The Male Gaze in College Sports

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The 100 Hottest Cheerleader Pics in College Football

This article (if it can really be called that) is a compilation of pictures rating 100 college football cheerleaders on their attractiveness. It’s posted on the sports reporting website, Bleacher Report, which has a predominately male audience. I came across this when it was re-posted to the Bleacher Report twitter a few months ago. I was appalled that something like this exists.

It could be argued that the women in the pictures are just postfeminist. They chose to dress in tight clothes and put on a lot of make-up and put on a show for the spectators because it is what they wanted. However, coming from the perspective of a former collegiate dancer, I do not think this is the case. I joined dance in college to pursue the competitive aspects of an art form and sport that I really enjoyed in high school. Cheering/dancing at football and basketball games was something we did on the side because the school needed a “spirit squad.” The pressure to always look good for an audience that didn’t appreciate all the hard work and competition that goes on behind the scenes was the reason I ended up quitting the team. I can’t speak for the girls represented in the Bleacher Report article, but I’m willing to bet they didn’t put in hours of practice time and workouts every week to be judged on how good they look during football games. This is a perfect example of the male gaze being used, because the women on the other side of the camera have no say in the way their image is judged.

Taking back Our Butts

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After spending the last couple hours watching Don Jon and having women’s naked body parts thrown in my face, I decided to use Amy Schumer’s Milk Milk Lemonade.  I love this video because these ladies take back their body parts and actually reclaim their body part’s anatomical purpose.  Our bodies are so sexualized through porn, through the media, that we forget that, yes, the butt is for pooping.  Mooney’s Boys Will Be Boys, she states, “It is clear from this that women are valued entirely for their constituent body parts and
their sexual attractiveness and that women are encouraged to value themselves for these same attributes.”  In this video Amy Schumer and the gals, including Amber Rose, the twerk queen, reclaims their body parts in a big, loud way!!

Memes and Convergence Culture

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This video is an interesting (although rudimentary) look at convergence culture and how the idea of “memes” plays out across the concept, specifically by looking at Grumpy Cat. Memes aren’t something we addressed in class, but I think they’re interesting to consider as the world quickly becomes more and more Internet-savvy, because even your grandma knows what a meme is. While they’re oftentimes really problematic, they’re also incredibly popular so I think they’re an important trend to think about when discussing convergence culture.

Hannah Hart: Using YouTube to Reach Out

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Hannah Hart has her own YouTube channel (myharto) that started off as a drunk cooking show.  She had major success with her first video, which was made for a friend, and went from there.  As her subscribers increased, Hannah started using her channel to reach out to her viewers, including creating “Have a Hart Day”, where volunteers sign up to help out in their cities (with homeless shelters and other organizations).  On her side channel, yourharto, she has a series called “Coming Out,” where she shares her coming out story to share with her viewers, as well as help other people be accepting of themselves and others.  Her videos range from drunk cooking (sometimes with guests) to singing advice (Tunesday) to just talking about things in the news (like the importance of being an informed voter).  I really like Hannah’s channel and her success is really great to see!

Here’s a link to an interview: http://www.metro.us/entertainment/my-drunk-kitchen-youtube-star-hannah-hart-shares-journey-to-success/zsJodC—X1kCzvM94B09/

Michelle Phan: Make Up Millionaire Mogul

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This video by makeup artist Michelle Phan uploaded in 2009 is a great example of self-production and self-branding discussed by Sarah Banet-Weiser’s Branding the Post Feminist Self.  Michelle clearly has a marketable talent, but as seen on her website she is now a resource for beauty, fashion, even wellness, knowledge and art.  Also by clicking on her SHOP link, you are referred to Urban Outfitters, JCrew, Nordstroms AND Michelle’s very own make up line.  She has a make up line now: .  And a book.  She recently won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Web Star ad is rumored to be worth FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.  In 2015, Michelle Phan was named to the Inc. 30 under 30 and Forbes 30 under 30 list.  She is an incredible example of the neoliberal goldmine that is Youtube Stardom.

Youtube Stardom: Taking Over the World ?

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http://www.vogue.com/2950137/most-popular-youtube-stars/

This article from Vogue, written in October of 2014, outlines the lives of the 8 most popular youtube stars. Taking over the world, and being more popular than Rihanna are among the claims of what these 8 stars are doing. This article definitely follows the neoliberal narrative of “self-branding” outlined by Banet-Weiser in Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and Youtube. As Banet-Weiser states, “…public self-expression and self-branding is validated by the cultural context of post-feminism which, among other things, connects gender empowerment with consumer activity”. This article praises these stars for self-branding and self-empowerment.

Bethany Mota: An Example of Self-branding

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shira-lazar/how-bethany-mota-went-fro_b_6895568.html

This article is a profile about a young YouTuber named Bethany Mota who first started making beauty videos in 2009 and is now both an Internet and fashion celebrity. Bethany’s videos include things like fashion hauls, makeup tutorials, DIY projects and daily vlogs (video blogs). With over 8 million subscribers on her YouTube account, Bethany has created a very strong brand and identity. On top of her YouTube career, she now has a clothing line with Aeropostale and appeared on Dancing with the Stars. I think that Bethany’s YouTube presence, along with many of the other celebrity beauty gurus, really exemplifies Banet-Weiser’s discussion of consumption, self-branding, and representation. The reading also discusses the ways in which the interaction between a YouTuber and their subscribers is similar to the relationship of consumers and products, which I think is very interesting especially considering that Bethany turned her self-brand into an actual brand. Now her followers can actually buy her products, which is an extension of her self-brand and a facet of post feminism.

Beauty Vloggers: consumption, public femininity, and promotional work within the online community.

Media Example

http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/jul/20/beauty-bloggers-changing-makeup-industry

This article is about the massive beauty industry that dominates the youtube fan base. In general, beauty vloggers have the opportunity to share their secrets for the perfect beauty regime that viewers can recreate through watching a ten-minute video. The article was fascinating to me because beauty vloggers reach audiences of millions of teenagers and adult women and men, advertise beauty products for viewer consumption, and are able to self-brand and express themselves all throughout one video, or a series. These vloggers are broadcasting themselves in a post-feminist identity. Similar to Banet-Weiser, when these videos are viewed I believe young girls and women are “engaged in visual and virtual performances of “public femininty” (7). Beauty vloggers reach not only teenage girls, but all women helping them to develop their own identities through implanting ideas of different outward expressions (makeup, hair , etc) that they can use in their own lives. Super interesting!

Using Parody to Point Out Sexism

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When reading Sarah Banet-Weiser’s paper discussing girl’s on Youtube, and how Youtube can be used as a space for “…girls to both perform gendered identity and to point out its contradictions.” Banet-Weiser used the “13 Year Old Barbie Girls” video to demonstrate how girls have been using Youtube to critique certain concepts of femininity and it immediately reminded me of this video by popular Youtuber Jenna Marbles.  In this video she points out the sexist expectations of dating women by acting out what you should do to prepare for a date in a parody context.

It’s also interesting to see how Jenna has branded herself on Youtube as a “Cool girl”, both interested in sports, food and “masculine” things while also knowing a lot about makeup, nails, hair and other “feminine” things.

Appearance Trumps Theoretical Physics

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“The construction of self is not an insular, isolated activity, but is rather situation in a media and cultural context that involves a dynamic between the self and others, or in the case of YouTube, between video content and user feedback. Of course, this is not only a generational dynamic but also a gendered one” (Banet-Weiser 7).

In my POL 3310 Becoming Stupid: Anti-Science in U.S. Politics class, we recently discussed the underrepresentation of women in science, specifically in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). We were instructed to watch however much of the video above that we wanted but were required to review all of the comments. Some of these comments include:

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This simple assignment tells us a lot about YouTube, comments, and the policing and reinforcement of gender roles and norms via the Internet, as Sarah Banet-Weiser points out when she says, “This kind of feedback works to legitimate YouTube as a site for self-branding as it also contains girls and their gendered self-presentations within normative standards of judgment” (20). In this video posted by an international, non-profit, science education institution called the Aspen Institute, Professor Lisa Randell is explaining theoretical physics, a very difficult concept to grasp and talk about, even for those who enjoy physics. The fact that Professor Randell is able to articulate such difficult material in a way that is more accessible to the general public, as well as the fact that she is clearly a brilliant scholar, plays on neoliberalist, postfeminist rhetoric of empowerment, individualism, and “rising above” structural sexism to achieve amazing things. However, many of the YouTube comments under Professor Randell’s talk focus on her appearance and how she does/does not fit “proper” white feminine ideals instead of her academic achievements and role as a phenomenal communicator and public educator. Furthermore, these comments are outright sexist, appalling, disrespectful, and violent in so many ways, and this is just one of the millions of YouTube videos out there in cyberspace where people are surveillanced/policed/judged/punished for deviating from white supremacy ableist capitalist heteropatriarchal expectations and norms, as Banet-Weiser touches on in her essay.