“In the 60s’ at the University, we were the 15%. Today women are more than 60%”
It bothers her that the traditional media agencies consider them all feminists. Cristina P. Fraga, President of Ameco (Spanish Association of Media Professional Women) and Headmistress of AmecoPress, “only” claims for a communication with gender perspective, a contextualised and contrasted one.
During the conference “Mujeres Del Sur in the Media” (Women fron the South in the Media) organised by the Euskadi-Cuba association in Bilbao, AdWomen has had the opportunity to talk with Cristina about the image the communication media gives on women.
The woman evolves from being the receptor of the message to being its creator. Do you think they limit themselves to reproduce codes or they create their own codes?
In broad lines they reproduce codes but they also start to use more and more non-sexist codes. The mere fact that every time there are more and more women in the media implies the variation of those codes, even though they are not conscious about it.
In the age of information overload, what role should the communicator assume in order to avoid making a mere message reproduction?
The figure of the person who delivers information is very important. This person should fight for it in the street, should tell what he/she really feels being as subjective as possible. It is impossible to keep the information objective given there are some many possible points of view.
What role should the woman in the street play, for the women in general to start being the protagonist in information production?
The media is not in the hands of the woman in the street. You have to take into account that the event agenda of any newspaper is from the end of the XIX century, and its structure hasn’t changed since than. The media is stacked and it structures the news by a totally old-fashioned frame.
“Who are we?” Do you think that us information women should ask ourselves this question before falling into the stereotypes?
Yes. The proximity we need for our job doesn’t allow us to contextualize and we tend to fall into creating stereotypes without clarifying them. In the advertising area people are learning to address themselves to various types of women and not to one only as it used to happen until not long ago. But not a single advertisement appeals to both sexes at the same time.
What does AMECO do in order to inform without falling into stereotypes?
We produce clear and contextualized information. In what concerns our style manual, we don’t use “wordies” like “she-members” or “she-youngsters”. We look for other formula to specify whether we’re speaking about men or women without using the general ones. We use words without racist connotation. In questions of gender focus we (and I include men) are interested in general information. For example, after some general elections we’re interested in “digging up” which is the context of the government’s women minister in terms of non-gender, and we realise that between the 8 men ministers they have 26children, while between 8 women ministers, they can only count 5 children. This data isn’t given by other agencies, but we do give it.
Do you think that the woman working in communication is going to be able to change those ropes bit by bit and come to use her own?
I think so, yes. The fact of having more and more women in the media each time, even though we are occupying the positions with less responsibility, will change a lot this profession. We have a different sight, and we’re much more sensitive to those things that affect women as a collective. That so masculine sight, so universal, where nothing is concrete, nothing is being specified exactly, is going to change.
What differences do you see between a women’s professional association and another one in which both sexes coexist?
When it was created in ’94, AMECO was strictly a professional association, fighting for the journalist women’s rights. In those times there were no newspaper headmistresses, we were practically the secretaries in a editorial office. In the 60s’ at the University, we were the 15%. Today women are more than 60%.
You’ve said the treatment the media gives to the immigrant women was very dangerous, given that they are seen as victims:abused women, prostitutes…
When we think of immigrant women, we have the idea of women who come in a social exclusion situation, but when you actually meet them you realise that the variety is enormous. From the women working in household to the women who is studying a career… In Latin America there are a lot of single mothers who have to work and study in order to maintain their families, and they do not live submitted to a man. That’s why the sight the media offers on women is not the real one.
Which are the challenges the journalist woman has to face in the coming years?
On the one hand, journalism should break up with show business, because it’s not the same. The power of the television is so huge that when the students come to an editorial house, they realise it has nothing to do with what they’ve thought in was. The journalism at the beginning means the street, the street and the street again.
On the other hand, women journalists should get together and say: “here I am”. When they come to be a majority, they need to become a collective, if they don’t want to make a mess of all those years of studying and up working as secretaries or as shop assistants. Man don’t do that.