1: Introduction: thinking women/
media/feminism

In 1983 E. Ann Kaplan ended the Preface to her book Women and Film with a plea: 'I hope that teachers unfamiliar with feminist approaches to film will be inspired to undertake courses on women in film, or to build the perspective into their current courses'. Despite ten years of feminist film theory and criticism, she continues, 'undergraduate film students rarely learn much about it' and the work is 'virtually unknown' to students and academics in other, related disciplines (1983: ix, 1). Twenty years on, such tentativeness feels odd and even uncomfortable. In 2001, the journal Feminist Media Studies opened its launch issue in very different style: 'Over the past few decades,' it states, 'feminist media scholarship has flourished, emerging from a barely perceptible public presence to become a profound influence on the field of communications and across a range of disciplines, and gaining particular authority in cultural and critical studies' (McLaughlin and Carter 2001: 5). But there are other shifts too. We might now feel uneasy about some of the assumptions Kaplan makes: that 'women and film' and 'women in film' are the same thing; that women can be discussed as a more or less homogeneous category; that the relationship between feminism and women is a straightforwardly explanatory one; and that this new perspective can be unproblematically 'built in' to existing courses.1 All of which is to say that the three terms of this book's title - women, feminism, and media, together with their relationship — present us both with a number of immediate issues for discussion and with some already existing, but not always unproblematic, histories. In this introduction I shall trace these issues and histories, and also seek to place them within some of the broader discussions within feminist theory - about subjectivity, identity, culture, and narrative — of which they have formed a crucial part


Women and …

The title of Kaplan's Women and Film is itself very much of its moment In Britain the 1970s saw conferences on 'Women and Socialism' and

-1-

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Women, Feminism and Media
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: Fixing into Images 23
  • 3: Narrating Femininity 55
  • 4: Real Women 84
  • 5: Technologies of Difference 113
  • 6: Conclusion: Everyday Readings 145
  • Bibliography 152
  • Index 169
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