Feminist cultural theory
Without a doubt the most significant academic tradition of research in the analysis of sexual representations on television has been feminist cultural studies. From the early 1980s a rich diversity of approaches has been developed that, initially drawing on feminist film studies and feminist sociology, but then on a wider field of black, gay, lesbian and queer studies, has contributed enormously to the direction taken by television studies as a field of study. From an initial concern with textual issues of gender equity drawing on semiotics, psychoanalysis, theories of ideology, the analysis of mainstream stereotypes and ‘progressive texts’, it soon took on a wider cultural agenda with research into audience pleasures, the politics of taste and the integration of television into the routines of everyday life. The analytic approaches taken in this book draw extensively on this history as a source of critical approaches to the evaluation of the gender politics of sexual representations on television, and as a means to identify the influence of feminist cultural critique on these ‘popular’ discourses of gender. These contribute to an ‘integrated approach’ (D’Acci 2002) combining detailed textual readings with a contextualized understanding of the political, economic and cultural influences on their production and reception. The following overview identifies how key feminist issues in textual analysis, the politics of taste and philosophical questions about the cultural determinants of ‘sexual difference’ are mapped across subsequent chapters.