by Ellen Gillingham
Reading Title(s) (Author, “Title”):
Katie Milestone and Anneke Meyer, “Representing Women” from Gender and Popular Culture
1.) What is this week’s readings major arguments/points?
The week’s readings major arguments focus on the issue of representation in popular culture for women. Milestone and Meyer examine different forms of media to see how women are portrayed. There are three major themes: sexuality and relationships, physical appearance, and work v. home. The authors argue that women are commonly defined through and reduced to their physical appearance.
2.) What are some things that you did not understand? Or, are there questions you have for Professor McCune, or the author?
What would it mean for a woman to have a goal in life of sex?
Would this reading be different if it were focused on the United States?
Is blaming the “media” working? It seems that the “media” is too general of a term to be making a difference. How can one stand up to the “media?” It is not a specific company or person. I would not know where to begin. (Question raised by the film)
3.) What did you learn about Gender and Spectacular Consumption?
I learned that certain magazines like Cosmopolitan are aimed at younger women and endorse the free, single woman who goes out with friends, engages in “consumption, and sexual encounters” (92). This connects to two weeks ago, when we read about the brats dolls and how they encourage consumption too. Additionally, television shows like Changing Rooms and magazines changed domestic labor to leisure and consumption. Today, popular culture presents activities like cleaning and wearing clothes as leisurely and focused on buying new things. The television shows encourage their audiences past the idea of cleaning to the concept of purchasing new furniture or other pieces.
4.) How might you apply the author’s ideas to other examples, beyond what is
presented in the essay?
To expand the authors’ ideas I would like to bring up the television show Four Weddings. This is a popular show on The Learning Channel. It involves four brides attending each other’s weddings. Similar to the point the authors brought up about Wife Swap, this show continues class privilege, the highest scores are typically awarded for those weddings that cost the most. This perpetuates the idea that bourgeois femininity is the ideal of women according to higher-class standards.
5.) If given visual/performance material to review, how are these in conversation with essay(s) read for this week?
The visual material was a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom called “MISS Representation.” It is in conversation with the readings as both focus on different types of media and their represent women. The film’s focus was more on women in positions of power, while the reading dealt with ideas such as the “dumb blonde.” I found the reading to be more interesting, while the film seemed more like a public service announcement. It is informative, but it has a biased tone. I found the book to have more examples and was more stimulating. In other words, the book inspired new ideas, while the film reiterated what I have known. Overall, the film and readings agree that the media creates unattainable ideals of beauty for females. While the reading focused only on women, the film introduced the idea that politics and leadership are thought to be men’s work because men are associated with being strong and powerful. The film provided real life consequences with statistics of women being less likely to run for office or vote because they feel disempowered.