Keyword: Feminism: Evaluating Representations of Feminism in Youtube

Article excerpt

To help students get a better handle on the meanings of feminism, I begin a lower-division undergraduate course on women's and feminist activism by having students read all of bell hooks' Feminism is for Everybody, as well as selected articles, book chapters, and websites offering perspectives on feminism's aims, achievements, and limitations. I close the introductory section by having students visit YouTube to raise awareness of the ways in which feminism is portrayed in popular culture. The students were asked to enter "feminism" or "feminist" as a search term and to view at least three of the videos displayed. They were to consider the ways in which feminism and/or feminists were being depicted; the impression viewers would have of feminism from the clips and viewer comments and responses; and how these portrayals compare to their understanding of feminism from the course readings, the websites they've viewed, their own experiences and perceptions, and any other resources at their disposal. Each student was to pick one video that they found especially interesting, and to post on the course discussion board the video title, the URL, and a brief description and analysis of the video and the viewer comments. Each student was also required to respond to the postings of at least two classmates, thus supporting a dialogue among students and expanding the number of videos each viewed.

As I had hoped, the students found videos addressing/representing a range of topics about which feminists were or are interested, as well as a range of feminist sentiments expressed through documentaries, music, poetry, interviews, speeches, art, humor, newscasts, and dance. They found videos in many languages, from many countries and regions, expressing the views of people from many ethnicities, nationalities, ages, sexes, and religions. …