My work continues scholarship in the area of Digital Rhetorics that shape social change within peoples' lives. I research poststructural expressions of identity/ies to engage how people shape meaning through the technologies they choose to advocate within their communities. My interdisciplinary media and rhetorical scholarship engages the contextual spaces of the internet/WWW, gaming, and mobile devices.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Defining bullies: sex and racial identification

I saw this book cover
( and was a little appalled, first because of a definitional concern and then because of the sex specificity.

What is the difference between bullying and being 'bossy' and being a leader? Aren't boys bullies too in similar ways? 

Upon further analysis of the cover, I found myself concerned about the racial and gender implications about who bullies who...

I would imagine that reading this book might help to answer my questions and concerns, but I am not sure that I want to take the time to read it...but clearly I wanted to gripe because I usually like Mighty Girls...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Street harassment reporting: there's an app for that!

A friend of mine noted on Facebook that, while running with her sister last night, a group of 10 to 12 year old boys paced them and then started yelling comments about them getting in shape and 'burn[ing] those calories." They weren't sure how to respond. Her husband happened to be running up ahead and he turned around and blinded the kids with his headlamp. She posted to get some ideas about what she could have done.

My first response is how frustrating is it that a victim is searching for an appropriate response to street harassment. 

Second, what kind of society are we living in that 10 to 12 year old boys believe that it is okay, feel comfortable 'trying out' harassment toward two adult women?

Third, in addition to talking to their parents, what legal options exist to ensure it ends?

I found a few sites that seem helpful...I'm totally checking out the street harassment apps!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

‘Taking Mama Steps’ Toward Authority, Alternatives, and Advocacy: Feminist Consciousness Raising within a Digital Motherhood Community

I am proud to say that on my expected date, a co-author and I "birthed"/submitted our manuscript entitled "‘Taking Mama Steps’ Toward Authority, Alternatives, and Advocacy: Feminist Consciousness Raising within a Digital Motherhood Community" to Feminist Media Studies. We'll see what happens, but here is the current abstract. 

At least one birth happened that day! :) 
Ten years ago when faced with the challenge of blending work and motherhood, the task was arduous, lonely, and painstaking (Evans and Grant 2008). Most settled for face-to-face interactions or phone calls to friends and family for support. Sadly, these frustrated conversations are still happening as society does not blend work with family well (Cady 2013).  As a result, women are turning to online spaces for social support. In 1991, Donna Haraway posited that online, affinity-based groups contain the potential for activism. Buoyed by digital social media possibilities for online democracy and social support, we assessed feminist activism within a motherhood support group populated by women from various countries around the world. We found that consciousness raising (Campbell 1973) can further feminist activism within an online motherhood Facebook group, but only to the extent that economic, educational, and cultural privilege are recognized and discussed openly in the group instead of used as a means to generate hierarchy and division. Economic stratification and educational divides constrain social support, suggesting that digital connections influence affinity-based identities and feminist activism. Further, this study engages multiple approaches for ethically studying online groups by using digital surveys, online consent forms, and close textual analysis.

Keywords: Consciousness raising, motherhood, Facebook, social support, feminism 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm not included: Dialogic influences of Identity reclamation through naming

I find myself continuing to contemplate yesterday's discussion in my Communication Ethics class concerning naming and identity. One of my students mentioned concerns about the exclusivity of naming as community members who are 'Othered' attempt to influence the image of themselves. The example of the BET network got me thinking about how naming of the Self (when struggling through oppression) influences our interactions with others considered dominant within certain social structures. For example, for a long time I've seen friends (male as well as people of color) feel in excluded from feminist conversations due to perceptions of the term 'feminism'. The 'femin' root may seem exclusive to women and the history of the movement and organizations with that name have been predominantly and sometimes exclusively white (Brown, 1989; Chehade, 2001).

When we name or identify or classify, we not only create 'in' groups, but also 'out' groups (Bowker and Stars, 1999; Burke, 1941). When people specifically communicate instances of oppression through how they name their identity, "a lack of white privilege can be experienced as oppression" (Nakamura, 2002, p. 78).

Here is a question that I have come to (hopefully) further my understanding of dialogue: If though our identity reclamation others recognize their privilege/experience oppression, how might that recognition influence dialogue? 

I am not advocating for the invisibility of oppression or silencing identity reclamation (as Burke noted we cannot legislate language)-racial invisibility allows for a privileged group to “take their identity as the norm or stand by which other groups are measured” (Martin, Krizek, Nakayama, & Bradford, 1996) and facilitate privilege through silence. I am just wondering how the labels we choose influence the potential for dialogue.

Brown, E. B. (1989). Womanist Consciousness: Maggie Lena Walker and the Independent Order of Saint Luke. Signs, 14(3), 610-633.
Bowker, G.C., & Stars, S.L. (1999) Sorting things out classification and its consequences. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Burke, K. (1941). The philosophy of literary form (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Chehade C (2001) Big little white lies: Our attempt to white-out America. New Brunswick, NJ: Nehmarche Publishing.
Martin, J. N., Krizek, R. L., Nakayama, T. K., & Bradford, L. (1996). Exploring Whiteness: A study of self labels for white Americans. Communication Quarterly, 44(2): pp. 125-144.
Nakamura, L. (2002). Head-hunting on the internet: Identity tourism, avatars, and racial passing in the textual and graphic chat spaces. In L. Nakamura (Ed.), Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (pp. 31-60). New York: Routledge.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Is it the Dia de Los Muertos or the Disneyfication of culture? (Warning: false dichotomy)

Here's what's sitting in my craw this morning.

My mom, my son, and I were sitting on the sofa as she read the paper and I sat reading a book for 'fun'-I mean it's my 'break' between terms and all-and she handed me a Saint Paul Pioneer Press article on Disney's attempt to trademark the phrase 'Dia de Los Muertos' for their upcoming media enterprise.


No, Disney, you haven't taken the next leap into identity theft and cultural appropriation/homogenization, have you? Well, they have in so many other ways, but really?!

Part of me wanted to think, hey, they might help expose the world to an important part of American culture. The other part of me critically assessed, they are in it for the money, sweetie, and just like the recent crap with the Brave character, Merida, guess what? They'll ruin this too through their words, and general commodification of culture.


So began my venture into the web to investigate more about the story.

I started looking for information from trusted sources...I admit, Fox news didn't make the cut and after seeing the way the it covered the story, neither did Frontera, who provided an 'article' headed with an image of two, seemingly light skinned, women with faces decorated with for a dia de los muertos celebration in Vegas. Maybe I threw the second one out too quickly, but for right now, this image seems to sexualize and commercialize the whole conversation in another way.

Anyway, what I did come across as I looked for 'credible,' in-depth, and insightful commentary and sources that realized the scandal early on, offered concerns about how Disney changed their plans for the film. I found myself concerned by the sterile commentary about the "bid" dropped by Disney...but also saddened that it sounds like Disney may drop the film altogether rather than just their efforts to trademark/appropriate a holiday. 

Part of me is happy...another win for cultural freedom.

Part of me recalls my cousin's sentiments who works at Disney-he argued that Disney offers accessibility, dreams, freedom, etc. for some people as he reflected on the partner benefits offered to many of the employees and Make a Wish kids that felt they could have distance from the health concerns they live with everyday when they visit the park. He's right-there is value in Disney. Disney can help dreams come true...but what dreams?

My concern is that only for people with resources and/or identifiable' or 'valid' health problems' (like cancer) can buy into Disney. My concern is that the medium of animated films they sell may start out with good intentions (Mulan, Cars, Brave, etc.), but the art becomes commodified...reduced....and kills (irony intended) the legend in some way for the almighty dollar (FE look at Cars-consider where all the female characters have gone-who prompted the 'click' point for the male protagonist- when you look at how the toys, books, etc. are sold). My concern is that to continue to exist and stay in the position of power Disney is/has to expose itself to the public with the easy stuff (PR) and is/has to be private with the socially responsible stuff. There are clear constraints within the corporate world that ensure one can continue to thrive (translation: profitably) as a business.

But can we envision a different model or are we fooling ourselves within a country known for media and business? Further what does this mean for academic institutions, some of which are taking a 'business' model?

More questions than answers today.

What I do know is like any company, vigilance and checks and balances are necessary to ensure that the edutainment environment that is produced does not teach our children to model only the roles bought for them instead of thinking and playing out their roles within their contexts. We want children to learn through mediums, but learn how to critically remediate, transmediate, etc. rather than just duplicate.

I am just afraid that as people attempt to commodify culture we might bury the dead instead of celebrate it and attempt to envision a future without the history we come from. Through a pollyannic, singular look at the world we forget to our multi-dimensional story. We have a responsibility to humanity to hold ourselves to embody community by not trampling on others in pursuit of our happiness.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Investigating the simulacra: what is 'truth' within digital spaces?

The other day a friend of mine who designs video games posted the following link to an article connecting Sophia Stewart's text The Third Eye. I found myself intrigued by the prospect that another person, particularly an African American woman (based on the image provided and the location of the source), influenced the Matrix.

I'll be straight-I wanted to believe it, so I 'shared" it within Facebook, seeing what reverberations it brought back. Interestingly enough, controversy sprung up to assess the 'truth' of the claim that a court case had awarded her a large sum of money in connection with the rights of the Matrix story/films.

A couple of my peers introduced me to the site,, a site asserting itself as "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. " I am not sure what to make of this claim. In a space where postmodern construction is the point, who are the 'truth' finders? who state that the creators of Snopes use false identities and do not fact check? How about that there is an interview with CNN, or should we check their facebook page

So I looked up the identities of the claimed creators for the site-not that I don't believe them, but I find myself suspicious/critical of anyone claiming 'truth,' especially when I saw who commonly referenced them. Wikipedia, our favorite collector/repository of 'information' indicated that "The site has been referenced by news media and other sites, including CNN,[12] Fox News Channel,[13] MSNBC[14] and Australia's ABC on its Media Watch program" (Wikipedia reference-in-text citations rather than hyperlink to keep Wikipedia's links intact). Again, my politics prompt me to be critical about who has cited them-typically these sources have a tendency to over publish and under-research.

So where does that leave me?

...wondering if our search for the hol(e)y grail will ever end

...wondering if we can recognize we are not alone
...wondering how we move past our 'trained incapacities' (Burke) to engage other ideas
...wondering how we choose who/what to value

So what is 'truth'?

trick question.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wonder women: notes from the video

Notes from the video:

"what are the consequences for women when they are strong and when they are the central actors of their own lives"

-SCARS. :)

Wonder Woman day as a benefit for domestic shelters (Portland, OR)
-What a brilliant idea

Love and compassion instead of violence, whenever possible; conflict resolution

Wonder woman is about hope and tolerance.

my thoughts:

I want to do this for girls. I want to help people be empowered to create new visions and embodiments for their lives within mediated contexts. I think that games are a way to do this-and I'm glad to see the Girl Scouts agree.

I love wonder woman, but her legend and legacy for girls and women is important-But we cannot forget the history that was created about her.