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Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media Hardcover – April 26, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (April 26, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812922069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812922066
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #735,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An insightful, witty, and well-written analysis of the effects of mass-media on women in late 20th-century American culture. Douglas cuts through the fluff that spews from the tube with a finely-honed sense of the absurd that can forever change (or minimally, inform) how you perceive the changing portrayals of women by the media. The only book I know of that has been given highest recommendations by Gloria Steinem, The McLaughlin Group, and Amazon.com. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In this insightful study of how the American media has portrayed women over the past 50 years, Douglas ( Inventing American Broadcasting: 1899-1922 ) considers the paradox of a generation of women raised to see themselves as bimbos becoming the very group that found its voice in feminism. Modern American women, she suggests, have been fed so many conflicting images of their desires, aspirations and relationships with men, families and one another that they are veritable cultural schizophrenics, uncertain of what they want and what society expects of them. A single image--Diana Ross of the Supremes, for example, or Gidget from the popular sitcom--can send mixed signals, Douglas shows, at once affirming a woman's right to a voice and cautioning her not to go too far. Thus the media is often both a liberating and an oppressive force. Douglas is particularly attentive to the ways pop culture's messages have responded to shifting social and economic imperatives, including the feminist movement itself. While she asserts that pop culture can have a profound impact on one's self-perceptions, she also stresses that women, by the example of their own lives, have changed--mostly for the better--the way the media represents them. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Susan J. Douglas is professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and author of Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media.

Customer Reviews

She's fun to read and she's brillant.
Crystal
She begins the book explaining how this generation gained so much social and cultural attention.
Brenda Richard
Douglas has a great writing style that is interesting and not overly dense.
L. Campbell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A. Bowdoin Van Riper on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Reading this book is like spending a long weekend with a new friend about your own age, wallowing in music and decades-old sitcom reruns while you trade memories that begin "Did you ever see . . . ?" and "Remember the one about. . . ?" You laugh yourselves silly, but also come away with a new appreciation for how TV, movies, and music helped you define who you were and how you saw the world.
OK, I'll be honest. _Where The Girls Are_ is also a first-rate introduction by example to the field of media studies, a brilliant defense of feminism, a scathingly funny critique of American broadcast journalism and an insightful exploration of the complex ways that girls and women relate to the steady stream of female images they're fed by the mass media. But if I led with that paragraph, the book wouldn't sound like it was any fun at all. And it *is* fun. Oh, my, is it fun.
Susan Douglas starts from the idea that, although her experiences and those of her friends (white, middle-class, suburban, straight, Baby-Boom-era women) aren't universal, they *can* be used to illustrate larger truths about how people relate to the mass media. She proceeds, for 300 pages, to do just that. Her analyses are always sharp (you will *never* look at "Charlie's Angels" the same way again), and her prose is as far from academic-ese as you can get: funny, pointed, and (when the subject warrants it) wrath-of-God angry at some of the manifest injustices she describes.
Read this book. Even if you're not part of the Baby Boom generation. Even if you're not a woman. Trust me.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on December 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book chronicles the images of females in baby-boom popculture and how they reflected and shaped politics.
Because women have been historically consigned to the private sphere of home and hearth, the idea that our tv and mass media images can alter society is a riveting idea. Douglas then backs up this thesis with an admirable amount of intensive research and personal recollection that travels from Gracie Allen to Northern Exposure.
Although the book was primarily intended for babyboom women's culture, I am old enough to remember the rise of the superwoman as personified in Wonder Woman and Charlie's Angels and how this new genere was designed for both male tittilation and female admiration. Meanwhile, myself and other first graders loved the show because people who looked like us (hopefully when we were older) were the center stars of the show.
While I am now eagerly awaiting a revised and expanded edition with chapters on Buffy, Xena and Charmed, the book still provides an excellent example of the un-ending struggle between feminist and anti-feminist influences in the American mass media. No self-respecting feminist of any age ought to be without this awesome and well-researched tome.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Bristol VINE VOICE on September 27, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Where the Girls Are" is a tour through and a look at how pop culture affected girls and women. It is a thought provoking, sarcastic, and very witty portrayal from a woman who admits to having an "attitude problem." The targets are taken from literature, movies, TV and music, and include everything and everyone from "Bewitched," The Shirelles, "Sex and the Single Girl," Charlie's Angels, Murphy Brown and Madonna. She also examines famous feminists'impact including Kate Millett, Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug. The book contains plenty of quotes from anti-feminists, as well, to show (at least in this reviewer's eyes) just how ridiculous if often effective the opposition to the Women's Movement was.

One thing. The author laments that role models in children's literature are "few and far between." Either she is making a blanket statement, or she has no experience. Young adult and children's lit, even back in 1994 when the book was published, are a treasure trove of strong, positive female heroines.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Emily on July 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I borrowed this book from my sister who was reading it for school. I found it incredibly interesting. The book traces the history of women and how the media has portrayed them. Although it is used in feminism and media classes, it reads nothing like a textbook. Although it is nonfiction, it is a quick, informative, entertaining, and engaging read. I highly reccomend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dana G. Williams on September 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in my Communication theory class in undergraduate school. It was a great read for all sorts of wonderful historical aspects regarding the development of the women's movement and how pop culture ebbed and flowed along the way. Susan Douglas is a gifted writer. She knows how to keep things simple, yet has all sorts of wit and vigor. This book should be on a list of "favorite quotables." Douglas does some great reliving of her own stories as well as discussing the main themes in television and movies from the immediate post WWII propaganda that forced women out of the workplace and back into the kitchen all the way up to Murphy Brown. In the end, Douglas ponders what effects the media will have on her daughter's life.
It's easy. It's fun.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was assigned this book in a gender studies class last year and am re-reading it, cover-to-cover, presently. If you are looking for a fascinating base of feminist theory and history, Susan J. Douglas's work is for you. She writes with a personal, fun voice, yet she really hits hard and makes some compelling arguments while presenting the history from the perspective of a baby boomer living it. I forget sometimes that she's writing all of this from a 90's perspective, some of it seems as if she's really living the drama of the 50's and 60's. A very quick read, and a true outlook changer. Highly recommended for anyone.
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