Document Sample
					  Media & Identity
                lecture 1
from feminism to post-feminism

      Cláudia Gabriela Marques Vieira
See the option page
    on Media2

the traditional feminist critique
   of media representations


           Media as a
battleground over representations
           of gender
   Is it

Germaine Greer in The Whole Woman (1999):
“Every woman knows that, regardless of her other achievements, she is
a failure if she is not beautiful...
The UK beauty industry takes £8.9 billion a year out of women‟s
pockets. Magazines financed by the beauty industry teach little girls
that they need make-up and train them to use it, so establishing their
lifelong reliance on beauty products…”

Anthony Cortese in Provocateur (1999):
“The exemplary female prototype in advertising, regardless of product
or service, displays youth (no lines or wrinkles), good looks, sexual
seductiveness, and perfection (no scars, blemishes, or even pores). The
perfect provocateur is not human; rather, she is a form and hollow shell
representing a female figure. Accepted attractiveness is her only
attribute. She is slender, typically tall and long-legged.”
Contemporary concerns - women

“The image and representation of women and girls in the media has
long been a subject of concern. Research shows that there are many
fewer females than males in almost all forms of mainstream media and
those who do appear are often portrayed in very stereotypical ways.

“In everything from advertising, television programming, newspaper
and magazines, to comic books, popular music, film and video games,
women and girls are more likely to be shown: in the home, performing
domestic chores such as laundry or cooking; as sex objects who exist
primarily to service men; as victims who can't protect themselves and
are the natural recipients of beatings, harassment, sexual assault and

Mediawatch (Canada division) at
Contemporary concerns - men

  …“Men and boys are also stereotyped by the media. From GI
  Joe to Rambo, masculinity is often associated with machismo,
  independence, competition, emotional detachment, aggression
  and violence. Despite the fact that men have considerably more
  economic and political power in society than women, these
  trends - although different from those which affect women and
  girls - are very damaging to boys.

  Mediawatch (Canada division) at
From the MediaWatch „Hall of Shame‟…
Mediawatch comment: “Dehumanized unattainable looking dolls”
Mediawatch comment: “La Perla ad with dog-like leash”
Mediawatch comment: “Video games teaching hatred of women and girls”
Mediawatch comment: “Vuitton's dead woman”
Mediawatch comment: “Notice how many women are in supine position”
Comment on Mediawatch site: “I‟m a very sexual female, and even I find this offensive to women. We
                                     are not submissive dogs. ”
Mediawatch comment: “PeTA doesn't believe in the ethical treatment of women. Animals are more
                       important than women's dignity. Boycott PeTA!”
Mediawatch comment: “PeTA doesn't believe in the ethical treatment of women. Animals are more
                       important than women's dignity. Boycott PeTA!”
‗―All animals have the same
parts—have a heart, go
vegetarian.‖ That is the message
of PETA‘s ad starring Traci
Bingham, the curvaceous
vegetarian actor, known to TV
viewers from Baywatch, Comedy
Central‘s Strip Mall, and variety of
other shows on BET and MTV.
The sexy ad encourages people to
view animals as something other
than walking entrées.‘
―It's sexy and eye-catching‖, says Janet Hogan, 42, co-creative director of the
advertising agency Streamline, who created the campaign for her client Kolotex.
―Women love the ballsiness of it.‖
– Sydney Morning Herald, April 13, 2002
A few current / recent
  movie posters…
Marjorie Rosen (1973) Popcorn Venus: Avon Books
‗…the Cinema Woman is a Popcorn Venus, a delectable but insubstantial
Hybrid of cultural distortions.‘ (10).

E. Ann Kaplan (1983)Women and Film: Both sides of the camera:
‗In Hollywood films…women are refused ultimately a voice, a discourse,
And their desire is subjected to male desire. They live out silent
Frustrated lives, or, if they resist their placing, sacrifice their lives for
their daring.‘(7-8).
Susan Faludi (1991) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women
Such films as Fatal Attraction (1987) were part of a wider backlash against
women‘s liberation and women‘s careers, stretching throughout pop media.

Sara-Jane Finlay, ‗If You‘ve Got a Vagina and an Attitude, that‘s a
Deadly Combination‘, Sexualities, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2005
 ‗a consideration of the heterosexual identities and the heterosexual sexual
practice (heterosex)…can offer opportunities for the disruption of
hegemonic heteronormativity…Basic Instinct…displays alternative forms
of feminine sexuality, but ultimately returns to a publicly sanctioned form
of heterosexual identity. [Yet] heterosex, heterosexuality and feminism
incompletely conforms to a heteronormative framing, offering space for the
viewer to possibly reassess sex and heterosexuality‘ (49).
POSTMODERN                  FEMINISM(S)
postmodern as a de-categorizing term for very
specific     kinds        of        feminisms
Imelda Whelehan (1995) Modern Feminist Thought (N.Y. Uni Press)

postmodern feminisms produce their own ‘meta-narrative[s] of gender’ (195)

these meta-narratives attempt to break away from the „trapp[ing] of feminists in
ethno/heterocentric truth claims, which no longer have any currency in a
postmodern world‟ (ibid.)

               one of the
‘flawed grand-narratives of modernity’
   (Featherstone, in Whelehan 1995: 195)
 postmodern feminist meta-narratives

               attempt to
escape the reiteration of the binarism
The Avengers TV series (Sydney Newman, ITV) :: courtesy: CANAL + IMAGE UK (1961-9)
The Avengers (‘67-’68) on TV thu 17 nov :: 7pm :: BBC 4

“It was only the sci-fi, surreally comic genre of The Avengers that prevented most
men from glimpsing the terrible truth: that the enigmatic, leather-clad Mrs Peel was a
femme fatale of the Pop Art order. The Peel appeal lay in her maturity, in the
combination of athleticism, ruthlessness and cool intellect which had her dispensing
verbal and physical karate chops without so much as a flinch of guilt. She was the
Bond girl with a first-class brain and a 24-carat steely blitheness”

Alvarez, Maria Feminist icon in a catsuit, New Statesman, 14 August 1998

“Mrs Peel enjoyed the kind of freedom to swap her bourgeois
exterior for more dangerous and exciting roles at the flick of a
switch in her blue Lotus. One minute she was a dancing girl in
a harem, the next she was in Restoration England. Here was
Woolf's Orlando for the swinging sixties: postmodern self-
Alvarez, Maria Feminist icon in a catsuit, New Statesman, 14 August 1998
BBC, How Emma Peel (and
Steed) influenced the X Files
writers, video interview with
Frank Spotnitz, writer/executive
producer, X Files
“It's a typical starlet's career. She starts
out in video-games, one cult success
leading to a number of sequels. Then
the media get hold of her - Time
magazine, Newsweek, The Face. Pretty
soon there's a string of look-alikes,
websites, some with supposed nudie
pictures, soft drink commercials, even
feature films. Only this starlet doesn't
really exist. This is the story of her

'History', Croft Central,

"There was something refreshing about looking at the screen
and seeing myself as a woman. Even if I was performing
tasks that were a bit unrealistic… I still felt like, Hey, this is
a representation of me, as myself, as a woman. In a game.
How long have we waited for that?”

Nikki Douglas, in Cassell and Jenkins (1999) From Barbie to
Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. London;
Jacques Lacan

there is a vast difference (and not just in size) between the
common or garden anatomical penis and the symbolic
phallus. The latter stands for a mythical virility or power.
And as such its fetishizing symbolism can be transferred to
chocolate bars, post office towers or women

cited in, Alvarez, Maria Feminist icon in a catsuit, New
Statesman, 14 August 1998
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Simon West, 2001) :: courtesy:
Lara Croft wallpaper :: courtesy:
Grant Morrison, Seven Soldiers: The
Bulleteer #1 (OF 4)
 (Grant Morrison,
Yanick Paquette, Michael Bair)

The Seven Soldiers saga continues…
Obsessed with the idea of becoming a
famous super-hero and preserving his
beautiful wife's youth, Professor Lance
Harrower invents Smartskin — a steel-
hard living fiber which bonds with skin
collagen. When his experiments go
awry, Harrower is suffocated under a
coating of steel skin. His wife Alix
survives the horrific accident only to find
herself an outcast and a freak. Now
encased in super-hard, living metal, she
is a truly reluctant super-human. 

―Ballistic: How the Bulleteer Began‖, DC
Universe, November 2005

―Unlike the cheesecake in All-Star
Batman, we're invited to examine
and reflect on the representation of
Alix, through the sub-plot about the
online porn. The story encourages
a critical perspective on the art.
The episode is about sex, and
porn, and cultural ideals of
femininity in our society and the
Seven Soldiers world… Her
appearance and presentation is
integral to the story's themes‖

kovaks - 'With regard to the
"cheesecake" and the representation of
Alix, Barbelith

                                         courtesy: NEWSARAMA

―through having to play Tomb Raider as Lara, a male player is
transgendered: the distinctions between the player and the game
character are blurred. One potential way of exploring this
transgendering is to consider the fusion of player and game
character as a kind of queer embodiment, the merger of the flesh
of the (male) player with Lara's elaborated feminine body of pure

Kennedy, Helen ‗Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo? On
the Limits of Textual Analysis, Games Studies‘, International
Journal of Computer Game Research, vol 2, issue 2, december

Tomb Raider: Legend website

―For the participants, MUDding throws issues of the impact of
gender on human relations into high relief. Fundamental to its
impact is the fact that it allows people to experience rather than
merely observe what it feels like to be the opposite gender or
have no gender at all‖

Bruckman, Amy Gender Swapping on the Internet Proc. INET'93
Barbara Konopka, ―Illuminations on-line: Binary man‖ :: courtesy:
Media, Gender and Identity

            "Even when the other is only me, me playing the part of another
            "me" in a double role: of the sender and of the receiver. Between
            those two roles, between me and the others (even if I am "them"
            myself), a split appears which makes any completeness of identity
            quite impossible"

            Barbara Konopka, "Binary Man‖, quoted in Ukasz Ronduda, Cyber
            and my sp@ce - Netizens and the new geography, Communication
            Front, 21 August 2000
So is gender in media still important?