Critically evaluate the Feminist theory of media and culture. How valid is this

Critically evaluate the Feminist theory of media and culture. How valid is this

critique today?


Gender has always been used as a way to inform values and norms that pattern different facets of the society. In media and culture, Watkins and Emerson (2000) opine that gender informs the values and norms that drive industry direction in terms of production practices as well as other related conventions. One of the most prominent theories relating to gender is that of feminism. The purpose of feminism, according to Millet (2000), is to change the unequal connections in society. Feminist media theory has made substantial contributions to the general understanding of women’s roles, gender ideology, and the various elements that define and frequently constrain women’s lives since its inception as an academic topic (Loreck, 2018). Today’s globalized world and increasingly complex media environment continue to downplay the significance of transnational, intersectional, holistic, and transdisciplinary approaches to gender and media in contemporary society. This critical evaluation focuses on feminist theory of media and culture and examines topics relevant to present situations on the same. Hence, it offers an analysis of how applicable the theory is in current context. Therefore, this essay argues that the feminist media theory considers gender as a critical factor in structuring experiences and identity, believing that if women are more involved in media production, then the content would be better and more inclusive.

The Feminist Theory of Media and Culture

Feminist media theory extends the modern agenda to have women recognized, equal, and participating in various capacities in the society. Gallagher (2003) suggests that feminist media theory concerns with the incorporation of feminist ideals, ideas, and logics into media processes such as employment, production, and distribution, Loreck (2018) adds that the feminist media theory includes news and entertainment representational patterns across platforms and reception. Feminist media theory viewpoints are overtly political, in contrast to those who conceal their political motivations, often displaying the obsession and need for power (Means Coleman, 2011). Despite the fact that feminist media theory regards gender as an important factor in determining one’s identity and experiences, MiniÊ (2007) assert that it does not suggest that gender disparities are permanent or ongoing in any way. Conventionally, it was widely believed that when women were in charge of media development, the content would be different and better. Women of color, minorities, and those with physical or cognitive impairments have been disproportionately underrepresented in critical discussions in society (Banet-Weiser & Portwood-Stacer, 2017). Media theories and the field of media studies are increasingly highlighting the need of transnational and cross-disciplinary research that is really concerned with media convergence and globalization, and this is particularly true for feminist media studies.

Having looked at why feminist media theory exists, it is important to understand that its ideas are by themselves biased and geared towards female representation. In feminist media studies, processes and organizations in the media are examined through the prism of feminist ideas and politics, regardless of whether the media content itself is representative of a feminist ethos. It is a liberating and transforming movement that is devoted to the eradication of oppression and dominance in all its forms. Several variants of feminism have evolved in the modern age, with Shaw (2014) noting that all of them make extensive use of contemporary media platforms. When the media’s effect on feminism and feminism are researched together, feminist concepts, ideas, and logics emerge. This group of scholars applies feminist principles and goals to media work in all aspects of production and dissemination (MiniÊ, 2007). They also look at gender representation trends in news and entertainment across platforms and audiences. Female media specialists have unequivocally demonstrated that, despite women’s relative development in the international news industry during the past several decades, women are still purposefully excluded from ascending the corporate ladder to positions of decision-making authority. The “glass ceiling” effect, according to Loreck (2018), persists throughout businesses, transcending national borders, political systems, and cultural contexts, and is particularly obvious in the news media business, where it is a source of contention. Women are still a far off from achieving their full potential compared to men, directly because of the limitations that society has put on them, requiring a means to correct the process of theorization.

Feminist media theory and related views are aimed at correcting the inaccurate theorization made conventionally from a male-centric approach. As expressed by Millet (2000), a large part of the modern view on the world, the communities, and people is based on historical concepts and facts that were developed primarily by members of specific ethnic and economic groups and are thus out of date. Watkins and Emerson (2000) expressed that women and other marginalized groups have been mostly excluded from the process of formal theorizing and knowledge-building as a result of male-dominated and culturally specific theorizing and knowledge-building practices. When such concepts and information are used to study, policy, and action, they not only fail to recognize women’s contributions across all areas of activity, but they also fail to recognize concerns that are particularly important to women. Scholars of gender and culture studies contend that knowledge and issues based mostly on male, culturally particular experiences create a skewed perspective of reality and is just partial knowledge and an inaccurate way of documenting life (Loreck, 2018). Including women’s everyday experiences and informal theorizing in feminist approaches to theory and knowledge development is the most effective technique of overcoming this obstacle. That said, it is important to provide a critique of the feminist theory of media in relation to its relevance in the contemporary world.

Critique of the Feminist Theory of Media

The first point of observation in critiquing the feminist media theory is questioning of the influence of masculine ideology on women’s perspectives is necessary in order to have full participation. When looking at things from a male viewpoint, Watkins and Emerson (2000) assert that feminist theory attempts to dismantle and evaluate ideas that have been previously created and regarded as authentic. A feminist view on the world is a result of this, and ideologies based on this perspective arise. Changing problems that have a negative influence on women’s lives has been the focus of past research (Probyn, 2001), which has involved critically evaluating current theories and suggesting new policies and social action. Gendered thought is widely accepted in feminist theory, which asserts categorically that being a woman and holding particular social positions are inexorably related. Women’s studies theories also attempt at providing an explanation for how women interpret the world and its knowledge. The social roles and world-negotiating techniques of women vary according to the circumstances (cultural, social, political, racial or ethnic), as well as the personal characteristics of the women in the scenario (age, education, sexual orientation, and other emerging elements) (MiniÊ, 2007). When feminists examine circumstances and perform investigations, they recognize that factors other than gender impact perceptions and understandings. Means Coleman (2011) offers that feminists recognise that inequality is influenced by a variety of factors, including social class, ethnic heritage, and cultural background. Because the category women is pluralistic, defining women as a distinct entity results in the same mental process as the traditional androcentric approach to understanding women and girls. In order to address these inequalities even further, feminist inquiry emphasizes the importance of placing the inquirer on the same critical plane as the subject of inquiry in order to avoid prejudice and distortion on both sides of the question, requiring an exploration of past theories.

Past theories on society and relationships are biased in a way that they did not involve the views and positions of women in different societal capacities. Feminist analysis, in the media theory, goes beyond these subject-matter innovations in one important way: it sets the inquirer on the same critical plane as the overt subject matter, reclaiming the entire research process for examination in the research results (Means Coleman, 2011). The researcher’s personal beliefs, attitudes, and actions about race/ethnicity/culture/gender must be weighed against the picture she or he wants to project. To be clear, this does not imply that the first half of a study report should be devoted to introspection. More often than not, modern theorists define feelings and their effect based on a study’s endeavor and also given the opportunity to provide other explanations for the researcher’s effect on the analysis (Shaw, 2014). Therefore, the researcher is perceived as a genuine, historical human being with specific purposes and ambitions as opposed to a faceless voice of authority who remains nameless.

Following a review of past theories and relationships relating to feminism, it follows that feminist media theory and culture is important to set a path for future thinking in social and economic realms. Feminists have developed a slew of ideas to explain their experiences, many of which are based on differences in social class, ethnicity, and culture. Tyler, Coleman, and Ferreday (2008) observed that the approaches to feminist philosophy, on the one hand, are representative of a wide range of points of view, and on the other, they are representative of the many social and historical conditions in which feminists find themselves. Because of a failure to distinguish between the adaptation of feminist concepts to the historical, political, and sociocultural realities of black/third-world women and the concept of all theory as “white,” all feminist theory is characterized by being labeled as “Westernized,” “Euro-centric,” or “Ethno-centric,” and as such is condemned (MiniÊ, 2007). Theorizing is a process in which knowledge is both received and produced at the same time. Androcentric ideologies give facts that confirms their prejudices while completely dismissing the experiences and views of women and girls (Loreck, 2018). According to feminist philosophy, knowledge should be obtained through a variety of experiences, which is one of its fundamental premises. The evolution of feminist theory has resulted in the creation of a new, more comprehensive, and all-encompassing body of knowledge (Shaw, 2014). The goal of this approach of thinking is to present a more complete picture of women’s lives.

Validity of the Critique Today

In the critique provided above, some emergent issues relating to modern applicability have surfaced pointing a need to connect feminist media theory with relevant contemporary perspectives. Means Coleman (2011) posits that postmodernist-feminist thought is necessary for positive growth and to ensure a society that recognizes the input of all its members. According to postmodernist-feminist thought, the investigation of women’s experiences and knowledges serves as a basis for the production of new feminist-informed knowledges (Banet-Weiser & Portwood-Stacer, 2017). This method differs from feminist thought in a number of important ways. Rather than a single, complete reality to which women’s experiences may be added, Loreck (2018) found that postmodernist-feminist theorists contend that a multitude of realities and experiences can be added to which women’s experiences can be contributed. According to postmodernist-feminist theorists, these experiences, as well as their influence on knowledge generation, are fluid, contingent, heterogeneous, and historically and culturally varied in both time and space (Banet-Weiser & Portwood-Stacer, 2017). They do not indicate that feminist arguments are more scientifically desirable than other arguments since they call into question the validity of reason, objectivity, and scientific reasoning. They do, however, agree that knowledge claims should be grounded in a broader base of experience, and that women’s experiences should be classified according to race, class, culture, and sexual orientation. Thus, Watkins and Emerson (2000) agree that there are many different feminist theoretical viewpoints to choose from, and none fully encompasses the issues of race, class, culture, and sexual orientation. Women’s captivity is a major topic on which they both agree, although they disagree on the origins and sources of this servitude. These inequalities reflect the intricacies of women’s lives, as well as the need of engaging their perspectives and knowledge in decision-making processes, away from the male perspectives of the world that have largely defined women and other components of the society.

Inequalities emerge as a result of a largely predominant male-led theorization process that has locked women away from presenting their view of the world. According to Banet-Weiser & Portwood-Stacer (2017), men have long had sway over the media industry, both globally and locally, and this has continued today, thus necessitating the involvement of countering forces that the feminist media and culture theory brings. In the contemporary society, men are usually the ones who develop and define a majority of media policies, aims, and agendas, as well as defining how women are viewed and presented in popular culture (Shaw, 2014). Men are far more likely than women to be the ones who decide employment decisions. As a result of this, males outnumber females in almost every aspect of media coverage. It should come as no surprise, then, that the media is frequently biased towards women (Loreck, 2018). This bias has an influence on how women are depicted in the media, which has a negative impact on the advancement of women in society. Some of the harsh characterization and depiction of women in the media has become more subtle in recent years, thanks to the growing number of voices and concerns from active women’s clubs and organizations. Women are still underrepresented in the media as contributors to the development process or as experts in their disciplines, despite progress in recent decades. The patriarchal culture of society is reflected to a significant extent in various media tales and presentations (Probyn, 2001). The persistence of exploitative and insulting depictions of women in the media is due to a lack of really gender-sensitive awareness and analysis of women’s problems on the part of both men and women working in the media industry (Watkins and Emerson, 2000). Traditional social behaviors and interpretations are heavily rooted in these images of women, which aids the media in the production of these representations of female beauty.


Some of the characteristics of feminist methods as well as feminist critiques of the conventional androcentric way of thinking have been discussed in the preceding paragraphs. As well as taking into consideration the reality that women do not form a homogenous group, this approach also recognizes the distinctions between women’s and men’s lived experiences. They have been utilized by feminists to deconstruct androcentric ideas, resulting in a more complete understanding of women’s many realities. The feminist media theory points to a need to assess current policies and provide suggestions for improvements aimed at addressing women’s issues. Various factors, including class, color, ethnicity, age, social status and sexual orientation, all have an impact on how people perceive and experience gender and its relationships, leading to a theorization process based on one’s environment and situation. As expected, the feminist media theory addresses the inequalities that are present in society, not just in relationships but also in theorization processes that creates policies and variant theories in literature, academic life, and elsewhere in society. Future studies should focus on how to integrate theories and thoughts presented both from a masculine of feminist school of thought. There is therefore, a need to improve the feminist media theory in ways that will ensure successful integration of all views in the constitution of global societies.


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