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How Does the Media Help Construct Feminine Identity (2). Women’s magazines. Ferguson (1983)-. She carried out a “content analysis” study of womens’s magazines between 1949 and 1980. She concluded that many magazines were like “apprentice manuals” to teach women domestic skills.

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ferguson 1983
Ferguson (1983)-
  • She carried out a “content analysis” study of womens’s magazines between 1949 and 1980.
  • She concluded that many magazines were like “apprentice manuals” to teach women domestic skills.
the cult of femininity
The “Cult of Femininity”-
  • Ferguson claimed that these magazines encouraged a “cult of femininity”.
  • In other words women were encouraged to judge themselves in terms of being good wives and mothers and how good they looked for men.
angela mcrobbie 1982
Angela McRobbie (1982)-
  • She studied specifically girl’s magazines and drew similar conclusions to Ferguson.
  • Magazines like Jackie encouraged girls to see romance and marriage as primary goals and to value themselves only in terms of how they are valued by boys.
sue sharpe
Sue Sharpe-
  • She conducted a study of teenage girls in a London Comprehensive in the mid 1976’s.
  • She discovered that “love, marriage, husbands, children, jobs and careers, more or less in that order” were what mattered to girls the most.
  • These studies are now dated.
  • The character of women’s magazines has now changed.

During the past 30 years new women’s magazines have emerged such as Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Options.

  • These magazines tend to focus on issues such as domestic violence, careers and sexual freedom.
  • In other words, these magazines seem to reflect fundamental social and economic changes.
winship 1986
Winship (1986)-
  • She argues that these magazines have helped create new feminine identities based around self-confidence, assertiveness, competitiveness etc.
ballister 1991
Ballister (1991)-
  • Notes that these magazines seem to present conflicting messages.
  • On the one hand, women are encouraged to behave radically in terms of sexuality and careers but are encouraged to conform to traditional feminine ideals concerning appearance.

Women therefore suffer from contradictory messages.

  • They are encouraged to have careers and independence but society still seems to want them to see marriage and children as their ultimate goal.
feminine body image in the media
Feminine Body Image in the Media-
  • Wolf (1990) argues that the media presents women’s bodies are presented as “projects” in need of improvement in terms of shape, size and weight.
the bma 2000
The BMA (2000)-
  • The BMA claimed that through the use of abnormally thin models, fashion advertising and women’s magazines promote impossible “ideal” body shapes which are unobtainable for the vast majority of women.

Their research also showed that female presenters and newsreaders are thinner than the average.


In addition, because they contain articles and adverts on slimming and dieting as well as cosmetic surgery, further pressure is placed on girls to conform.

sex objects
Sex objects-
  • The pressure to conform to a certain physical type is also reinforced by traditional sexual objectification in some sections of the media.
  • Page 3, in “The Sun” it is argued, encourages men to see women as objects to be enjoyed.
key images of women in the media
Key images of women in the media
  • The WAG (femmes fatales concerned with beauty love and romance),
  • The sex object (slim, sexually active typically found on Page Three),
  • Supermum (happy housewife and part time worker concerned with childrearing and housework,
  • The angel (who is good, displays little sexuality and is sensitive and domesticated, she supports her man),
key images of women in the media1
Key images of women in the media
  • Tghe Ball Breaker (sexually actyive, strong, selfish, independent ambitious and career minded),
  • The Victim (as in many horro films with men as both the cause of their problemas and as their saviour)
representation of men in the media
Representation of men in the media
  • Men appear in w wide range of roles most often in the public sphere and outside of the home,
  • Usually portaryed in high status jobs usually “the boss”,
  • Used as a voice over in TV and radio, advertising as a way of reinforcing men’s authority, as opinions formers and experts,
representation of men in the media1
Representation of men in the media
  • Gillmore (1991) male stereotyped as hegemonic masculine identity with the tough, assertive, dominant and rational,
  • Gillmore (1991) describes men images as the provider, the protector and the impregnator.
representation of men in the media2
Representation of men in the media
  • Children now (1999) defines six media stereotypes of male characters:
    • The joker (uses laughter to avoid seriousness or emotion),
    • The jock (avoids being soft and shows aggression to demonstrate his power and strength),
    • The strong silent type (in control, decisive and who avoids talking about his emotions and showing feelings),
    • The big shot (economically and socially successful and has high social status with possessions to match,
    • The action hero (strong but not necessarily silent shows extreme aggression and violence,
    • The Buffoon (well intentioned and light hearted but usually hopeless when it comes to parenting or domestic matter