Gender and the Media
January 2006, Polity
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Eschewing a straightforwardly positive or negative assessment the book explores the contradictory character of contemporary gender representations, where confident expressions of girl power sit alongside reports of epidemic levels of anorexia among young women, moral panics about the impact on men of idealized representations of the 'six-pack', but near silence about the pervasive re-sexualization of women's bodies, along with a growing use of irony and playfulness that render critique extremely difficult.
The book looks in depth at five areas of media - talk shows, magazines, news, advertising, and contemporary screen and paperback romances - to examine how representations of women and men are changing in the twenty-first century, partly in response to feminist, queer and anti-racist critique.
Gender and the Media is also concerned with the theoretical tools available for analysing representations. A range of approaches from semiotics to postcolonial theory are discussed, and Gill asks how useful notions such as objectification, backlash, and positive images are for making sense of gender in today's Western media. Finally, Gender and the Media also raises questions about cultural politics - namely, what forms of critique and intervention are effective at a moment when ironic quotation marks seem to protect much media content from criticism and when much media content - from Sex and the City to revenge adverts - can be labelled postfeminist.
This is a book that will be of particular interest to students and scholars in gender and media studies, as well as those in sociology and cultural studies more generally.