Where the girls are : growing up female with the mass media / Susan J. Douglas
Book | Times Books | 1994 | 1st ed.

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1st ed.
340 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-325) and index.
Fractured fairy tales -- Mama said -- Sex and the single teenager -- Why the Shirelles mattered -- She's got the devil in her heart -- Genies and witches -- Throwing out our bras -- I am woman, hear me roar -- The rise of the bionic bimbo -- The ERA as catfight -- Narcissism as liberation -- I'm not a feminist, but ...
Where the Girls Are is a romp through the confusing and contradictory images of women in American pop culture, as media critic Susan J. Douglas looks back at the television programs, popular music, advertising, and nightly news reports of the past four decades to reveal the decidedly mixed messages conveyed to girls and women coming of age in America. In a humorous and provocative analysis of our postwar cultural heritage (never losing sight of the essential ludicrousness of flying nuns or identical cousins), Douglas deconstructs these ambiguous messages and fathoms their influence on her own life and the lives of her contemporaries. Douglas tells the story of young women growing up on a steady diet of images that implicitly acknowledged their concerns without directly saying so. It is no accident, she argues, that "girl groups" like the Shirelles emerged in the early 1960s, singing sexually charged songs like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"; or that cultural anxiety over female assertiveness showed up in sitcoms like Bewitched whose heroines had magical powers; or that the news coverage of the Equal Rights Amendment degenerated into a spat among women, absolving men of any responsibility - a pattern mirrored in shows like Dallas and Dynasty, where male amorality was overshadowed by the cat-fights between Joan Collins and Linda Evans. And yet for all the images that reinforced a traditional view of servile and dependent women, Douglas powerfully reveals how American mass culture also undermined these images by offering countless examples of girls and women who were actors in the wider world and who controlled their own destinies. In fact, it was the kitsch images of the 1950s and '60s that paradoxically helped to create a genuine feminist consciousness in the 1970s and '80s. The Ronettes, Gidget, and Charlie's Angels may seem unlikely feminist heroines, but Douglas reclaims them as cultural touchstones for contemporary women trying to make sense of their own lives. Her lively narrative is sure to provoke laughter and wonderment over why no one else had ever noticed these things about America's popular culture. "We must rewatch and relisten," writes Douglas, "but with a new mission: to go where the girls are. It's time to reclaim a past too frequently ignored, hooted at, and dismissed, because it is in these images of women that we find the roots of who we are now." With warmth, wit, and a keen eye for the absurd, Where the Girls Are supplies a crucial missing chapter in the cultural history of our time.
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Online version: Douglas, Susan J. (Susan Jeanne), 1950- Where the girls are. 1st ed. New York : Times Books, ©1994 (OCoLC)624328708
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