It's a BuzzFeed world—we just live in it. But what kind of stories is it feeding us about women?
If you’re like plenty of people, you get your daily dose of information, kitteh pics and…ulp, Important World News from BuzzFeed. But try to look away once in a while, because if BuzzFeed is the only thing you’re looking at, you’re gonna get one hell of a screwed up vision of what women are, what they care about and what they can be.
Let’s have a look at a typical day to determine the State of Women, according the funhouse mirror of BuzzFeed’s worldview.
On July 16, 2013, there was exactly one (1) story about a woman in business—ratingYahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s job performance–on the front page of BuzzFeed’s business section. As of 3:59 p.m. PST there were exactly 618 views of the story and zero comments. By contrast, 33 of Your Childhood Toys That Are Worth a Fortune Now had nearly half a million views. (Btw, no way anyone is gonna pay $293 for that Easy Bake Oven.)
By contrast to the women’s business stories, there were approximately 80 bazillion articles on women and appearance, particularly the topic of high heels which are apparently super-important to all women, even dear Helen Mirren made news by wearing stripper heels to the premiere of Red 2. Shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who has anointed himself an expert on women despite not actually being one himself, dispenses such pearls of wisdom as it’s a-ok for men to force their women to change before going out in public and that women always turn and look at their own ass when putting on a new pair of shoes. There are also heels for babies, heelless heels, high heel races, and high heels for hiking. And every so often someone tries to get men to wear heels, but the men never go for it, possibly because said shoes are called “meels.”
“The Heat” was a huge success, but it’s not going to change anything. Studio heads still cling to the idea that men won’t go to movies and women have been conditioned to accept that they get what they get. We’ll have to pin our hopes on Paul Feig, director of “The Heat,” who said, “I’d like to get away from ‘men’ movies [and] ‘women’ movies, and just be like, a movie’s a movie. If it happens to star all women, guys shouldn’t be going ‘Ugh, I can’t go see that.’ …But clearly it’s an uphill slog. More people need to do it. If it’s just going to be me doing it, it’s going to be once every two years.”
However, there is hope via new TV series “Orange is the New Black” , with fleshed-out lesbian characters, a female writing staff and the return of the bad-ass that is Natasha Lyonne.
While a fictional women’s prison is a progressive, smart space for women, the most dangerous, demeaning and violent place for women is…advertising. Plenty of ads are creepy violent, with dismembered women, rape scenes, and all manner of stabbings, guns, choking and other stuff that’s apparently necessary for us to make informed choices on our clothing and shoe brands. Even ads that are supposed to be all in fun feature weirdly hateful hijinks like a man headbutting his wife, knocking her unconscious, so that he can sneak out for the night.
All of this is nothing new, women have been portrayed as victims, husband-servants and all-around insecure ninnies in ads pretty much forever. And WTF is up with this English Leather ad that reads “I think men are beautiful. I’ve always thought so. Even when they were unkind to me”???
Tabloids call women crazy by a ratio of 44 to 3. (Also acceptable crazy-implying adjectives included, “meltdown,” “out of control,” “spiraling,” “bizarre behavior, “ “drama” or “sad”).
Looking at BuzzFeed is like being a kid who just got swung around by Uncle Pete—after too much, you just start staggering around and bumping into things. In the resulting blur, a portrait of women emerges of women existing primarily as celebrities, having little to do with business world and populating the global political stage as victims of crime or leaders making good or bad fashion choices. How does it influence us, how we and other people see ourselves and what sort of goals and expectations we set for ourselves? How much of BuzzFeed is reflecting our world and how much is it dictating it and…wait a second….gotta look at this official ranking of the 51 hottest Jewish men in Hollywood. What, not one mention of Marc Maron? Madness! I’m sorry, what were we talking about?
It’s not just about the stories. Journalism is also about who is telling them.
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