June 4, 2010
Carol Costello of CNN had a segment a few weeks ago that is supposed to explore “what could be the ‘third wave’ of feminism, and why that’s troubling.” They invited Jaclyn Friedman, the co-editor of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, to come in and interview for the video. Sadly, the end result is a very short segment titled “Bad Girls a Dangerous Trend?” complete with an inaccurate interpretation of a female pop artist’s song that supposedly “celebrates promiscuity and drinking until you pass out in a stranger’s bathtub.”
(You can read a transcript at Shakesville.)
The segment does not address third wave feminism (or any feminism) at all (if the title and introduction didn’t already give it away). It is a 2.5 minute clip that talks about a pervasive “raunch culture” that is creating violent “bad girls” who curse and drink too much. CNN misquotes Friedman to give the impression that a reputable well-known feminist agrees with the sentiments they’re trying to pitch (to read Jaclyn’s response to the segment and what she really said during the interview, click here).
CNN provides a tired, sexist narrative that seems to make its round regularly on mainstream media. Reporters shake their hands in disbelief of this “new” trend of young women who drink “too much” and say that this causes them to be raped. When Jaclyn was approached with this sentiment, she says that everyone should be encouraged to drink responsibly, not just women. Instead of bringing real information or a “new” point of view into the spotlight, Costello jumps on the bandwagon of victim-blaming and finding scapegoats.
While blaming feminism for imaginary outbreaks in promiscuity from women is not new, I was surprised that CNN wasn’t even aware of the third wave of feminism. I thought a part of journalism is being well-informed and I pause to wonder how the network managed to miss a decades-old movement for so long and then interpret the Wikipedia article of the Third Wave as “bad girls who drink alcohol, curse and get themselves raped!”
I hope that someone will want to break free from the mainstream media’s affinity for ignoring feminism 90% of the time and mislabeling it or straight-up lying about it 10% of the time. Should we wait for that day to come when feminism won’t be demonized on the likes of CNN and FOX? Do we try to place feminists, womanists, activists, social justice enthusiasts into the major newspapers, magazines, and TV channels? Or should we continue with creating our own media, where we blog our hearts out at Shakesville and interview the Hulk about his feminism?
Posted in: Media
Written by: Wagatwe Wanjuki