Gender and the Media: Women’s Places: Volume 26

Cover of Gender and the Media: Women’s Places
Subject:

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiii
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Abstract

This introduction locates the 11 chapters of the volume under three headings: Agency-Affirming Places, Overtly Hostile or Agency-Denying Places, and Covertly Negating Places. Each chapter is summarized briefly, detailing its methods and key findings. Following the summaries, the editors point to common themes among the chapters and discuss the relationship between media and physical and symbolic gender-based violence as illustrated in the chapters.

Part I Agency Affirming Places

Abstract

In Hassani culture, women play the most important role in the family. Hassani women hold high positions of power and authority not only within their family, but also in their community and nation. Hassani women have played an essential role in building community in the refugee camps in Southwest Algeria to which they fled during the Western Sahara War in 1976.

Abstract

Due to their pervasiveness in American society, cultural gender beliefs often organize workplaces and justify what jobs are suitable for men and for women (Ridgeway, 2009, 2011). When an occupation experiences feminization, jobs and occupations once considered “men’s work” must be “retyped” to justify and accommodate the movement of women into the occupation (Lincoln, 2010; Reskin & Roos, 1990). Using the case of funeral directing, this chapter explores the “retyping” of funeral directing, a formerly male-dominated, currently feminizing occupation by examining shifting gender narratives about funeral work in trade journals published between 1995 and 2013. Findings indicate multiple gender narratives involved in explaining the movement of women into funeral directing and the implications for gender inequality in feminizing occupations. Some narratives (old boy and gender essential) explain women’s entry and justify sex segregation by drawing on stereotypical gender differences in physical strength and emotional labor between men and women. While other narratives (gender blind and gender progressive) reject and challenge essentialism by impugning the notion that gender stereotypes are a reliable indicator of skill.

Abstract

This chapter examines women’s participation at the Portuguese punk scene, suggesting the use of fanzines as an alternative medium able to spread feminist narratives. Through the words and pictures of the Portuguese punk fanzines – X.cute, Modern Girl, Global Riot, Sisterly, Mulibu and Cuecas Quentes – we highlight the strength of the symbolic resistance of the Portuguese punk women. This approach allows us to show the existence of an imaginary structure of equality within an actual scenario of inequality and reproduction of society’s gendered structure. The theoretical discussion involves themes related to feminism, the punk movement (Guerra, 2013, 2017; Guerra & Silva, 2015; Guerra & Straw, 2017), the riot grrrl scene (McRobbie & Garber; 1987; McRobbie, 2000, 2009), and the universe of alternative media and fanzines (Guerra & Quintela, 2014, 2016; Triggs, 2006; Worley, 2015).

Abstract

This research draws on social identity literature and intersectionality to examine the social construction of race, gender, and sexuality within hip-hop music and how this shapes the identity development of college students. Data were collected from 26 college students through semi-structured interviews. Participants described men as being portrayed as hyper-masculine and identified lyrics that supported toxic masculinity. Participants reported that the dominant theme in hip-hop today centered on “trappin” or selling drugs and glamorized that life. African American men, in particular, described how this theme in music shaped the narrative around race and masculinity, how others saw them as Black men, and how they had to counter that image and stereotype as college students. Participants described the negative portrayal of women in hip-hop. However, women participants were more conflicted in their perception of women in hip-hop and said that when women were the artists this illustrated more agency and was liberating even if the images and lyrics were sexualized. Participants were adamant that constructions of gender and sexuality within hip-hop music and videos shaped expectations within relationships. Despite the criticisms of hip-hop, participants described how raising consciousness through hip-hop affected their own identities. This research contextualizes the findings with a discussion of how popular culture shapes identity around race, gender, and sexuality and shapes the expectations within relationships. Further, the research concludes with a discussion of intersectionality and how this provides a better understanding of the effects of identity development among marginalized groups.

Part II Overtly Hostile or Agency-Denying Places

Abstract

Women’s representation is widely debated within the comic book cannon. Many comic and cultural scholars argue that women characters are overly sexualized, objectified, or excluded from this literary genre (Child, 2013; Danziger-Russell, 2012; Fesak, 2014; Lepore, 2014; Simone, 1999). However, few scholars have adequately addressed how comic book readers make sense of women’s representation within graphic storytelling. The author’s research addresses the issue of women’s representation in comics with special attention to how audiences interpret these supposed images of women’s empowerment. Capitalizing from the author’s time spent working at a local comic book store and a series of 20 in-depth interviews that the author conducted with comic book readers, the author draws from a series of personal field notes, participant observation, and transcribed interviews to understand how gendered relationships in comic books manifest in real-life experiences. Ultimately, the author argues that static comic book stereotypes about hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity shape consumers’ gendered realities. More specifically, this study demonstrates how popular character archetypes like the love interest, the nag, and the slut are redefining readers’ relationship to women both within and outside of comic book culture. By examining this culture, and its audience at large, this research advances a more nuanced understanding of how graphic narratives contribute to gender difference and violence against women, thereby situating women’s empowerment within popular culture.

Abstract

Online aggression represents a serious, and regularly occurring, social problem. In this piece the authors consider derogatory, harmful messages on the social media platform, Twitter, that target one of three groups of women, Asians, Blacks, and Latinx. The research focuses on messages that include one of the most common female slurs, “b!tch.” The findings of this chapter reveal that aggressive messages oriented toward women of color can be vicious and easily accessible (located in fewer than 30 seconds). Using an intersectional approach, the authors note the distinctive experiences of online harassment for women of color. The findings highlight the manner in which detrimental stereotypes are reinforced, including that of the “eroticized and obedient Asian woman,” the “angry Black woman,” and the “poor Latinx woman.” In some exceptions, women use the term “b!tch” in a positive and empowering manner, likely in an attempt to “reclaim” one of the common words used to attack females. Applying a social network perspective, we illustrate the tendency of typically hostile tweets to develop into interactive network conversations, where the original message spreads beyond the victim, and in the case of public individuals, quite widely. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of the processes that lead to online harassment, including the fortification of typical norms and social dominance. Finally, the authors find that messages that use the word “b!tch” to insult Asian, Black, and Latinx women are particularly damaging in that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and ethno-racial minorities, and these messages possess the ability to extend to wider audiences.

Abstract

Over the past few years, the electronic media, as represented by the internet version of print media and independent blogs of journalists, has become a major player in the coverage of incidents related to violence against women. While this has brought forward issues of violence and specifically rape prominently into the public sphere, the media portrayal of women has often been as victims or victims who are somehow responsible for the violence against them. Such portrayal has been repeatedly challenged by feminists. Using data from 572 national and international English media reports for a six-month period (from December 2012 to April 2013) the coverage of the protests about the 2012 case of gang rape and eventual death of Jyoti Singh Pandey in India’s capital city, New Delhi, is examined in this chapter. Drawing from past research, three main frames are discerned in the portrayal of women in the reports: mainstreaming gender, endangered woman, and the ungendered woman. Media portrayals of these three frames by three broadly categorized actors most prominently covered by the media reports are analyzed: activists, state representatives or political actors, and ordinary citizens. The findings suggest that while some reports allude to women’s agency and rights particularly when they cover feminist activists, women’s agency is marginalized in the debates around safety and protection for women when other actors (such as state representatives or political actors, and ordinary citizens) are considered. Indian women’s rights have been reduced to passive messages negating the broader politics of the contemporary women’s movement.

Abstract

Trafficking in women is among the most serious human rights challenges. Extant studies of the media images of trafficked women suggest that these images emphasize women’s victimization and contribute to the reproduction of existing gender inequalities and power relations. In this case study of Moldovan media and scientific discourse, the authors sought to identify the images of trafficked women that are presented in the print media, on the one hand, and the scientific discourse, on the other. The authors also asked whether those images portray trafficked women in a stereotypical manner. The findings of this chapter revealed that the most prevalent images in both discourses are trafficked women as victims, commodities, and slaves. Both media and scientific discourses include gender oppression, domestic violence, and poverty as dimensions of the victim image. However, these three aspects of the victim image are treated more comprehensively by the scientific discourse. Some of the most prominent differences between the two types of discourses are the absence of women’s agency in the media discourse and absence of the men’s nature as a dimension of the victim image in the scientific discourse. The authors conclude by suggesting that, despite these differences, the images present in both types of discourse could be used to justify policies that would limit the migration of women but fail to effectively address the root causes of sex trafficking in women.

Part III Covertly Negating Places

Abstract

Films focusing on girls and women with anorexia have not found major producers and distributors in Hollywood, yet movies on subjects such as suicidality and bipolar disorder have been showcased. Eating disorders affect approximately 30 million people in the United States alone, and it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, so this invisibility seems incongruous. The authors theorize that Hollywood avoids this subject because of ontological anxiety. Movie plots are schemas and young females are inextricably associated with fertility and futurity. An anorexic’s appearance contradicts and nullifies this symbolic role because anorexia often leads to infertility and death. Psychological studies and philosophical arguments claim that a belief in an afterlife and the regeneration of humankind create coherence and meaning for individuals. An anorexic’s appearance and behavior represent images of self-destruction – images that inflame the viewer’s unconscious and primordial fears about the annihilation of the species. By avoiding the topic of anorexia, Hollywood defends against its symbolic fears of mortality but diminishes the importance of the subject through its absence; it ignores its place in women’s social history and erases its place in American history. Because of Hollywood’s social reach and because greater visibility is correlated with a reduction in stigma, the authors conjecture that a film on this subject would inspire necessary attention to women’s roles, public mores, public policies, and the social good.

Abstract

Issues of diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of public discourse and policy initiatives. Media and product lines have recently faced scrutiny for not being inclusive of difference. We conducted a content analysis of books intended for the tween (ages 8–12) girl. More specifically, these books were from the preeminent tween girl company, American Girl. A company perhaps best known for their line of dolls and historical fiction books, American Girl also publishes advice books with the intention of addressing a range of topics pertinent to the tween girl. Since the company strives to appeal to all girls, the authors analyzed these advice books for images and messages of racial, religious, ability, and sexuality difference in an effort to identify who American Girl’s American girl truly is. The findings of this chapter revealed an overall lack of diversity in the American Girl advice books in not only images but also messages. Images of White girls were more common than those of non-White girls, and any representation of religious, ability, or sexuality difference was minimal. Analysis of the content of the messages also revealed few mentions of difference, and categorization of the books suggested an emphasis on relationships with other people and bodies/appearance as important. It is apparent from this analysis that American Girl’s American girl is White, able-bodied, religiously ambiguous (though presumably Christian), and heterosexual. The need for American Girl to be fully inclusive of diversity across all their product lines is apparent.

Abstract

Previous research suggests that women receive less critical attention and acclaim in popular music. The authors expect that gender differences in the amount and content of media discourse about popular musicians occur because music critics draw on the cultural frame of gender as a primary tool for critical evaluation. In order to explore the role of gender as a frame through which aesthetic content is evaluated, the authors conduct detailed content analyses of 53 critical reviews of two versions of the popular album 1989 – the original released by Taylor Swift in 2014 and a cover version released by Ryan Adams less than a year later. Despite Swift’s greater popularity and prominence, the authors find that reviews of her version of the album are more likely to focus on her gender and sexuality; less likely to describe her as emotionally authentic; and more likely to use popular aesthetic criteria in evaluating her music. By contrast, Ryan Adams was more likely to be seen by critics as emotionally authentic and to be described using high art aesthetic criteria and intellectualizing discourse. The authors address the implications of the findings for persistent gender gaps in many artistic fields.

Index

Pages 217-221
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Cover of Gender and the Media: Women’s Places
DOI
10.1108/S1529-2126201826
Publication date
2018-11-12
Book series
Advances in Gender Research
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78754-329-4
eISBN
978-1-78754-329-4
Book series ISSN
1529-2126