BCM310: BCM310: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication chapter 12 Towards Intersectional Approaches

BCM310: BCM310: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication chapter 12 Towards Intersectional Approaches.

Date: 8 June 2014

In the tenth week of BCM 310, we discussed the role of media in intersectional approaches and women’s rights.

To my understanding, intersectionality is the interaction of various biological, social and cultural categories such as race, class and gender, sexual orientation and other axes of identity (Rigoni 2012, pp834-849; Durham 2004, pp140–161). It comes about when diasporic or transnational identities crosscut with national, local and metropolitan cultural identities (Rigoni 2012, pp834-849). Cabramatta is a good example of intersectionality at play. Such interaction can result in systematic injustice and social inequality, sometimes leading to oppression within society. “The idea of intersectionality is rooted in several traditions including postmodern feminist theory, post-colonial theory, black feminism and queer theory” (Rigoni 2012, pp834-849). Dreher’s work on Cabramatta exposes the uneven distribution of cultural media resources, with some people having access to a wide range of cultural products and definitions, while others compete for a limited range of representations (Dreher 2012, pp67-80). Dreher (2012, pp67-80) opines that the lack of representations in the media is a “great loss for the metropolitan and national centers as much as for the people of Cabramatta”. It represents an opportunity for media to play a bigger role in a society increasingly aware of differences.


The media especially become major actors when dealing with women’s rights as they provide the primary systems for disseminating information and organizing knowledge about women and people around them. Feminist groups often cite the hijab and burqa as oppression towards women, symbolizing the inferior social status of women (Rowe, 2010). Many would interpret that the Muslim woman is being forced by her religion, her husband or her family into wearing a hijab or burqa. They are unaware that the hijab is often a personal choice because the Muslim woman feels it is part of her identity. Media representation of “veiled” women is responsible for public perception of Islam and the Muslim women. The Times cover title “Lifting the Veil” exemplifies American media’s portrayal of women being oppressed “behind the veil”. There is much media focus on women as victims in “honor killings”; female genital mutilation; and stoning to death for female adulterers (Assultany 2013, pp161-169). This helps reinforce women’s rights and the feminist movement. The Ukrainian women’s protest group, Femen, adopt a simple, outrageous formula: “scantily clad topless women staging highly theatrical demonstrations to draw the attention of the media to various facets of gender inequality in Ukraine” (Zychowicz 2011, pp215-227). The media, in turn, have capitalized on their protests, declaring it a new kind of feminism. The NPR, BBC, and The New York Times, have all highlighted their cause (Zychowicz 2011, pp215-227).


The western media possess a powerful clout in selecting information that they wish to disseminate. The ability of western media to reach out to a global audience makes the western media a force to be reckoned with. For those on the other side of the fence, like the Muslim community, it can be a discrimination against them. Thus, media like Aljazeera can play an effective role in representing Muslim concerns and helping others to understand the Muslim culture and practices.

(490 words)




Asultany, E 2013, Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era, American Quarterly, vol.55, no.1, pp161-169, accessed 7/6/2014, http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/journals/american_quarterly/v065/65.1.alsultany.html.


Durham, M, G, 2004, ‘Constructing the “new ethnicities”: media, sexuality and diaspora identity in the lives of South Asian immigrant girls’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol.21, no.2, pp140–161, http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/pdf/10.1080/07393180410001688047.


Dreher, T 2012, ‘Intersections: a transdisciplinary approach to media, identity, and place’, Australian journal of Communication, vol.29, no.1, pp67-80, http://ro.uow.edu.au/artspapers/511/.


Rigoni, I 2012, ‘Intersectionality and mediated cultural production in a globalized post-colonial world’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol.35, no.5, pp834-849, http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/pdf/10.1080/01419870.2011.628035.


Rowe, T 2010, ‘To Ban or Not to Ban? The Burqa, Religious Identity, and Politics’, weblog post, Butterflies and Wheels, 31 Aug, accessed 3/6/14, http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2010/to-ban-or-not-to-ban-the-burqa-religious-identity-and-politics/


Zychowicz, J 2011, ‘Two Bad Words: FEMEN & Feminism in Independent Ukraine’, Anthropology of East Europe Review, vol.29, no.2, pp215-227, http://www.ualberta.ca/~feminism/assets/femen-and-feminism.pdf.


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