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Representing SlutWalk London in mass and social media: negotiating feminist and postfeminist sensibilities

Darmon, Keren (2017) Representing SlutWalk London in mass and social media: negotiating feminist and postfeminist sensibilities. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.iv5s9j9p48kn

Abstract

When SlutWalk marched onto the protest scene, with its focus on ending victim blaming and slut shaming, it carried the promise of a renewed feminist politics. Focusing on SlutWalk London, this study examines representations and selfrepresentations of the protest in British national newspapers, blogs and Tumblr posts to explore how this promise has been negotiated in the contemporary media space. Building on the notion that contemporary media culture is characterised by a postfeminist sensibility, this study asks: how and to what extent is SlutWalk London represented as a feminist intervention in this culture? In particular, how do representations of the protest, by the media and by activists themselves, reproduce or challenge a postfeminist sensibility? Following Rosalind Gill, the thesis conceptualises the elements of postfeminist sensibility as: choice; individualism and empowerment; natural difference; irony and knowingness; and a view of feminism as passé or ‘done wrong’. The elements of feminist sensibility are conceptualised as: equality; solidarity and politicisation; intersectionality; anger and hope; and a view of feminism as current and relevant. To explore representations and self-representations of SlutWalk, texts and images from newspapers and social media platforms, as well as interviews with organisers and participants, are analysed using content, discourse and thematic analyses. The findings reveal that protestors’ self-representations (on social media and in interviews) are characterised more consistently by a feminist sensibility, while newspaper representations of protestors and of the SlutWalk protest display a more mixed picture of both postfeminist and feminist sensibilities. This indicates a process of negotiation between feminist and postfeminist sensibilities in social and mass media, and suggests that, while contemporary media culture maintains an overall postfeminist sensibility, SlutWalk is nevertheless represented in some spaces by a feminist sensibility. In particular, news items are characterised more consistently by a feminist sensibility, which marks a significant achievement; however, columns (especially by female, feminist authors) show a more postfeminist sensibility. This discrepancy highlights some surprising barriers facing feminist protestors seeking to intervene in the postfeminist media culture and fulfil their feminist promise.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Keren Darmon
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Orgad, Shani
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3547

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