Reading The F Word

Reading The F Word - The "F" word: How the media...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
The " F " word : How the media frame feminism Beck, Debra Baker . NWSA Journal . Bloomington: Spring 1998 . Vol. 10, Iss. 1; pg. 139, 15 pgs Abstract (Summary) The mainstream media can seldom be accused of being friendly to feminism. In fact, many of the challenges the women's movement faces can be traced to the way various media -- broadcast, print, and film -- portray the movement and the issues it has tried to address. Copyright Indiana University Press Spring 1998 The "F" Word: How the Media Frame Feminism Abstract The mainstream media can seldom be accused of being friendly to feminism. In fact, many of the challenges the women's movement faces can be traced to the way various media -- broadcast, print, and film -- portray the movement and the issues it has tried to address. This article explores how the media frame feminism and those who claim it and how that framing affects society's acceptance or rejection of the movement and its goals. Introduction How did feminism become a national "dirty word?" For individuals within the American women's movement, this is a troubling question to ponder. The movement's struggles to survive can be traced to several factors, including its own inability at times to deal effectively with the diversity of viewpoints and experiences of American women. However, a strong argument also can be made that the mass media's distaste for active, assertive women -- and the way the media portray them -- has turned all "feminists" into a frightening fringe element. This article will examine how the mass media frame femininity and how that act of framing affects their portrayal (and the public's perception) of feminism. It will explore the media backlash that occurs when women as a group make significant strides toward independence and equality. Finally, it will discuss how the movement has attempted to deal with the backlash and how alternative media have emerged as a feminist response. Defining Femininity in the Media It is useful to begin this discussion with a look at how the mass media shape society's definitions of gender and the appropriate roles of women. John Fiske's work deals primarily with television, but most of the con-cepts can be carried over to other mass media forms. The media, Fiske (1987) says, use meaning-laden codes that define "reality." A code is a "system of signs, whose rules and conventions are shared amongst
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
members of a culture, and which is used to generate and circulate meanings in and for that culture" (p. 4). Reality is never a universal concept. "What passes for reality in any culture is the product of that culture's codes," Fiske says, "so `reality' is always already encoded, it is never `raw'" (p. 5). Even a concept as basic as "woman" is riddled with cultural codes conveyed and interpreted in the various media texts we encounter on a daily basis. There is no objective "feminine," Fiske would argue, only a culturally- defined concept created and perpetuated in part by media texts. Rejecting the Label, Not the Cause
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 14

Reading The F Word - The "F" word: How the media...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online