In This Article Gender and the Media

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Definitions and Concepts
  • Bibliographies
  • Histories
  • Popular Feminist Books

Communication Gender and the Media
by
Cynthia Carter
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 November 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0002

Introduction

Gender and media research has been a central field of academic inquiry since the 1970s. It is notable that two distinctive, and yet often overlapping, approaches characterize this field. The first is that of mainstream forms of gender and media studies research, which has been grounded in large part by assumptions about the ways in which the media contribute to the individual acquisition of gendered attitudes and behaviors and how sex-role stereotypes can impact negatively on an individual’s life chances, especially in terms of a person’s sense of self-worth, and social perceptions of women and their career prospects. The other field is that of feminist media studies, which is characterized as a political movement for gender justice, examining how gender relations are represented, the ways in which audiences make sense of them, and how media practitioners contribute to perpetuating gender injustice. At the center of this is the view that hierarchical gender relations (re)produce social inequalities across time and cultures, thereby making it difficult for men and women to be equal partners in a democratic society. In recent years, gender and media research has become much more globally oriented, with increasing attention paid to cultural, social, and economic differences as well as a greater awareness of the importance of interrogating media and masculinity.

General Overviews

Due to the now longstanding importance of gender and media research, various books are available that provide general overviews of the field. Some of these texts provide broad historical overviews of the field of gender (women/femininity and men/masculinity) and media research as it has developed in Anglo-American contexts (Gill 2006 and Ross 2009), whereas others have sought to focus directly on critical/feminist media research on women and media (McRobbie 2008, Thornham 2007, and van Zoonen 1994) or in specific subfields such as women, media, and politics (Norris 1996, Sreberny and van Zoonen 1999). Finally, two websites provide invaluable resources for beginning gender and media students: MCS: Gender, Ethnicity and Media/Gender/Identity Resources. The general overview books cited here offer students and scholars new to the study of gender and media research useful introductions to the field, including bibliographies that may be used to study both general and specific topics within the field. Both MCS: Gender, Ethnicity and Media/Gender/Identity Resources provide helpful, frequently updated, general overviews of gender and media issues, debates, key concepts, and current research.

  • Gill, Rosalind. 2006. Gender and media. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    Clearly written, critical introduction to the study of gender and media, drawing primarily on Anglo-American research. Offers a broad history of feminist media approaches and research to date, highlighting some of the most pressing debates over the past few decades (e.g., images of women, media employment, media and body image, sexualization and pornography, masculinity and men’s magazines, talk shows, news, and advertising).

  • McRobbie, Angela. 2008. The aftermath of feminism: Gender, culture and social change. London: SAGE.

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    McRobbie challenges the idea that we now live in a postfeminist world in which gender equality has been achieved. Invidious forms of gender restabilization and increased sexuality inequality are now rife. Consumerism has lead women into new postfeminist “neurotic dependencies.” Accordingly, chapters variously examine fashion photography, the television “makeover” genre, eating disorders, body anxiety, and “illegible rage” to support this claim.

  • MCS: Gender, Ethnicity.

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    Website hosted by the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom. Covers a variety of media and cultural studies topics, themes, and conceptual and methodological approaches. Offers a range of links to research on gender and ethnicity as well as links that provide definitions of key concepts of gender, representation, social and personal identity, queer theory, and social class.

  • Media/Gender/Identity Resources. Theory.org.uk.

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    Information on media, gender, and identity on David Gauntlett’s website that covers media and creativity in everyday life.

  • Norris, Pippa, ed. 1996. Women, media, and politics. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Norris argues that gender fundamentally shapes modern American politics. By the 1990s, the political agenda had become characterized by sharp differences of opinion on affirmative action, abortion rights, and welfare reform, placing gender at the center of US politics. Authors examine how media coverage of politics reinforces, rather than challenges, the dominant culture, thereby contributing toward women’s marginalization in public life.

  • Ross, Karen. 2009. Gendered media: Women, men, and identity politics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    Gender, Ross argues, refers not only to women and femininity but also to men and masculinity as well as queer, lesbian, and gay identities, in relation to age, ethnicity, and disability. This book offers a historical discussion giving students a deeper appreciation of gender politics of contemporary media such as the “Big Brother” television program, mobile phones, and the political campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

  • Sreberny, Annabelle, and Liesbet van Zoonen, eds. 1999. Gender, politics and communication. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton.

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    This edited collection includes authors from countries around the world, investigating a broad range of issues from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Topics include representations of Hillary Clinton, the media construction of masculinity in US presidential campaigns and female members of the British Parliament, and issues of gender and class in reporting politics in India.

  • Thornham, Sue. 2007. Women, feminism and media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.

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    Although feminist media scholarship has grown in influence in recent decades, some have questioned its continuing validity in current postfeminist media culture as a theoretical perspective. Exploring the complex relationship among the terms “women,” “feminism,” and “media,” Thornham engages with key issues within feminist media studies both through specific examples and through critical engagement with the work of major feminist writers.

  • van Zoonen, Liesbet. 1994. Feminist media studies. London: SAGE.

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    Widely regarded as a classic text in feminist media studies research, the book begins by outlining major themes that have shaped research. Van Zoonen explores communication methods, theories, and models to highlight the ways in which feminist research strategies offer a challenge to traditional assumptions about media and communication that ignore the influence of gender in the production, representation, and consumption of media.

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