BA in Communication Studies
Communication Studies Department
The hegemonic threads that are present, in the fictional story of Fifty Shades of Grey and in the “true” depiction of Lovelace, continue to depict gender roles that render to consumers the objectification of women through the use of the male gaze. This consumption can encourage harmful recurring topics, such as rape fantasies and co-dependent relationships that can lead to domestic violence, while concurrently undermining the agency of the woman and simultaneously pitching her against the standards of the Madonna/whore complex.
After reading Fifty Shades of Grey, one is left to ponder how popular texts perpetuate existing patriarchal, hegemonic norms that shape our perceptions of reality regarding gender norms, accepted behaviors, and relationship standards. There are troubling themes, including the glorification of co-dependency, objectification of women through the male gaze, loss of agency, and problematic gender roles and expectations that run through Fifty Shades, all of which are present in many other popular texts.
To answer how harmful themes are preserved and remain prevalent, one can turn to other popular texts that superficially aim to disrupt hegemonic norms to find similar, problematic representations that raise questions about women’s sexuality and agency. As an example, the movie Lovelace, released in 2013, is based on the “true story” of Linda Lovelace, star of 1972’s Deep Throat and an adult film icon, will also be examined. The film portrays Linda as she is coerced into and abused by the porn industry before taking “control “of her life. Lastly, Disney’s, Beauty and the Beast, will also be considered to demonstrate how texts perpetuate societal norms, as well as, offer an interesting juxtaposition to the “adult” texts explored.
For the purposes of exploring social constructions, such as these mentioned above, ideological and critical feminist approaches will be used to delve into the recurring themes portrayed in the media: the objectification of women through the male gaze, social constructions of gender, and the glorification of co-dependency. Through this approach, the goal is for one to gain helpful insight to understand dominant power structures and the values and ideologies are furthered, and also to recognize the marginalized group, in this case women, and to understand how and why their agency is lost; as well as, to uncover latent messages within the artifact articulating these ideologies.