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Author to discuss representations of feminism in the media

A leading feminist scholar will examine the intersections of history, technology and the politics of representation in the media in a lecture at Ohio University next week.

Janell Hobson, an associate professor of Women's Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York, will present, "The Politics of Looking (And Not Looking) Like a Feminist" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 in Walter Hall 135.

The author of the book, "Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender and Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture" Hobson will explore the challenges that confront 21st-century feminists as well as how the larger spheres of media and political representation shape these challenges and their responses to them.

During her lecture, which is cosponsored by the university's Women's and Gender Studies, English and African American Studies departments, as well as the Women's Center and United Campus Ministries, Hobson will discuss the framing of her article, "Beyoncé's Fierce Feminism."

The article, which appeared is Ms. Magazine and focused on the "high-profile celebrity and sex symbol" as a feminist icon, elicited debate among the publication's feminist readership. Many readers labeled the performer as a "stripper" and a "whore."

"Hobson is not only talking about Beyoncé," said Susanne Deitzel, director of the Women's Center. "This is really very common of women and slut-shaming that we have in our society, and locating that in the body of Beyoncé, who is so famous, really makes that message resonate with way more people."

Dietzel hopes that attendees come away from the talk feeling empowered and affirmed in who they are as women, having been educated in the ways in which media representations of women shape them.

Hobson will address the policing of the bodies of women of color, and her rejection of the notion that feminism manifests itself in the form of a one-size-fits-all uniform.

Melissa Wales, director of United Campus Ministries, recognizes Hobson's insightful contemporary media analysis, cultural norms and values and attention to media literacy.

Many college students are "particularly immersed in media-saturated culture" and tend to accept those representations at face value, especially in regard to race, gender and sexuality, Wales said.

For this reason, it is imperative that students develop media literacy skills to differentiate representations from reality, Wales added.