Final Project – Jacqueline Amjadi

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Works Cited


“International Disability Rights Monitor (IDRM) Publications – – Compendium – Iran.” ICons in Medicine. N.p., 2003. Web. 15 May 2014.

The Islamic Republic of Iran. Ministry of Health And Medical Education. WHO-AIMS. WHO-AIMS Report on Mental Health System in The Islamic Republic of Iran. World Health Organization, 2006. Web. 15 May 2014.

Lagadien, Fadila. “Disabled Women and the Media – Presentation for National Women’s Day.” Independent Living Institute (ILI). Independent Living Institute, 1997. Web. 15 May 2014.

TARTAKOVSKY, MARGARITA. “Media’s Damaging Depictions of Mental Illness.” Psych Central. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2014.

 United States of America. U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. Census Bureau. Americans With Disabilities: 2010. By Matthew Brault. N.p., July 2012. Web. 15 May 2014.

Wood, Lucy. “Media Representation of Disabled People.” Disability Planet. N.p., 2012. Web. 15 May 2014.

Zolf, Aghrab-e. Persian Instrumental. Jahanshah Boroumand. Web. 15 May 2014.


Art and Activism (Jacqueline Amjadi)

A member of the Pictures Generation, Cindy Sherman is one of the most important contemporary artists out there. Coming of age in the 1960s, Sherman had a front row seat to many political and social injustices like Watergate and MLK Jr.’s assassination, to name a few. Through photography and film Sherman has evaluated the media, and society as a whole, through a critical lens. Her work is especially meaningful in terms of constructions of identity and the role of the female in the 1970s. Highly influenced by Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure piece, Sherman focuses on capturing and isolating the male gaze.

Sherman’s work is unique in that she is the source material for all of her photographs. She inserts herself into the very media she is critiquing. While every one of her photos is a portrait of herself in a different costume – hair, makeup, clothing, and persona – she is all of them and none of them at the same time. Sherman uses herself as a blank canvas in order to bring attention to female stereotypes. 

One particular series that stands out is a part of Sherman’s early work, entitled Film Stills. Film Stills imitates the classic Hollywood representations of female stars of the 1950s and 60s. Through such appropriation Sherman takes back control of the gaze and makes the role of the viewer blatantly obvious. Untitled Film Still #6 consists of Sherman lounging scantily clothed with a blank stare on her face. She is asking us to stereotype her as a young blonde, vain and clueless. Yet, Sherman is still the constructor of the image, and she shows us she controls the picture taking with the clicker in her hand. 

Another influential piece of the times was Roland Barthes’ The Death of the Author. Barthes questioned why we attach so much meaning to authorship and urged the erasing of the artist’s genius/ego. This meant there was no longer a dependency on the author, but on the viewer to interpret content. This is interesting to compare to Sherman’s work, as she is technically in all of her work, as well as to the work of Princess Hijab.

 Somewhat anonymous, Princess Hijab is a street artist who defaces Parisian billboards, covering models with hijabs. Critics and observers quickly wanted to link her religion to her work – yet much information about her background is still unknown. “And that she uses such a contested icon to wreak artistic revenge on the dual constructs of advertising and social prejudice means her work is ultimately as much about the interpretation of others as it is about her own intent. ‘People are confused by me,’ admits PH. ‘Some say I am pro-feminist, some say I am antifeminist; some say I am pro-Islam, others that I am anti-Islam. It’s all very interesting—but at the end of the day, I am above all an artist.’ (Bitch Magazine)


(Roberta Smith on James Franco’s New Film Stills)



Image Image Image Image

Motherhood and Media (Jacqueline Amjadi)

These days, the reality that women face as mothers is not a new or unusual one. Just as women are made a spectacle in their femininity, sexuality, and work ethic before motherhood – once they become pregnant, it is not a private nine months, but rather a public forum for judgment.

As Susan Bright points out in her piece Home Truths, there is a “climate of maternal guilt that swirls around contemporary culture (12)”. The expectation of a good mother is someone who gives up everything for her child. There is either good mothering or bad mothering – no in between. In turn, that means you have either succeeded or failed as a woman. A fairly new aspect of motherhood in the media is the prevalence of social media and outreach. According to website ‘The Motherhood’, ninety-two percent of moms take information learned online and share it offline. This shows the potential for growth and tales from all walks of life, yet the portrayal of pregnancy in the media is still a very white and privileged one.

The celebrities who saturate all forms of (Western) media are mostly white, attractive, and incredibly wealthy. They continue to perpetuate this standard throughout their pregnancies – which of course makes those watching even more self-conscious. What is hidden are their personal trainers, and full team waiting to nip and tuck as soon as the baby’s first cry.

In contrast, Douglas’ Mommy Myth addresses the Welfare Queen. The Welfare Queen is a minority woman with many children from different men. She is dependent upon food stamps but abuses the system – buying luxuries instead of necessities. She is overweight, lazy and irresponsible and of course passes this attitude onto her children.

The Welfare Queen was an image created and injected into the media in order to keep minorities failing, instead of confronting the issue of those in society who need support and assistance. In fact, there are many mothers on food stamps who are white – yet this is mindboggling to those who associate welfare with the struggling Others of society.


Douglas, Susan J. “The War Against Welfare Mothers.” The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women. N.p.: Free, 2004. 176-202. Print.

Bright, Susan. “Motherlode.” Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood. N.p.: London, 2013. 1-63. Print.

“Cause Marketing: What Makes Moms Go Social.” The Motherhood. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.

“The Motherhood Effect: Cooper Munroe & Emily McKhann at TEDx.” The Motherhood. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.

Seidman, Ellen. “12 Ways Social Media Has Transformed Motherhood.” Babble. Disney, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.

Final Project Proposal (Jacqueline Amjadi)

Because of my father’s origin, I am always inclined to speak on the status of women in Iran. But – I have never traveled there, so I feel I can’t really relate first hand to the daily struggles.

I have one close relative on my father’s side that is representative of a certain demographic in Iran – my Aunt Rosa, who is middle aged and mentally disabled. My Aunt Rosa is mentally challenged due to domestic abuse while her mother was pregnant (more specifically for being pregnant with a girl). I would like to present her story through a painting and slideshow format.

I feel this can be opened up to relate to both:

1) The favoring of boys over girls (in Iran)

2) (Lack of) Disability in the media

In addition, by doing this I am putting a woman into media – giving her a place where she wouldn’t normally be represented.

Starting Sources:

Advertising – Post 3 (Jacqueline Amjadi)

Advertising’s purpose is to perpetuate a false sense of insecurity. That way, viewers are inclined to purchase the advertised goods as a solution to their problems. Whether it has to do with unwanted wrinkles, unwanted body fat, or an imperfect wardrobe, there are always constant reminders of what needs improving.

An unintended effect of these images then becomes self-consciousness to a point that is unhealthy. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, “The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.” In addition, these ideals are implanted from an early age as, “47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.”

This speaks to the strength of the patriarchy. An important question asked by Wolf is why women have such a powerful response to advertisements – and not men. “Is their identity so weak?”(Wolf. Culture. p59). No, it is not. Women’s identities in the media are kept superficial and physically oriented in order for culture to be kept male. Males are allowed to have it all – to be handsome and well kept if they choose, and to have a grand personality. On the other hand, women are only allowed to be beautiful or smart, but not both.

“What kind of representations does advertising produce? It creates a mythical, WASP-oriented world in which no one is ever ugly, overweight, poor, toiling, or physically or mentally disabled” (Cortese. Constructed Bodies. p52). Viewers are constantly questioning their status of beauty, wealth and success up against images that are of pure imagination and computer construction.

As Cortese states, “Subvertising overthrows or subverts mainstream ads. Subvertising uses the power of brand recognition and brand hegemony either against itself or to promote an unrelated value or idea” (Cortese. Constructed Bodies. p49-50). These alternate strategies of advertising, created by third parties, turn the construction of the mainstream media on its head. For example, the Milk is Cruel advertisement addresses the image of an angry woman with supposed PMS, but instead she is “livid with the milk industry for abusing and killing cows”. This brings attention to a different cause through recognizable ads for feminine hygiene.

Anxiety-Inducing Ads:

sexist-ads-12   sexism10-520x366



GotEthicsblogimage1-thumb-400x618 images Cervical-Cancer-PSA-sexist-ad

Ways of Seeing (Jacqueline Amjadi)

The concept of the male gaze was widely introduced to us through Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. She revealed the attention given to the female subject rose greatly as the American film industry advanced. With a male controlled camera, the looking is done by the male and placed upon the female. Both the actor as well as the audience sees the female as an object to unleash its fantasies upon.

The male gaze is so widespread in today’s culture because it is applicable to all forms of media. In fact, although the theory was introduced in the mid 1970s, the male gaze can be seen throughout art history, dating back to Titian’s 16th century Venus of Urbino. This classic painting demonstrates the delicacy with which the female subject was treated – seen in the rich and idealized illustrating of her nude body, as well as her inviting smile and addressing of the viewer.

The male gaze has made its way across paintings, films and even advertisements. This last way is especially successful due to all of the products geared toward female consumers. It is made clear that in order to get the attention of the male, in order to be looked at and desired, one must resemble the female in the ad – therefore purchasing more and more to compensate for what she feels is lacking.

In order for the gaze to be male, it is not female – women are the focus of a constant power struggle. As Berger states in Ways of Seeing, a man’s presence is shown by what he is capable of doing to or for you, whereas a woman’s presence is shown by her attitude towards herself. Insecurities and anxieties easily form, as women are meant to watch themselves and adjust accordingly to the context of a man.

The oppositional gaze, as described by Bell Hooks, is a response to the gendered and racially charged male gaze. The male gaze singles out anyone that is not a white man – attaching him or her to a sense of otherness. The oppositional gaze has developed in order for those others to gain agency – African Americans in particular, as they were singled out and punished for looking during the time of slavery. While the gaze is connected to white supremacy and patriarchy, the oppositional gaze is connected to rebellion and documentation of wrongdoings.

Upon just a simple observation, it is clear that the male gaze is as strong as ever. No matter film, television or advertisement, women are still at the center of looking – as evidenced by the prominence of Botox, spray tans and low carb diets. I find it very difficult to be a media consumer in today’s society. While I can’t help but want to purchase certain products, or read certain magazines because they are visually appealing – I certainly try to do it for my satisfaction first and foremost.


Bell Hooks, in Black Looks: Race and Representation.

(Boston: South End Press, 1992), 115-31


Berger, John. Ways of Seeing.

(London: Penguin, 1972), 36-64


Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings.

(New York: Oxford UP, 1999), 833-44






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