Category: media

Thanks to Barraco Barner there are at least 7.000 self-proclaimed linguists in the world

Today every media in the world is talking about Gemma Worrall, the British woman who spelled Obama’s name wrong in a tweet: “if barraco barner is our president why is he getting involved with Russia, scary”. Her tweet got retweeted at least 7.000 times where people mostly treated her as stupid, dumb, ignorant, a shame for the United Kingdom for not having notions of politics, etc. Although the theme here could be: “who cares?”, it is worthy looking at the reasons why so many people have fun shaming her.

You might not be that clever even if you know how to spell Obama’s name

Well, I know loads of people who know how to spell Obama’s name but would never ask themselves what is happening in Russia, simply because 1) they are stuck with a very vague idea of what the cold war could have been: scary ; 2) Russia is too far and you don’t fly through to go to Phuket=no need for it; 3) and where is Russia anyways. At least Gemma Worrall shows some interest in world’s politics even if expressed in a totally non mainstream manner. Does somebody deserve to be despised because of lack of education/verbal articulation/categorization? No. Why does every paper highlight that she is a “beautician”, like being a beautician was an explanation to the whole story (woman=beautician=no brain)? Because female-dominated professions are always frowned upon.

Did you guys go to graduate school to learn how to humiliate others? Wasted money, you could have gone to work! Class-based discrimination is a shameful attitude, even worst when it goes together with other forms of oppressions (like sexism). So you Gemma-blamers might be really sexist (not a little).

Ever heard of cyberbullying?

All of a sudden the world is filled with linguists and political scientists who crazily tweet about Gemma Worrall for the sole sake of blaming her. 7.000 intimidating Twitter posts plus several newspaper articles from South Africa, Australia, Belgium and more reported the story. According to the Oxford Dictionary, cyberbullying is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature”. Dear Wikipedia says: “cyberbullying is the use of Information Technology to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner”. In many of her responses Gemma seemed to be really shocked of the amplitude of the situation even though she tried to minimize this disproportioned media coverage. Ever thought that you are bullying a young woman impeding her to use the social media?

Message for Gemma’s angry commentators: we don’t need your harassing normative spelling culture, oh no!


Promoting women’s rights in your media campaign

by Sabina Rossignoli

Public institutions and organizations, research centers, charities and companies sensitive to diversity issues have sometimes the chance to have budgets for socially involved advertizing. They hire then PR agencies that will handle those budgets and buy appropriate media platforms. I have recently been exposed to the organization of a campaign promoting women’s awareness against violence. Budget was small, but still enough to have decent visibility. However, something went wrong and the client was not satisfied for reasons pertaining to the target group. To prevent problems, when you want to run a campaign on women’s rights make sure of the following:

You have a well defined target group… Women!

Target groups are the staple of any media and communication campaign. Before you buy a medium, make sure it matches your own target group. In a campaign on violence against women, the target group should be at least women. Women of any age, as violence affects women starting from childhood (average starting from 15 years old in Europe).

Do not target men, it might really be a wastage. It would be like targeting ice-cream brands for a campaign against sugar. Or targeting General Motors employees for a campaign promoting public transportation. Got the message? Statistically men “do not care” about violence on women; they are more often on the side of perpetrators. Of course, not all of them, but they may contribute to maintain a culture of indulgence towards violence on women. Instead, gender mainstreaming focuses on convincing women to report experiences of violence to the authorities (even if at this stage authorities are really behind in matters of protecting women, but that is another story). According to the last EU study Violence against women: an EU-wide survey*, “women who are victims of violence seldom report it to specialist services” (p. 14).

Although it is common belief that violence affects women from lower socioeconomic categories, this has been proved if not false at least approximate. There has certainly be a wider focus in the sociological literature on the overlap of gendered violence and social exclusion. However, violence on women – in its verbal, sexual, psychological and physical occurrences – affects women from all social backgrounds. According to the same study,

between 74% and 75% of women in a professional capacity or in top management jobs have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime… Recognition needs to be given to the fact that professional women in management and other top positions are at risk of sexual harassment” (pp. 12-13).

It is capital to define which women you want to target: age, cultural background, religious background, profession, etc… A good awareness of these elements will allow for the perfect choice of the media to buy. Same as above: do not buy a page in a newspaper if you want to talk to a public of dentists. But you may buy a free newspaper with an extremely high circulation if you want to reach everywoman.

When you have your title, the good position might be where you don’t expect

Advertizing sometimes assaults the press, we know it by experience. And sometimes it can be really uncomfortable. For instance, when we see and ad of underwear next to an article on a cruel case of rape. Or an ad for a pizza chain in a special on poverty and hunger. On the one hand, these – lunatic – associations produce visible ethical issues. On the other hand, they hinder the brand’s image: that is why PR agencies go nuts about positions more than any other aspect of the campaign. The truth is, there is not always control on the issue. If you can control this, for a women’s campaign it is good to be in sections fashion/shopping, cooking, society, culture, rather than in sections close to finance and politics. The latter are 70% male dominated, hence the big wastage risk.

Inspiration for your awareness campaign: feminist politics

It sounds always very bad to mention politics, mostly when in the same sentence as feminist. And however, women-oriented advertizing should look at feminist politics for inspiration (it is too often the other way around). Feminist political activism has always been a special arena for social change for women. It has contributed to create spaces where to discuss women issues in protected contexts. It does advertizing to gather more women and to pass knowledge on to the next generations. And it works! Where do events aiming to sensitize the population to feminist issues gather? In shopping areas where everywoman walks and buys. In female-dominated moments of leisure, that is where you can get women. Not at the door of the Central Bank or at the door of the Parliament. Get out of your head the idea that shopping sections are lame for noble social causes. Violence affects everywoman and the latter lives in a gendered world – again, like it or not. Hence to do your promotion of women privilege a female-dominated media space, even when it looks superficial. Women have to fight against violence alone, hence any female media space will do.

*It is a shame that the EU report does not analyze the impact of race and class on violence against women in a systematic manner. But it has the merit of listing forms of violence and bringing the attention to women’s awareness. And the 8th March approaches, the International Women’s Day! You can download a length resume of the study here: Violence against women: an EU-wide survey.

“Dove c’é Barilla, c’é casa”, the house you don’t want to live in

by Sabina Rossignoli

As Barilla CEO declared some days ago, there is no room in the company for homosexuals. The latter can always buy another brand of pasta. I was disappointed and frustrated of realizing that somebody could give such a statement, and immediately joined the lines of planetary media complaint and disappointment. Now, the pasta brand is undergoing boycott; maybe for this reason, it is today on sale in my local supermarket? I would love it to be the reason, because it would mean that this boycott is being taken seriously, and it should.
That said I want to explain why I think this statement is not at odds from the values Barilla has always been supporting in its branding. As an Italian girl grown up in a renowned trashy TV era (thank you Berlusconi), I was raised not only with Barilla products, but with Barilla advertisement. It is important here to remark that Barilla has since the 1970s developed a line of baking products: Mulino Bianco. For a child, it was cult, both the cookies and the ads. Let me therefore give some examples of how this massive TV advertising has been pernicious to my intellectual development – meaning that I needed a lot of time and effort to get rid of certain pressures. The history of some Mulino Bianco milestones will be of help for those of you not familiar with the brand:

1. “Dove c’é Barilla, c’é casa”: Barilla is there where home is

This slogan has always been the highlight of Barilla campaigns. The house we are talking about is a wonderful mill situated in a cornfield dazzling with golden sunrays. But was most of all a symbolic house where the white reproductive straight couple was thriving in its backwards ideology. Let’s get to know the Barilla family.
2. He’s a journalist, she’s a teacher, there is also grandpa
The first memories of Barilla I have go back to a 1990 ad. There is dad – the very busy and noisy journalist -, the kids – a girl, a boy, a genetic perfection -, grandpa – there just as a substitute for a non-existing state child-care -, and finally, mummy. Mummy is wisely closing the door of her classroom: she is a teacher and lives in the world of peace and calm. The fact that she has her place in the economy of care seems just normal. They all share a dream: a house in the countryside. They will find it, and move in forever and ever, thanks to the investigative skills and driving talent of dad. The nightmare starts only then, once they all moved in.

3. Sex education given by grandpa
In an ad coming some time later (1993), little boy – about 10 years old – is fixing a broken motorbike with grandpa. We realize that grandpa is transmitting important cultural capital. A group of young friends drop by and invite little boy to join their games. Little boy is well educated, therefore he declines the invitation to stay with grandpa. But grandpa realizes that little boy has fallen for one of the girls – another genetic miracle of the saga – and insists for him to go. And, the viewer imagine, experiment with the sweet and bitter of his future straight sexual life. The advertised product will help in the seduction process.

4. “Quante cose belle nel mondo”: how many beautiful things in the world (2005)
Like motherhood, or having breakfast with your boyfriend. Incredible what Mulino Bianco achieves in terms of presenting all facets of heteronormativity: across generations, from the most innocent to the almost sexual. Always domestic. That’s a shame, because a cookie can ben in our bags while we travel, not necessarily in the catholic home. That is the house of nightmare, where the place of a woman is that of nurturing and doing it aesthetically, but nothing else. The images of motherhood are offensive, as much as it is the end slogan.

5. The cherry on top of the cake: back to nature

The whole sequence always ends with a short slogan the content of which has never changed through the years. The good things are only in nature, they say while showing a dream landscape of the beloved mill. Yet I can’t refrain from thinking two things: the first is that after such a brainwashing hymn to heteronormativity and motherhood, it is like an equation. The nature of a woman is… The second thing I think is that such a return to nature was the cornerstone of extreme right wing politics at the end of the 19th Century. The return to nature has always hidden a tragic potential. I will not draw the race politics and white privilege of Barilla, but the work should be done.

Let’s not forget women
Barilla has always been offensive regarding the images of women it conveyed. Insulting women who were always imagined as mothers, domestic, domesticated. Precisely the image against which we have been fighting for so long. Many companies use sexism to promoting their products, we must stay vigilant. The struggle against homophobia is the struggle against sexism. For all the people who are committed to social justice, it is important to unify forces against discrimination and violence.

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The world map of feminists, a global network

“We are feminists. We come from five continents, fighting for equal rights in law and in practice, and for the emancipation of all people.

Our vision is a world of equality, respect, and dignity for all. To realize this vision, we fight against all systems of oppression and domination which exist on this planet: male dominance, racism, the injunction of heteronormativity, and economic and class oppression. These systems of oppression and domination intersect and reinforce each other.

As feminists, we struggle for equality between women and men, but also for equality between all women. We are committed and engaged in a struggle against a political, economic and social system called patriarchy. It is this system, in place in every corner of the world, which leads to the oppression of half of humanity. It is this system which perpetuates a range of inequalities: the gender gap in wages and pensions; gender and sexual violence, especially in conflicts; sexual exploitation and prostitution, at the intersection of all systems of domination; the lack of women in decision-making positions; poverty and marginalization; sexism and sexual objectification in the media; and an unequal distribution of reproductive and parental tasks. This system has an even greater impact on many women as it intersects with other forms of oppression, especially for racialized women, migrants, homeless, differently-abled, lesbians, and trans*, etc. Every day, we see the symptoms of a world that has chosen not to take the necessary steps to realize gender equality.

We, as feminists, refuse to accept this reality. We refuse to accept that due to the gender assigned to us, our emancipation is inhibited, opportunities are obstructed from us, and we face widespread violence. We are committed and mobilized, and we empower ourselves by challenging this reality.

We acknowledge that we live in different contexts. The struggles of feminists in Ireland, India, Iran, Chile, Australia, Congo, Canada, France, Belgium, South Africa or Morocco are not always the same. However our strength lies in the plurality of our situations, commitments, thoughts, and movements.

Beyond our diverse struggles, forms of mobilizations and demands, we have one thing in common: due to our gender and sex, we do not have equal opportunities for emancipation. Sexism and the oppression of women are universal, as is feminism.

Our feminist commitment is part of all social mobilizations that aim to raise awareness of struggles against precariousness, and for the separation of religious and political power. Systems of oppression and domination are not only similar in appearance, they are interconnected. By dismantling one, we affect them all.

We therefore are putting out a call to feminists from every country around the world: let us unite, let us make ourselves known, and let us raise our voices to incite a radical change.”

Read and register here!

Gender Equality: The SMART thing to do

A film from Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program featuring Anne Weisberg, Director of Talent, Deloitte Services LP, discussing gender and the shifting workforce. Watch here.

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Video to deplore violence against women in Italy

A white wall, a chisel carving numbers from one to one hundred (and more) with the color of blood. The sound is disturbing, as violence against women should be instead of being silenced.

Then, a text tells the whole story of femicide in the country. “100 morte che non contano“: one hundred women who do not count, is the title of this video.

In Italy, more than 100 women have been killed this year, mainly by their partner, ex-partner, lover, father. Domestic violence hits with rates of 70%-87% in Italy. Probably, far more than 100 per year are the cases of abuse perpetrated and kept silent. This video aims to fight against silence.

In France, every three days a woman is killed by her partner.

In Germany, one on four women is victim of domestic violence. ouvre une boutique à Paris

La découverte

Je sais, j’aurais du vous offrir un article sur Causette cette fois (ne vous inquiétez pas, on le prépare, et à quatre mains!), mais là il s’agit d’un buzz à diffuser d’urgence!

Je suis en train de cogiter en mangeant du raisin sur mon canapé quand, il y a plus au moins dix minutes, mon amie Mariona m’envoie un message sur Facebook: “regarde ce qu’on a vu aujourd’hui!” en joignant un article apparu sur le magazine Next. Je clique, je vois une femme devant une vitrine, je reconnais une rue parisienne, puis un homme dans la vitrine (le surfeur)., je connais, mais mieux vaut y revenir car je ne comprends toujours pas le lien avec les Halles. Pour moi, c’était un site de rencontres, et là je vois une boutique dans le centre de Paris, ça ne colle pas.

Le slogan du site:

Le concept d’ est simple. Le client est roi et, en l’occurrence, il est reine.
Honneur aux dames.

Au supermarché des rencontres, les femmes font de bonnes affaires.

De la page d’accueil du site

Les femmes se servent dans ce magasin virtuel, qui balance des offres telles que “la semaine internationale de la moustache”, “offre spéciale pilosité”, “série spéciale carottes”. On y propose de portraits d’hommes assez rigolos ou carrément plus sérieux, et la possibilité de rencontrer un partenaire pour une durée à déterminer. Les hommes sont catégorisés selon d’impitoyables critères psycho-physiques : « un moustachu mis en panier, un barbu offert ». Métaphores culinaires-sexuelles à l’appui. Les femmes jugent et achètent, les mecs n’ont qu’à espérer de se faire remarquer.

Pour Next, le même principe s’applique à la boutique parisienne:

Le principe est le même que sur le site Internet. Les hommes sont des «objets», des «animaux», qui payent pour être mis à disposition de femmes qui peuvent les choisir à leur convenance.

Cette boutique itinérante qui fera un peu le tour de la France semble bien traduire le virtuel en performance. Les hommes sont exhibés dans des boites transparentes et tous incarnent en le parodiant un stéréotype lié à la masculinité. L’avantage, c’est que l’éventail des masculinités proposées questionne les représentations en élargissant le domaine du possible sensuel, en ouvrant la sémantique du désir. Les catégorisations corporelles sont hypostasiées. On lui pardonne presque son hétéronormativité dictatoriale, à laquelle on doit se soumettre dès qu’on accède au site. Je suis une femme / Je suis un homme.

La libido du consommateur

Sur la page principale du site, pour attirer la clientèle masculine, on y poste également les photos des dernières clientes en visite : ça rend l’inscription plus alléchante, et ça donne aux hommes le choix de se faire acheter ou pas, une fois que les femmes ont partagé leurs détails. On joue aux acheteuses, on s’amuse. Pour l’instant, on offre aux femmes l’illusion d’être les seules à choisir et d’une toute-puissance consommatoire (ce qui les poussera à consommer davantage). En effet, on capitalise sur l’inégalité salariale entre hommes et femmes, vu que les hommes paient pour s’inscrire au site car en moyenne ils gagnent plus. Au fait, c’est les hommes ici qui d’une certaine manière peuvent se payer les femmes. Dans cette complexité semantique pas mal contradictoire, essayons de trouver un fil.

Le logo

Il faut le dire, ce logo avec un homme littéralement balancé dans un caddy, m’a conquise. Dans la boutique, les hommes sont dans une boite transparente. Ils nous font des clins d’œil, on les invite boire un verre sur les fauteuils du magasin, pour discuter. Dans ces boites, tous les inscrits peuvent apparemment y passer.

Les méfiants secouent leur tête en se demandant jusqu’où la société de consommation nous emmènera. Pourtant, on a accepté dans plein de domaines que nos vies aient un but lucratif ; les femmes consomment au même titre que les hommes, c’est même un marché très rentable. Le marketing est sensible au genre, nous le savions déjà, et même le féminisme se fait parfois chosifier, manipuler, vendre (mais de ça, nous allons en parler la prochaine fois).

Dans la rue, on n’est pas égaux

AdopteUnMec met en scène et radicalise l’imaginaire lié à l’objectification du corps des hommes et par là, montre précisément qu’exhiber un corps d’homme en public n’est pas la même chose qu’exhiber un corps de femme. Une femme dans une vitrine nous renvoie tout de suite à la prostitution, au trafic, à l’harcèlement sexuel.  Une femme n’a pas le même accès à l’espace public qu’un homme, c’est pour cela que cette opération est drôle et instructive à la fois, car finalement elle nous montre qu’exhiber le corps d’un homme n’est pas affaire dangereuse, elle peut être même ironique. Par contre, l’exhibition des femmes est tellement chargée de significations que, à juste titre, un tel buzz n’aurait simplement pas lieu : l’inégalité de genre est structurale, on ne peut pas le nier. De plus, la femme-objet ne peut plus représenter une opération marketing, car elle fait malheureusement partie des mœurs : elle ne nous surprend plus. En absence d’un sujet, la possibilité de choisir s’estompe : nous ne savons plus qui conduit le jeu. Nous l’avons vu avec le documentaire sur l’harcèlement sexuel dans les rues de Bruxelles par Sofie Peeters. Une femme en public est une femme potentiellement en danger même quand elle se veut invisible.

De la page Facebook

AdopteUnMec rend un paradoxe visible, celui de l’inégalité hommes/femmes qui fait qu’un corps mâle en vitrine nous fait plutôt marrer. Ce n’est pas synonyme de violence. Il le fait en jouant sur le concept de choix et sur la visibilité. Il nous donne l’impression de pouvoir choisir librement et d’acheter un homme, quand on vit dans un monde où la femme se trouve piégée dans des échanges économiques-sexuels au sein de la famille ainsi que dans les réseaux de trafic des corps. Il nous montre aussi que le corps d’un homme qui se donne à voir, qui se rend volontairement visible, peut le faire en régime de liberté : on a l’impression que tout le monde est maître de son destin, l’illusion base du consommateur. Cette visibilité dans les rues que nous expérimentons souvent malgré nous, eux, ils peuvent la jouer. En rigolant, on le rappelle.

Malgré tout, on rigole

Mais AdopteUnMec nous montre également que, dans l’ample panorama des sites de rencontres, il y a de la place pour l’ironie. Cela ne change en rien la nature (pseudo)commerciale des sites de rencontres : on y va pour reluquer, se faire reluquer, juger et se faire juger, reconsidérer notre manière de voir l’autre. On y trouve toujours la possibilité de créer des rencontres ou de les refuser, une fois qu’on a eu accès au site. Mais AdopteUnMec rend visible l’invisible, et en cela je le soutiens. Pour lui, l’émancipation sexuelle des femmes est la condition de base pour pouvoir jouer ce jeu de séduction. Il met plutôt en scène les fantasmes et fantaisies qu’ont les femmes qui disent leur sexualité, et il les intègre dans la société de consommation en contribuant peut-être à la changer. Ce n’est pas de cynisme, c’est enfin une dose d’auto-ironie dans un monde mâle si préoccupé par son affirmation. Un acte réflexif.

Test pratique, inspirations musicales

Mes amies qui ont testé, ont adoré le coté supermarché, car elles en avaient marre de modèles de sexualité féminine promus, par exemple, par l’industrie porno « pour femmes » : ambiance tamisée, cadre rassurant, lingerie sexy, mots et sexe doux… ça les libère de pouvoir dire qu’elles veulent un mec tatoué pour une aventure d’une nuit. Et mes amis, eux aussi, ils adorent, car ils n’espèrent que de tirer un bénéfice éternel de l’émancipation sexuelle des femmes.

Diam’s – Un mec mortel

« Y a un truc qui va pas, non ? » demande Diam’s en essayant un mec au centre commercial, dans son clip Un mec mortel. « …Trop grand », répond une copine vraiment pas convaincue par le modèle. Et la vendeuse leur apporte la taille en dessous. Suit un voyage visuel autour de l’homme-objet, mannequin modulable selon les envies. Ces images déjouent les clichés sur la masculinité et la féminité proposé par la culture dominante et si présents dans nos vies quotidiennes, avec comme résultat un mélange subversif de symboles et pratiques liés au genre.

 Parole libérée, féminisme pop?

AdopteUnMec fait quelque chose de très similaire, et en cela est pour moi liberateur, potentiellement féministe. Il libère la parole des femmes en lui donnant une double possibilité: celle de s’inscrire dans les rapports sociaux de sexe “classiques”, ou de les renverser. Et ça lui réussit, d’une façon qui parle à tous et ne se veut pas produit d’élite (comme quoi le féminisme est domaine de toutes et tous). La preuve, le happy end qui surprend et rassure ceux qui ont peur des sexualités prédatrices, et qui remet AdopteUnMec à sa place, celle de catalyseur de rencontres humaines :

J’ai mis une homme dans mon caddie il y a 2 ans car je trouvais le concept rigolo sans savoir qu’il serait un jour, mon mari et le futur papa de mon petit d’homme……. MERCI à vous d’avoir donné à ma vie ce soleil qui me manquait tant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (tiré de la page Facebook d’AdopteUnMec)

C’est au 15, rue des Halles à Paris.