the topics we studied each week, and it was an assignment I actually enjoyed! As much as I’m enjoying my course, it’s not often that I get an assignment that doesn’t actually feel like I’m doing an assignment. I’ve always loved to write, but until I started university, I never really thought of blogging as something I would appreciate. However, now that I’m getting the hang of it and realizing how much I love it, I’m actually considering it as a career prospect. How about that?!

“The idea isn’t to write for the sake of shaming or hurting, but to elicit truth in the midst of niceties. What plagues too much of education discourse isn’t the need for “better” conversation. It’s that soundbites and jargon masquerade as substance too frequently. The greatest writers I’ve seen don’t skirt the issue. They swirl around it and come to a finite, central point, spanning the breadth of the topic at hand. Educators deserve a bigger voice, and those of us who can do it ought to exercise those voices.” – Jose Vilson | For Us, By Us: 5 Tips for An Authentic Educator Voice

Although blogging is a pretty open platform and you can essentially express yourself in any way you wish to, there have been a few difficulties when it came to establishing my own personal voice. Considering the fact that we’ve always been taught to write in a professional, academic form throughout our time in high school, it’s both refreshing and confusing to finally be able to write without that rule. I wasn’t sure how to express myself without sounding too colloquial at times, and it was also hard to strike a balance to prevent my work from sounding too much like an essay. Sometimes the attempt to sound convincing to any audience when voicing my opinions became quite complicated, and I ended up feeling a little like Steve Carell in the meme below:

In his book, Mark Tremayne states (2012, pp.3) that the “blogging phenomenon is represented as dynamic and evolving,” and although this is an excellent thing for the blogosphere and everyone inside it, the notion can be slightly overwhelming. The abundance of blogs online has the ability to make mine feel like nothing more than a needle in a haystack, and the need for decent content even greater. What makes Zoella or Hannah Gale so popular? Most likely the fact that they go above and beyond to provide their audiences with frequent, entertaining content that’s both relatable and easy to understand. However, it isn’t so easy when you’re given topics that you’re not particularly passionate about or don’t necessarily understand.

According to Torill Mortensen and Jill Walker, “Most importantly, our weblogs became tools with which to think about our research, its values, connections and links to other aspects of the world. They altered the way in we approached online communication, and have influenced the writing of both dissertations.” Blogging encourages discussion between both the writers and the audience, and this is possibly most important point I have learned through BCM240. In order to attract and maintain a readership, the blogger must appeal to the interests of both themselves and their audience in order to produce a quality relationship and debate, and this cannot be achieved without decent content.

The use of social media links and blog promotion on Twitter has increased my blog traffic and allowed my peers to access my blog and therefore consider my opinions of the topics of the week. In reformatting my blog and changing the theme, my blog looks a lot more inviting to any audiences and allows for easy navigation across the site.

The blogosphere is the ideal ‘place’ for both expression and discussion, and this is why I think blogging is the perfect requirement for our degree. As media students, we need to be aware of the various ways in which we can access audiences and release information to the general public, and blogging is ideal as both practice for writing in public and also as a portfolio for future employment and opportunities. The art of blogging can take time to master, but it teaches us how to be articulate and accurate, and shape our personal voice.

Looking back on my time with this blog and all of the things I’ve learned so far, I can honestly say that blogging for my subjects has probably been the best way for me to understand and make sense of the topics we’ve discussed. Blogging has allowed me access to a platform in which I can express myself and converse with other bloggers (whether they’re in the same course or not), and I feel as though my understanding of the media in accordance to place and audience has significantly expanded. My blog is nowhere near perfect and in the future I hope for my blogging style to improve and my personal voice to become clearer, but I am happy with my progress so far and I look forward to continuing my blogging journey in my final year of university next year.

References:

Tremayne, M. 2012. Blogging, Citizenship, and the Future of Media. Routledge. Available online HERE.

Elbows off the table and stop posting PDA on Facebook.

There are many rules and regulations in regards to media use, such as those pesky terms and conditions that we pretend we’ve read on our social media platforms, and the fact that piracy is actually illegal. However, there are also a variety of unspoken rules and regulations – especially when it comes to the use of social media;

These rules aren’t actually enforced by anyone in a position of power or authority, but they’re pretty much followed and respected – in most cases, anyway. We need a set of social media rules in order to prevent absolute chaos online. That may sound dramatic, but can you imagine a world with absolutely no rules and regulations on social media? Yeah, there are people who don’t follow these rules and don’t like their friends’ Instagram pictures and fill our newsfeeds with sickening PDA (public displays of affection), but imagine if everyone was like that! I honestly don’t think I could handle being online.

When Facebook first broke into social media stardom, many users – including myself, sadly – mistook the privilege of a ‘status’ as our online diaries. No one would care if we called them up to let them know we were currently drinking a Coke Zero, or would really appreciate our purge of song lyrics vaguely relating to the heartbreak caused by our dead-end crush of the moment, so why did we think it would be any different online? I recently went through my Facebook profile and dove deep into the 2009 – 2011 days, attempting to rid my profile of those depressing song lyrics, the awkward statuses that only made sense to myself and the friend that was in on the joke and those cringe-worthy Facebook arguments with people that I could have easily been messaging privately instead. There were a lot of laughs in that purge, but mostly I just wanted to back and punch myself in the face.

Although social media is an ideal platform for advertising and marketing, the one thing that should not be advertised so much – yet annoyingly is – is your relationship. Yes, moving in together or getting engaged, pregnant or married is a huge deal and should definitely be shared with those you care about, but these circumstances are the exceptions. We don’t care what you’re having for dinner. We don’t want to read your posts on each other’s walls that could have easily been sent as a text message instead. Instagram doesn’t need to know how #blessed you are every single day. Keep your PDA posts to a minimum, and we won’t hide your profile from our newsfeed.

Overload of PDA on social media networks can actually trigger some social anxieties and moral concerns; some may feel inadequate and lonely due to being surrounded by various relationships on Facebook, and feel as though their life doesn’t hold as much meaning without something to share on social media. It can sometimes feel very overwhelming to witness an abundance of #blessed posts – both on Facebook and Instagram – at a time in which your own life may not be going so well. Obviously that doesn’t mean that other people can’t express their happiness, but an overload of it just isn’t all that necessary.

PDA also produces the moral concern of social media becoming our number one priority in life. It is often the case that the relationships you see too much of on Facebook or Instagram are actually the relationships suffering the most. Clearly, this doesn’t apply to every relationship, but it’s not uncommon for people to attempt to use social media to save their relationships, or at the very least, pretend to be the kind of person or couple they’re not. According to Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel, “A new study has found that people who make the biggest fucking deal about their relationships on the internet tend to, conversely, feel very insecure about their relationships.” In the study, Lynda Emery stated, “People who are high on anxiety have negative views of themselves and worry that their partners will abandon them. People high on avoidance distrust others and are hesitant to get too close to their partners. We expected that more anxious people would want their relationships to be visible to others, whereas more avoidant people would not.”

“In a first study, we found that anxious individuals wanted their relationships to be visible to others on Facebook, whereas avoidant individuals did not. Avoidant individuals were also less likely to post a relationship status or a dyadic profile picture… Anxious individuals thought that other people knowing about their relationship would make them feel better about themselves, whereas avoidant people thought that it would make them feel worse about themselves. Both anxious and avoidant people were concerned that other people thought they had unstable, unhappy relationships, but this led anxious people to want their relationships to be visible and avoidant people to want their relationships to be less visible.” – Lynda Emery | “Can You Tell That I’m in a Relationship?” Relationship Visibility on Facebook

The unspoken rule of keeping the majority of PDA within the walls of a couple’s homes is probably protecting the whole Valentines Day industry. A card from Hallmark and some flowers is a lot more meaningful than a Facebook wall post or Instagram collage, and that’s a fact. The Valentines Day industry depends on their customers to shower their loved ones with gifts on the “most romantic day of the year” and without the unspoken rule about PDA on social networking, it’s possible that we, as a society, would begin to settle for much less, and therefore Hallmark and the local florists would suffer.

So there, you have it, kids; keep your relationship posts to a minimum, and we’ll all feel #blessed because of it.