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A DINGO ATE MY BABY! Teaching feminism in media studies to a 70%male cohort- advice please! (sobs)

Discussion in 'Media studies' started by EdukatingUma, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. I'm currently teaching a BTEC level 3 group film studies. I try to follow AS level specs as far as possible - but they are finding concepts a bit tricky (add that to the fact that they are reluctant theory learners - they are attracted to production elements of the course, hence them not enrolling on A-level so my job is tricky to start with)
    Last week I taught basic Marxism and when I discussed ideology and Bicycle Thieves and the principle of Marxist neo-realism some of them got quite angry stating that they were entitled to escapism and why was I trying to make them miserable (Hegemony in action was lost on them)
    So after a disastrous lesson last week this week's SOW continues ideology by introducing feminism. Add that to the fact that ofsted are in this week. *strrresssss*
    The lesson is three hours with a break in between. I think I will stay away from Mulvey for now and introduce her next week depending on how this lesson goes (Some good advice I have had on here is was teach the students you have not the students you want!)
    So I sense hostility. How do I get through to them about feminism/s and try and smash the man hating stereotype they all have in the class? Can I just say it isn't just the males, the females also seem to think the battle is won and feminism is irrelevant
    I need advice from teachers on engaging feminism lessons that students do not get defensive about, but still expose inequalities.
    It's a big ask - your stories please!
  2. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Lara Croft - feisty empowered woman of the girl power generation or male fantasy cyber-puppet with over-large knockers? Discuss.
  3. If you have roughly three hours and a predominately male group- go for the change in female representation in Science Fiction. You can look at the 50s (Forbidden Planet, Attack of the 50ft Woman) then move into Barbarella and 70s Ripley, then into James Cameron and his monstrous feminine, then into the more post modern sci fi women like Trinity (Matrix), Alice (Resident Evil) and Buffy.

    I would go for male gaze and think about the role these women perform in the narrative- are they mother? are they soldier? are they romantic foil?

    Maybe get them to make their very own feminine representation timeline? Analysing things like costumes. Or do a direct comparison of the Sarah Connors (T1, T2 and Chronicles) and/or the Ellen Ripleys.
  4. Very interesting. Yes, we are all entitled to escapism though, perhaps not as a student!
    Without knowing the students I can only offer hypothetical suggestions.Perhaps, providing the illusion of giving them what they want and drawing them in that way may work. After all, whether they like it or not this is a key area of study. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and All About my Mother are useful here as they offer characters that are a bit more complex than the 'they are either gay, straight or transexuals' stereotypes. The humour helps too as it may open up debates on whether 'the other' are acceptable as long as they are entertaining (eg, Dale Winton and Graham Norton). This in turn may lead to questions of engenderment and the wider social/cultural/racial structure. And, couple that with simple questioning: 'Is the gaze male?", "is there any evidence to argue this either way?", "what makes a strong woman in a film?" ""why are mainstream films filled with beautiful people?", "are films political?", "are any particular genres engendered?" "why?" and even "why is cinema theory so obsessed with analysing feminism and gender?". Assuming the age group is typically teenage then you should get some interesting comments after they get over the usual, automatic "I love a looker" and "she's hot" "this is boring" responses. In fact some of my favourite feminism related debates were with pre-dominantly male groups.
  5. Thanks for all your responses. Wish I could do a whole term on them all!

    The class went well and we looked at the industry context with the new celluloid ceiling report and representation in general. The majority have seen La Haine and Do the Right Thing so we covered a lot on who speaks for whom and how gender representation compares with race and class issues. With the recent stats coming out about the old white males that form the majority of the Academy awards voters it was good.

    We looked at the Bechdel test and the Smurfette principle (Google tropes vs. women - feminist frequency for some fab videos) and although there was still some resistance, we did a content analysis of the last 3 films they had all seen applying the Bechdel test.

    Multitasker - I showed Priscilla last year when we looked at Queer Theory and it went down very well - particuarly when Tick goes 'butch' at the end. Am currently deciding on whether to use that or But 'm a Cheerleader (have you seen it?) which deals with stereotypes wonderfully. May let the students choose...

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