Problematizing the postfeminist gaze: A critical exploration of young women’s readings of gendered power relations in advertising

Alexandra Serra Rome*, Stephanie O’Donohoe, Susan Dunnett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores young women’s engagements with gendered power relations embedded in advertising. Drawing on four case studies, we demonstrate how their readings of gendered ads are informed by postfeminist discourse, which, for all its contradictions, presents gender inequality as a thing of the past. Specifically, we illustrate and theorize the problematic workings of a postfeminist gaze directed at both models in ads and young women as readers of ads, with judgements shaped by postfeminist ideals and blind spots concerning intersections of gender, class, and race. We contribute to macromarketing scholarship by (1) illustrating how, in the context of gendered ads and young American women, gendered power relations and a postfeminist sensibility are both produced by and productive of gendered readers; and (2) highlighting the insidious nature and limitations of this sensibility informing young women’s lived experiences, engagements with media culture, and position in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-562
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Macromarketing
Volume40
Issue number4
Early online date25 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • advertising
  • gender
  • intersectionality
  • postfeminism
  • women

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