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Lecture 6

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Communication Studies
Baxter Moore

COMM2P20 Lecture6 October17th,2012 GenderandSexuality -FeministTheoryandPopularCulture FeministApproachestoPopularCulture - Feminism describes both a set of theoretical understandings and an ideology - Theoretical - a linkage between a set of concepts that attempt to explain how the world works - Ideology - an action related system of ideas - contains theoretical understandings about how the world works but also diagnoses of the present ills of society and prescriptions for improving society - Feminist as a theory attempts to explain how the world works - particularly the position of women within the world - Feminism as an ideology attempts to find ways to improve the positions of women within society - Feminist approaches to popular culture may draw on both sides - theory and action - Mulvey both theorizes cinema and provides solutions for women in cinema SexandGender Key distinctions: - Sex: female, male (or some variation thereof) - determined by biology, by genetics, by the presence or absence of physical organs, hormones, genes, and other biological traits; - Gender: masculine, feminine (cross- or trans- gendered or other variations) - socially constructed norms and expectations of appropriate behaviour and appearance; - Sexuality: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc - identities which are in part biologically or psychologically determined and in part (albeit sometimes temporarily) ‘personally’ selected within a social context VarietiesofFeminism - Storey describes four principal varieties of feminism: 1. Radical feminism - patriarchy a. A way to overthrow patriarchy, for radical feminists, is to build their own separate institutions (their own parallel societies to allow them to escape from male dominance and male codes in society) - others wish to disassemble patriarchy by disassembling the institutions that go along with it b. Main focus is that patriarchy is the problem 2. Marxist feminism - capitalism a. View capitalism as the principal source of inequality in society - the role of women under capitalism is principally that of reproduction of the labour force - sometimes women become parts of the labour force but are rejected when that force needs to be smaller b. Focus on capitalism but admit that patriarchy is also a problem (first overthrow capitalism and then do something about patriarchy) 3. Dual-systems theory - patriarchy and capitalism (less important today) 4. Liberal feminism - values, attitudes, laws a. There are no underlying structural causes of this - instead we can create a reform instead of a revolution (persuading people to be more accepting of women, making sure women are equally allowed to health care, etc) b. Thinks that changing laws and educating people to change their values is good enough to change the oppression of women But other possibilities and/or combinations might exist: for example, where does Laura Mulvey fit? See Rosemary Tong’s list, which adds psychoanalytic, socialist, existentialist, and postmodern values: Storey,137. WavesofFeminism - Feminist thought and action also often described in terms of different time periods or “waves” - First wave - early 20th century - push for the vote and early political/ legal rights (to own property in their own names) - First round of reforms was largely a political/ legal fight - Second wave - 1960s on - demand for greater economic and social equality and for control over own bodies/ reproduction - Grew out of the massive dissatisfaction of the way society was operating - And the post-war where women were in the workforce - Third wave - 1980s on - recognition of need to spread gains to ‘women of colour’ within North America and to women in other places, societies, and culture. - More recent developments: - “Girl Power” (1990s) - “Post-feminism” (later in lecture) - women have made gains, that they are equal in society and that we don’t need feminism anymore (women are where they want to be) OR a divergence from the original path of feminism (there is still a struggle going on but there are different goals now) ObjectsofAnalysis - Feminist theories/ approaches to popular culture may be applied to: 1. The production of popular culture - what role do women play in the production of pop culture (movie business, record business, etc). Are most of the major jobs in major media outlets held by men? Do we expect the products of those media industries to give equal representation to men and women? What genres will most likely be produced? Ones in which women are victims? 2. The texts of popular culture (in particular, representations of women in those texts) 3. The consumption, uses, and interpretation of popular culture - do women consume different kinds of texts than men? What are the implications of that? And/ or do men and women take different meanings from the popular culture texts they watch? What use do they get from the popular culture they consume? 4. Or some combination of the above EarlySecondWave - Feminist thought and action has long history, but… - For our purposes, we can start with Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963), part of which focused on conte
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