Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture
In the media-saturated decade of the 1990s, news reports shaped public sentiment about women in electoral politics and beyond. Mary Douglas Vavrus explores the process of representing political women in media, and argues that contemporary news accounts promote a postfeminist politics that encourages women’s private, consumer lifestyles and middle-class aspirations, while it discourages public life and political activism. The author discusses the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings of 1991, the 1991–92 “Year of the Woman” in politics, the 1996 presidential campaign’s use of “soccer moms,” and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for Senate in 2000. Vavrus assesses the logic that emerges in these narratives’ recurrent themes about gender and explores their significance for women and for feminism, ultimately arguing that feminism has been supplanted by postfeminism in news accounts of political women.
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