questioning the questions

Our group in BCM is focusing on feminism and how it is presented in social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. we have based our interview questions around what social media platforms people use, their idea of what feminism is and its implications as well as whether they believe that their interactions with feminism over social media has in anyway informed them or altered their perception on that being a feminism means.

The questions we asked included:

  1. Are you a feminist?
  2. What do you think this term means, and why?
  3. Do you think feminism promotes rights for all genders? Why?
  4. Where did you learn about feminism/form your opinion about it?
  5. What forms of social media do you use? Have these influenced your perception of feminism?
  6. Have you ever been targeted by anti-feminist groups/individuals through social media?
  7. What is your opinion on anti-feminism movements?
  8. Do you think your opinion has been influenced by social media?
  9. Can you name any feminist icons?
  10. What is your opinion on the current social media censorship issues? (e.g. #freethenipple campaign)

Through the completion of the survey I found that the questions we were asking were heading in the right direction in regards to our research question, the use of closed yes/no questions not only helps us gain quick solid answers but also allows for the participant to answer faster. Over all the order of the questions are perhaps what I liked most as finding their stance on the matter, what they believe it to be defined as and understanding what influenced their views most will be of great help and importance in allowing us to answer our research question as well as to better understand how the participants have formed their views on feminism.

The questions we had decided on asking (shown above) were based on finding peoples thoughts on the matter as well as the influence social media had on them, and although we aimed to keep the questions simple at times I would stare at the questions and wonder what exactly we were asking.

For one i believe that in order to make the questions seem less daunting they need to be simplified. This can be done by changing dome of the questions from open ended to close ended such as question 5.

‘What forms of social media do you use? Have these influenced your perception of feminism?’

This question can be changed to a close question by giving preselected answers (shown below), and can be simplified further by removing the second half of the question since it has been repeated in questions 8. this would prevent from people getting bored and giving up on answering them all together.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 11.57.03 AM

Along with this other questions need to be rewritten in order to make more sense, e.g 10, as some people may not be aware of what this campaign may be or may simply not understand the question.

Regardless the questions need more work before they are handed out but thats what drafts are for right!

body-positivity via body shaming

Choosing a text to analyze always seems to be a difficulty for me although a heated debate I was a part of recently during a tutorial regarding feminism and body image in media had me immediately interested in this particular subject.

And so we begin the analysis of ‘All About That Bass’ a song by Meghan Trainor, with its catchy tune and bubbly sound this song easily became a No.1 hit single in America in the summer of 2014.

Mass media including magazines, TV, music and movies are all driving forces in what we deem as norms in todays society especially regarding the shaping of body image, so its good to here positive self

It was quickly seen as a body-positive anthem, preaching the acceptance of your body no matter your size and that is exactly what it does…up to a point.

“I see the magazines workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real, C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty, just raise ‘em up
Cause every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”

This verse is a great start to the song and its message, it enforces what we all know about the images we see in magazines, they are always photoshoped, airbrushed and touched up and without fail even though we know this we constantly see the images as an unreachable goal of what is seen as todays idea of beauty in society. More importantly it’s a message to accept your body no matter your size or shape but this is where the positivity ends.

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

(Wasn’t aware booty went anywhere, what have Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj been doing all this time?)

It seems one way or another it is difficult to bring the image of one up without tearing another down in the process and this is exactly what this verse does. It seems the body-positive messages are laced with backhanded compliments throughout the song constantly.

While mentioning ‘skinny bitches’ as if they are at fault in order to bring larger women up is not productive at all in promoting positivity, what of those who are naturally skinny and petite? What about those who cannot put weight on no matter how hard they try?

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night

What this verse tells me is that men will only desire you if you have ‘curves’, so does that mean all other body types are not what a real women should look like? So every inch of you in fact is not perfect from the bottom to the top unless you have said curves? Not only this but while the song preaches about not worrying about your size, forget about that as long as your meeting the approval by men its all good, if that’s the source of your self worth it’s a little flimsy in my opinion.

All in all while the song attempts to promote positive body image where it uplifts one side it tears down the other though that may not have been the intention. With media playing such a large role in the development of confidence and self-worth it will be a constant struggle to avoid offending one group or another

Ethics…its a thing

Ethics as defined by the oxford dictionary are “moral principals that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity” in simple terms it is what we think of as ‘rules’ we use to distinguish between what is right and wrong, what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. When it comes to research and media practices it is absolutely vital that a code of ethics is followed through every step of the process and by all those involved.

When conducting media research those responsible are to follow strict guidelines and principals that are to help ensure the researchers are doing the right thing, some of these principals include; ensuring participation is voluntary, avoids any deceptive actions, informs participants of all necessary aspects of the research, does not fabricate information or discloses any participant personal information or data to the public without prior consent. Any unethical behaviour could cause damage not only to the participants but also to the company and researchers involved, this is shown in the reading Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight.

Facebook’s emotional manipulation study published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences caused an international outrage raising multiple questions regarding the way such research was done and the ethics of the research conducted by private companies. While conducting their research Facebook studies thousand of users without their consent.

Conducting any research without the consent of the supposed ‘participants’ is without a doubt unethical and not only did Facebook mess up in the case they further dug themselves into the ground by later denying their error and attempting to argue that the research was done within the data use policies all users agree to upon signing up to Facebook. This was later discovered to be a lie as the clauses concerning the use of personal data in research was added to their policy agreement four months after the experiment had taken place proving that no consent was authorised for the use of personal information.

Not only was the public outraged for their use of information without consent but also due to the nature of the research topic being ‘emotional manipulation’ they were concerned about what information was being used and how they were gathering data from the users. The article ‘Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight’ states that 6.7% of Americans suffer from depression meaning around 46,000 users of the research basis may have been suffering depression at the time. With that in mind any alterations and manipulations of their Facebook feed could impact them emotionally in a negative manner causing harm to the ‘participants’.

Ethics are not to be put in place for the protection of the participants but also for that of the organization/ researcher as to refrain from being the cause of any such damage that may later tarnish their reputation and findings.

As stated in David Hunters article Cases such as these often raise the question of whether all research conducted whether by public companies or private, are to be regulated and watched over closely in order to ensure participants are treated fairly and respected within their rights and all research conducted is within the ethical guidelines they are expected to follow.

McCutcheon, M 2015, ‘ BCM210 Lecture 3 Research ethics’, lecture notes, BCM210, UOW, viewed 3 April 2015,
<https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/course/view.php?id=5203>

Hunter, D. 4th July 2014. ‘Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight’, The Conversation,viewed 10th April 2015,
<http://theconversation.com/facebook-puts-ethics-of-research-by-private-companies-in-spotlight-28798>

Adam D. I. Kramer. 25th March 2014, ‘Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks’ viewed 10th April 2015,
<http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full>

Social networking getting you down?

Social media has an enormous impact on our society and day-to-day lives. It’s our means of reconnecting and interacting with old friends and new (whether they are old schoolmates, family, colleagues or someone you met at a party that one time), discussing matters of interest or discovering important news both local and international and as such Facebook has quickly become the world’s largest online social networking site and its not hard to see why. I personally find myself scrolling through my Facebook feed at times with no aim or direction of any kind, although with everyone being on Facebook and constantly being bombarded by the lives of their ‘friends’ it must impact us in some way, and that is exactly what this research article aims to examine.

The article ‘Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults’ aims reveal negative impacts Facebook usage may have on our well-being.

In order to do this the researchers including Philippe Verduyn and Oscar Ybarra from Psychology Departments in universities in Belgium and the USA had participants answered survey questions via text messages throughout the day about how they felt including how concerned they were, how lonely they felt, and how much they had used Facebook since the last survey they were asked to complete and any interaction they may have had with people outside of Facebook.

Findings concluded that the more people used Facebook the worse they felt about themselves and life satisfaction. The research suggests that,

“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it,”

In saying this they it was also mentioned that there was various previous research that showed Facebook had a positive effect on the users and suggests that the connection between Facebook use and the well-being of its users includes more factors that need to be taken into account in order to be able to properly answer. These factors included the number of Facebook friends one has; loneliness and self esteem levels, supportiveness of the online network, nature of posts and depressive symptomatology as well as other influences.

In the completion of this article the researchers stated that rather coming to a definite conclusion their finding led them to raise numerous questions.

Reading over this article I began to wonder if using social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr did in fact impact people natively. They say that in order to stay positive you must surround yourself positive people, does this include those you follow on Instagram and Tumblr or the ‘friends’ you have on Facebook? Does being subject to the depressive posts that pop up in your Facebook feed latch onto you and change how you feel at the time? Is the negativity of others even over social media contagious?

PLOS ONE: Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. 2015. Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. viewed 1 April 2015 <http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069841>

Search and Re-search

As I’m writing this post I find that I am researching what research is and that within itself is redundant as I clearly already know what it is after all I am doing it now, and I realise we ALL know and do it regularly, but are rarely consciously aware of it. In simple terms research as defined by Arthur Berger is to seek information.

Lets be honest when I hear research I think uni, assignments and hours of boredom, but that is only academic research being done, so what about everyday research?

Without knowing it we research everyday on a regular basis casually and selectively, whether you are purchasing a new car, planning a trip to Europe, looking for a new TV series to binge on as you procrastinate on doing uni work or simple asking irrelevant mundane questions like when will science give us dragons? It is still all research.

Not only do we research using the Internet search engines, through reading textbooks and documents but we also research through posting on opinion columns, watching videos, special interest forums and simply asking friends and family, and by doing these things unknowingly we collect both primary and secondary information that we later evaluate to come to a decision or conclusion.

As human’s research is how we survive, evolve and progress, we are naturally curious beings and are constantly questioning and dreaming. We are continually hypothesizing, researching, experimenting and distributing knowledge ultimately setting up the basis for others to question and start the cycle again. It is important for us to go above and beyond what we hear and what we are told, to seek out information and even more so to find truths.

When asked what aspect of media I would like to research I was immediately stumped, when I thought about it I realized there’s so much to research. Pop-culture, gender representation, stereotyping, the phenomena that is social media, YouTube, the evolution of the geeks and nerds, the obsession over reality TV that seems to have swept over the nations, but as I took a step back I realized I question things I saw everyday without realizing.

Over the past few weeks I have been seeing countless articles, posts and videos appearing on my Facebook feed particularly regarding feminism. I was surprised to see although the message may be positive there were some responses in the comments that did nothing but slandered the true meaning of feminism and this made me question what exactly was feminism? What did I think it was? Was I wrong? What did people think it meant? How was it represented in media to have given people such an impression? How does media promote feminism?

ps. on my feminism research spree found this thought it was quite nicely worded  🙂

 

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32