Postfeminist News

Political Women in Media Culture

By Mary Douglas Vavrus

Subjects: American Studies
Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies
Paperback : 9780791454466, 235 pages, August 2002
Hardcover : 9780791454459, 235 pages, August 2002

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Table of contents



1. Theorizing Media Representation of Electoral Feminism

2. Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Crisis of White Patriarchal Authority

3. Postfeminist Identities, Neoliberal Ideology, and Women of the Year

4. From Women of the Year to "Soccer Moms": The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Women

5. "Pray Tell,Who Is the 'She' "? Campaign 2000, or the Year of One Woman

Afterword: Putting Ally on Trial: Contesting Postfeminism in Media Culture




Examines the representation of women in the media.


Winner of the 2003 Diamond Anniversary Book Award presented by the National Communication Association

In the media-saturated decade of the 1990s, news reports shaped public sentiment about women in electoral politics and beyond. Mary Douglas Vavrus explores the process of representing political women in media, and argues that contemporary news accounts promote a postfeminist politics that encourages women's private, consumer lifestyles and middle-class aspirations, while it discourages public life and political activism. The author discusses the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings of 1991, the 1991–92 "Year of the Woman" in politics, the 1996 presidential campaign's use of "soccer moms," and Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for Senate in 2000. Vavrus assesses the logic that emerges in these narratives' recurrent themes about gender and explores their significance for women and for feminism, ultimately arguing that feminism has been supplanted by postfeminism in news accounts of political women.

Mary Douglas Vavrus is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is the coeditor (with Catherine Warren) of American Cultural Studies.


"Interest in this area of media studies is rising, including the focus on the construction of gender and women. This book contributes in important ways by offering a detailed analysis of how women's identities are constructed in—and in relation to—the political sphere." — Julia T. Wood, author of Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, Fourth Edition