Today I read an excerpt from a book about the portrayal of women and girls in the media for one of my Communications courses. This was my one of first times I had really explored the idea of feminism and sexism in depth, besides scoffing at a sexualized advertisement or the representation of women and girls on MTV. The introduction to the book was really well done. It was methodological, easy to follow, and funny. However, about half way through my reading, I started sensing political overtones. It wasn’t just a casual comment that made me think twice. These were blatant smears on public figures from the past two decades, men and women.
I think one of the most important characteristics of our democracy is the ability openly criticize and challenge leaders. At the same time, no matter what political views one holds, I’d like to think there is a certain respect and honor due to those that serve our country. The words the author used could have easily been toned down to still express a negative viewpoint without nearing slander.
After I finished the excerpt, I decided to look up the author. She turned out to be a U of M professor! The political overtones in the work became even more shocking to me. We all know that politics occasionally enters the classroom. When debating economics, culture, and history, it is often, well…political! But do academics have an obligation to tone down those political undercurrents in their professional work because of their association with the University? I don’t know much about the general consensus on this matter. Hopefully, someone from 220 knows a lot more than I do!