|Vol. 31, No. 1, Winter 2003
Women's Role in Popular Video Games:
Stripped Down and Killed Off
The National Institute on Media and the Family, a leading resource on the effects of video games on children, released its Seventh Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card in December in Washington, D.C.
The MediaWise Video Game Report Card calls attention to the growing tendency to depict graphic violence against women in the industry's most popular games. In this season's best-selling game, "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," players are rewarded for kicking a prostitute to death
The Seventh Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card gave its first ever overall failing grade. Areas of special concern include:
- violence against women;
- growing levels of video game addiction;
- inaccuracy of ratings;
- parental lack of awareness regarding content;
- and the failure of many retailers to restrict children from mature-rated games.
The MediaWise Video Game Report Card also analyzes recent research, showing that violent video games are linked to aggressive, violent behavior.
IWMF Announces Campaign to Enhance
Healthcare Coverage in African Media
The International Women's Media Foundation in January announced
that it had received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation to develop a campaign to improve the quality of healthcare
coverage in the African media with responsible, accurate and relevant media
The campaign will bring together leaders in the African media to evaluate
the quality of health coverage in Africa and then devise strategies and
actions to raise the quality of reporting on healthcare issues. It will be
conducted through the African Women's Media Center, which was founded by the IWMF in 1997 and is based in Dakar, Senegal.
Madison Avenue Meets Stupor Bowl: Witless
Ads Gave Us Sex, Violence and Yes, Vomit
Super Bowl Sunday in January is supposed to be a showcase of clever ads a cut above the usual commercial pitches that take up more and more of the television hour each year.
But this year's Super Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26, left the crowd I watched with disappointed. Once again, women were the butt (literally, in the case of one Budweiser ad) of jokes. Violence in the form of promotions for upcoming feature films and sex in promotions for after-game viewing (underwear-clad heroine of "Alias") seemed endless. The ferocious tackling of a football player in a Reebok commercial - a guy hired to get after office slackers - seemed far worse than anything going on in the Super Bowl itself. The puke on a truck windshield in one commercial was simply awful.
The upshot: These commercials were designed to entertain particularly immature boys and men addicted to the sex-violence metier of video games, who also think scatalogical joking around is hilarious. And their creators paid millions to have us see them.
Keep an Eye on Coverage of Democratic
Leader Pelosi, Other Women in Politics
Now that California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has broadened her turf in the 108th Congress as leader of the House Democrats, we'll be watching to see if reporting and commentary about her improve upon that which accompanied her November ascent to the top Democratic House position.
While overall, coverage was not blatantly sexist - by and large, political reporters have evolved beyond including comments about women politicians' hair, clothes, and personal style - some coverage of Pelosi's advancement suggested that her being a woman in what had always been a man's job was the most interesting feature of her triumph. That tone was set in headlines such as "Woman is House Dem Boss" (New York Daily News, Nov. 15); "Pelosi elected first female leader on Hill" (Baltimore Sun, Nov. 15).
Of course, it's legitimate to note that Pelosi made history by becoming the first woman House minority leader of either political party. But having said that, the real story should have been about her leadership abilities and the fact that she was the overwhelming choice of Democrats to lead them. This was acknowledged in news reports and commentary, but often within the frame of her womanhood and what she learned growing up in a Baltimore political family.
Retirement Hits Veteran Feminist Publications
As New Titles Surface, Go Online
These are interesting times for feminist periodicals, and the news is both happy and sad. As some publications rooted in the modern feminist era produce their final issues, new ones are appearing, often on the Internet, where their potential reach is far beyond what could have been envisioned by 1970s-era women limited to mimeograph machines, mailing labels and stamps you had to lick.
But even with the blossoming online 'zines, journals and blogs, the environment for feminist media is tough. While they face some of the challenges of mainstream media, such as declines in advertising and subscriptions caused by a weak economy, many of them contend with problems large publishing companies do not: The volunteers who produce much women's media are increasingly strapped for time; the founding editors are aging and there may be no one waiting in the wings to take up the cause; and foundation support has become less reliable.
New! Research In Depth
Hegemony in Reality-Based Television Programming: The World According to A Wedding Story by Erika Engstrom
The Formation of American Women in Ratio and Television: A Case Study in Women's Professionalization by Stacy Spaulding
Plus News Briefs, People and Book Reviews
Media Report to Women has hard copies of back issues dating to its founding in 1972. Indispensable for research!