By examining the videos and careers of female musicians Pat Benatar, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, and Madonna, and their appeal to female audiences, Lisa A. Lewis challenges the idea that MTV presents only negative and sexist images of women. She shows that these artists have appropriated music video as a vehicle of feminist expression and have reinterpreted the signs of a gender-typed culture-clothing, dance, the use of the street as public space, and even musical instruments. By appropriating these symbols of female empowerment, female rock and pop stars have created a new and significant audience for MTV among teenage girls. Lewis explores this subculture of fandom and its effects on the music business.
The videos of Benatar, Lauper, Turner, and Madonna, argues Lewis, foreground female experiences of gender inequality and celebrate the cultural distinctiveness of girls and women. By focusing attention on forms of gender discrimination in popular music, and in society generally, these four musicians have become figures of emulation for millions of female fans. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," by Cyndi Lauper, became something of an anthem for women and particularly for female adolescents, a very regulated and marginalized group. Devotees of Lauper and of Madonna especially imitate their idols in appearance and speech. The fans are examined in the context of their everyday lives as teenage girls in various sites of fan activity-concerts, shopping malls, movies, television news, and MTV itself.