Empowerment – the long winding road

Happy women’s day to us all!

For me, today is a day that inspires me to keep fighting, keep moving forward, keep striving for empowerment and equality. Today is also a day with sad and frustrating undertones since it reminds us that we still have such a long way to go. The road ahead is never ending, or so it seems..

For the last months I have been working with several papers for my doctoral thesis, mostly I have been gathering empirical material in the form of interviews and focus group discussions for a particular paper that will be about female sexual agency in contemporary advertising. I will not go into too much detail, but needless to say there is an ambivalence towards this shift in advertising where the idea, the message is that women + sex = power. As always, women’s bodies, their appearance, is at the core of this subject, and sadly it is still and will still be up for many discussions in years, decades to come, I’m afraid. Personally, I am a bit torn between thinking: “women should be able to display themselves any which way they want”, and “hm, yes sure that does sound lovely, but we cannot ignore the fact that the social construction of women and their bodies/appearance is not the same as for men, and women are unfortunately much more sexualized, still, so trying to gain power by being sexy is kind of another side of the male-gaze coin. Is this really the way to empowerment?”. I do not really think there is a correct answer or solution to this conundrum, but getting to study what other women  think about it has provided me with different perspectives and inspirations. This work is for me so thrilling, frustrating, eye-opening and tough, I am truly blessed to have gotten this opportunity to delve into such issues that I am so passionate about.

On another note.. in a couple of days it will be the 20th anniversary of one of the best tv-shows ever: Buffy, the vampire slayer, first airing on the 10th of March 1997. For me, growing up in the 90’s/00’s, Buffy was such an inspirational, kick-arse feminist character that inspired in so many different ways to be yourself, to be strong, to take place and claim space, to be brave, to be ok with being sad, afraid, thinking that you may not be good enough, but realizing that you are. I feel a bit sad for generations that have come after me, who instead got to grow up with Twilight or whatnot instead of Buffy, because Buffy is a fighter, not a push-over, she is not obsessed with guys all the time, since she is a bit too damn busy saving the world.

In her own words:
buffy
Truer words were never spoken..

So happy 20th anniversary Buffy, and thank you for inspiring me and other young girls to be empowered.

So what else is new, well, I recently got the lovely news that one of my papers was accepted to the Macromarketing conference held in New Zealand, yay me! And today, of all days, I also got the news that another short paper was accepted for another conference, in Paris. So double-yay for me, on this wonderful, women’s day.

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Courses, conferences and competitive papers

Long time no see, dear blog. I am not ignoring you, just having my plate full of work, work and some more work.

So far I have enjoyed my time as a PhD student, even though the course load this semester has been kind of a pain (who’s idea was it to put three courses at once, huh?). Nevertheless, one is completed, one is about 90% done, and the last one has two more hurdles to go, so all in all, everything is under control. For next semester, I am hoping to take a course in CCT (Consumer culture theory), then maybe do some writing course, more methodology, and if I can manage to find a suitable one, take a gender theory course. I have also been greatly inspired by the courses so far and am contemplating how to use Institutional theory, Grounded theory, Discourse analysis and Netnography for my dissertation. Oh the choices! My problem is, and has always been, that I want to do it all, and I want to do it now. I often experience a decision-making-anxiety growing inside when I learn that I have to let something I believe in go, when I understand that I in fact do not have all the time and resources in the world. However, this “itch” of wanting to do everything, has always worked as a source of passion and ambition, and surely, if I did not want to do anything, ever, I would not be doing a PhD at all. I mean, there are other ways of spending my time. So I should not complain.
Just make a decision.

Anyway. This last month has been hectic to say the least, but it has also come with some wonderful surprises and news. The biggest one being that the paper I submitted for a conference in Macromarketing got accepted! I will thus present it at the conference in front of fellow peers and scholars. Needless to say, this news was shocking to me. Basically, this is me opening the e-mail and reading the first few words saying “We are very pleased to inform you that your submission….” :

surprise

And then this is me seconds later when the words really sank in and I got the message:

surprise

I can’t even begin to describe the joy, sense of accomplishment, and then utter, utter terror and panic, I experienced during that moment. I mean, me? I? Really? Holy *insert ALL the curse words*!! I always hope, but never expect, thus such news always get me by surprise. I still cannot believe that I am going to present something I created at a conference for the first time in my life. Hopefully, I will not be a puddle of nerves, lying on the floor in a fetal position. Hopefully, I will manage.

The competitive paper I submitted is about how viewers deal with being exposed to an abundance of sexual, pornographic and violent ads, and in it I construct and present a framework that explains some of the practices that may go into forming opinions regarding the ads. I call the framework the Clutter Syndrome, and if things go well, this will not be the last time you hear about it.

In the words of Morrissey: So wish me luck my friends, goodbye.

Time to get back to work.