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THE GENDER ROLE PARADOX IN YOUTH CULTURE: AN ANALYSIS OF WOMEN IN MUSIC VIDEOS

Susan Alexander
Michigan Sociological Review
Vol. 13 (Fall 1999), pp. 46-64
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40969035
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE GENDER ROLE PARADOX IN YOUTH CULTURE: AN ANALYSIS OF WOMEN IN MUSIC VIDEOS
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Abstract

This study argues that the contemporary mass media presents conflicting and contradictory messages about women and the roles they should fulfill By systematically analyzing the conflicting images of women in music videos, a greater understanding as to how the dominant youth culture constructs, deconstructs, and reconstructs young women's self-identity emerges. The study is based upon a qualitative analysis of 123 music videos which appeared on MTV and BET during the summer of 1995. Although 55 (44.7percent) of the 123 videos included in this sample contained no women or placed women only in background shots, the focus here is on the 68 music videos that feature women as a principal character in the action. The findings indicate that the portrayal of women in videos can be identified according to three categories: conventional women, self-reliant women, and the internal paradox. The "conventional women" category includes videos in which women are passive, and dependent on a male's attention, and in which the emphasis is on physical appearance. Videos in the "independent women" category include videos that depict women as strong, self-reliant, and dominant in sexual relationships. The third category, "the internal paradox," includes videos in which a female or male character is shown in conflicting gender roles within a single video. These three categories are juxtaposed during the programming of music videos, thus leaving the female viewer to construct the particular gender identity she finds most satisfactory from the paradoxical images presented.

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