The ‘New Sexism’

Contact: jane.arthurs@uwe.ac.uk

A day of presentations and discussion addressing the resurgence
of ‘sexist’ forms of discourse and imagery in the popular
media. If the 1990s can be characterised as a period of ironic
sexism have we now moved to a period of post-ironic ‘retrosexism’ in
the new millennium? If this is the case what new cultural
theories might we need to explain this phenomenon? What kinds
of intervention can we make as teachers and researchers and
what problems does this raise?

Programme

12.00

Lunch and Welcome

1.00 – 2.45

Retrosexism

Down with Love: The feminine mistake
Dr Kathrina Glitre, Film Studies UWE

In the wake of the second wave, the fifties sex comedy
film was critically reviled; now after post-feminism,
the cycle has been resurrected in a reworking of Sex
and the Single Girl
(Richard Quine, 1964). The
usual explanations – irony, parody, pastiche – will
no doubt be applied to Down with Love, but
what does it actually mean for a chick flick to be
paying homage to a cycle of films that feminists used
to consider sexist? This paper will explore some of
the continuities between the sex comedy, postfeminism
and the ‘new’ sexism, and particularly the nostalgic
return to American iconography of the fifties and sixties.

Retrosexism in Popular Culture
Judith Williamson, Freelance writer

"In the world of sexual ads, the dominatrix,
the bitch and the whore wield power over men; in the
real world, a British woman is physically attacked
by a man she knows every six seconds. This suggests
that, rather than embodying sexual liberation, today’s
fetishistic imagery provides a language for expressing
both sexism and, perhaps, the pain and rage of a sex
war which at heart is about social, not sexual power.
These ubiquitous images translate the social as sexual:
showing gender power struggles nakedly in every sense.
And yet we have deprived ourselves of the language
to analyse them as such. Our unwillingness to name
sexism in the present has on the one hand encouraged
it to develop as a form of nostalgia, and on the other,
allowed it to flourish in a sexualised form which we
perceive as daringly cutting-edge." (Judith Williamson, The
Guardian
31/5/03)

Tea

3.15

Loaded with Meaning: working with men researching
men’s lifestyle magazines

Kate Brooks, Media and Cultural Studies, UWE

Kate will be talking about her work on Making Sense
of Men’s Magazines (Jackson, Stevenson and Brooks 2001)
researching masculinity and the consumption of commercial
cultural forms. She will focus on interviews – being
a feminist researcher listening to, and having to respond
to, often sexist and misogynist talk, and on the dynamics
of discourse – working with men analysing male
discourse, and the subsequent questions the project
raised about more conventional Cultural and Media Studies
notions of readers and audiences.

4.15 – 5.15

Discussion

Focusing on strategies of intervention

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