mep 203 contemporary media theory n.
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MEP 203 CONTEMPORARY MEDIA THEORY

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MEP 203 CONTEMPORARY MEDIA THEORY

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  1. MEP 203 CONTEMPORARY MEDIA THEORY 6. FEMINISMS AND GENDER

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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)

  5. 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)

  6. 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)

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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 (?)