Lecture preview: Women’s role in mainstream media

by Lee Morgan

Andi Zeisler, author of Feminism and pop culture and co-founder of Bitch magazine will be providing students and staff with a workshop and public lecture that identifies and discusses the offensive aspects of mainstream media and how to actively participate in bringing those offenses into the spotlight.

Zeisler’s workshop, titled Talking Back 101, is set to take place March 31 from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the Crow’s Nest in the Hixson Union Building. The workshop will be followed by a lecture from Zeisler later that evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre.

Political science professor Kathy Lee had the opportunity to listen to Zeisler speak before in Moscow, Idaho at the Northwest Women’s Studies Association meeting three years ago. She anticipates the workshop and lecture will raise awareness in Whitworth’s student body about what they are watching on mainstream media.

“I think Zeisler will make students more aware of what they are taking in, and doing more critical thinking about it; whether it’s a song, ad or television show, they should be able to separate from it,” Lee said. “I may like something, but I also recognize that it is problematic at the same time. It is easy to ingest a TV show; I get it. I do it. But think, what is actually being said? What kinds of roles do women usually play in television today?”

Nichole Bogarosh, a lecturer in the continuing studies department, said she also supports the idea of looking at mainstream media with a critical eye. She encourages students to actively challenge what they see as offensive stereotypes, messages, and ideologies in the media, but to also applaud when they see something of value, she said.

“I want the students to see they can have a voice in what happens. For example, in my Intro to Women’s Studies course, I encourage them to send tweets when they see something offensive on TV, in films and other media,” Bogarosh said.

The Talking Back 101 workshop will include both a slideshow and presentation that address the power of media response. In the workshop, Zeisler will also share stories of success from individuals who have taken on demeaning or offensive advertising campaigns and media messages.

Whitworth is working in conjunction with Gonzaga and the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media to bring Zeisler to campus on the final day of Women’s History Month.

“Zeisler is a prominent scholar and public figure, so it is important that we get as much support from the Spokane area as we can,” English professor LuElla D’Amico said. “We are hoping to draw a big audience.”

Zeisler’s lecture will be the final event in a month full of activities both promoted and put on by Women’s and Gender Studies. Some of those activities include a Feminine Hygiene Drive, a lecture from the founder of the non-profit organization Act4Accountability, Lola Oso and Whitworth Celebrates 125 Years: Women at Whitworth Past and Present.

“WGS at Whitworth is excited to have the opportunity to have such a dynamic figure come to campus to herald the end of what promises to be one of the most exciting celebrations of Women’s History Month we’ve ever had,” D’Amico said.

Contact Lee Morgan at lmorgan17@my.whitworth.edu

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