Monday, March 15, 2010
Coming Soon in Ecquid Novi: A closer look at gender and media activism in South Africa
Abstract: Media activism groups work to bring about change in the mainstream media, but their gains are often limited. Drawing on theories of the political function of news in a democracy, media sociology, and feminism, this article focuses on the specific experience of Gender Links, a Southern African gender and media organization founded in 2001. An analysis of institutional materials and 25 in-depth interviews shows that Gender Links is using a professional-technical approach to feminist media activism that is insufficient in bringing about deep and long-term change on an ideological level. It is suggested that Gender Links could benefit from more emphasis on political and countercultural approaches. The research also highlights some of the other dilemmas posed by issues related to funding, networking, the grassroots, press freedom, the profit motive, and the strong backlash from a patriarchal culture.