Media’s At It Again: This Time Normalization

For all of the people who think media “doesn’t affect them,” well listen up because Melissa Fabello makes it clear that you are wrong. Last night Melissa opened up a dialogue about intimate partner violence and how our media normalizes the violence. Now you’re thinking who is this Melissa and how can she just come up in JMU with this perspective, well first off Melissa Fabello is a highly educated feminist. In 2013, she received her M.Ed. in Human Sexuality at Widener University. So, anyway, I want to first say that I have done my own research into intimate partner violence, but I learned so much in an hour and a half, now my brains on overdrive. My first instinct is to just list out the whole event, but that would be far too long, I will just highlight the key points.

First, the way that she tackled this whole idea of media not affecting us, is by doing an activity. She presented the audiences with letters of different colors and fonts and we had to guess what company was behind the letter, we were able to do this efficiently and quickly. Melissa, argues, that if we can take these letters and apply them to different kind of media avenues, then yea, media definitely affects us. Right off the bat, I thought that this is gonna be good, and she did not disappoint.


One of the biggest concepts, Melissa focuses on is media literacy. Media literacy, “provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society.” Basically media literacy goes the extra step of not just viewing media, but understanding the intentions behind the presentation. One of the biggest questions you ask is, “Is it really selling what it’s advertising?” In most cases, no, it’s selling you the idea of something else.

So you’re probably thinking how does this relate to intimate partner violence, to answer this its simple, media normalizes intimate partner violence. Melissa Fabello uses pop music as a main frame of this normalization. One of the examples she uses is Ours by Taylor Swift.

Seems like there’s always someone who disapproves
They’ll judge it like they know about me and you
And the verdict comes from those with nothing else to do
The jury’s out, but my choice is you

So don’t you worry your pretty little mind
People throw rocks at things that shine
And life makes love look hard
The stakes are high, the water’s rough
But this love is ours

Now, I know what you’re thinking, don’t diss sweet T-Swift, but this song does have problematic elements. Though it wasn’t Taylor’s intention, the song could feed into a survivors want to stay in an abusive relationship though others strongly disapprove. Also that line, “don’t you worry your pretty little mind,” doesn’t that kind of creep you out? These lyrics that we listen to on a daily are permeated into our culture.

So how do we solve this problem with our media? Melissa provides some answers.

1. Forget “mindless entertainment”

2. Ask questions

3. Start conversations

It’s time we stop looking at media with blank slates in our minds and analyze the way media influences our culture and plays into normalization of such tragic incidences.



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