Chapters

Bridezillas
Chapter 1: Domesticating Matrimonial Monstrosity: Bridezillas and Narratives of Feminine Containment

The wedding industry places unrelenting pressure on brides to hyperconsume. When the women on WE tv’s show Bridezillas succumb to this pressure, they are depicted as monsters. Read more …

Chapter 2: The Reality of Televised Motherhood: The Personal Quest and Feminine Test of Kate Gosselin

Kate Gosselin’s TLC reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8 (and after the divorce, Kate Plus 8) depicts and shapes her struggle to manage her multiple identities as a parent and a person. Read more …

Desperate Housewives
Chapter 3: Marriage, Friendship, and Scandal: Constructing a Typology of Media Representations of Women in Desperate Housewives

On ABC’s Desperate Housewives, the primary theme of social relationships is a mixed blessing for the characters as wives and mothers. On the one hand, the characters enjoy each other’s support, but on the other, their relationships are also the source of scandal. Read more …

Golden Girls
Chapter 4: Ancient Archetypes in Modern Media

The women of the television shows Golden Girls, Living Single, and Sex and the City reenact the ancient patriarchal archetypes of the iron maiden, sex object, child, and mother. Read more …

Duggar Family
Chapter 5: Christian Patriarchy Lite: TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting

The patriarchal gender roles enacted on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar normalize a Quiverfull theology of unlimited childbearing that had previously been marginal in evangelical Christianity for an audience of female viewers. Read more …

Unfaithful (with Richard Gere)
Chapter 6: Punishing Unfaithful Wives and Working Mothers: Messages of Postfeminism in Contemporary Film

In the backlash against the cultural victories of feminism, the “bad women” characters in Fatal Attraction, The Devil Wears Prada, and Unfaithful are punished for their work ambitions and extramarital passions. Read more …

The Craft: Invocation Ritual
Chapter 7: Love and Lack: Media, Witches, and Normative Gender Roles

Films such as The Craft, Practical Magic, and similar productions rob female practitioners of Wicca of their own agency, replace it with a reliance on outside male forces, and discipline the women into standard patriarchal positions. Read more …

Water, film directed by Deepa Mehta
Chapter 8: Head Above Water: Applying Nussbaum’s “Capabilities Approach” to Deepa Mehta’s 2005 Film

In her film Water, Deepa Mehta depicts Hindu widows in 1938 rural India as being systematically robbed of Martha Nussbaum’s list of the ten functional capabilities every human being should have in their lives. Read more …

Cindy Sheehan
Chapter 9: Feminine Style and Militant Motherhood in Antiwar Discourse: Cindy Sheehan as Grieving Mother and/or Left-Leaning Radical

Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war appeal used the rhetoric of militant motherhood to protest against George W. Bush’s foreign policies, but it also constrained her credibility when she tried to move beyond her position as a mother. Read more …

Sarah Palin Newsweek Cover (Cropped)
Chapter 10: Grisly Mama: Carnivorous Media Coverage of Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin’s use of the metaphor of meat in images of attack dogs, caribou hunting, and mama grizzlies was complicated by the dark side of carnivore rhetoric. Read more …

David Vitter Press Conference
Chapter 11: “Stand by Your Man” Revisited: Political Wives and Scandal

What’s going on in the minds of the women who appear beside their politician husbands when the men admit to sexual indiscretions? Perhaps they’re angry not just because of the infidelity but because the men violated their private marriage agreements. Read more …

Nancy Pelosi
Chapter 12: “Taking Care of the Children and the Country”: Nancy Pelosi and the Trope of Motherhood in Partisan and Mainstream Media

What’s the significance of Nancy Pelosi’s choice to be surrounded by children in the iconic photograph of her taking office as the Speaker of the House? She is one of the Democratic women who come under fire for articulating motherhood in a way that violates the Republicans’ attempt to own “family values.” Read more …

Coach Jim and Ellen Tressel Pledging Allegiance
Chapter 13: Local Media Madness: How One City’s Media Helped Perpetuate the Myth of the “Perfect” Coach’s Wife

The women married to the head coaches of elite college football teams bear high social expectations of their beauty, housekeeping, parenting, and personal sacrifice for the team. Read more …

Michele Bachmann
Chapter 14: Who’s Framing Whom? Michele Bachmann and the (Primary) Politics of Motherhood

As a biological and foster mother, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann strategically invoked political motherhood in her public statements, but the media framed her appeals differently than she intended. Read more …

Baby Mix Me a Drink
Chapter 15: Momtinis, Not Martyrs: Blogs That Recast Motherhood and Muted Groups

When moms online blog about needing a martini and unapologetically taking their kids to McDonalds, they are rebelling against both patriarchal expectations of motherhood and the genre of “mommy blogging” to present an alternative view of motherhood on the Internet. Read more …

Tampax Mother Nature Campaign
Chapter 16: Love Thy Mother? Discrepant Constructions of Motherhood in the “Outsmart Mother Nature with Tampax” Campaign

The Tampax ads that feature “Mother Nature” physically chasing women in order to give them their “monthly gift” reinforce the stigma of the reproductive function of women’s bodies. Read more …

Mad Men Wedding
Chapter 17: Taking the Audience Perspective: Online Fan Commentary About the Brides of Mad Men and Their Weddings

When fans of AMC’s Mad Men get together online to discuss the television show, their comments on the weddings in the first season reveal their attitudes about child brides, wedding dresses, and big weddings. Read more …