Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture

By Kaye, Janet | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture


Kaye, Janet, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture. Mary Douglas Vavrus. Albany: State University of New York Press. 2002. 225 pp. $62.50 hbk. $20.95 pbk.

The central premise of Postfeminist News is that media representations of women in politics reinforce traditional sex roles even as they appear to promote women's presence and power in the public arena. Such news coverage, Mary Douglas Vavrus says, constitutes a type of postfeminism: "a revision of feminism that encourages women's private consumer lifestyles rather than cultivating a desire for public life and political activism."

Vavrus explains that postfeminism assumes that feminist politics has accomplished its goals and is no longer necessary. But, she contends, it "offers little or nothing to women who are not well situated materially and socially. It fails to address the needs and concerns of a majority of women, yet it significantly informs news discourse of women in politics."

Vavrus, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and coeditor of American Cultural Studies, examines news accounts of women in politics during four recent time periods: the 1991 coverage of Anita Hill, the 1992 and 1996 national election contests, and the 2000 Senate race of Hillary Clinton.

She categorizes Hill as a "political woman" because she was part of the formal political process: the 1991 nomination hearings of Clarence Thomas by elected officials. News accounts perpetuated a dismissive attitude toward Hill and "women's issues," as well as a belief in a system well-run "by elite white men ... an unraced, ungendered, and unclassed norm," the author says. Although Vavrus is far from the first to examine this coverage, it is interesting to see it used in this context-as a lead into a discussion of news coverage of the 1992 national elections dubbed "The Year of the Woman."

Like the Hill-Thomas stories, the elections were cast as a battle between the sexes. The media attributed the election of females to overwhelming anger over the treatment both Hill and the issue of sexual harassment had received. But, Vavrus says, it "denies the long history of women's work in formal politics" to attribute even the election of experienced politicians solely to this factor. It also trivializes women's concerns and activism by ignoring the fact that, in other years, "women ran for office in large numbers for precisely the same reasons . . . to change public policy and legislation and to interject women's voices into male-dominated political conversations."

In her most innovative chapter, Vavrus chronicles the shift in media representation of women in politics from "strong women poised to gain electoral power by wresting control of it from the governing white patriarchs" in 1992 to "soccer moms" in 1996. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.