Powerful Women in Media: Take One


            I find it really interesting when I see a movie that portrays women in such a negative way, or more than likely from the gaze of a male, who is probably the network producer. It’s caused me to wonder… where are the women producers? Maybe if a TV show, or movie that displayed women’s issues what actually overseen by a woman, things might make sense a bit more.

            With that being said, I decided to examine the power of women in the media through four different women, Sherry Lansing, chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures, Cathleen Black, President of Hearst Magazines, Geraldine Laybourne, Chairman and CEO of Oxygen Media, and Judy McGrath, President of MTV. These women exemplify the reason that it’s crucial to have women in high positions in the media.

Sherry Lansing was the first woman to be in charge of production 20th Century Fox. She has headed hits such as Braveheart, Clueless, Runaway Bride, and The General’s Daughter; this is because she brought to the movies something that never was there before, the perspective of a woman. Lansing put her personal taste aside and thought about what “the people” wanted to see. One top filmmaker even said, “Sherry’s the first executive who succeeded by expressing her womanness, not by trying to be a guy” (guardianunlimited.com). This is very pleasing to hear because very often, women in high positions try to imitate the men in high power positions, rather than just being themselves.

When it comes to the question of whether Sherry Lansing has power in the media, the answer has to be yes. However, we ask “does Sherry Lansing holds as much power as men in similar positions”, I believe it takes more evaluation.

Cathleen Black is another important female player in today’s media. She is the president of Hearst Magazines, the world’s largest publisher of monthly magazines, and she oversees the financial performance and development of famous magazines like Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, and Harper’s BAZAAR (hearstcorp.com).

            Black also marked an important point for women in history when she became the first woman publisher of a weekly consumer magazine – New York, and also when she became the first woman President of Hearst Magazines. With an impressive resume that includes her being President and Publisher of USA Today, and being named President of the Newspaper Association of America in 1991, Black brings a certain female perspective to all of her endeavors.

She has the ability to be open-minded and look at all possible problems and solutions. One of Black’s huge successes has been promoting her titles worldwide. She owes a great deal of this success, in my opinion, to her female perspective. While marketing Cosmopolitan to countries like Russia and the Philippines, Black realized that specific changes had to be made to accommodate the women of these particular countries. She recognized that women in “third world” countries did not necessarily want to read the same things as American women. As a result, she created original editorial material for each region. Eventhough they were across the ocean, Black still related to her customers.

There is no question as to the power that Cathleen Black holds on a daily basis in the media. But then again she does not have the same power that a man would have in her same position. Although there were no offensive headlines to announce Cathleen Black’s appointment to presidency, I came across an interview in which she was referred to as a “top-ranking woman executive in magazine publishing (Outlook Magazine)”,and she was aksed how she felt about this title, she responded to esponded to the question, answering“I would rather not be known as the top-ranking woman anything. I’d rather be seen as an effective and strategic leader of a large organization, the same way one would describe a male executive”. She doesn’t want to be seen as successful, for a woman, she wants to be seen as successful, period, and her response reconfirms the fact that even women in extremely powerful positions are treated differently than men holding similar positions. I mean I’ve never heard a man being referred to as a “top-ranking man executive”, he is simply a top-ranking executive – sex need not be mentioned I suppose – you tell me.

~Sasha Sanders, Alum, Class of 2013

Disposable Women


            I have touched upon so many subjects since my first Women’s Studies course, however, a huge subjects that has constantly circled my mind; after the recent “Women and Globalization” course I’ve taken, is the notion of the “disposable woman”. To begin, I was very intrigued by the stories of the women working in “maquilaroras”. The movie Senorita Extraviada, and readings about women working in factories and “sweatshops”, in places like Asia and Mexico, are very important examples to help understand the way that these labor facilities operate when it comes to female employees.

            The movie and these readings have helped me learn a couple things about the reasons for why women take these types of low wage jobs, with bad working conditions. They do it because it may honestly to be the only way that they can find to support their family. I think it’s sad that some women are encouraged by their own mothers to work these types of jobs because it is so common in their culture. It’s ‘s even more upsetting to know that women are being called “bad girls” for not being obedient to the cultural norm because it causes there to be pressure on a woman who wants to be seen as a “good girl” in their society.

            At the end of the day, these women who are working in sweatshops are in a bad predicament because if they get the job, and don’t perform as expected, they will be easily be replaced by another ready and willing woman; this proving their disposability. Nanny’s, maids, and ses workers are another example of jobs they a woman can have, but easily lose if they aren’t obedient. It breaks my heart to learn that in many severe cases, women have brutally lost their lives due to their employer.

            All of these things make me get a better picture of how globalization really assists in the oppression of women. The need for income in impoverished, or third-world countries causes women to have to take on jobs that fuel our oppression. In my opinion, being a sex worker, jobs in sweatshops, or as nannies and maids aren’t bad, as long as it’s a woman choice (not including being coerced into doing so). In order for these industries to be more considerate to women, they need to provide proper treatment and compensation.

~Sasha Sanders, UMass Dartmouth Alum, Class of 2013

Supreme Court throws out a class action lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart, by its female employees


In a course I took where the focus was on different successful methods of building an argument, we ended up watching a video clip titled “Too Big to Nail”, where Stephen Colbert sarcastically gave his opinion on a situation where The Supreme Court threw out a class action lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart, by its female employees.

            Colbert’s claim was basically that Wal-Mart is too big of a corporation, for that lawsuit to have been successful. The reasons that he uses to support this claim are that “it’s not the largest private employer (Wal-Mart) in the US repeatedly violating rights; it’s the thirty-four hundred completely different locations, individually violating their rights in different ways”. He also says that the class was too big for the lawsuit to become successful. The evidence of this is because the women suing had different jobs, at different levels, in all 50 states, and if Wal-Mart lost they would owe at least a billion dollars back and therefore have to raise there prices. He also uses the evidence that according to Wal-Mart’s lead attorney, “Wal-Mart as a whole cannot be held responsible because they have a strong policy against discrimination and in favor of diversity” (Colbertnation.com), and this is written in the employee manual. Though his tone is sarcastic, he still manages to establish a sort of credible tone with the use of logos with some of his logistics.

            After watching this video clip I’d have to say that the he was somewhat persuasive for me, because the incorporation of the facts that he had, were useful in convincing me that Wal-Mart was “Too Big to Nail”, however  his sarcastic tone took away from the level of persuasion because it was sometimes hard to understand if the facts that he used were truly facts, or just opinionated sarcastic remarks.

            I’d have to say, it’s really discouraging to women in the the work force who wish to gain equality. Especially, when things like this are happen all too often, with no way to protect women’s rights, and with the issues being “too big” to nail.

~Sasha Sanders