Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media

Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media

by Susan J. Douglas


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812925302
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 03/28/1995
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 348
Sales rank: 362,462
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Susan J. Douglas, Ph.D., is a professor of communication studies at the University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a prize-winning author, columnist, and lecturer known well for her book Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. She lives with her husband and daughter in Ann Arbor.

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Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
HanGerg on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book examines the way women have been portrayed in the media roughly since the author's teenage years in the 1950's, up to the time the book was published in 1994. She justifies this approach by explaining that she was part of the great post-war baby boom, and being part of such a large cohort at such a time of rapid change made her generation uniquely influential on our culture, as advertisers and cultural producers started to gear everything to this huge potential market, hence the invention of "the teenager" amongst other cultural shifts.She starts by looking at the TV programmes and pop music that she first became aware of her teenage years, which to hear her describe it, was pretty unsubtle in its insistance that a woman's place was in the home, and that for women, satisfaction was to be found in looking really great to ensnare a husband, then settling down into a life of being a selfless martyr to your family. Yet a mere ten years later, women who were raised on this cultural diet were saying things like "marriage is slavery" and protesting outside the Miss World competition. The opening chapters do a great job of explaining how this generation became those women, dealing with how they saw that this selfless work for family wasn't actually working out for their mothers, not least because during the war years they had been told that they could do a man's job whilst the men were away, but as soon as the men returned from war were told very firmly to get back in the kitchen. She also examines the effect of the Cold War, and the fact that American schoolchildren were having it drilled into them that in order to compete with the Ruskis they were going to have to strive to be the very best they could be - and rather stupidly "The Man" didn't just broadcast this message to boys - girls' radar picked it up too. This caused a bit of a split in the female psyche of the day - on the one hand being told domestic bliss was the best they could and should hope for, and on the other, being told they were the brave new hope that was going to take America into the future. This kind of contradiction seems to repeat itself again and again over the course of the book, and one of the key themes is how women during this time have been forced into an impossible position, where their own personality is divided against itself in many ways.I thought this book was full of great insights, and for someone like me that wasn't particularly aware of the full history of the women's rights movement, it was very illuminating. Even for those that were there, the author has some really incisive things to say about the media's treatment of the emerging movement. Some of it was so obviously biased and ill-informed that it's enough to make your blood boil. Some of the coverage was more subtle, but equally damaging in the long term, and this was the bit of the book I found really interesting. Douglas explains how many media commentators of the time, although being largely hostile to the women's movement, did have to concede that they had a point when it came to some of the economic arguments that the movement made regarding the need to pay women the same wage for the same work, and the need to provide good quality childcare to free more women up to join the workforce. However, the same commentators, often completely dismissed the movement's insistence that "the personal is political", and the legacy of that can still be felt to this day I think, where economic attitudes towards women have, by and large been reformed (although many of us are still waiting for that equal pay etc...), but it's in the domestic sphere, where the rates of domestic abuse, for example, are still pretty appalling, that very little progress has been made. Anyway, there's loads of equally interesting and thought provoking arguments advanced in this book, which I will not go into here, but if this is a topic you're interested in, I would recommend it most heartily. It's written by an a
LibraryDiva76 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
An enjoyable, accessible gallop through territorty that should be familiar to anyone born between 1940 and 1980 (younger readers may scratch their heads at some of the references.) Will change the way you look at pop-culture phenomena as varied as the Rolling Stones, Charlie's Angels and Disney.
DawnFinley on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It's true that this book is certainly media-studies-lite, but there is something to be said for making a kind of feminist-informed analysis of media culture so accessible. I gave this to my mother, in the hopes it might shed a little light for her on what consciousness-raising can do; how successful I was is uncertain, but I know reading this did her no harm. As a point of entry into more sophisticated readings of media culture, this is porbably not a bad choice. If you are a more advanced critic/thinker/consumer, you won't be missing much if you don't check this out (although the reading is fast, and perky enough).
the_hag on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Wow¿I don¿t even really know where to begin with this book. To my way of thinking, it¿s an excellent overview of women in the media from the early sixties to about the early nineties and it does a pretty thorough job of it dealing with everything from Jackie O to Beatle mania to I Love Lucy and I dream of Jeanie, all the way up to Dynasty and Dallas. It was an eye opener for me from the perspective of I¿ve seen a few episodes of most of the programs she discusses, but many (Dynasty, Dallas, Cagney & Lacey, Hill Street Blues, LA Law, and many more), I¿ve seen either NO episodes or maybe 1-3¿we either weren¿t living in the US at the time (Dynasty and Dallas) or I refused to watch (Hill Street Blues). So from that angle, this book is interesting, because I know these shows were widely acclaimed and watched by millions¿it was a whole other take on their popularity and ultimate message to and about women and men and their places in society. I¿d love to see an expanded edition to include some of the other shows in the last 10 years (Xenia, Buffy, and so on)¿but overall, having not read much about women in the media (beyond what is shown on the news, somewhat ironic I know) or about feminism (not something I¿ve had any real contact with or connection to in my life. I can¿t say that my mom ever talked about feminism), so this book was interesting on many levels and while a bit outdated (written in 1994), it was still well worth reading. I give it a solid B¿mostly because it¿s now out of date, otherwise very readable and humorous, while being informative at the same time.
bexaplex on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Where the Girls Are is more of a memoir buttressed by academic studies than an analysis. The central argument, that tension in the media between women's power and women's powerlessness led women into a feminist movement in the 70s, is frustratingly bare of evidence. As a memoir, however, there's a fantastic depth; Douglas quotes everything from news commentary quotations to movie plots in a 40 year period (I loved the news anchor commentary on the Women's Strike for Equality).There's something very late 20th century about a media memoir — I doubt anyone today could argue that their own experience with media was universal. To me the phrase "mass media" evokes the phenomenon described in the book: girl groups on the radio, Beatles concerts, evening news and Newsweek.
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songcatchers More than 1 year ago
I found Where the Girls are to be an interesting read. I think the target audience was maybe my mother's generation though and much of the book I just couldn't relate to. It was written in the early 90's and it feels outdated. Douglas came off at times a bit too whiny for my taste and somewhat repetitive. She does make interesting points though and at times Where the Girls Are was an eye-opening read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Book Where the Girls are: Growing Up Female with the Mass media was written by Susan Douglas in 1995. Douglas has a background in the reflection of women growing up in the mass media. Susan specializes in the time period of the baby boom right after World War Two. She has very intense feeling about the media dealing with the media¿s misconception of women. Douglas is infatuated with the feelings of feminism toward the media. Throughout her work, she states things such as, ¿All this marketing uncertainty and ambivalence added to the contradictory media reaction to and co-optation of feminism in the 1970's.¿ Douglas¿s idea that women are portrayed as the weaker gender is stated by Douglas as, ¿Women are angry at the media, because a full twenty years after the women¿s movement, diet soda companies, women¿s magazines, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue¿ still bombarded us with smiling, air-brushed, anorexic, and compliant women whose message seems to be ¿shut up, get a face lift, and stop eating¿(Pg. 11). This is a very strong statement depending on how you choose to view the subject. If people have a viewpoint of feminism they may agree with Douglas and if people do not see it in a viewpoint of feminism they may think, Where did Douglas come up with these drastic ideas? Douglas has very compelling ideas toward feminism. Douglas states in another portion of the book, ¿Throughout our lives we have been getting profoundly contradictory messages about what it means to be an American woman. Our national mythology teaches us that Americans are supposed to be independent, rugged individuals who are achievement-oriented, competitive, actively shrewd, and assertive go-getters, like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, or Ross Perot¿(Douglas, 1995)(pg. 17). Douglas is a feminist she shows this point of view throughout the entire book. Some things that Douglas mentions in her book are extreme. One extreme that Douglas writes, ¿she talks about two images that Disney presented to the audience about girls. These two images were to look at us in the mirror and chase the boys¿ (Douglas, 1995) (pg. 30). Douglas may perceive it this way but Disney can be viewed in much more positive ways. Most people perceive Disney as being for children. When Disney created fairy tales such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the intention was not to bash women. They were trying to capture a children¿s audience. Keeping in mind to keep the fairy tale at an age appropriate level for the children. If Disney did intend to bash women, the fairy tales would not have been geared toward children. Douglas is definitely a feminist. Her piece of work gives the simple things in feminism to absolute extremes. She portrays feminism as she sees it in the world. The more simple things to feminism in her point of view are many, ¿Women work for equal pay compared to men¿ (Douglas, 1995). The extreme message in her point of view ¿Is a man hater¿ (Douglas, 1995)! In her work people may find it to be very informative and sensitive to feminism. Others may decide it is too graphic and repetitive to read. She makes wonderful points about feminism but also is very extreme.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A student at Purdue lent me this book. It was required reading for him, but I think it should be required reading for everyone, especially young women. I am old enough to remember some of the events, but looking back now understand the significance. With women from the sixties, working in the same enviroment as women raised in the eighties, I can't help but wonder if they realize what women have been, and sometimes still are up against. This book relates this information in a very entertaining way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my spring break read last year and not only did it pass an otherwise boring family vacation, but it also entertained and enlightned me. This book would really hit home with a woman of the baby boomer generation and for younger readers shed some light on how far women have really come!