Women and Soap Opera: A Cultural Feminist Perspective

Women and Soap Opera: A Cultural Feminist Perspective

Women and Soap Opera: A Cultural Feminist Perspective

Women and Soap Opera: A Cultural Feminist Perspective

Synopsis

Women's soap opera viewing has long been thought of by feminists and nonfeminists as an unproductive waste of time. Blumenthal takes the opposing view, arguing that women's "indulgence" in these programs is actually liberating. In overcoming the social opposition to the stigma attached to the feminine content and style, and engaging in soap opera viewing, women celebrate their femininity, particularly their gendered identification with romance, relationality, intuitiveness, talkativeness, and other aspects of emotionality. This book will be of interest to academics in the areas of sociology, women's studies, and media studies.

Excerpt

Unlike mainstream social-scientific researchers, feminist academics do not present their work as value-neutral. Rather, feminist study is unalienated: it is situated, practiced, and produced within an unfair world, and is concerned with pursuing justice, seeking to "find the new world only through criticism of the old" (Marx 1978:13). Although feminism is humanistic in nature, directed against domination in general, it is also concerned more specifically with eliminating the source of women's oppression, commonly called "patriarchy." Patriarchy is "father-rule," meaning the systematic domination of women/femininity by men/masculinity, and/or ideologies, social structures, languages, and so on that privilege men/masculinity over women/femininity. One cannot separate a feminist approach to research from one's personal identity. If the work is feminist, then the researcher must claim to be a feminist too.

Yet given the diversity of women and their experiences, who may claim to be a feminist? Black feminist scholars, who must theorize both sexism and racism simultaneously, have a broad, inclusive perspective, and are therefore ideally situated to address the question of who may speak as not only a Black feminist, but as any type of feminist. In Defining Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins states the problem of "who may speak" eloquently. According to Collins, neither biological equipment alone nor "the right ideas" alone are sufficient to qualify someone as a Black feminist. As she puts it, "I aim to develop a definition of Black feminist thought that relies exclusively neither on a materialist analysis--one whereby all African-American women by virtue of biology become automatically registered as 'authentic Black feminists'--nor on an idealist analysis whereby the background, worldview, and interests of the thinker are deemed irrelevant in assessing his or her ideas" (Collins 1993:33).

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