Beauty or Brains, Cautious or Courageous? Gender and Power in Online Visual Designs

Nina Lysbakken


Gendered visual communication is a major part of contemporary, mediated discourse, yet these expressions are seldom reflected upon from a designers' perspective. Whose voices are empowered in tabloid newspapers and gendered magazines? In what ways can we express gender? In this visual essay, I provide an auto-ethnographic perspective, and use personal reflections and visualisations to show a process of deconstructing, shaping and encoding gendered expressions on mobile platforms from my point of view, as a designer and a woman. The essay contributes to research writing methodologies, by questioning conventional ways in which scholarly research is presented. I draw on concepts of feministic speculative designs and gender-flips to demonstrate how the designer can change the meaning of digital spaces. I show this with two examples; an online newspaper design and a student project of an online women’s magazine. I found that an awareness of such gendered expressions can challenge existing norms, enable creativity, innovative designs and shape new meanings in popular cultural expressions.

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