Disco Divas: Women and Popular Culture in the 1970s

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Wedged between the idealism and activism of the 1960s and the avarice of the 1980s, the 1970s tend to be allocated a slender role in American cultural and social history. Only now have scholars begun to examine the suspect decade?perhaps in part because it has seemed too close, at least for many who lived through it, and in part because cultural critics have rendered it synonymous with cultural stagnation and overall frivolity. Ironically, in everything from retro fashion to interior design to music, American ...

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Overview

Wedged between the idealism and activism of the 1960s and the avarice of the 1980s, the 1970s tend to be allocated a slender role in American cultural and social history. Only now have scholars begun to examine the suspect decade—perhaps in part because it has seemed too close, at least for many who lived through it, and in part because cultural critics have rendered it synonymous with cultural stagnation and overall frivolity. Ironically, in everything from retro fashion to interior design to music, American culture today is heavily influenced by this decade so routinely scorned by the academy. Proceeding from the idea that the preoccupation with nostalgia veils the decade's true cultural significance, the essays in Disco Divas reveal that the 1970s, far from being an era of cultural stasis, were a time of great social change, particularly for women.

Disco Divas argues that 1970s popular culture provided an arena in which women's roles could be negotiated in new ways and, through individual chapters on topics ranging from film, music, television, and advertising to cheerleaders, teen-idol fans, and second-wave feminists, demonstrates how these roles were renegotiated. The great cultural shifts of the 1960s were still reverberating in the 1970s, and American society, while holding onto the ideal of the nuclear family and the white picket fence, had to come to terms with these shifts. This tension created a time of intriguing, if complicated social opportunity for women; the essays here chart the history of the women's movement from a genuinely liberating movement to a tool of corporate profits. Offering commentary on the sources of our fascination with the period, Disco Divas is an ambitious tour of how the mass-mediated popular culture of the 1970s shaped public perceptions of women and the actuality of women's lives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812218411
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sherrie A. Inness is Associate Professor of English at Miami University, author of Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture, and editor of Kitchen Culture: Popular Representations of Food, Gender, and Race, both also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Strange Feverish Years": The 1970s and Women's Changing Roles 1
1 Madison Avenue Versus The Feminine Mystique: The Advertising Industry's Response to the Women's Movement 13
2 "It's a Rip-Off of the Women's Movement": Second-Wave Feminism and The Stepford Wives 24
3 "He Said, She Said": Popular Representations of Sexual Harassment and Second-Wave Feminism 39
4 "Airheads, Amazons, and Bitches": Cheerleaders and Second-Wave Feminists in the Popular Press 54
5 Foxy Brown on My Mind: The Racialized Gendered Politics of Representation 71
6 "Who's That Lady?" Ebony Magazine and Black Professional Women 87
7 "Impress a New Love with your Culinary Prowess": Gender Lessons in Swinging Singles' Cookbooks 103
8 Soap Spin: Changing Female Images in American Soap Operas 116
9 Hysterical Scream or Rebel Yell? The Politics of Teen-Idol Fandom 133
10 Reevaluating "Jiggle TV": Charlie's Angels at Twenty-Five 151
11 "You Probably Think This Song Is About You": 1970s Women's Music from Carole King to the Disco Divas 172
Notes 195
List of Contributors 219
Index 223
Acknowledgments 233
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