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LZ411 Critical Media Theory - Women's Lifestyle Magazines

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  • AIMS TODAYTo ask why so much interest in sex and the body in the high circulation women’s monthly To introduce Foucault’s notion of ‘technologies of the self’To relate these ideas to representations of gender and the body
  • Take a Break has been the biggest selling woman’s weekly magazine since it launched 19 years ago!  It’s well known for having the best true life stories and is also packed with useful features on health and relationships, fashion and beauty, cookery and household tips.  Plus there’s over £32,000 worth of prizes to be won in every issue, with lots of puzzles and competitions offering cash, cars and holidays.Take a Break prides itself on being a community which speaks up for ordinary people of all ages. It is a magazine written by the people for the people, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy putting it together.http://www.bauer.co.uk/takeabreakEditorial PositioningCaptivating real life stories, prize puzzles and competitions and classic weekly elements, combine to give readers an interactive and involving big value package. Take a Break has been the biggest selling women's weekly in the UK for nearly 20 years. One in ten women in the UK read Take a Break every week and it sells 2 copies every second, making it the 4th largest women's weekly in the world. Take a Break also publishes a number of brand extensions totalling over 22 million copies per year.Take a Break's mix of real life, fashion, beauty, food, home, travel and competitions attracts a hugely varied readership. Readers can be anything from 18 to 80; they are likely to own their own home and to be married, and many have children. Its universal appeal is confirmed by the strength of its reader relationship. It has very strong reader loyalty and is read for longer than any of its competitors.Key factsTake a Break - Circulation 803,555 Adult Readership 2,762,000 Female Readership 2,361,000 Target Market C1C2 women age 25 - 55 with children Frequency Weekly Launch date March 1990 Price 82p On sale Every Thursdaythat's life! is Britain's leading true-life magazine for women who want real stories about real people. It's not afraid to shy away from tackling the tougher issues of life, covering subjects about relationships, crime, body issues and sex. Yet it combines it all with warmth and humour through its regular features like Aren't Men Daft and Rude Jokes.that's life! also has a great range of top cash prize-puzzles along with fashion, beauty and health advice making sure the magazine delivers a first-class read every single week.
  • Brand DescriptionSince its launch in 2002, Closer has created a unique and market-leading position within the UK celebrity market. Combining the news, gossip, glamour and gloss of the celebrity world with extraordinary and compelling real-life content, Closer connects with its audience by getting to the heart of the story and focussing on the emotion and truth behind the headlines. And with its extensive lifestyle section including topical fashion and beauty, diet & health and TV listings, Closer is all the read that you need every week. Platforms:Closer Magazine Closer online: www.closeronline.co.ukCloser diets: www.closerdiets.comAudience ProfileBC1 women aged 20-45. Closer’s audience is ‘Every Woman’ – they get stuck in, enjoy their lives and don’t take themselves too seriously. They have a plan for life which includes a big relationship and a family; they join WeightWatchers but then skip a session or two to go to the pub with their friends; they love shopping & their wardrobe staples are Next, Dorothy Perkins, and H&M; they are likely to have done Race for Life, and would do the Moonwalk but apparently its 26 miles!;  they are avid TV viewers (Sky+ is perfect for their hectic lives) but would never admit to being soap-obsessed although they probably watch an hour’s worth of soaps a day; they do their banking and Christmas shopping online, use Ebay all the time, but prefer to buy groceries in ‘real life’. They love Closer as it reflects every aspect of their packed lives and acknowledges that gossip makes the world go round, so you may as well enjoy it.http://www.bauermedia.co.uk/Brands/Closer/
  • FROM http://digital-assets.condenast.co.uk.s3.amazonaws.com/static/condenast/glamour-integrated-mediapack-august-2012.pdfGLAMOUR magazine is the fastest selling women‟s magazine in the UK. Launched in 2001 it was hailed as a „21st century magazine‟ and within six months was selling more copies at UK newsstand than any other monthly magazine in its sector. A year after its launch it took the number one spot in sales terms; a position it‟s maintained ever since. GLAMOUR‟S unique premise is a high quality fashion, beauty, celebrity and lifestyle magazine published in a compact format, at an accessible price. GLAMOUR.com provides readers with exclusive access into the glittering world of celebrity, fashion and beauty. With breaking news, exclusive celebrity interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, fashion tips, and expert hair and beauty advice, GLAMOUR.com gets a glimpse into the world of everything that is stylish.Four iPhone Apps have been released since April 2011: Inside GLAMOUR, Fast Beauty, Take me to the Hairdresser, Celebrity NewsPRINT EDITIONCIRCULATION: 470,138UK Actively Purchased: 428,514UK Subscriptions: 58,130READERSHIP: 1,064,000Average age: 30Female: 94%AB: 29%ABC1: 65%ONLINESITE TRAFFIC:Page impressions: 27,468,700Unique users: 1,062,275USER PROFILE:Average age: 31Female: 94%ABC1: 73%
  • SIZE/ POSITION RATEPagesRun of Paper £23,949Facing Matter £27,939Specified or First Half £30,610First Third £33,258Editor‟s Letter/ Contents/ Masthead £39,908Inside Back Cover £35,930Outside Back Cover £45,239Double Page SpreadsRun of Paper £47,897Front of Book £55,878Specified or First Half £61,196First Third £66,528Inside Front Cover £82,498InsertsLoose Inserts/ Tip-Ons (Machine) per „000 £105Single Scent Strips/ Bound-In Inserts per „000 £146There are many types of women’s magazines but I’m going to focus here on the lifestyle magazine. Those magazines with high circulations, for example Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Good HouseKeeping etc. They tend to aim for the e.g. Glamour ; Conde Nast Publications Ltd ; 530,060 ; 0.7% New look, more features, get glam! Female: 90% Average Age: 31 ABC1: 73% Average Net HHI: £37,335  "I spend a lot on clothes" Glamour.com Index 171 "I like to keep up withn the latest fashion" Glamour.com Index 162 "I wear designer clothes" Glamour.com Index 161     2010 figures are all approximately 10% down – see http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/12/cosmopolitan-company-magazine-abcs?intcmp=239Cosmopolitan 441kGlamour 526kGood Housekeeping 410kMarie Claire 285kPrima 274kSource 491kVogue 210kWoman&Home 350kGlamour for example says in its brochure for advertisers: “The readership is of the highest quality – with an average age of 27, these readers are upmarket, high spending and aspirational – all the attributes that advertisers are looking for”Glamour is:For successful, independent, modern women who know how to have fun, how to dress and how to spendThey don’t window shop, stay at hThey do: shopiing, freiends, bars travelome, have a problem spendingThey buy: clotes, shoes, makeup an djewellery. Their vices? A new handbag every month for each new issue of GlamourTheya re ABC1C2 women aged 18-34” (top 4 categories of socio-economic groupings)Quoted in Gill 2007: 182Weeklies Women’s First half 2011Take a Break ; H Bauer Publishing ; 803,555 ; -6.1%New! ; Northern & Shell Magazines Ltd ; 515,975 ; -10.7%OK! Magazine ; Northern & Shell PLC ; 473,167 ; -1.2%Closer ; Bauer Consumer Media ; 459,693 ; -12.7%HELLO! ; Hello! Ltd ; 413,311 ; 0.3%Star ; Northern & Shell PLC ; 405,688 ; -8.0%Chat ; IPC Media Ltd ; 391,749 ; -9.0%Woman's Weekly ; IPC Media Ltd ; 339,993 ; 0.4%Heat ; Bauer Consumer Media ; 326,677 ; -21.7%That's Life ; H Bauer Publishing ; 321,332 ; -5.9%Reveal ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 311,176 ; -6.3%Now ; IPC Media Ltd ; 309,202 ; -8.5%Woman ; IPC Media Ltd ; 286,731 ; -9.9%Best ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 280,218 ; -7.3%Peoples Friend ; D C Thomson & Co Ltd ; 268,230 ; -7.9%Pick Me Up ; IPC Media Ltd ; 261,588 ; -18.1%Woman's Own ; IPC Media Ltd ; 245,868 ; -9.7%Bella ; H Bauer Publishing ; 239,660 ; -2.8%Love It! ; Hubert Burda Media UK ; 212,168 ; -8.4%Real People ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 208,850 ; -7.2%Full House ; Hubert Burda Media UK ; 168,240 ; -4.3%My Weekly ; D C Thomson & Co Ltd ; 124,671 ; -7.2%National Enquirer - UK Edition ; American Media Inc ; 65,684 ; -8.3%The Lady ; The Lady ; 29,164 ; -5.2%Monthlies women’s consumer magazines first half 2011Glamour ; Conde Nast Publications Ltd ; 530,060 ; 0.7%John Lewis Edition (free) ; John Brown ; 474,579 ; -2.0%ASOS.com (free) ; Asos.com ; 452,000 ; 0.5%Good Housekeeping ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 430,878 ; 2.0%Stylist (free) ; Shortlist Media Ltd ; 426,396 ; 1.2%Cosmopolitan ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 386,852 ; -3.7%Woman & Home ; IPC Media Ltd ; 370,284 ; 0.3%Look ; Evarn Ltd ; 300,161 ; -4.2%Yours ; Bauer Consumer Media ; 285,890 ; -3.8%Prima ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 280,207 ; -3.1%Marie Claire ; European Magazines Limited ; 250,785 ; -10.4%Candis ; Newhall Publications Ltd ; 236,075 ; -7.2%Red ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 231,160 ; 0.5%Grazia ; Bauer Consumer Media ; 219,741 ; -3.9%Vogue ; Conde Nast Publications Ltd ; 210,766 ; 0.1%Elle (U.K.) ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 197,136 ; 0.8%Company ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 180,162 ; -17.1%Instyle UK ; IPC Media Ltd ; 175,113 ; -6.0%More! ; Bauer Consumer Media ; 170,033 ; -9.2%Easy Living ; Conde Nast Publications Ltd ; 158,038 ; -7.1%BM (free) ; Totally Contented Ltd ; 136,388 ; N/AEssentials ; IPC Media Ltd ; 126,904 ; 9.9%Harpers Bazaar ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 118,740 ; 0.2%Psychologies Magazine ; Hearst Magazines UK ; 108,631 ; -8.7%Harrods Magazine (free) ; Harrods Ltd ; 104,997 ; N/AVanity Fair ; Conde Nast Publications Ltd ; 100,560 ; -1.8%Tatler ; Conde Nast Publications Ltd ; 87,616 ; 1.4%Ladies First Magazine (free) ; Hils Publications Ltd ; 35,771 ; -1.5%WM The Womans Magazine (free) ; Media Wales Ltd ; 34,057 ; 8.5%U Magazine Ultimate Girls Guide to Absolutely Everything ; Harmonia Limited ; 16,225 ; N/A
  • Readers addressed as friends and equals – intimacyOvert construction of femininity in opposition to masculinityExclusion of differentiation by age, race, sexuality and classIndividualism heightened – support comes from friends (and occasionally family)However different emphases in different magazines. With for example cosmopolitan focussing on career, sexual relationships and beauty whilst woman and home focussing more on married life, family life and entertaining.Women’s magazines offer identity as a choice – it is a highly consumption oriented idea of what or who to be, things to be bought/done to yourself as an expression of who you are
  • This advert from a couple of years ago incorporates several discourses associated with women and weight. More broadly we can say that it incorporates gendered discourses of the body. Firstly the line ‘goodwill to all women’ is reference to ‘goodwill to all men’ as this advert came out at xmas time and the line ‘goodwill to all men’ has associations with xmas but associations that mean good will to all people. Men come to stand for everyone. The explicit reference to women flags up a different discourse and one where we look for the reference what might cause that difference in language. The inference here then is that Nestle through the kitkat brand wish all women well by making available to them the senses kitkat. However that is not enough to understand the advert. The final link is the two words 165 calories, explaining that the chocolate is good because it is )(presumably) lower calories than the normal kitkat bar. This advert positions the reader as a) a woman b) desiring chocolate c) concerned about her weight. There is then discourses of gender and the body in the advert. These kinds of discourses are not free floating they are productive of subjectivities in the following way. Reinforcing ideas of companies producing products that help people to maintain ‘normal’ body weight but prior to this the idea that body weight is something to be concerned about in the first place. This points to the fact that in modern society, the body, particularly the female body, is a prime site of work and the prime area of gender performance particularly for women. In this session then we ask about the role of the media in circulating particular discourses of gendered bodies.And since discourses are productive, i.e. they produce particular subjectivities, ‘speaking positions’, they also are productive of resistances. So we must see discourses as having a dynamic adapting quality. It’s not the case however that they undergo rapid constant change. Just that discourses are always contested and are open to change.
  • The significance of discourse in the sense I want to use it today (from a Foucauldian perspective) is that power is seen as internal to discourse. It’s not that material realities don’t exist, it’s that our access to those realities is always mediated by language and culture. This we can see as being related to Carey’s ideas of communication as ritual. However his essay omitted a concept of power. So for example weddings are material events. They take place, they cost, they have certain effects. However they are also (in our society) highly mediated by the language and culture which we use to be able to make sense of them. Popular narratives often depict weddings as the happy end point after a series of troubling events. Marriage in these narratives is thus seen as a desirable state to be achieved. In this way we can say that there are romantic discourses that surround weddings. There is both material and discursive effort to construct weddings and marriage in certain ways. One material effect of seeing marriage as an end point state is the huge investment that will go into achieving that state.The material and the discursive are thus intertwined. Where does power enter the equation here? Discourses also work to exclude other alternatives. They therefore have a ‘will to truth’ . Thus the dominant discourse of weddings depicted in popular culture which focuses on the transformation of the woman at great expense serves particular gendered and economic interests.What Foucault was aiming to do through his work was to examine how the human subject was produced. He said “My objective has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects.” (p326 in The Subject and Power Faubion (ed.) Michel Foucault essential works (Power) (1994).He says this operates in three ways:Through the development of ‘modes of enquiry’ i.e. subjects like sociology, linguistics, economics, biology etc. how they objectivise peopleDividing practices – that is in other words how people become categorised as e.g. mad or sane, sick and healthy, criminal or ‘good people’. Normal or not normal.How people turn themselves into subjects, called ethical practices – by this he means “processes of self-formation in which the person is active… this self-formation has a ong an dcomplicated genealogy; it takes place through a variety of operations on people’s own bodies, on their souls, on their thoughts, on their own conduct. These operations characteristically entail a process of self-understanding but one which is mediated by an external authority figure, be he confessor or psychoanalyst” (quoted in Rabinow 1984 the foucault reader p. 11)Foucault’s work has been taken up by activist feminist critics because Foucault looked at the marginalised in his work (he was himself homosexual and the production of the ‘homosexual subject’ was part of his work) – also prisoners, the mentally ill etc.) so his work can be interpreted as activist.Using his work, therefore we can realise that current preoccupations with the body are not normal or natural but instead are historically located ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“in every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality. … In a society such as ours we all know the rules of exclusion”(Foucault 1972, p. 216)Foucault was interested in how discourses were produced. In other words the rules that form discourse. External exclusions was one such ‘procedure’ of controlling (constraining) and producing discourse.Foucault talks about external exclusion in terms of a) taboo b) sane and mad c) truth and falsity (the will to truth (what has been excluded along the way of certain discourses seeking a will to truth))
  • Lifestyle magazines appear to be obsessed with sex, sexuality and sexual ‘problems’; a popular cultural obsession.“The media suggest that in order to be fulfilled and happy, you should:understand your own sexualityhave sex oftenseek help for sexual problemshave a satisfactory sexual partner – or get a new one”(Gauntlett 2002, p.122)More generally associated with a discourse of: “know thyself”. An utter preoccupation with ourselves. Shaping, changing, transforming, inspecting, examining - a continuous working on and working out – an obsessive surveillance of ourselves and others.But why this obsession with checking ourselves, against societal norms? Are there any ways of explaining this apparent insecurity with modern subjectivity? Why are representations of judgement about other people’s bodies and lifestyles an important part of the contemporary TV diet? And so popular media such as lifestyle magazines, celebrity magazines and television makeover programmes can be seen as part of this normalising of self examination and policing of the body.These discourses of sex and appearance:They categorise what is sexually normal and what is notSex appears to be the heart of identitySexual fulfilment thus becomes a way for people to ‘police (or discipline) themselves’.
  • Firstly what discourses can we identify?Start with the most obvious observations. The article is about celebrities and bodies. The celebrities are constructed as speaking directly to the reader. ‘Get a bikini body like us!’ The magazine is simply the conduit for the advice “Coleen’s tips for a bikini body”Foucault talked about discourses as “practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak” Is there an object being formed here? Yes it is a ‘bikini body’ as if some bodies are naturally suitable for bikinis and some aren’t. So it normalises the idea that ‘bikini bodies actually exist and that they are desireable.The article is positioned as “We love our bodies” – but there are several interpretations of that. One we are ‘obsessed’ with our bodies, or 2 we love our bodies so we look after them.However, the body here is also sexualised, and that of course comes through the body depicted as semi-naked (ie.. Dressed in a bikini)Another discourse is that of transformation. We can see that through the small pictures of ‘before’ contrasted with the larger pictures of ‘after’. This is a common discourse, a narrative discourse that says, through certain self-imposed techniques we can do work on our bodies and in so doing transform them.There is a discourse of celebrity knowledge. This one says that celebrities possess certain ‘secret’ knowledge that the magazine is now giving us access to. Celebrity knowledge is therefore presented as somewhat mystical and only knowable through media such as these. IN other words there is a discourse of revelation of arcane knowledge What is being excluded from these discourses of: weight, women, celebrities, health and sex?i.e. what things are unlikely to be said in these magazines?
  • Through Foucault’s work we can see how the body historically has been the site of struggle and what might be called ‘discursive conflict’ . Foucault says that the body is one of the sites where power is enacted and resisted. This means by examining discourses of the body we can determine what those conflicting interests are. This has been taken up by feminist theorists who in particular are interested in why there is so much said about and interest in the female body and they use it to argue that whilst representations of women have changed (and are changing over time) inequalities of representation and inequalities in society continue to exist. They also for example point to the social problems associated with increased sexualisation particularly of young girls.These 5 points are taken from Gill, R. (2007) Gender and the media, London: Polity (see pages 254-) also see see gill 2007 (postmfeminist media culture in the european journal of cultural studies in mendeley
  • What I am doing here is examining contemporary representations of femininity in popular media, i.e. magazines and television programmes. In this analysis, what defines femininity (i.e. the ideal of femininity) is the body. An increasing preoccupation with femininity as a bodily property. This is in opposition to feminity as being for example a caring mother or good housewife etc. So it is the body now which is the source of identity.The last point here is that an ‘abnormal’ body would indicted some psychological problem. Not maintaining a ‘normal’ i.e. slim, thin body would indicate some lack of self care. The implication is that the interior of a person is projected onto their exterior as if, work on your body and your mind also will be okay.
  • We can see this through the kind of surveillance that goes on with women’s bodies in the popular press and television. It is prevalent in celebrity magazines, newspapers and makeover programmes. We are asked to look at and criticise others bodies as a normal practice. Although men figure in these practices, they are mainly gendered towards women. Scathing comments appear, small details of bodies are picked over and ‘examined’. The point here of course is not that any one example of such obsessive surveillance is damaging to that particular person, but instead that it goes on in the first place. Why should we be addressed as being obsessed with women’s bodies?This goes on in programmes such as 10 years younger, what not to wear etc.
  • A modernisation of femininity – to include a technology of sexiness’ – i.e. a kind of tool or means. This is sexual knowledge and sexual practice central to
  • Self-surveillance is the idea that we need to monitor and continually ‘correct’ our bodies in order to make them fit with what is expected. This is especially true for women. There has always been more intense scrutiny of women’s bodies rather than men’s with differential expectations of the state of the body and the amount of grooming, care and attention expected. In this sense femininity is more contingent on factors such as clothing, hair etc. than masculinity.What is changing is the intensity of this attention, the more extensive areas that it now covers and an additional focus on transformation of internal life (i.e. the psychological)The discourses around surveillance of mind and body of course can’t be that this is an effort or a chore, it must be seen to be fun, and self-indulgent not work.The discourse here is one of work on yourself but don’t make it look as if you’ve worked on yourself.
  • This is what Foucault called one of the ways that human beings are made subjects, by seeing themselves through their sexuality. In women’s magazines, men are represented as being complex and having complex needs that the woman needs to figure out with the help of the magazine, whereas in men’s magazines women are simplified and reduced to purely sexual beingsFor Foucault this mode of self-formation is long and complicated. It takes place through a variety of `operations on [people's] own bodies, on their own souls, on their thoughts, on their own conduct'. The process of self-understanding is mediated through culturally significant figures. – form http://www.aare.edu.au/92pap/funnr92261.txt
  • Article on how to kiss in Glamour magazine.
  • The makeover paradigm – that is the proliferation of TV programmes on transforming houses, lives, gardens, wardrobes, bodies, jobs, careers etc.Of course some apply to both men and women (many of the house, garden programmes). However overhauling psychological states (self-esteem, confidence etc.) or working on the body tend to be oriented towards women.Shows such as these often work through public shaming, in order to generate the need for remedial action. The aim often in makeover is to make participants more successful – success can mean looks, achieving a date, having better relationships etc. The point here is that what is suggested is that a looks overhaul (or the state of the house, clothes etc.) will equal a life overhaul. In other words, sort out the outside and the inside will be sorted. Your new look will be the solution to life’s problems.These programmes are often classed, and racialized (and of course gendered). Discourses of class revolve more around taste and the body more than economic status, occupation or social location. There is a kind of scrutiny and laughing at taste, looks and behaviour, but either way it’s an individualized focus on such social phenomena rather than explaining such them through other factors such as access to education, opportunity etc.How clean is your house - http://bobnational.net/sso_programme.php?archive=21723&view=flash_player Wife Swap –Ten years younger – What not to wear – How to look good naked / miss naked beauty
  • What we can see is that popular media, newspapers, magazines and television circulate discourses of self-examination and self-help. What these discourses do is to normalise the idea that we should know ourselves and care for ourselves by ourselves. (or rather, we do it with the help of popular experts). We can see that these discourses circulate across the twin areas of care for body and care for mind. In other body transformations and mind (spiritual/emotional) transformations. It’s all about transformation.Or to reiterate what Foucault said “technologies of the self, which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform I themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality.” (Foucault 1988) 1988. Technologies of the self. In Technologies of the self: A seminar with Michel Foucault, ed. L. H. Martin, H. Gutman, and P. H. Hutton, 16–49. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.the media therefore rather than having a direct effect on susceptible individuals causing them to starve themselves, in a simple cause effect manner, instead are an important part of a normalising preoccupation with the body. This results from a constant circulation of discourses of self-examination and self-knowledge, of improvement and transformation.This in itself can be seen to part of wider political, cultural and social changes associated with the further individualisation and commodification of sex, health and beauty.Questions for 10 years younger:What is the programme saying about people’s lives? Is it saying for example, that people may be lacking or flawed in some way?To what extent does ‘modified consumption’ play a part? i.e. changing what we buyWhat is the role of humiliation in the programme?Who is the target of these programmes normally? I .e. in terms of age, ethnicity, classTo what extent is the programme racialized? Why?For these programmes, what is success?To what extent does the programme exhibit a ‘normalising gaze’? In other words, what does the programme say about what is ‘normal’?
  • See pages 192-194 of gill (2007) Machin and Thornborrow argue that with Cosmopolitan (at least) there is a consistency to the construction of the cosmo woman:“We have examined how Cosmopolitan represents women’s sexual and work practicesin order to understand a little more about the nature of a global brand, andin order to investigate just what it is that is globally distributed in this case. Wehave seen that the magazine constructs these two distinct practices – their unfoldingand their motivations – as very similar, as founded on the same model. Inboth, women are oriented towards social interaction rather than towards technical,creative or intellectual skills. In both women are fundamentally alone andmust hold their own or advance through pleasing and/or manipulating others,and above all through the power which their body and sexuality affords them. Itis this that defines women’s agency, and hence women’s power and independence,in the world of Cosmo.But these self-contradictory models are not presented as realistic, an aspectwhich some critics of women’s magazines have missed. They are presented asplayful fantasies. This backgrounds the contradictions and allows women to signifythe Cosmopolitan discourse, and their alignment with its values, through thelipstick they wear, the cut of their clothes, the programmes they watch on television,the cafés they visit, and so on. Which leads us to that other key Cosmovalue, ‘fun’. It’s only a game to play.But that game is very much part of the global economy. In Cosmopolitan theonly real details are the products themselves. In the same way as salvation couldbe bought from the church in the late 15th century, so a sense of power, independenceand fun can today be bought from the church of neo-capitalism. Thus,the heritage of 1960s’ feminism has become intertwined with consumerism,allowing consumerism to become a discourse with which women can and do signifytheir roles and identities across the globe.
  • 5. Lz411 lifestyle women's magazines

    1. 1. LZ411 – Critical Media theory WOMEN‟S LIFESTYLE MAGAZINES AND „TECHNOLOGIES OF THE SELF‟ Aims today … •Lifestyle magazines and ‘technologies of the self’ •Lifestyle magazines as a part of ‘postfeminist media culture’
    2. 2. Women‟s Weekly Magazines Highest Circulation (UK) Women’s Weekly ‘Real life’ genre 720k (down 8.4% year/year)
    3. 3. Women‟s Weekly Magazines Celebrity News / Lifestyle New! 386k down 12% Closer 350k down 18% 3
    4. 4. Women‟s Lifestyle Magazines Highest Circulation (UK) Women’s Monthly (paid for) 400k (down 14% year/year)
    5. 5. Women‟s lifestyle magazines  Advertising led which is part of the flow (50% or more)  Offering content to readers. Offering the „right kind‟ of readers to advertisers  Thorough intertwining of beauty, fashion and magazine industries
    6. 6. Discourses in women‟s lifestyle magazines 6 Women’s magazines offer identity as a choice – things to be bought/done to yourself as an expression of who you are
    7. 7. Discourses of gender and the body 7
    8. 8. Foucault on the subject •Carried out historical analyses of areas such as madness, sexuality and criminality. Michel Foucault 1926-1984 •Wrote about how discourses „produce‟ the subject •“My objective has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects” (Foucault 1994: 326)
    9. 9. What appears as ‘normal’? What is not normal? What is implicit here about happiness? 9
    10. 10. Ethics and „technologies of the self’ • A person‟s concern for and care about themselves; ideas, „rules‟, standards Michel Foucault 1926-1984 • Techniques that we use to enact our ethics; operations on ourselves, discourses that enable or discourage such operations • The ways that we „act on ourselves’ or „police‟ ourselves in
    11. 11. Women‟s Lifestyle Magazines and the Body 11
    12. 12. Gender, the media and the body 1. Femininity as a ‘bodily property’ 2. Objectification to subjectification 3. Self surveillance and discipline 4. Increased sexualisation 5. The ‘makeover paradigm’ Gill (2007)
    13. 13. Femininity as a bodily property • An obsession with/investigation of the body • A move from caring, nurturing qualities to the possession of a sexy body • A source of power, but requiring constant attention • A reflection on what‟s „really‟ inside
    14. 14. Femininity as a bodily property New! 18.10.10
    15. 15. From sexual object to subject • From passive object of male gaze to active desiring sexual subjects • The sexually autonomous (heterosexual) woman who is always ‘up for it’ • More exploitative than objectification? (since the objectifying male gaze is now internalised)
    16. 16. From sexual object to subject
    17. 17. Self-surveillance and discipline • The continual monitoring and correct of „errant bodies‟ • Increased intensity of this scrutiny • Surveillance over more areas of life: body, sexual practice, career, friends, mind etc
    18. 18. Self-surveillance and discipline Cosmopolitan Dec 2010
    19. 19. Increased sexualisation • Increased amount of discourse on sex and sexuality • Eroticisation of girls‟ and women‟s bodies • Interpellated as the „monitors‟ of sex and relationships, the „doers‟ in matters of sexual conduct – men just wanna have a shag!
    20. 20. Increased sexualisation 20 Glamour Dec 2010
    21. 21. Dominance of the „makeover paradigm‟ • Women‟s lives/bodies are flawed – need an overhaul • Bodies and lives are „amenable‟ to transformation • Advice is ready to hand – Advice from the media that is! • Surgery or „modified consumption‟ ? – These are your choices…
    22. 22. The makeover paradigm: Media as „popular expert’
    23. 23. Contradiction or coherence? • Are women’s magazines inherently contradictory? … E.g. – – – – Assertiveness vs. anxiousness ‘Natural beauty’ (just be yourself) vs. complicated regime Following latest trends or simplicity Sex: ‘please your man’, ‘be adventurous’ or take charge • Or coherent? – Despite independence & taking control, sex is to be used for pleasing men – Buying power, independence and fun through consumerism.
    24. 24. Lecture summary •Means of ‘subjectification’ – ‘technologies of the self’ •Sexuality as a means of recognition of self •Discourses of gender and the body in the media: 1.Femininity as a ‘bodily property’ 2.Objectification to subjectification 3.Self surveillance and discipline 4.Increased sexualisation 5.The ‘makeover paradigm’
    25. 25. Seminar Reading Journal article: Gill, R. (2007) Postfeminist Media Culture European Journal of Cultural Studies 10(2): 147-166 See guidance on my blog lz411ross.wordpress.com Seminar task We will be analysing women‟s lifestyle magazines in using Gill‟s (2007) categories of postfeminist media culture.