Feminism, Sexuality, and the Media | Newberry

Feminism, Sexuality, and the Media

Friday, February 20, 2015

3-5 pm


Panelists: Tamara Chaplin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Elizabeth Fraterrigo, Loyola University Chicago
Center for American History and Culture Programs
Gender and Sexuality Seminar

“Lesbian Utopias: Toulouse’s Bagdam Cafée, 1976-2009”
Tamara Chaplin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The politically activist lesbian network that emerged in Toulouse in the 1970s has persisted with remarkable dynamism into the twenty-first century. This paper is interested in its enduring presence. “Lesbian Utopias: Toulouse’s Bagdam Cafée, 1976-2009” demonstrates how French lesbians used multiple media outlets-TV, film, the press, the Internet-to promote lesbian life and help liberalize French attitudes towards homosexuality. It analyzes the importance of the quest for visibility in shaping lesbian activism in Toulouse and explores how the mass media became a-if not the-primary means of communication between this oppressed group and the modern state.

“Televising the Feminine Mystique: Betty Friedan’s Appraisal of Television, Female Audiences, and the Feminist Series That Never Aired.”
Elizabeth Fraterrigo, Loyola University Chicago

As much as it was concerned with how gender stereotypes limited a woman’s ability to imagine a role for herself other than “housewife,” Betty Friedan’s best-selling book, The Feminine Mystique (1963), made no mention of television’s part in sustaining such a narrow vision of women. In early 1964, Friedan turned her sights on that medium in “Television and the Feminine Mystique,” a scathing critique that garnered hundreds of letters from homemakers and television viewers who detailed not just what they watched, but also how, why, and what it meant to them. Drawing on materials uncovered in Friedan’s papers, this paper assesses Friedan’s role as a pioneering feminist media critic; analyzes the multiplicity of audiences’ views on domesticity, femininity, and spectatorship; and finally, explores Friedan’s own vision for a feminist-inspired dramatic television series, placing these issues in the context of a nascent feminist media reform movement.

Respondent: Suzanne Kaufmann, Loyola University Chicago

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, email the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.