Negotiations of hegemonic gender norms in Japanese media spaces: analyses of women's media and female audiences

Hiromi Tanaka (Meiji University)
Media Studies
I&D, Piso 4, Multiusos 2
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel concerns the gendered dimension of contemporary Japanese media with a focus on gender representation in women's media and formation of a gender-specific community of audiences and examines what kind of gender norms are (re)constructed and how these norms are negotiated in media spaces.

Long abstract:

Existing research about gender and media has long pointed out that media is a major gendered area of contemporary societies. Women as well as racial, ethnic and sexual minorities are not only underrepresented, but represented imprecisely in media. When women are portrayed, they are often depicted as having traits typically seen as 'feminine': being passive, domestic, caring, subordinated to men, performing roles that are primarily assigned to women. They also tend to appear as the sexualized objects of a 'male gaze'. However stereotypical and unrealistic they are, these images of women are widely disseminated through media, even beyond national boundaries in the process of globalization. Researchers are concerned about the images, because they can have a negative impact on audiences such as a distorted self-image, anorexia and disturbance in cognitive function. Behind all these phenomena lies a fact that most media contents are produced in an androcentric organizational and industrial settings. All these general findings of gender and media research so far can apply to Japan, too. It is, however, crucial for Japan researchers to take a closer look at the Japanese context due to its own historical and cultural conditions which help constitute current Japanese gendered media spaces. This is the task of this panel. The panel concerns the gendered dimension of contemporary Japanese media with a focus on (a) gender representation in media texts and (b) formation of a gender-specific community of media audiences. It shall examine what kind of gender norms are constructed and how those norms are negotiated in socio-cultural spaces created by media texts and audiences. The first two presentations study gender representation in women's magazines (VERY, I LOVE mama, an an), while the third presentation concerns female audiences called fujoshi. Overall, the panel shall highlight the way that dominant gender norms are (re)constructed in today's Japanese media and critically assess the possibility of change in gender structure embedded there. It shall address the importance of socio-cultural spaces of media as contested sites of negotiation of hegemonic gender norms that appear to be rigid rather than flexible and subject to change.