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Postgraduate symposium: Sex, feminisms, and the body in girls’ blogs and ma...

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Oxford Brookes University

Gipsy Lane Campus

Oxford

OX3 0BP

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Postgraduate symposium: Sex, feminisms, and the body in girls’ blogs and magazines

This symposium takes forward some themes from the Girls and Women in Print and Pixels conference held at Oxford Brookes University, as a part of the Consuming/Cultures international series. Hanna Limatius (University of Tampere, Finland), Kate Lonie (University of Sydney, Australia) and Elizabeth Lovegrove (Oxford Brookes University, UK) present their work researching aspects of the body, celebrity feminisms and sex in some contemporary online and historical print settings

The seminar will be held at Oxford Brookes University’s Gipsy Lane Campus on Thursday 26th April, 5-7pm (coffee and tea available from 4.30). This campus is a stop for the Oxford –London coach lines, for those travelling from London. See here for map and full directions. The venue is room JHBB 303. We hope attendees will join us for a drink afterwards.

Abstracts

Hanna Limatius: Plus-size fashion blogging and body positivity

The focus of my paper will be the concept of body positivity, and some ways in which this social movement has influenced the identity construction of plus-size fashion bloggers. Through means of qualitative discourse analysis of blog posts and questionnaire replies (from 20 UK-based fasion blogs whose authors identify as 'plus-size'), I illustrate that while adopting a “body positive blogger” identity can be empowering to plus-size women, it can also lead to the construction of new types of norms and restrictions within the plus-size fashion blogging community. These norms are also reflected in the linguistic and discursive practices of the bloggers, such as the use of in-group “lingo”, boundary management between “us” and “them”, and narrative constructions of identity. I will also present some examples from a corpus-linguistic analysis of blog texts that focuses on the terminology that the bloggers use to describe their bodies – most notably the “reclaimed”, positive uses of the word “fat”.

Kate Lonie: Policing the political: Young women and contemporary celebrity feminism

Drawing on interviews with young women in the UK and Australia, this presentation advocates a nuanced approach towards popular rhetoric that promotes the image of an era of renewed feminist activism and celebration. Celebrity feminists such as Emma Watson, Beyoncé or Sheryl Sandberg – that is, celebrities who first achieve fame for something other than their feminist activities – are central to this contemporary revival and its mainstream embrace. The young women of this study enage with feminism (largely within an online context) and are, to varying degrees,proud to proclaim their feminist status; this process has often been facilitated by this recent version of feminism’s celebritisation. However, both the endurance of some negative feminist stereotypes, as well as the continuing relevance of a number of characteristics traditionally associated with postfeminism, can be seen as challenging the notion of a post-postfeminist era. This presentation draws attention to implicit hierarchies of feminism and celebrity; that is, the common perception that not all celebrity feminists are perceived as embodying, or promoting, an appropriate, or desirable, feminist “brand”. As a result, this process of “feminist border policing” (Taylor, 2016) undertaken by my interview participants can be seen as reiterating the relevance of certain aspects of a postfeminist media culture, and contesting claims of the dawning of a “new”, post-postfeminist climate.

Elizabeth Lovegrove: Learning about sex in teen magazines

Before the internet and its wealth of avaialble (mis)information, many teenage girls got a lot of their sex education from their magazines, learning about safe sex, emotions, social expectations, and physical practicalities from articles and problem pages.

Revisiting twentieth century teen magazines including Jackie, Just Seventeen, Mizz and More!, this paper will explore the voices of both producers and consumers of magazines in the confusion of messages surroundng sex. I will draw on the advice published in the magazines’ authorial voices, as well as the published letters from readers, and consider the magazines’ aims in the ways these interactions between producer and consumer were framed. The paper will also draw on recent survey data about women’s recollections of their own consumption of teenage magazines, to examine the way these messages about sex have stayed with readers, sometimes decades later. Prominent in those recollections are the ‘position of the fortnight’ in More! magazine, and Just Seventeen’s slogan ’to be sussed is a must, but sex under 16 is illegal’, as well as mixed emotions about the appropriateness of the magazines’ sexual content, and whether the lessons learned turned out to be useful ones, and an acknowledgement that sometimes there were simply no better sources of information available.

Speaker biographies

Hanna Limatius is a doctoral candidate at the University of Tampere, Finland. Her thesis explores aspects of community, identity and empowerment through interaction in plus-size fashion blogs. Her research interests include (but are not limited to) computer-mediated discourse, online communities (of practice, of marginalized people), blogging, social media, and fashion discourse. Her focus is on discourse analysis, and she has an interest in corpus-linguistic methods. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals (Language@Internet; Token: A Journal of English Linguistics), and she has presented at a range of international conferences in the UK, Ireland and Finland. Hanna is a Visiting Scholar at Oxford Brookes.

Kate Lonie is a final-year PhD candidate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Drawing on the fields of gender studies, media studies, youth studies and celebrity studies, her thesis demonstrates how contemporary celebrity mediates, and complicates, understandings of political and media engagement, as well as feminism, among young women. Currently based in London, Kate is Research Associate and UK Project Manager on Professor Anna Hickey-Moody's ARC-funded 'Interfaith Childhoods' research project.

Elizabeth Lovegrove is a PhD candiate in the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University, researching the interactions between readers and producers published in twentieth century teen magazines. Her publications include the entry on ‘Magazines for Teenagers’ in Oxford Bibliographies, published by OUP, and she has presented research on teen magazines at conferences at Kingston University and Cornell University, among others.

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Gipsy Lane Campus

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OX3 0BP

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