When discussing effective ways of portraying the state of women within different places in the world, I agree with Michael, it is too difficult to determine which one way is the most valuable.
I find both artistic and intellectual displays are important in getting the message across. Artistic means of expression are very good ways to get across messages because, as Molly, Julia and Jessica have all already mentioned, anyone is able to understand art. Intellectual means of relaying messages do not always include or reach out to the less educated.
In my Liberation Theology: 3rd World Women class, we often discussed the importance of verbal communication as a means to liberate the oppressed since so many people who are being subjugated by the religious texts are not able to read them. By making things available for all different types of people to understand, the idea or movement is more widespread and more effectively dispersed. But, it is with the help of intellectual authors such as Susan Griffin that the ideas and movements are formed.
Another positive aspect of the use of art or pop culture is that more people enjoy the medium that the message is being relayed through. I would much rather read 187 pages of Persepolis than 187 of scholarly articles. Watching a funny Youtube video as Julia mentioned, is much easier for most people than watching all of the presidential debates. Malaysia’s Mak Bedeh character is hilarious and as the article said, people were more willing to listen to them because they were just, “cheerful looking Mak Bedahs [which] made [them] look harmless.” Also, in countries where there is a lot of oppression, it can be easier for people to artistically resist than to openly resist by picketing or boycotting. Music is another very important medium, as Molly mentioned. Michael Franti & Spearhead create music that is constantly relying the message of peace, and every year they throw a huge annual festival called Power to the Peaceful. I have gone to every one since 2005 and I have watched as the amount of people who attend has grown exponentially. Whether people are going to listen to the music, eat the good food or shop at the vendors, Michael Franti is able to rely his message of peace to thousands of people.
Overall, I think it is not fair to deem one form or communication as more important than the other, but I do think it is fair to say that arts and pop culture reach a far greater audience than intellectual writing.