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MEP 203 CONTEMPORARY MEDIA THEORY. 6. FEMINISMS AND GENDER. What is feminist theory?. An intellectual, political and social endeavour that aims to foster equal relations between women and men Feminist media theory explores SEX, GENDER and SEXUALITY… Employment trends in media industries

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mep 203 contemporary media theory

MEP 203 CONTEMPORARY MEDIA THEORY

6. FEMINISMS AND GENDER

what is feminist theory
What is feminist theory?
  • An intellectual, political and social endeavour that aims to foster equal relations between women and men
  • Feminist media theory explores SEX, GENDER and SEXUALITY…
  • Employment trends in media industries
  • Representations in media texts
  • Dynamics in media audiences
four main feminisms
Four main ‘feminisms’
  • RADICAL FEMINISM Patriarchy causes women’s oppression (e.g. pornography)
  • STRUCTURALIST/MARXIST FEMINISM Capitalist ideology oppresses women’s societal roles
  • LIBERAL FEMINISM Women’s oppression down to several factors (e.g. socialisation and stereotyping) not all due to gender inequalities
  • POSTFEMINISM Women’s oppression has been overcome and they can claim parity with men
rf anti pornography campaign
RF anti-pornography campaign
  • Women represented as passive, subordinated victims of male desire
  • Images encourage men to view women as objects of sexual fantasy
  • Images perpetuate actual cases of male violence against women
  • Erotica versus thanatica (Tong 1989, cited in van Zoonen 1994)
mulvey 1989 visual pleasure and narrative cinema
Mulvey (1989) ‘Visual pleasure and narrative cinema’
  • Film narratives show female characters as objects of desire, male characters as bearers of the gaze
  • 3 different perspectives in realist films:

1. The camera

2. The audience

3. The characters

  • Narrative film conventions mask 1 and 2 ‘to eliminate intrusive camera presence and prevent a distancing awareness in the audience’ (p.25)
sf codes of romance fantasy
SF codes of romance/fantasy
  • Romantic stories are narrative fantasies that pander to a nurturing male ideal…
  • BUT romance stories provide ‘escape reading’ for women frustrated by the patriarchal order in reality (Radway 1987)
  • Codes of romance/fashion/domesticity/ pop in girls’ mags present a conformist ideology of femininity (McRobbie 2000)
lf pleasure and empowerment
LF pleasure and empowerment
  • Feminism (about an undesirable world) cannot easily grasp women’s pleasure in mass media texts (Ang 1996)
  • Soaps (e.g. Dallas) provide women with pleasures that are fictional, not always ideologically oppressive or feminist
  • Experiencing pleasure in (TV) fantasies does not exclude radical feminist activities outside the viewing contexts
pf power and masculine crisis
PF power and masculine crisis
  • Postfeminism questions the continued relevance of second-wave feminisms
  • Women can embrace consumer capitalist values – ‘girl power’
  • In turn, men’s lifestyle media (e.g. FHM) indicate the decline of patriarchy
  • New Man versus New Lad: the winner?
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Feminism has developed into ‘feminisms’ that have different perspectives on how and why women are disadvantaged
  • Theoretical concepts such as pleasure, power and romance define debates…
  • BUT third-wave are perhaps more convincing than second-wave feminist arguments today (?)