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MDSA01H3 (310)
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Chapter 8

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Ted Petit

Chapter 8: Feminist Analysis Feminism: an Overview - feminism - A political project that explores the diverse ways men and women are socially empowered or disempowered. - sexism - Discrimination based upon a person’s biological sex. - sex - The innate, biological differentiation (anatomy, reproduction, hormones, etc.) between men and women. - gender - The culturally constructed differences (tastes, roles, activities, etc.) between men and women. - essentialism - The belief that cultural distinctions such as masculinity and femininity are inherent, universal, and natural. - patriarchy - A system of social relationships in which women’s interests are subordinated to those of men. Stereotyping in American Media - stereotype - A misleading and reductionistic representation of a cultural group. Gendered Stereotypes in American Media Active/passive - mainstream media representations of men and masculinity are often marked by strength and activity - advertisements tend to depict men engaging in sports, working with tools, or driving powerful vehicles, and the models in these advertisements are often full of vitality or in clear physical shape - images of women tend to emphasize passiveness and weakness - female models often simply sit or stand beautifully to advertise their product, and many of them possess dangerously underweight frames - this general contrast between men and women in advertising is striking, and the repetition of this motif across many different kinds of ads makes the distinction seem normal Public/private - because men are represented as active and strong, they also tend to fulfill the role of the “family provider” in media texts - women are coded as passive and weak, and media texts tend to represent women as the “family nurturer” as a result Logical/emotional - traditionally, media texts construct logic as a masculine trait and emotion as a feminine trait - the masculine public sphere is related to politics and decision-making, so masculinity is marked by the kinds of rational thinking associated with these processes - the private sphere is concerned with family and nurturance, and femininity is defined by irrational or emotional impulses as a result - a classic form of this stereotypical dualism is the association of men with mental processes and women with bodily ones, and the effect on our perceptions of gender is very much the same Sexual subject/sexual object - masculine stereotypes of strength, ability, and intelligence translate into media images of sexual subjectivity - media texts tend to identify men as sexually powerful and pursuant - to be masculine is to be “in charge” of the sexual encounter, to direct its progress and “make it happen” - feminine stereotypes of weakness and emot
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