Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Public Access to Information Shapes the Ideals of Women

Although public access to information may cause distorted expectations in women, this information ultimately empowers them by enabling them to become more aware of unexplored opportunities.

As BYU student Alec Parkinson remarked, "there really is a whole lot of good that's done by spreading information, even if sometimes there is bad that goes along with it" (Digital Dialogue on, an online forum). 

Individual Identity

In her post “Women's Identity Molded by Media”, Samantha Ellis explores the idea that public access to information is the primary effector of the identity of women in society. Although media-driven social expectations limit the ability of women to create their own identity, the high expectations set by media motivate women to have progress in ways never thought possible. Often when expectations are made, expectations are met. If a woman's identity determines how she perceives reality and the media determine her identity, then the media determines how she perceives reality and therefore how she acts--her behavior--for better or worse. The media's intense social expectations for women influenced identity of both the flappers and later the baby boomers of the 20th century and to the women of the 21st century today. 

See Samantha’s thoughts on how public access to information shapes the expectations of women by affecting their identity.

Marriage and Divorce

In her post “Great Expectations: Why the Mass Media’s Portrayal of the ‘Ideal Marriage’ May Not Be Such a Bad Thing”, Emma LeSueur explores the idea that public access to information empowers women and encourages them to seek the happy marital relationship they deserve. Women who seek to know and understand the world and its complexities through mass media have the confidence necessary to stand up against abuse and seek loving, successful marriages. Although the mass media's portrayal of the "ideal marriage" can lead to unrealistic expectations for marriage and the over-analysis of marital relationships, ultimately it is the mass media that is primarily responsible for motivating women to strengthen those marital relationships that need strengthening and end those marital relationships that need ending. The media's ultimately positive influence on marital relationships was evident throughout the history of the noble class in England and, despite the marital struggles of the 21st century, continues to play an important role in today’s digital community. 

See Emma’s thoughts on how public access to information shapes the ideals and expectations of women by affecting their marital relationships.


In his post “The Media and Women’s Education”, Brady Davis explores the idea that public access to information in large part determines the extent to which women and girls receive quality education. While sexists use media to propagate a societal ideology of absolute domesticity, subservience, and ignorance among women, feminists use media to propagate a societal ideology of independence, equality, and education. This tension between those promoting ideals destructive of women's education and those promoting ideals conducive to it has existed since the beginning of the women's rights movement in 18th-century England and continues today as the world-wide digital community joins together to fight for women's education wherever there is a deficiency, like in the Middle East. As was true for English society in the past, the amount of ground we gain in this metaphorical "tug-of-war" between the ignorance and education of women depends on our participation in the fight. 

See Brady’s thoughts on how public access to information shapes the ideals and expectations of women by affecting their view of and access to education. 

About the Authors

Samantha Ellis is a student at Brigham Young University studying speech therapy. She grew up in Sandy Utah, loves the outdoors and is very family-oriented. She is the oldest of 8 siblings, and when she is older she wants to be a homemaker and raise children of her own. Armed with a love of service and a positive outlook on life, Samantha is at the advent of an exciting life’s journey.

Emma LeSueur is a student at Brigham Young University studying psychology. Her hobbies and interests include reading biographies, wakeboarding, watching old movies, and spending time with her family. She firmly believes, along with Bruce R. McConkie, that the most important thing that any person ever does is marry the right person in the right place. For this reason, she thinks that it is crucial for us to constantly be striving to better understand our relationships and the ways in which the mass media are affecting them.

Brady Davis is a student at Brigham Young University studying biology, Portuguese, and print editing. From 2013-2015, he served a two-year service mission in Brazil and fell in love with the people there. While in Brazil, Brady realized how blessed he was for having had such a quality education at such a low price, and that is when he became interested in promoting education for disadvantaged children and adults. Upon returning, he watched the documentary "He Named Me Malala" and immediately fell in love with Malala's campaign for girls' education. When Brady is not planning an event to help promote awareness for children's education in third world countries, he enjoys running, hiking, reading, and writing. 


  1. Women's access to media and education is greater than it ever has been before, but it's not universal. During the Renaissance, the opportunities for women greatly increased as compared to the Middle Ages. They had some opportunities for education, though very little for career. However, these women were far in the minority; most women remained unable to access books, learning, or any of the media that existed at the time. Similarly today, many women, especially women who are illiterate and in poverty, do not have access to media or education. I think before an argument can be made about what media does to women, and how it helps them, it should be recognized that there are still many women who can't even get to it in the first place. Like the women in the Renaissance, women can be helped by media and education, but only if they can get to it.

  2. Women's rights is a hot topic, but I like how you focused on empowerment of women. I wanted to know more about empowerment and how often that becomes the focus of companies and individuals. I went straight to the source and searched #smartwomen on Twitter. Conversations about books written by women to empower and inspire women, upcoming conferences for Sigma Delta Tau (a sorority that promotes academic achievement, builds leadership, and creates a lifelong support group for women), and different posts about how to feel great and be successful were among just a few of the posts. But one of the most inspiring tweets said: "Hedy Lamarr, who was once voted most beautiful woman in the world, also invented a torpedo navigation system that is still used today." A woman that was beautiful, successful, and smart? If that doesn't inspire you to excel at your passions, I don't know what will. It is Tweets, posts, and videos like that that really can empower women.

    Also check out this Google Doodle about Hedy Lamar:

  3. All of the authors seem to talk about the independence of women. I agree with Samantha Ellis the most in that social expectations largely shape women choices.

    In the graph on this site we can see large spikes in the graph of marriage and divorce surrounding large cultural events. It is commonly accepted that marriage is and inverse indicator of independence in women and thus we see this independence change as large events take place that changed the social expectations in the role of women like the end of World War II.

    The graph on this site seems to support that modern social communication and media has started to bring down the divorce rates in recent years that Emma LeSueur talks about. However, looking at the first site we can see that divorce is very correlated with the amount of marriages that take place. The recent drop in divorces can be seen to be the result of less marriages in general and not the support of social media.

    Lastly, Brady Davis's argument isn't very divisive, so I don't have too much to say about it. One thing that I will say is that as countries allow women more access to information they do it with the purpose of educating their women and any enrollment in schools is often coupled with this.