Presentation on theme: "Feminist Media Theory Approaches. Feminism in context In 2006, WH Smith decided that ‘lads mags’ Nuts and Zoo should not be shelved with other lifestyle."— Presentation transcript:
Feminist Media Theory Approaches
Feminism in context In 2006, WH Smith decided that ‘lads mags’ Nuts and Zoo should not be shelved with other lifestyle magazines. Instead they should reside with other adult material on the top shelf. WH Smith were responding to complaints from the public about the magazine covers, which usually featured topless women. Arguable, this feminist encroachment entered everyday life, in which the supposed harmless appreciation of the female body is a bit of a laugh, and quite different from pornography. Such as, Carry-on films or the bawdy, Ealing British comedy.
Feminist debates Representation debates about women are common; many were outraged by posters advertising Pulp’s This is hardcore (1998), which depicted a naked woman, especially as the tile linked the picture with pornography. How would you respond to this? Are Nuts and Zoo pornography, or are they like Loaded and FHM? Why is it that some are enraged by this, and others see it as harmless? The fact that WH Smith responded in such a way, shows how central feminist debates have become common in contemporary society.
Successes of feminism Concerns about women’s role in the workplace. Job opportunities and pay relating to similar roles in media and other disciplines. Government legislation addresses these issues of inequality (European Commission 2006). Whilst it is well documented that feminism has made sufficient inroads into questioning and changing sexist practices in society, it can also be seen that there is still lots of work to be done.
Feminism as a stereotype For many, feminism has negative connotations. The stereotype is often envisaged as short- haired, men-hating lesbians, typified by Viz comic’s ‘Millie Tant’. For many women, this is unhelpful and they do not want to be seen as being overtly political, joyless, and full of anger and hatred about the world around us (Tasker & Negra 2007). By these connotations, feminism and feminists are largely marginalised. To the majority, these concepts appear on the fringe and out-of-date in current life. … or equality is now unquestioned in many cultures, but this is not to say it is equal.
Questions to ponder Should women earn the same as men for similar work? Should women have the right to be educated as men do? If your answer is ‘yes’, then you agree with the key concepts of feminism.
Complications and types of feminism There are many types of feminism, so we should talk of ‘feminisms’ rather than ‘feminism’. Some of these feminisms disagree with one another, and they often respond to particular local conditions; therefore race and feminism has been much more central in America than Britain (Reames 2007). For example, whereas recurring concerns over class issues in the UK has meant this has been more central to feminist debates, as it has to do with media theory as a whole (Skeggs 2004). Analysis of colonialism has led to ‘third world feminism’, even though there’s discussion about appropriateness of this term (Walters 2005: 118). Other terms have arisen with developments to key ideas, such as, ‘Post-feminism’ and ‘second wave feminism’.
Ideologies The consequence of complexity in feminism and its assumptions about gender norms, has spurned growth in the analysis of masculinity. Thus, exploring the ways in which ‘male-ness’ is constructed and, often, presented as a social norm (Beynon 2002). The problem when questioning the rigidity of femininity and masculinity, ‘academic writers [show that] gender is a matter of power relations’ (MacKinnon 2003: 4). …and critique the idea that ‘boys and girls are “naturally” and fundamentally different’ (Carter & Steiner 2004: 12).
Ideologies cont… Overall, feminism is a complex set of ideas, whose definitions are hotly debated over, and which incorporates a bewildering array of approaches and arguments. What is important is that debates about sex and gender matter, regardless of how those debates are carried out, because gender is the key to ways in which society works.
Media representation In feminist theory, it concerns itself primarily with representation of men and women. That is, how are men and women represented on TV, on film, in adverts, and so on? Also what kinds of representation are we invited to sympathise with and see as role models? This ideas important because it assumes that the ways in which we act in society are in some way affected by the kinds of gender representations which surround us (see ‘media affects’ model). Current feminist thinking may argue that representations of women are limited, this may conflict with what society feels is the ‘norm’.
More questions Before making any statements: Do you see feminism as a positive or negative term? Would you describe yourself as a feminist? Do you think feminism has ever done any good? Do you think power inequalities based around gender still exist in society? Do you think feminism still has a role to play in modern society? Note down some answers for discussion after the documentary (The magazine).