- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (March 28, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812925300
- ISBN-13: 978-0812925302
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media Paperback – March 28, 1995
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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.
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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.