Seminar with Charlotte Jansen
*Authors Note: I just want to state that as a person who identifies as male, my experiences will have been massively different to the women I have worked alongside of, as well as the women who are already in the industry. It just needs to be stated just in case, as I can only understand off my own experiences. However, it is important to see growth within yourself, so if people do actually read these and notice anything that may seem ignorant in its structure, then please make me aware of it. Ignorance doesn't exempt you from blame after all.
After attending visits from guest lecturers that we had spoken to on several occasions before in a Pre-Covid world, it felt oddly refreshing to attend a lecture from someone whom we had not previously spoken to before. This lecturer was Charlotte Jansen, who has created articles that have featured in a lot of big name titles such as The Guardian and Vice, of which she has used these platforms to discuss a lot of current and contemporary topics that are widely discussed throughout the industry. Jansen throughout her talk, discussed the 'Female Gaze' and how it has manifested itself into media, and how ultimately that has effected how people translate and digest media.
Jansen used her time to talk about how women have been chosen to be seen and how it has changed throughout the generations. Women throughout history have been objectified by men to an unprecedented extent. It has always been a case of how men choose to represent women, and not the other way around to prioritise women representing women. She stated the reoccurrence of themes such as objectification and sexuality. It is a statement of power, to tilt the balance. This imbalance has rippled into the basic psychology of media. It has shaped how we react to this imagery and how we treat the people making it. Like you look at the stats and see that within photography, take commercial photos for example, 5% of all of this imagery is created by women.
This baffles me personally, I look around at my fellow course mates. I'm one of about 7/8 men on a course of about 45 people. That stands to say that the remaining 37 people will most likely identify as women. So for a course that's so predominantly women, where do they go after University?
This alone highlights the major gender imbalance in the industry. You'd think that in terms of statistics that there would be a higher chance of a woman finding work in the industry, but by showcasing that men find the bulk of the work, there is clearly some form of a psychological barrier that is preventing the higher ups from choosing anyone else.
As well as this, Jansen also discussed common themes that occur in photos that attempt to discuss the female gaze. These types of topics include: Community and ties, discussion of representation of women and self portraiture. Just from themes like this alone, it showcases that when women have the spotlight on them, there is a desire to shine that spotlight onto cultural struggles and how are they are represented within an industry that clear mistreats them in terms of work. From a male perspective, it feels like women take note of these stereotypes, but don't let it dissuade them. It's not bad to be feminine, or caring or any other platter of things that we could commonly associate with the female form and thoughts. And when they have that chance to discuss that, it acts almost like a form of acceptance to these things that people can sometimes use so often to criticise women.