Sex & Money: Feminism and Political Economy in the Media

Sex & Money: Feminism and Political Economy in the Media

Sex & Money: Feminism and Political Economy in the Media

Sex & Money: Feminism and Political Economy in the Media

Excerpt

Controversies over gender and economics have produced some remarkable sights in the past twenty years: antiabortion fundamentalists joining with prochoice feminists to picket movie theaters showing pornographic films; fundamentalist Republicans calling for federal intervention in the private lives of gay Republicans; fiscal conservatives decrying public funding of abortions for poor women and female soldiers, yet arguing passionately that their own rights to abortion be protected; white, middle-class men attacking affirmative action for giving jobs to white, middle-class women.

These are but a few examples in which allegiances that seem easy become difficult, in which oppositions that appear unchangeable shift dramatically. At root, we believe, is the participants' answer to this question: should social hierarchy be built on gender or on economic status? If gender is selected, then an issue is seen in terms of gendered privilege. If economic status, then the question is seen as a matter of money. Consider how our understanding of pornography changes when concerns about graphic sexual acts, objectification of women, and role models are replaced by a concern about profits and pay scales, about the working conditions and health benefits of sex workers appearing in films. Each lens brings different elements of an issue into sharp focus. By using both lenses, thus metaphorically approximating stereoscopic vision, we see that pornography as a phenomenon is rooted in both sex and money, that is, in the intertwining hierarchy of patriarchy and capitalism. This book explores how gendered and moneyed privilege play out in media-saturated, industrialized countries grappling with the effects of corporate and governmental policies that promote the convergence of the media, computing, and telecommunications industries. The project began, however, with a simple question about employment in an academic specialty.

Our field is communications research, particularly media studies, and, like most people, we have a tendency to “talk shop” during otherwise social occasions. In 1996, over dinner, we were chatting about the divide between scholars who study media texts and those who study . . .

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