Gender by Chantara Sar

Topic: Media Ownership

Lens: Gender

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, gender refers to the “Defined difference  between men and women based on culturally and socially constructed mores, politics, and affairs. Time and location give rise to a variety of local definitions. Contrasts to what is defined as the biological sex of a living creature.” Our community partner, Mark Cadle, is a law enforcement officer who helped answer some questions about the many narratives that circulate the media. In response to the question, “Historically, how have women been represented in the media?” he had this to say: “I would say fairly, but not as visible. There are numerous female law enforcement officers, even within CBP, around the world who work the same job as men. They are our partners and coworkers.” This is a good interpretation, for whenever I watch the news, I see footage of male police officers at a crime scene almost all of the time. Rarely do I ever see a female officer depicted, and after hearing our community partner’s stance, it started to bother me a lot more.

I also asked “What are some historical contributions made by women that are not often talked about in the media?” This was his answer: “I would say, law enforcement again. It is always presumed to be a male dominated career but that is changing with societal views as well. As far as contributions go, look no further than Seattle PD’s Chief Kathleen O’Toole. A career police officer who is now the Chief of a major police department.” That fact that Mark Cadle states how societal views have changed to see that there are a lot of female law enforcers as well makes me feel like we as a society are progressing away from outdated and ignorant perspectives and beliefs, in spite of the glaring examples of racism and misogyny we see in media. People are beginning to be more critical of public figures and, more importantly, take action to discipline them for their unruly behavior.

The entire interview made me ponder about how important it was to understand media in all of its forms. Television, social media, the Internet, etc. I think back to the way Neil Postman phrased it in page 160 of Amusing Ourselves to Death, “The problem, in any case, does not reside in what people watch. The problem is in that we watch. The solution must be found in how we watch.” Postman is essentially telling his readers that it is important, more than ever, to know how to think critically, to judge what we see in the media. He continues further, “We have apparently advanced to the point where we have grasped the idea that a change in the forms, volume, speed and context of information means something, but we have not got any further.” In this way, I appreciate my Cultural Studies course for providing such an emphasis on critical thinking, for it will greatly benefit students for the uncertain future that lies ahead of us.

NPR did a radio broadcast about how New Hampshire Representative Robert Fisher was outed as the founder of a misogynist Reddit message board called The Red Pill. The response to this from the governor of New Hampshire and other representatives is reassuring. Many have told Fisher to resign, including a female representative, Debra Altschiller, who called Fisher a “purveyor of rape culture”. What concerns me is Fisher’s response: “As detailed by The Daily Beast, Fisher’s posts derided women’s intelligence, detailed ways for men to dodge rape accusations and even questioned if rape was bad. Fisher chalked those up to injudicious comments following a bad breakup, cherry-picked by the media.” This would be a fair response, as the media can often be guilty of cherry picking, but there is enough evidence to debunk that notion. What particularly concerns me in this case is that there doesn’t seem to be enough action taken to discipline or punish Fisher, as “That decision will be up to Fisher’s peers, who are also looking into a democratic state rep who angered Republicans with politically barbed and occasionally profane tweets.” Ultimately, as described by Ronald Takaki in page 439 of A Different Mirror, “The time has come for us to embrace our varied selves. A new America is approaching, a society where diversity is destiny.” In this sense, positive change is inevitable.

~Chantara Sar


Martin, R. (Producer). (2017, May 11). New Hampshire State Lawmaker Accused Of Online Misogyny Faces Expulsion [Transcript, Radio broadcast]. In National Public Radio. WA.

Black, H. C. (2013, May 31). What is GENDER? definition of GENDER (Black’s Law Dictionary). Retrieved December 10, 2017, from

Takaki, R. (2008). A different mirror: a history of multicultural America. New York: Back Bay Books.

Postman, N. (2007). Amusing ourselves to death public discourse in the age of show business. Burnaby, B.C.: Simon Fraser University.

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