International Women’s Day edition publishes professor’s article on Bulgarian gender roles in media

Mass communications professor Elza Ibroscheva and her colleague’s article, “Hidden in Public View: Visual representations of women in the Bulgarian communist press,” was selected for publication by editors of the March 8 International Women’s Day online edition of Routledge.

Mass communications professors Elza Ibroscheva and Nadia Kaneva of the University of Denver had an article selected for publication by editors of the March 8 International Women’s Day online edition of Routledge. Photo courtesy of Ibroscheva

Ibroscheva and professor Nadia Kaneva of the University of Denver, first published the article last summer in “Feminist Media Studies,” an academic journal.

Ibroscheva said it was an honor to be part of the special edition collection.

“To me it was very interesting connection to make because I have experienced that celebration-the 8th of March-firsthand as a woman of Bulgaria. It really feels extremely rewarding to see your name included in such a collection,” Ibroscheva said

They cover in their paper how gender roles among Bulgarians were portrayed during communism and how these portrayals could affect women’s lives after the fall of the communist regime.

Ibroscheva said the article was titled “Hidden in Public View” because Bulgarian women were portrayed in unusual occupations but very little of it “was an honest look at what happens in the private sphere,” their domestic roles.

“Even though we saw a lot of visual representations of women on the pages of newspapers, they were very contrived,” she said. “We get to see them in these public settings driving tractors, operating heavy machinery, flying planes, but there’s still a whole set of expectations and patriarchal pressures that women had to endure in the home that were never really talked about or visually portrayed in the media.”

There is a split between images of women in private and public lives, according to Ibroscheva.

“They are two sides of the same coin: glorification of career-displaying, working women and annihilation of their roles in the home life,” she said.

According to Ibroscheva, the communist ideology led to a sort of glorification of women’s parity and women’s equality, but “deep down inside, ideologically that wasn’t necessarily the case.”

“Much of this visual glorification was just propaganda. Very little of it was really empowering as a sense of commitment to the idea of equality between the genders,” Ibroscheva said.

She said hers and Kaneva’s argument was that because of the push for gender equality during communism, there were a lot of images of women on the pages of newspapers compared to Western publications, “where those were far and in between.”

According to Ibroscheva, she finds it rewarding to share her knowledge with students learning about her research because they “rarely get a glimpse of the lives of people in Eastern Europe.”

Ibroscheva said she hopes to instill positive change for women.

“We can do this by talking about the necessity of more representations of women in politics, talking about changing the culture of media portrayals and about changing the focus on issues that trouble us, and not be silent. And not be invisible in our discontent,” Ibroscheva said.

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