First of all, this is an impossible experiment, and not at all a wanted scenario. I don't even mean what I've written on this visualization of a tabloid newspaper. I did this visualization to shape an opposite, a provocative scenario where what is selected and presented as news, is shaped from one angle. By that I don't mean fake news (though this is fake news), but I mean what is chosen to be presented as news, what is lifted up in the hierarchy of news, what is seen as ideal and not-so-ideal, what rhetorics is used on gender in news, and which ways of looking at the world dominates the presentation of news. If this was what you were presented for each day, what would that do to you? How would you look at the world? How would you look at yourself? What stories are you fed, and what stories will you not know of? Look at the choice of images, the choice of titles and my notes:
I don't find it very strange that fewer women reads newspapers today, when the frames for many newspapers (tabloids in particular) are what they are. I started making this visualization of a tabloid newspaper in a moment where I was sick of stress, and dead-tired of the debate in Norwegian media on womens sick leave. I had to avoid news, in order to keep as sane as possible, during a challenging time of my life. I was so provoked by the condecending gendered content, that avoiding was better. I found the gendering of the debate on womens sick-leave as patronizing, and always accepting the man as the standard women were measured up against. So in this visualization I tried to shape an expression of women being what men are measured up against. E.g. mens choices of going to the doctor too late, and not getting help for e.g stress or depressions. Or in other fields; sports, ideals of life, at work, in debates, on society, on bodies, relationships, health and home. This visualization is not what I wished was the standard – quite the contrary, I wished we managed to balance all these various perspectives (this visualization only shows one perspective) in a better way than we do today. I mean to criticize the rhetorics of gender in todays newspapers. And I wish to lift up the design and presentation of news as a means of power, similarily with journalism itself. Various combination of images and words can imply values (such as examples here showing patronizing and condecending attitudes). But sometimes we don't even notice them, because we're used to it.
I try to show that what we ridicule, what we idealize, what we patronize about through images and words - all comes from a world view. How we seek to engage and provoke people, what we select as important news, are part of a world view. Whereas each article may be different depending on who wrote it, this presented combination of articles also implies something about who governs the space.
There is probably too little politics in the visualization, I should have added some environmental political stuff, as women tend to rule that area. Or I could have patronized some business political suggestions or something as irrelevant (though I don't mean that…). But I also want to add that the lack of something also says a lot about what one group regards as important and not. Notice the lack of sexualized female bodies. In this scenario of a society, the man is the one that needs to adjust to women – he is there to please her (very heteronormative, though).
In todays newspapers front pages, I find it striking how some types of news are less prioritized than others; there is a lack of sports that often are connected to feminity, sports that women tend to be great at, like dancing. They are simply less prioritized in the hierarchy of news. Whereas sports that requires heavy muscles, speed, or is connected to masculinity, are often lifted up as highly important. So I added articles of dancing and gymnastics – sports that normally gain less attention in tabloid newspapers. In addition I twisted the headlines of one of the articles of male dancers, as I (and many other women) are quite tired of reading about girls who are good at some male-dominated sport, and are framed as “she's played with boys all her life” as some sort of credit to her/them. So I twisted that quote about a male dancer. (Though I have to say that I really looooove a lot of the sports that dominate todays news, so I did concider putting the slalom legend of Mikaela Schiffrin there, but choose to skip her, in favor of Simone Biles.) This is of course an impossible scenario for many reasons – I do not have the answer to what all women have as goals, I am sure many will disagree with my choices. I even disagrees with this. In addition, our history is depending on so many factors, so I’m basically just picking some elements of today society and switching them – though history would probably have looked very different if women had ruled the world in all times. This is just one of many scenarios.This is not a visualization demonstrating inclusiveness and representation of many groups in society. I would however like to see this sketch being made from a variety of angles – I am just one person with one background and experience of this world; white woman, adult, a rather worried person, quite interested in sports, and a whole other set of interests and qualities. This sketch could have been made from many peoples points of view; immigrants' point of view (I bet two immigrants from Sweden and one from Afghanistan would look at the world in quite different ways too), an old person, a nuanced person (what would be tabloid and engaging click-bate for a nuanced and balanced person?), a child, or positive and optimistic person. Their groupings are not what's relevant, but everybodys different experiences of life, ways of looking at the world and ideals matters in what we choose as important to present for others. But I would need help and interviews to do this visualization from others perspectives…
This visualization will feature as one of several illustrations in a forthcoming visual essay (that is part of my PhD in graphic and interaction design) on designed gendered expressions of online newspapers and magazines. Other examples are design prosjects of womens magazines.
Simone Biles:Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0 Credit: Agência Brasil Fotografias Usain Bolt:Wikimedia Commons CC-SA-4.0 Credit: Augustas Didzgalvis. Ronaldo:Flickr CC BY 2.0 Credit: Chris Deahr.
Silvio Berlusconi:Flickr CC BY 2.0 Credit: paz.ca Male nurse: Stock Image. Credit: shapecharge. www.istockphoto.com, ID:536458067 Zlatan Ibrahimović: Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 Credit: Илья Хохлов. Business woman:iStockPhotos Credit: GlobalStock ID:175406040