Gendered Discourses in Media

The Politics of the Smile

Smiling women appear on news pages and on celeb pages.

Is there a relationship between the representation of women’s public participation and women’s sexualised representation?

Carole Pateman (1988) has argued that:

Men still ‘demand that women’s bodies in the flesh and in representation should be publicly available to them’ Pateman, Carole (1988). The sexual contract. Cambridge: Polity Press p13-14

The increase in women’s democratic participation has led to ‘a feminisation of the press’ has impacted men. Everyone now smiles in their pictures on news pages etc.

Gender Implications of News Reporting on the British Beef Crisis

Harriet Harman, shadow health minister at the time, was characterised as hysterical. The reaction to the crisis seemed ‘an attack on the natural appetites and pleasures of Englishmen’.


In 1990, outbreaks of Mad Cow Disease which could not be detected until a cow staggered and collapsed. In 1996, the Conservative government admitted that the disease could be passed to humans.

Articles were analysed and the themes identified were: women were addressed as ‘housewives’ and mothers, public concern over BSE was depicted as female hysteria, male actors in crisis were aligned with values of authority and reason, beef consumption was associated with masculinity.

Throughout the coverage the beef consumer is represented as a housewife, since women were considered the providers for the family – they went out and bought the food. Women were framed as the ones who decided not to buy the beef anymore.

Women were portrayed as hysterical and as causing panic.

These notes are from my year two semester one seminars and lectures.
The image is from:

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