Gender and media activism

Alternative feminist media in Europe 1

Authored by: Elke Zobl , Rosa Reitsamer

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Alternative and activist women-led and feminist media offer participatory forums for debate and the exchange of politically, socially, and culturally engaged ideas by those who otherwise are marginalized within mainstream political debates. Sreberny-Mohammadi has found that “autonomous media controlled by women with women-defined output offer a challenge to existing hierarchies of power; when these media take up specific issues and campaigns, and align themselves with larger social movements, their political potential is significant” (1996: 234). Herein lies the biggest potential but also the biggest challenge for the larger feminist movement. In her book Changing the Wor(l)d (1997), Stacey Young conceptualizes feminist publishing as discursive politics and activism. She argues that “progressive changes in consciousness come about through discourses that challenge oppressive constructions of social phenomena” and that language acts such as publishing “can play a crucial part in bringing about individual and collective social change” (1997: 25). But how does a younger generation of feminist media producers in Europe challenge the status quo and effect social change? Can they participate in society by producing print magazines, weblogs (“blogs”), and electronic magazines (“e-zines”) in grassroots, alternative, and activist contexts relating to new social movements (NSMs)? To answer these questions, we will refer to data collected through research on “Feminist Media Production in Europe,” a project affiliated with the Department of Communication at the University of Salzburg from 2008 to 2012. This project included documentation at the digital archive Grassroots Feminism, a quantitative online survey of consumer habits with 230 persons, and 47 in-depth interviews with feminist media producers from 19 European countries. Taken together, these data enable us to contextualize and analyze feminist alternative media production in Europe.

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