In 2008 the awaited Sex and the City film was first displayed to millions of thirty-something women across the world. The film was produced, based on the success of the television show that saw four different women celebrate and discuss topics such as friendship, singledom, sex and fashion. The times writer Kate Spicer suggested Sex and the City is a demographic for the way women can break away from old traditions. “It’s for a new Russian demographic – women trying to break away from old Asian ideas about the man being the main provider . . . struggling with the problems equality and freedom can bring (Spicer, 2008).
For me, Sex and the City may have highlighted areas of celebration for women. However, it has also highlighted areas of negativity, such as the discussion of the feminist and the women’s actions being exploited negatively. The purpose of this Dissertation is to first develop a better understanding about the nature of feminism, according to researchers in the field, look at contemporary sources. The second is to compare this to what other writers have said about Sex and the City, concentrating on the research done by other writers of Sex and the City. I will then complete my research by trying to understand the issues that focus around the professional gendered work place, I believe this will give me enough structure to be able to research both Sex and the City films. Below, I have presented my Hypothesis, that will be followed by my main objectives, goals and research questions and a brief structure of the dissertation.
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The back ground of the key issues surrounding my Hypothesis are; 1) Sex and the City has many critics, this is due to the nature of the characters that take risks. Unfortunately this has caused the audience to segment. Are the view of feminists the same2) Socially, the television series highlighted areas of lust for women, did the contemporary thirty something women of the show change the way the protagonist acts3) Has Sex and the City ‘swayed’ into another area of pop culture?
The people who will most value the research are people that talk and share ideas about contemporary feminism issues. The approach I am using is more direct – looking at the scholars, and comparing core texts to a fiction adaptation that is more popular. If Sex and the City display an encouraging sense of feminism, then the younger generation will be able to understand more about the roots of feminism.
Chapter two is the Literature Review and is the account on what has been published on the topic. I will focus on primary research and articles accredited by scholars and researchers. Here I will be able to synthesize results into a summary of what is already known, identify areas of controversy in the literature and formulate questions that need to further research. Chapter three is the Research Methodology and this section simply explains what I have done, why I did it, where I did it and with whom I did it. Each of my data collection will be described in detail in justification to my research questions. Chapter four is the Analysis of my results and presentation of the data I captured. This will either be by comment from observation. Here I will be discussing my hypothesis and whether or not that tests was confirmed or rejected. Chapter five is the Discussion of the results which will overview my research. My final chapter will be my Bibliography which ill contain a complete listing of all the materials (journal, website, books and magazines) that I have cited in the body of the dissertation.
Feminism is a term that is often heard to explain women’s liberations in the 1970’s. In relates to problems connected with society and sexism. For the purpose of this literature review I want to find out how feminism first relates to Sex and the City, then discuss the different types, if any of feminism – hopefully this will underpin any sub problems.
Firstly, the idea that feminism is a single coherent view point is not true. Feminists are different and throughout history the way in which feminism has been treated varies by ‘waves’. These waves according to many scholars fall at certain points in time, which are most relevantI noticed that many scholars used terms to present the way in which SATC is illustrated towards it’s audience.
In an era of ‘must see television’ Negra believes that, “The series’ highly ambivalent investment in a notion of ‘post feminism,’ a cultural catchphrase most often used to express a widely-shared assumption that feminism is no longer desirable or viable” (Negra, 2004).
According to Baxter, “The lives of four white, middle class, thirty something, female friends negotiating the consumer and mating culture of New York, challenged former media representations of femininities” (Baxter, 2000).
Kuruc suggests, “Despite its reputation as innovative programme that allows women a ‘distinct’ voice with a male dominated society, ‘Sex and the City,’ reinforces gender based stereotypes with the use of fashion” (Kuruc, 1998).
Arthurs suggests, “Sex and the City can be compared to previous examples of post feminist, women cantered drama produced for prime time network television in the US. These dramas that in the wake of the second wave feminism selectively deploy feminist discourses as a response to cultural changes in the lives of their potential audience that is addressed to white, heterosexual, and relatively youthful and affluent” (Arthurs, 2003).
Thus, each problem refers to a different matter surrounding feminism. These problem broadly are ‘Post Feminism’ – what is this?, Stereotypes and representations of women and discourses show the cultural changes in society for women. For my second review of literature I will focus my discussion based on the results of the previous data.
The earliest account of feminism, according to many scholars is the first wave of feminism. The First Wave refers to the middle of the 19th century, in a time when gender equality was politically perceptible. For women of this era, “the unjust political standings of the governments officially mandated inequalities helped produce a women’s movement” (Krolokke, 2005). Arguably, in the UK and the USA there were many feminist women who helped shape the movements who eventually went onto win reforms in education, healthcare, workplace and see women’s rights to the vote. Writer (2007) suggests these people were; “Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Olympia Brown, and Helen Pitts; there are countless more. Most people consider the first-wave to have ended when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, granting women the right to vote” (Writer, 2007). However, Krolokke suggests that the in-equality for women goes further back than the 19th century. “The struggles of bourgeois European women for education and civil rights in the wake of the French Revolution (1789–99)” (Krolokke, 2005.p.2) were equally hard struggles. The First Wave of Feminism arguably is the birth of this feminist debate. However the problems encountered in the first wave were more social problem, rather than the ones that scholars of SATC were talking about.
The second wave feminists assert both the equality of both men and women using political and legal forms. They must not be confused for people who dislike men, but as people who envisioned equality in the non-altering views of society. In Whites book ‘Women’s Magazines between 1693 – 1968’, an indication of women’s occupations throughout the industrial revolution (18th and 19th century) represent second wave feminism. One of Whites most clear example is the illustrious Emily Faithfull who wrote several magazines for women’s freedom of free thinking. “Emily Faithful was exceptional in actually achieving the establishment of her own printing press” (Davis, 2005). She battle trade unions, she commented on men and women’s job roles in a society driven by men, “provided opportunities for women in the print industry” (Davis, 2005) and this “challenged long-term assumptions about the kinds of work women could do” (Davis, 2005). The term feminist during the industrial revolution stood for exclusion, male centered judgment and undervalued for women who experienced work. Faithfuls was a social rebellion in the 18th and 19th century, however her visions on second wave prejudice targeted women as victims of society empowered women on a even bigger social scale. These actions, according to Krolokke suggests, second wave feminism refers to “the radical feminism of women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and 70s” (Krolokke, 2005, p.7). Women in the early 1960’s and 1970’s were also subjects to a slaughter of brand and consumer culture that many women saw as, “victims of oppressive beauty culture” (Krolokke, 2005, p8). They wanted freedom against a patriarchal-commercialized society dominated by men. This made women protest against sexist discrepancies in their everydayness throughout the 19th century.
However now with forms such as The Equal Pay Act and the professional status is more equal. Below are examples of the why the US Department of Labour sanctioned many anti-discriminating policies that offer women’s right in a Western society;
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
“Amended the FLSA to prohibit pay discrimination because of sex” (FWS, 2005). “The Equal Pay Act (1963) required employers to pay men and women equally. Men and women must have equal responsibility, skills and efforts in the same conditions” (FWS, 2005).
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
“This also protects workers against discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin in most on-the-job aspects of employment” (FWS, 2005). “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 It states that employers must recruit for jobs without discrimination, however in a male dominated working world some people could argue that the design of promoting jobs is not sensitive enough. However Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended in 1978, specifically prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy. Employers cannot refuse to employ a woman because of pregnancy or terminate her, force her to go on leave at an arbitrary point during pregnancy, or penalize her because of pregnancy in reinstatement rights including credit for previous service, accrued retirement benefits, and accumulated seniority” (FWS, 2005).
Second wave feminists in thetwenty first century tackle more personal obstacles. An example may be when a women is ‘devalued’ by a man due to unequal standings in domestic sphere or in the work place. Spheres that genders occupy have been the focus study of gender constructions through society but the root comes from the way genders are shaped from birth. This is a Marxist view on society and suggests “sexism is the sole route cause for inequality debate” (Seidman et al, 2006). Seidman et al raises strong arguments on feminism as a social identity. He believes that feminism contrasts the Marx approach of social studies by suggesting “we are conditioned to act as a certain gender type” (Seidman et al, 2006). His visions of conditioning gender through experience would therefore “change the nature of how we act through urban society as men and women” (Seidman et al, 2006).
According to Krolokke “The third wave is buoyed by the confidence of having more opportunities and less sexism” (Krolokke, 2005). We understand that women were miss-treated and victims of the 60s and 70s, could the third wave suggest that they have now reformedRockler-Gladen (2007), suggest the “Third Wave focuses on the economic, political, social, and personal empowerment of women. This wave of feminism focuses more on the individual empowerment of a women and less on active nature of social reform. ‘It celebrates women’s journeys to build meaningful identities in the complex contemporary world” (Rockler-Gladen, 2007).
We can relate Krolokee’s understanding of third wave feminism to my primary research argued by Jane Arthurs. Thus, Arthurs suggested, “These dramas that in the wake of the second wave feminism selectively deploy feminist discourses as a response to cultural changes” (Arthurs, 2003). Often people get confused about the third wave due to the image of feminism that popular culture has constructed. According to Krolokke, this is a “one-sided portrayal” (Krolokke, 2005, p.16). Thus, third wave feminists have certain characteristics. They ‘encourage women to explore sexual options and express themselves in whatever ways they feel comfortable’ (Suite101, 2010), “celebrate diversity” (Suite101, 2010) “invite women to be to be angry, aggressive, and outspoken” (Suite101, 2010) but overall “third wave feminists like to think of themselves as survivors, not victims” (Suite101, 2010). Therefore does SATC promote women in the sense of third wave feminismTo an extent the literature is also suggesting the third wave often celebrates the second waves achievements. Sex and the City if often referred to as forum for feminist discussion because it is structured round four middle class women who relate to political, individual and socialistic problems.
The demographic that Arthur recognises suits Krolokke’s ideas that the media has a “one-sided portrayal” (Krolokke, 2005, p.16) of feminism. However, Negra suggests, “that feminism is not about the state of one women’s suffrage, it is a lot wider” (Negra, 2004). For example, the ideal demographic for SATC is a women from a white middle class background. She is a victim of feminism because she is undervalued solely because she is a women, when she attends a interview that she does not get because she is not a man. This is considerably different to someone from Africa, who’s bases for women’s rights are because they’re children cannot go to school. Thus, there are differences in feminism, that come from different geographical backgrounds. Therefore there is a more universal objectives for many third wave feminists who “challenge notions of universal womanhood and articulate ways in which groups of women confront complex intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class and age related concerns” (Krolokee, 2005).
The Post Feminist feeling of today stems from popular culture according to many scholars. It is apparent that many writers suggest that television shows such as Ally McBeal (1997-2002), Designer Women (1986 – 1993) and Zena Warrior Princess (1995 -2001) are “texts of post-revolution feminist sensibility” (Gerhard, 2005, p.40). This relates heavily you the way in which Baxter challenges representations of feminism through popular culture, though Lotz’s suggests “confusion over the terminology many signify one of the key obstacles facing feminist advances at the dawn of the 21st century” (Lotz, 2001, p.1). Is this a problem that faces SATCThus, Gerhard suggests “Lotz’s description of contemporary feminism theory is accurate, her use of the term post-feminism to describe these developments are confusing” (Gerhard, 2005, p.41). Therefore to describe Post Feminism from another approach, by Arthurs or Moseley is the “convergence of popular culture and select aspects of feminism organized through revisiting the distinction between feminism and femininity” (Gerhard, 2005, p.41). Therefore looking back at the previous waves and selecting aspects of different series, produced for the empowerment of women that suggests that the characteristics of feminism are no longer there. So we can see that evidently the views upon Post Feminism have a certain notion of female confusion.
My discussion refers to the significance of how the term is used because It is played on a synonymous meaning of the third wave but refers to the contemporary term that feminists are no longer needed. To better understand the term, I will find some examples using literature and texts to further discover what is meant;
Naomi Wolf’s ‘The Beauty Myth (1991)’ published with the “backlash against feminism” (Whelehan, 1995, p.216) in the time when ‘Post Feminism’ was coined. “The oppressive book preceded to surround feminism in particular constraints, however using a new perspective on some old problems for feminism” (Whelehan, 1995, p.216). Wolf argued that the second wave feminism era was full of beauty culture and society struggles and that contemporary issues regarding women’s un finished bodies and influences to get plastic surgery Is brainwashing and is feminism. The counter-acts the idea that ‘Post Feminism’ is needed in today’s society.
Thornham suggest, “More recent writing has been less hostile” (Thornham, 2007). This relates to Brudson (1997) who suggests the term is, “useful in describing a cultural shift in both discourse and popular representations” (Thornham; Brudson, 1997). This shows a cultural shift in how the term is less represented or radical which relates to Arthurs suggestion that 1) “Sex and the City can be compared to previous examples of post feminist” (Arthurs, 2003) and 2) using “discourses as a response to cultural changes in the lives of their potential audience that is addressed to white, heterosexual, and relatively youthful and affluent” (Arthurs, 2003). Thornham’s book is one similar to others regarding Women, Feminism and Media studies that all seem to have similar contemporary views on Post Feminism.
From selected reading I was able to define the concepts of feminism in regards to SATC. I found out the SATC is a text that not only evaluates the life’s of women, but also stereotypes the old traditions of women. Carrying on my secondary research I will ask the following questions based on surrounding problems that I found above;
1)What do other writers believe are the problems surrounding feminism in SATC?
2)The previous waves of feminism have taught me that the problems in the modern day are more personal. So, what social problems arise for women in the professional working environment?
Literature research two (a): What writers say about Sex and the City
A growing aspect of SATC is the demanding battle to keep the sense of the tradition, for women. Because if not kept, then the ideal femininities of feminism, tilt away from the root cause. This is often blamed by emerging programmes, “the programmes have emerged at a time when young women in Western societies are gaining better educational qualifications, entering the labour market in unprecedented numbers…” (McRobbie, 2008, p.534). Similar to Arthurs suggestion of cultural change. This relates to ‘hyper feminine’ figures in such television dramas as SATC that often play out a celebratory roles that path and engage with women, in this case influence or promote the post modernist approach of women and work. Hyper feminine characters of SATC are often noted as a ‘forum’ of sexuality for television and the feminist movement to thrive from, the women are often seen ‘in-line with the popular culture’ thus, according to Negra “pathologize thirty something single women as abject, deviant or deficient” (Negra, 2004, p.4). Therefore the modernist approach is seen as celebratory for women but the post modern approach can some times be miss-leading, tilting away from their common social norms can be seen as negative. However, Kuruc’s idea of using fashion to display the individualities relates heavily to the hyper feminine figure because women who have an interest in clothes who are the typical the demographic for SATC.
However, most scholars have shared their views on feminism and the SATC films in many different lights. Baxter suggests that someone who understands the modernist or feminist approach to SATC is someone who “who has personal and political liberation from male patriarchy” (Baxter, 2009, p.91). He then suggests, somebody who reads SATC in the light of a post-modernist or Post Feminist “is someone who see’s life in a is complexity, multiplicity, richness of experience, connections with other s and action based nature of modern life” (Baxter 2009, Butler, 2006; Mills, 2002; Weedon, 1997). Baxter raises the argument that relates to Kuruc’s suggestion, “various life style identities are polarized in terms of their representations of stereotypical femininity and masculinity, other times multiple versions of gender are celebrated and problematical” (Baxter, 2009, p.94). Thus, we understand third wave feminists often celebrate the diminish of sexism, but the polarization that Baxter mentions shows how the text SATC, connotes second wave dilemmas.
Henry suggests that because of the recent shift in romance and women based television dramas there has been a “shifting representation of feminism on TV” (Henry, 2004) that has been the cause of popular feminine culture changing in the US. The US was where SATC was most popular, according to Sex and the City user rating is in the top one hundred television series of all time rating at number seventy-six and having just under eleven million viewers each week throughout the series (IMDB, 2010). Looking into the importance of the media images of sexuality, dramas and films such as Bridget Jones (2001), Ally McBeal (1997-2002) and other anti-feminist texts, has enhanced the sexual freedom of a women. SATC “embodies what is now referred to as ‘third wave feminism’. During the last decade numerous books, magazines and websites emerged, proclaiming the arrival of feminism’s next generation” (Henry, 2004, p.70).
Negra explores the concept taken up after the 9/11 attacks of New York and how recent films since the attacks has made the City, the ideal sensitive place to set a ‘chick flick’. Thus, Negra’s idea was that, films that were once set in the City portrayed women as either “misguided and troubled” (Negra, 2008, p.54). According to Negra films such as Attraction (1987) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993) “privatized female work” (Negra, 2008, p.54). The attacks on New York (September 11th 2001) have left the City vulnerable and sensitive, therefore women’s work and profession have become more resourceful in many film and television dramas. This could be blame on the buildings that could “express singular power” (Negra, 2008, p.52) in a sensitive environment, thus SATC does use the expressions of urban architecture in its series.
Kuruc studied the feminist tools of fashion throughout the television series of Sex and the City. She experienced signs of gendering and sexism that relate to the liberal battles women under went. Each character wore different styles of fashions throughout the series is excel their identity for example, business, leisure or style. This apposed to men who were generally seen in suits at work, the women were rarely seen at work relying on an image where women’s best kept occupation lies in marriage. The women seemed to be fine with not working, however three had good jobs, however they never were talked about. It was a sign the feminism meant that economically they were financially stable because they were suited by a male figure. Thus, many liberal or second wave feminists would find this offensive – “each character produces elements of narrative that symbolize gender” (Kuruc, 1998, p.203). The verdict that many scholars experienced is that, to a degree the contemporary cosmopolitan illustration can be read by a modernist and post modernist perspective.
Literature research two (b): What are the issues in the gendered professional city?
Websites such as The F word have been set up to help encourage young feminists to collectively come together to share ideas, interests and views on different matters to show that “feminism does exist today” (F –Word, 2010). Feminist writers or educators such as Catherine Redfern (F-Word UK) felt inspired to regularly update their press to thousands of readers each day and find new feminist voices. The F-Word brand themselves as “contemporary UK feminism” (F-Word, 2010); they are a webzine “designed to help encourage a new sense of community among UK feminists, and to show the doubters that feminism still exists here” (F-Word).
They recently posted an article called The professional masquerade: Women working in corporate finance are expected to adhere to sexist and objectifying dress codes, the story was objectifying the notion that women were still seen as objects (2010). Even though there has been a great implement on the equality of gender in a contemporary city, there has been much research done looking at a women’s visibility in urban environments. “To most casual observers there is no difference, but according to Booth some work, however attracts less notice, household and domestic work” (Booth, 1996).. These dynamic factors developed our understanding of today’s labour market and the Industrial revolution shaped jobs for women as we have seen in the second wave of feminism in newly developed cities such as London. The expansion of this meant additional positions for women and new opportunity determined women’s roles shaping the urban environment. New labour had great emphasis on regeneration that would battle social exclusion that looks at women’s experience in urban generation. These are signs of a cosmopolitan city in particular the customs that suburban women have bought to the city such as sensitivity that could argue the need for the policies and reforms suggested earlier.
Fawcett Online are a website that aims to close the gap between gender inequality. Research done by Fawcett suggest “that 72% of the 2010 budget cuts George Osborne proposed, savings will be coming out of women’s pockets” (Fawcett, 2010). Online activists such as Fawcett online are seeking a judicial review of the budget. Thanks to legislations from reforms in 2007, “the equality act states that public authorities have “due regard” to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment, and promote equality of opportunity between men and women” (Fawcett, 2010).
Fawcett Online were also at the front of the equal pay in the UK published in 2010 as they found “women working full-time in the UK are still paid on average 16.4% less per hour than men” (Fawcett, 2010). Again Fawcett called upon the government to bridge a gap between them and equality. This relates to Reinardy, who found that “The stress of women is compounded by family issues, sexism, discrimination and the proverbial glass ceiling that limits professional prosperity” (Reinardy, 2009, p.43). Reinardy’s theory that women are more likely to leave work falls into the category of in-equality at the work place and relates to the gender pay gap. As suggested before there are numerous policies to over come these problems but with so many women leaving work, “In the U.S in 2005, women accounted for 46.3 percent of the labour force” (Reinardy, 2009, p.42) but “(25 percent) leaving because of working conditions” (Reinardy, 2009, p.43) it still seems clear that there is increased pressure for women to work.
Bitch magazine (Response to popular pop culture quarterly) are a non-profit feminism magazine that offer a voice to young women who may be influenced by pop culture. It is a chance for women to speak freely about the issues that they want to speak freely about. The website offers more contemporary and political reading, however the majority of the content is based around sexuality, and how or what we should be wearing similar to the issues contemporary feminists the F-Word are discussing. The Women’s Library “is a cultural centre housing the most extensive collection of women’s history in the UK” (London met, 2010). The website is an over view for the Library situated in the Met University. The registered museum dedicated to women of London offers collections on women’s rights such as employment. Books on topics such as equality laws are found, and often loaned out to women to create a wider voice of feminism.
In Youth Media Reporter (Issue 6, 2008) Pouncey highlighted areas of bias for women of the seats of Congress. “In 2007, only 86 of the 535 seats in Congress were held by women – a mere 16.3%” (Pouncey, 2008, p.258). Youth Media Reporter like other non profit magazines are out there to spread a new voice because they believe many young women still get affected by feminism. Feminism according to Pouncey and Youth Media Reporters is “the lifelong inability to take myself seriously as a worker” (Pouncey, 2008, p.258) that according to my research suggest that they see feminism through the second wave. This statement is part of their ambition to show young women that there are great women role models out there; such as the magazines above, this Youth Media Reporter produce a monthly magazine so they make a more accurate reflection on our 21st century world. SATC was produced for women, however a study showed that in 2007 “only 15% of behind the scenes talent (directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors) on top grossing films in the U.S were women, and the number in fact decreased in the last 10 years” (Pouncey, 2008, p.258). For many contemporary women, the emphasis on culture, in particular film, is delivering mixed messages to women. However, the third wave suggests that through sexuality women can express themselves on a more personal level, it even encourages it. The films director Michael Patrick King, is gay, a testament of the third wave liberation and the chance for women to accept the sexuality of a man in this circumstance. Thus, when a culture changes, so does the control behind it, many feminist liberators have created means and ways of auctioning and showing support to popular culture in the way of websites, work shops and books. Borda recognizes that the third wave of feminism is not out dated, she believes that this I still a topic of discussion and concerns her topics about the conflict between women’s professional and personal identities. She suggests that third wave feminism is misguided and understood wrong, scholars that identified the new wave, were robbed by the thoughts of the media who branded it with the edge of women’s way of getting away from the notion of second wave and what was not complete. Her essay on the Live Nude Girls demonstrates contemporary women’s culture which is “mainly economic and gender oppression that women continue to face during their daily lives” (Borda, 2009).
To summarise this part of my secondary literature review I can see that the demographic for women and work based around the contemporary City relates to Arthurs suggestion again. In the western environment according to Beasley, “Divides gender into two categories, one being male and the other being female” (Beasley, 2005, p.37). This refers to ‘gendering’ in a contemporary Western society as binary. “Two categories are not merely regarded as distinct and opposed, they are also put into hierarchy in which one is typically cast a positive and negative” (Beasley, 2005, p.37). Beasley’s argument is understandable and visible to most, the argument relates to gender stereotyping that has led us to believe that “gender is not neutral, typically this can be seen as sexist in areas such as the work place” (Beasley, 2005, p.40). Beasley evaluated research that he had done on the roles of different genders in urban environments. He found that western cultures allocate men and women’s roles, “Men typically have more of a public involvement, due to work, sports and leisure that are seen as masculine roles. Women have a predominately domestic role in life such as housework, housewife’s and childcare. In a contemporary city this is seen as sexist because both sexes occupy the same space” (Beasley, 2005, p.42). Pringle found that “corporate managing roles are normally male dominated jobs, while women’s roles are less active, such as secretaries (Pringle, 2005, p.38). This relates to the sexual division of labour, that can be related to the survival instincts of animals. Pringle suggests, “the hunter is the man and the career and gatherer is the woman” (Pringle, 2005). Pringles irrational debate of women connotes feminism; in today’s post-feminist world some would argue these visions started liberal action for women against society in the late 1960’s and 70’s.
An interesting point to make clear would be to emphasise how theory related to social studies relates to the way in which SATC is transcribed in reference to the way in which the working women in the professional city is seen. Group dynamics is a topic influenced by many different scholars, thus it fits the nature of the surrounding topic, in particular the Classical Organization Theory. This refers to male power in professional organizations is sometimes known as homosociability. It is a term that illustrates the understandings of the male gender and the “organisational cultures and ideas of rational decision-making and effective management are overlaid with notions of masculinity” (Ramsay and Parker, 1992). So it is an irrational view of the constructions of a gendered society.
There are many gender related theories that are based on a rational view of society. A modern approach one called the Classical Organization Theory, which is based on universal rationality. Max Weber (1864 – 1920)developed the theory based on bureaucracy, power and control, of basic knowledge through the use of legal authority. His primary goal was to find a way in “which avoided the corruption, unfairness and nepotism characterizing most 19th century organizations” (HRM, 2010). To succeed that, “power is principally exemplified within organizations by the process of control” (HRM, 2010). Therefore in the purest form a respect for equality amongst a universal demographic within the workplace was his goal. Weber outlined some main functions that organizations are characterized by, an example according to HRM is; “…a continuous organization of official functions bound by rule”‘ (HRM, 2010). In terms of Male power in the work place, there are often signs of bureaucracy amongst the modern day environment. Gender neutral is many organizations such as the public services are traditionally noted for being irrational. Today, signs of rationality are changing that stigma; policemen and firemen are either becoming officers or rationally sharing the practice of fire or policewomen when needed.
From a Liberal Feminists point of view according to Acker (1991), the aims for women in the workplace is ‘empowerment’ and thinks of “organizations as gender neutral” (Acker, 1991). In terms of a Post Modern feminist approach, one “recognises that gender and sexuality are constantly at work in organizations” (Acker, 1991) and “investigates how gender identities are constantly produced in organizations” (Acker, 1991). Thus, Weber’s theory can be criticised by gender as part of our identity and personality. The performance of us as individuals cannot always be played out by norm. Weber’s theory relies on authority and rules that can be broken. Thompson and McHugh (2002) point out that “their working conditions are conducive to psychological failure. In short, people are treated more as infants than competent human beings” (HRM, 2010). According to scholars however, this can be the cause of making gender visible in the work place. Sexual harassment, gender discrimination and the gender gap are problems n the work force seen each day.
Although men and women occupy the same space in many organizations such as work, they are bullied as a minority by a male dominated environment. Following on from the Classical Organizational Theory, is theory based on group space and the diversity of a group. People who function well together to achieve goals are sometimes called in-groups. They produce positive work and use each others strengths to achieve goals. According to many scholars in group dynamics, this is normally formed in the orientation stage of groups. In a work place, “positive attitudes to in-groups enable people to bolster their self-esteem” (Stainton, 2003). The opposed, however refers to a negative dynamic functions of a group. These groups are called out-groups “negative attitudes to out-groups allow them to distance themselves from groups who threaten their self-esteem” (Stainton, 2003).
Positive attitudes come from individuals in a group that can influence. Based on their personality group individuals can en-force a group to hit targets and manage together. Personality can be positive because many factors can account; the way in which you are brought up can influence your work ethic, drive, social skills and balance. However, negative attitudes come from the same source. Too much work ethic can drive others away, the drive and social skills may vary from others causing other group roles and smaller groups to form. This according to relates to leading scholars Tuckman, Banet and Jones theories about negative cohesions in a group; often Interdependence and Intragroup Conflict can arise.
Tuckman developed the four stages of group dynamics that can produce a functioning group. Forming, this according to team building UK is “Time is spent planning, collecting information and bonding” (TBUK, 2010). The second stage is the most important stage in the group process and the most social ‘storming’, “Relationships between team members will be made or broken in this phase and some may never recover” (TBUK, 2010) often referred to storming. In many working environments peoples interactions and based on a more professional level, rather than social therefore bonds are often built on a positive nature and develop into negative bonds. However, males with personal sexist issues often express their beliefs in this stage. The third stage ‘norming’ “tends to be a move towards harmonious working practices with teams agreeing on the rules and values by which they operate” (TBUK, 2010). Therefore the final stage ‘performing’ is based on how well the other groups functions. The work place can cause conflicts in many ways.
Women can be victims of homosociability. In reference to the theory, it is obvious how women are diverted by men into out groups; In-groups consisting of males produce negative dynamics in a group, there can be prejudice and sexual discrimination as a cause and research shows that in-groups will try and control out-groups.
Referring back to literature research two (a): What writers say about Sex and the City
From the film, I found that the encouragement of sexuality and diversity is used on many occasions. In relation to the reading, this is a sign on individual and personal empowerment that many scholars believe is third wave feminism. An example from the film is Samantha. On various occasions Samantha’s mouth gets the better of her. One of the most important scenes is when Carrie and Big are celebrating their engagement dinner when one of Bigs old work friends is being boisterous, talking over Samantha’s speech. Her reaction first of all is to leave it, however after the second occasion she feels the need to tell him to “Shut up you Jackass”. This is an example of Samantha celebrating unfeminine emotions that wouldn’t have been acceptable in the past. Being loud, angry and outspoken Samantha’s comments relate to the reading in terms of Gladen (2007) social and personal empowerment. This relates to the shifting representation of feminism on TV made by Henry (2004), the importance of media images and sexuality is SATC enhances the sexual freedom. This is third wave because scholars believe that these characteristics signify third wave feminism.
From the first film, I found that the ladies from SATC represent their own struggles through the forms of sexualized representations of other people. When the ladies attend an auction for a previous wife of a millionaire prince who’s auctioning of her fortune to ‘punish’ him for what he has done to the relationship, the girls are evoked by the struggles that the women went through. This is a metaphor for the way in which Sex and the City viewers and what women of this generation may see as popular culture. As we know, popular culture is a way for third wave feminism to express itself- images of previous feminism that women can relate their personal and identities through it. Thus, it was noted earlier that third wave feminism often celebrates the achievements of the second wave through the consumption of media dramas and television.
There are however, some major criticisms of the third wave that can apply to Sex and the City. Sometimes Sex and the City is regarded as not being political enough – as stated by many scholars and Weber in his CO theory. ‘This discourages women from being wider feminists’ (Suite 101, 2010). Sex and the City then, can be criticised for the way in which third wave feminism promoted the well being of the individual and not so much as a society. Female empowerment is seen as negative in Sex and the City. As suggested in the reading the middle class women from the Western society who in Sex and the City have the luxury to spend $50,000 for personal ‘expressive self image’ do not benefit from capitalism in society the same way that a poorer working prostitute in the poorer districts of New York City would. The individual in Sex and the City ‘leads to the promotion of sexualisation for women in society’ (Suite 101, 2010).
However Krolokee’s vision of a one sided media represents the third wave encouragements of the film. Therefore the answer to my question earlier: does SATC promote women in the sense of third wave feminismThe answer is yes. This draws us back to the idea of the demographic and the “notions of universal womanhood” (Krolokee, 2005), in the second film the producers capture a different environment other than New York. When the ladies head to the Middle East they are boycotted by the issues surrounding women and the Burka, Carrie relates to the feminine problems of weight and desire for fast food in humours way suggesting that women will ‘go out of the way of fashion for food’. Thus, the images connotes that the feminist battle is not that wide, well in fact Carries view is less socially weighted. Women of the Western world are not confined by their husbands to wear a Burka, therefore SATC displays something that is very second wave, regarding the political stance. The ladies, while on holiday are also known for having an individual male butler which is a common job for Indian men in the Middle East, however without the support of a wife, the young butlers are at their services of a white-middle class women who is seen as more wealthy and free than this man. She leaves the butler money and the end of the film suggesting that Carrie is a helper to the mans needs, however feminism for the butlers wife is not displayed, the work and social norms of each character is very different from Carrie and SATC’s view on the universal feminist battle.
In the Sex and the City films I found that various life style identities are choices by women of Post feminism. In the second film Samantha in particular voices the horror of turning fifty, her forties saw her exploring her sexuality and giving of a good look for women in their forties. However, the debate between beauty culture and feminism is overseen in Sex and the City, it is in fact a great deal of their lives. The sense that women can make their own post revolution choices about what they wear and what beauty enhances they use is their choice. This is often seen in Sex and the City, again when Samantha buys a dress to promote her youth, being told by a youthful figure that I may be to young. She is expressing her post feminist thoughts to the worker, the deeper meaning however relates to the work read about Wolf and oppressed beauty culture. Her views on changing ones self contradicts feminism and is not post feminism, this is a new perspective on the culture of beauty and suggests that the choices are post revolutionary but negative reform of feminism.
Samantha turning forty to fifty throughout both films I believe is a metaphor for the shift in cultural norms. Thus, a Post Feminist promotes the shift in society and attitudes between men and women, however in Sex and the City the characters lack emotional repress of relationships. Carries disregard for Bigs wants, after work in the First and Second film causes issues that negatively affect their relationship. In the first film she pays no attention to the needs of his marriage that ends up with her admitting that she was wrong. In the second film, her disregard for his feelings about private marriage space ends with her cheating with an old boyfriend, Aiden. This relates to the issues that Thornham noted about Post Feminist discourse. It shows that the term Post Feminist is a term that is less radical and representative of the ideas of feminism, however they do not for fill the gratifications of the other waves. It also relates to the post-revolution feminist sensibility by Gerhard (2005) and argues, Baxter challenges representations of feminism through popular culture, though Lotz’s suggests “confusion over the terminology many signify one of the key obstacles facing feminist advances at the dawn of the 21st century” (Lotz, 2001, p.1). In which they were right.
Wolf argued that second wave culture was full of beauty influences. In relation to Kurucs idea about presenting ourselves as women in a male dominated society is post feminist. For example, Wolfs idea that we currently live in an era full of women who want to change themselves is a post feminist choice made by women. Plastic surgery relates to the way in which the characters use fashion to display their characters as, Wolf noted “using a new perspective on some old problems for feminism” (Whelehan, 1995, p.216) so we can see that the uses of fashion are ways are post feminist decisions made by the women of SATC. I believe that from what I found in Sex and the City and compared to my literature review that the drama is a perspective of Third Wave feminism. Using sources that I choose from the film, I encounter for many aspects that could argue an un-bias view of Sex and the City. For me the show is Third Wave and based on personal empowerment for the stated reasons above and because of the criticisms that also point out the Third Wave perspectives. Overall, I found traits of both types of feminine input into the film. When evaluating the film it is evident that the ways in which the film is Third Wave produce a positive enthuses on women’s feelings.
Referring back to literature research two (b): What are the issues in the gendered professional city?
Within the film Sex and the City there are occasions that the women are subject to discrimination, proof that it has not been abolished. I found from the Sex and the City film that Miranda is the main subject for feeling undervalued at work, her role as a mother and full time worker relates to thousands of women in the UK today. At the start of the second film she is subject to discrimination that means leaves her feeling undervalued, she eventually quits because she argues back to the masculine figure that dominantly associates with other male figures rather than her, because she is a women. In terms of society today, Fawcett have also published new figures stating that the gender pay gap has decreased by 2.2% over the last year (Fawcett Online, 2010). This shows that male power in the work place is becoming more gender neutral, this represents the state of media culture as Brudson (1997) argues that the state of contemporary political issues are often played out in the shifting discourse of popular media. This issues that surrounded Miranda’s problems for many women relate to Reinardy statement about “The stress of women is compounded by family issues, sexism, discrimination and the proverbial glass ceiling that limits professional prosperity” (Reinardy, 2009, p.43).
The dilemma this arises relates to the CO theory: Weber’s theory relates to rational views on society and in this example Miranda is victim to the process of control over male patriarchy. Amongst other rules and regulations, Miranda like other women in her situation would have the option to make her discrimination visible, however chooses the option to spend more time with her family. The situation she is in is seen from a Third Wave point of view: the aims for empowerment for women in the workplace. This relates to the work recently done by the F-Word who posted the article: The professional masquerade: Women working in corporate finance are expected to adhere to sexist and objectifying dress codes, the story was objectifying the notion that women were still seen as objects (2010). The characters of SATC are able to display these illustrations of real world women who suffer real world social problems like this, as part of being visionaries for other women they also play a big part in contemporary feminism. Luckily, the F-Word and other new technologies enable feminism to be shared quicker and more detailed to more women across the world.
In terms of sexuality Carries job as a writer, working for herself is way to express her sexuality which is a trait of third wave feminism. Her job relates to the way in which millions of feminists share views in the real world. Bitch Magazine are a response to popular culture, relating to a chance for women to speak freely about the issues that they want to speak freely about. Carries books all have the titles of real world issues that face relationships of women, as the women’s library in London books are loaned out to women to create a wider voice of feminism. Carries job is very individualistic because she has no constraints of the male dominated work place, unlike her friends she is unaware of the social problems
In terms of the debate between the Western environment and the theories surrounding the problems I can initially see that gender is divided into two. These spheres for men and women are becoming more reformed due to the visibility of the issues. Pringles research showed us that “corporate managing roles are normally male dominated jobs, while women’s roles are less active, such as secretaries (Pringle, 2005, p.38). So the division of labour is seen as negative for women.
SATC touched on feminist choices, I found that each character promotes individual feminism. The show is used in a Post Feminist tense because the ladies are socially unrestricted. The encouragement of sexuality and diversity, as first was a trait of third wave feminism. Liberal issues were played upon the text and in each film there were experiences of most waves, however as a whole the wider scale of SATC is to promote feminist discourse in a post – revolutionary perspective or post feminism.
The writers in SATC believed that the show appealed to a particular demographic, from my results I can see that this is true. The argument between geographical based feminism showed the universal struggles of women around the world, I found ‘lead to the sexualisation of women’ and could be the cause for the one sided portrayal of the media in the Western society.
According to many contemporary feminist websites such as the F-Word and Fawcett Online there are different cases of feminism that arise. The concept relating to the waves of feminism in my secondary research is revolution, how feminism has changed throughout history, however has managed to appear in different circumstances within the work place. Even though the work place is a place of managing diversity, a) for the business and b) for the wellbeing of equality there is visibly still certain circumstances that effect the stigma of women and work.
Throughout the last months I have been carrying out research based on the films SATC 1 and 2. Whilst doing this I have been collecting results that I think measure up to theory of feminism. Before I started this project, feminism was a term that is misunderstood. Due to my wider understanding of peoples theories and objectives, I am now more aware of the term.
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