Session 3A

Postfeminisms

Room G501

Chair: Leander Reeves

A post-feminist look at HBO’s Girls: a critical analysis of characters, career, gender and sexuality

Aaliyah Miller

Despite the fact that viewership on the major networks in the United States has decreased over the years, television continues to be a dominant cultural and informational force that does more than just entertain us – this medium has the power to influence and alter our attitudes, behaviors, perceptions, and actions. Gender bias as a result of gender stereotypes found in television has been an issue of concern for feminist, political, and social researchers. Research studies have found that gender stereotypes found in television negatively influence women within society and the impact goes beyond the entertainment industry and the small screen. Although the roles of women have significantly expanded in the past 100 years, feminists continue to question whether these roles reinforce traditional ideologies of gender. This thesis examines previous research studies on gender stereotypes found in television and media and seeks to deepen the scope of this topic by looking at gender stereotypes geared towards younger women. Through a qualitative critical discourse analysis of HBO’s hit series Girls, this thesis explores how gender stereotypes found in television continue to influence perceptions of women’s roles in society as it relates to career and female sexuality. The findings from this thesis illustrate that despite the many gains women have earned over the years, they continue to face disparities that result from gender bias. Analysis of the characters and show themes of HBO Girls highlight contradictory messages on gender roles and associations apparent in the show that reflect feminist and post-feminist ideals.

‘Something similar happens in TV-land’: Girls’ on- and offline audience strategies in relation to successful girl narratives

Michele Paule, Oxford Brookes University

This paper draws on a wider study analysing the circulation of successful girl discourses across television, school and online sites. ​Here I​ focus particularly on the audience practices of girls and explore the ways in which they negotiate readings ​in ​differing contexts.

McRobbie (2009, p.26) argues that the conceptual ‘girl’ has come to occupy a culturally central position as the focus of forces which both map her path to success and also regulate​ the​ boundaries within which she can be/must be both ‘successful’ and ‘successfully girl’.  In the popular imaginary, girls’ achievement is constructed as representative not only of the accomplishments of feminism, but of the success attainable by the adaptable, self-reflexive individual under the freedoms of successive neoliberal governments (Harris, 2004; Ringrose, 2007). These ‘freedoms’ have operated in identifiably similar ways upon both media and education institutions (Reay, 2008; Wee, 2008; Allen and Charles, 2014).

In exploring their engagement with teen tv, I argue that the nature of girls’ media audience experiences can evade straightforward economies of categorisation, can enable them to construct their own genres, and to engage in critical readings of tropes and narrative strategies.​ However, while online fan contexts in particular show evidence of developing conventions of critique, I also find that with few exceptions, girls both on and offline​reproduce key tenets of neoliberal​ism  in giving accounts of their media engagements, their own lives​, and their imagined futures

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