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COMN 3590 Feminst Perspectives On Media LECTURE NOTES .pdf

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Communication Studies
COMN 3590
Heather Maguire

Feminist Perspectives on Media Lecture 1 ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ Date: September 7th, 2012 Comn 3590 - Introduction - Thinking about gender and why it matters - Video (Sut Jhally) But whatever your feminism: Gender as a mechanism that structures material and symbolic worlds and our society Power not as who is in power but more as to “theorize the multiplicity of relations of subordination” (Mouffe 1992) and to think about how gender, race and class (amongst other individual and collective identities) are constituted through these relations of power. While feminism itself can be problematic, although those two things are always working together no matter what theoretical approach they are using. Stuart Hall’s encoding and decoding model Thinking about gender.. Means thinking about active audiences - Pleasure - Spectatorship - Creativity - The “gaze” - Resistance (BLO) INTERESTING FACT: 1989 Barbie came out with talking barbie, when you pressed her “math is hard” “lets go shopping” Around the same time, talking G.I Joe “Vegence is mine” Barbie liberation organization changed the voice boxes in the toys, switched the, and put them back in the boxes. t a h t h t y m e h t g n i t a u t e p r e p n i s e n i z a g a m n i a t t a o t e l b i s s o p m i ” e f i w e s u o h Feminist Perspectives on Media - Women were seen a particularly guilable group. - Feminism very much a material struggle about equal rights, reproductive rights, equal pay for work etc... - at the same time, concerned with the symbolic conflict that emerged over definitions of femininity (and masculinity) - increasingly concerned not only with representation but also with production,distribution, and consumption of texts. - several feminist critiques of media and communication studies emerged since the 1970s, as part of the second waves. A. the stereotypes and the second wave - women as housewives,mothers, incompetent, inferior, subordinate to men - not reflective of society at the time (well over 50% of the female population was employed, not so in tv land... June Cleaver) B. Pornography - research focused on male consumers rather than how pornographic images were denigrating to women “extreme form of conflict and inequality”, objectification C. Ideology - while most theorization of ideology ignored gender,feminist researchers, argued for considerations of how ideologies worked to reinforce status quo in media. Third Wave Third wave feminism arose in the 1980s in response to key critiques about second wave feminism, including 1. essentializing the term “woman”; women, are, after all, of many colours, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, cultural backgrounds, ages and sexualities 2. Postmodern turn; no universal truths, no singular goals, refusal to be defined and categorized, seeking to step beyond the binaries of male/female. 3. Concerned with gender violence, reproductive rights In popular cultures, we see the Riot Grrrl movement as often tied to third wave feminism - underground female punk movement - address issues of rape,violence,racism,domestic violence. Intersexuality, we have to understand ourselves as not just Feminist Perspectives on Media gender people, but as your status,class, experience. Example: Rebel Girl Bikini Kill Video Maoist Internationalist Movement 3. Post-Feminism - contradictory definitions - some say reaction to 2nd wave - some say that feminism was successful, and we don’t need it anymore or that feminism is no longer relevant - women are liberated, can freely enjoy their sexuality - embrace femininity and “girliness” as empower to women - Spigel reminds us hat ‘waves’ metaphor is problematic because it implies that we leave older feminisms behind as part of ‘progress’ which is not the case... - in popular culture, post-feminist icons have included - Bridget Jones (singletons) - Ally McBeal - Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Bachelorette 4. Cultural Studies - At the same time that feminism moved away from thinking about the effects of media (2nd wave), so too did media studies. - Rise of cultural studies, with its focus not on effects of media, but on the mutually productive relationship between audiences and texts, wherein there is a balance between structure and agency (Hall’s encoding/decoding model” - Focus on audiences as subjects (not objects) - Audiences ‘decode’ texts and have three potential responses: 1. Dominant (or hegeomonic) reading: the reader fully shares the text’s code and accepts and reproduces the preferred reading - in such a stance the code seems ‘natural’ and ‘transparent’; 2. negotiated reading: the reader partly shares the text’s code and broadly accepts the preferred reading, but sometimes resists and modifies it in a way which reflects their own position, experiences and interests - this position involves contradictions; 3. oppositional “counter hegeominc’ reading: the reader, whose Feminist Perspectives on Media social situation places them in a directly oppositional relation to the dominant code, understands the preferred reading but does not share the text’s code and reading, bringing to bear an alternative frame of reference (radical, feminist) Basically... REJECTING THE TEXT OUTRIGHT Screening Questions 1. Think about the three “waves” of feminism we’ve briefly covered. How would each of these see our girl Emily? 2. Is Emily a stereotype or a postfeminist icon? 3. Does The Bacherlorette accurately reflect the norms, beliefs, ideologies of Western culture? 4. If you watch it, why do you like it? 5. Provide a dominant, negotiated and oppositional reading of the Bachelorette as text. Notes: “I just want a husband to love me” “to find true love again, and complete her family” “a mini van full of babies, wants to get married asap” -cookie cutter image, too perfect, wants marriage Feminist Perspectives on Media Lecture 3▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ Date: September 21st When women read romance novels, we all interact with the text in interactive/ various ways. In every aspect, we have an active audience. We aren’t passive audiences when we see these images in the media. Example: Tu ere maricon written on the baseball face was a homophobic slur” What is a romance novel? 3 Defining features: - 2 people coming together - overcoming obstacles - the Happily Ever After (HEA) Not just two ordinary people.. SHE IS - smart and sassy - inexperiences - beautiful - feisty and/or opinionated They draw on alot of stereotypes of femininity so that we can relate to them. He - hypermasculine - strong and independent - experienced but not a complete cad - tender and emotional (think back to our s.c.o.g. talk) Harlequin, a Canadian success story... - world’s largest publisher of romance novels - romance novels account for approx. 1/2 of all mass market paperback sales - 110 titles/mo, 31 languages, 11 int’l markets, 6 cntinents - 95% outside Canada - 6.05 billion books sold - 1200 authors worldwide Feminist Perspectives on Media - established in 1949 - majority interest owned by Torstar Corp (1975) - 2001 Donna Hays became 1st female president and publisher. Critiques of romance novels come from a variety of sources 1. Early feminist research - formulaic - identical/predictable - hypocrisy/being in “bad faith” (Modleski) - not harmless if so many are reading them - “how can they tolerate such disjuncture between their lives and their fantasies [...] The women who couldn’t thrill to male nudity in Playgirl are enjoying the titillations of seeing themselves, not necessarily as they are, but as some men would like to see them: illogical, innocent, magnetized by male sexuality and brutality.” (Douglas) Critiques of romance novels come from a variety of sources.. Early feminist critiques continued... Modleski - assumption of identical texts and responses proven incorrect “once you read one romance novel, you’ve read them all”Not necessarily true! Douglas - implies a casual relationship between reader and text. 2. Pierre Bourdieu’s “taste” - “taste” organizes society into classes - taste is not individual, of free choice (innate) - rather taste is socially conditioned - tastes are objects of consumer choice that reflect social hierarchy, are maintained by the dominant class to distance themselves from ‘lower’ classes - taste becomes a “social weapon” to delineate between high and low culture, legitimate and illegitimate. ? r e h t o m s e r u t r u n . d e r u t r u n s i , s e g r a h c e r e h s e r e h w d l r o w e r u t l u c ” w o r b w o l “ d e r e d i s n o c y l l i s r o l a i v i r t s a f f o n e t t i r w s e i r o t s k c a b l a n o i t o m e / c i t a m a r d ) e s o d y l i a d ( t n e m e g a g n e e c n e i d u a k c i u q r o f s e p y t o e r e t s Feminist Perspectives on Media - Soap Operas: Patriarchy (in context of Korean diaspora) seen as a highly structured set of rules of obedience within which women operate. 2. Guilt - Romance readers say they feel less guilty than tv - S.O watchers feel guilty, watch alone at night or during the day as part of a group. 3. Pleasure - Romance readers derive pleasure through escape - S.O. watchers derive pleasure through conscious resistance to patriarchal rules, and through the strong, defiant characters found on shows. Let’s take a look at a soap opera Questions: 1.What formulaic tacticsds are employed? 2. How do we identify characters? 3. Would you feel guilty spending time watching Y&R Why or why not? 4. How complex do the characters feel? 5. Are the female characters strong and/or defiant 6. What kind of pleasure might you experience watching this? Tutorial▯ h t 0 2 r e b m▯e▯▯t▯▯p▯▯e▯ S Stuart 4 Stages Theory of Communication discussing how messages are produced and dispersed 1. Production 2. Circulation 3. Distribution/Consumption 4. Reproduction Theorizing The Bachelorette “Waves” - Spigel First wave: Refers to the 19th and early 20th century. The first wave focuses on the women’s momenet, and inequalities. Second wave: refers 60s-80s. Addresses the issues of sexuality, Feminist Perspectives on Media family, the workplace, reproductive rights, ethnicity, race and class. Third wave (post feminine logic): refers to the 80s - present time. Embraces diversity and change. All these waves are very intermingled. Tutorial▯ ▯▯▯▯▯▯▯ September 28th, 2012 Summary of study qualitive study, early 1980s Participations urban; central mid-west U.S Homemakers, worked outside of home part time study Romance Genre Today cinderella s i o h W . s s e r d d a y e h t e r a o h w d e t a e r c Feminist Perspectives on Media “mirror” of film but as feminist film theorists started to point out in the 1970s, there is no one single, coherent or universal subject Hence feminist scholars departed from theories of spectatorship to focus on the gaze. What is the gaze? The gaze is more than simply looking, it is a relationship that is characterized by particular set of social circumstances. It is how we look at people, how we gaze upon them, it is a relationship of power. - It is objectification - It is about relations of power - It is about domination - It is about gender. Objectification The process by which human subjects are turned into things (objects) such that: 1. their purposes is entirely for the spectator/viewer 2. agency is denied 3. rendered passive (inert) 4. fungibility (interchangeable) 5. subjectivity is denied (feelings/emotions/thoughts denied) Example: women as a beer bottle (used as an object) the dolce & gabbana (group of men around her, restrained) Relations of power Foucault tells us that the gaze is a relationship that we enter into.... a relationship that is integral to systems of power and ideas about knowledge. Feminist Perspectives on Media “Power as domination reproduce itself in different locations employing similar apparatuses, strategies, and mechanisms of control” (hooks, 115) For feminists, the male gaze is anonymous; women internalize this gaze and conduct their conduct accordingly. Women under the male gaze are passive. Example: The pentagon Domination The Gaze is a theory that rests upon understanding how certain groups hold power (or dominate) over other groups. Early feminist theorizing about the gaze really focused on how through the process of gazing, dominate patriarchy was reinforced. Berger: “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. women watch themselves being looked at.” ****** However, it is important to remember that, as bell hooks reveals, there are a multiplicity of forms of domination (not just male domination). Gender: The Male Gaze The camera puts the audience into the perspective of the heterosexual male... lingering on women’s bodies. Women become erotic objects (the objectification dicusses above) and passive spectators. Perpetuates gendered assumptions of men as active/women as passive. Feminists see this is an illustration of the unequal power between gazer and gazed. Feminist Perspectives on Media Example: Whistle by Flo Rida - lots of body parts showing - they aren’t doing anything, they are just posing - lyrics: whistle? What is Oppositional Gaze? van Zoonen’s chapter reviews various feminist engagements (mostly involving film theory) with spectatorship and the gaze. but there are some gaping assumptions 1. Heterosexuality 2. whiteness Bell hooks & the oppositional gaze The gaze as a site of resistance for colonized black people. Media supports “white supremacy” in its representations of white people as dominant Watching television was ‘one way to develop critical spectatorship... you learned to look at white people by staring at them on the screen’ (the gaze as a tool of resistance) Hooks traces early days of film and tv where black women served white women or were forced to pass as white Black women could develop critical “oppositional gaze” that resisted idenifying with white female characters The oppositional gaze is a gaze of resistance. It is the overwhelming desire to look, as to resist. Thinking back to spectatorship and the “ideal subject”, historically, the male gaze posts white heterosexual men as the ideal subject. The oppositional gaze challenges the power of the ideal subject. The oppositional gaze, as described by bell hooks, challenges the authority of the spectator in order to give oneself agency or the permission to look. From a black female perspective, women should resist stereotypical images and critique them. Feminist Perspectives on Media Questions for screening 1. Who is the ideal subject? The mother and possibly the daughter? 2. Crooklyn was criticized by white male reviewers for having “no plot”. Is this the case? 3. How might the oppositional gaze be critical of presentations of black men, women, and families? 4. Spike Lee has been criticized by hooks for rein-scribing stereotypical norms. Do you agree? Movie: Crooklyn located in the ghetto out of control children the children watch only white television boys called her “flat chested”, so she tries to fake being bigger chested father can’t expect the fact that the women is making the money of the household t n a w y e h t t a h w t e g o t s e i d o b r i e h t s u n o i h s e l y e t s s c i t e m s s e i r o s s e c . . . . . s a r b d e d d a p , r i a h , s l i a n , s e h s a l e y e Feminist Perspectives on Media but this idea of changing ourselves individual and work our way up on your own. An individual focus instead of a collective focus Sexuality “ She prefers tycoons to truck drivers” • Comoecurgdfatsesofesrngamnabveoes social status • Seual desires linked to higher economic/social class • Seual desirability linked to working class prostitutes - tips on to please a man, and use your sexuality to get a man and how to keep him happy. So to conclude this section: • clss,pardoilty • “tics”oatanaveyfeiineesinofteHoain Alger myth • Enouaedcmeito,notolaoaion • Inivda,notoletve Lets update this, by looking at some more recent engagements... Cosmo goes Global • 63inentinledtos • ovr100outis • 32lagaes • lagetsllngougwme’sagzneinhewrd • deogahc:1-4yeroldeersxalwmn In 2011, readers spent: • $14bilononhos, • $25bilononeatyrouts • $15bilononrarne • boght4milosparsofens Promoting Feminism in Every Issue “ When cosmo came to INdonesia, it changed the way the Indonesian women thinks. Before Cosmo, it was taboo for women talk about sex openly.” • Glbal,enorgedaees,ob,mrrigbycoies • seualxloain,euaton y d o b r u o y e v o l , g n i t e i d Feminist Perspectives on Media we got these tools why not use them, so we can move into a new class, a new level. - not working together, more like competitiveness, individual self work collective vs individual focus in the magazine. Sexuality sexual desire is very much linked to upwards mobility. Her desirability to the upper middle class men, is based on working class prostitute ideology. (How to please a man in bed, how to use your sexuality to keep a man, how to flirt) so to conclude this section, - the article is linking class - tricks to attain a very feminine version of the HOration alger myth - encourage competition not collaboration - individual not collective. COSMO GOES GLOBAL - 68 international editions - over 100 countries - 32 languages - largest selling young women’s magazine in the world - demographic 18-34 year old heterosexual women. Promoting Feminism in Every Issue cosmo appears to a wholesome set of values (ex: no plastic surgery) standard set of b False Eyelashes and False promises Cosmo exists for one reason and one reason only, it is about selling eyeballs to advertisers. 3 Feminist want awesome lives too, but they we don’t need cosmo advice to have these lives. Who says thats the best way? These “lisves” are based on material possessions. It is about acquiring stuff to be successful. But it’s making us poor! Sexual Freedom ) l a n r u o J n r o W ; s t n a p - n i - r / e r o f e b r e v e N , y t i t n e d i l a n o i t a n c i l b u p o t e m o h e h t f o e / e f i w s a d e z i l a r u t a n e m o
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