Embassy Invites High School Students to Talk on Girls, Boys and the Media

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Oda Faremo Lindholm and Sarah Dougher (fourth and fifth from the left respectively) with some of the students that attended the talk.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the U.S. Embassy invited American Fulbright Rover Sarah Dougher and Norwegian author and journalist Oda Faremo Lindholm to speak about how girls (and boys) internalize and react to movie princesses, images and messages in the media to 90 high school students. The Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer Kim Dubois spoke briefly about Women’s History Month, and introduced both speakers.

Dougher focused on the Disney movie Frozen. She spoke about critics’ reactions to the film—are Princess Elsa and Anna more empowered than past Disney princesses, or are they stuck in the same gender stereotypes, despite not having to be saved by a prince? She showed clips of young girls singing “Let it Go,” and explained that although Princess Elsa becomes a sexy vixen when she decides to go off by herself on a mountaintop, young girls do not necessarily try to act sexy when imitating her, they might also march and show their newfound power through a determined look.

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Lindholm, author of Bullshitfilteret, talked about how various media and advertisements are designed to make people feel bad about themselves, so that they will buy the products advertised.

Lindholm recently wrote a book called The Bullshit Filter (Bullshitfilteret), and talked about how various media and advertisements are designed to make people feel bad about themselves, so that they will buy the products advertised. She also explained how media gender-stereotype, how advertisements are sexualized and products are genderized (for example, when similar toys are given either blue or pink packaging to appeal to either boys or girls), and how social media and blogs can objectify, turning human beings into things. Lindholm explained that young people should be aware of all these mechanisms, as girls and boys today consume on average 10 hours of media each day, and also tend to get depressed more so than slightly older generations, and seemingly due to pressure to be perfect.

The Embassy is thankful that Blindern, Kongshavn and Lillestrøm high school students found the time to come to this event, and to engage in great dialogue while there!