Monthly Archives: November 2009

Benevolent Sexism and Hollywood

HannahmileyThis week some people in Hollywood have drawn attention to a double standard regarding photos of two teenage stars. In 2008, the 15 year old teen singer and actress Miley Cyrus appeared in a photo shoot for Vanity Fair magazine in which she was shirtless and wrapped in a sheet. Shortly after these images were released, many criticized the photographer and magazine for taking advantage of the young star and sexualizing her to sell magazines.

taylorlautner

A similar phenomenon is currently occurring, but this time with Taylor Lautner, one of the teenage stars of Twilight. Many of the promotional images and videos for the film have featured the 17 year old start appearing shirtless. However, unlike with the situation involving Cyrus, there has been little criticism or media attention about his photos and whether the marketing campaign unfairly sexualizes him to promote the movie.

This double standard, that a young male can appear shirtless to help publicize his movie while his female counterpart is criticized for similar behavior has brought attention to the differential treatment of men and women in Hollywood. Consequently, many are left wondering why only the Miley Cyrus pictures brought such staunch criticism while the Lautner ones have not. One possible explanation is that of benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1997). Ambivalent Sexism Theory states that sexism may exist in two forms: hostile or benevolent. Hostile sexism seeks to relegate women to subordinate roles typically through overt and derogatory characterizations. Benevolent sexism, while problematic because it also relegates women to subservient roles, is often more covert. This form of sexism typically views women as weak or objects that need to be protected.

From this perspective then, widely held benevolent views may prompt people to act protective of the female Cyrus  and characterize her as being otherwise unable to take care of herself. Conversely, the male Lautner is not viewed as helpless and escapes any potential scandal. Such behavior, or in this case the lack of action, may be at least one illustration of modern sexism.

square-eyeA Hollywood Double Standard?

square-eyeGlick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1997). Hostile and Benevolent Sexism.

The Conference Ends without Closing…

Final sunsetNow that we’ve come to the end, the Compass team would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who has participated and made our first virtual conference an overwhelming success. The authors and presenters have been, without exception, engaging and professional to the last. We’d also like to extend a special note of thanks to our virtual attendees, who have kept the discussions alive with insightful commentary, and their openness to explore issues across disciplines.

There will be no new content uploaded to the site after Friday 30th October, but there is still much to discuss. All of the presentations and comments will remain on the website indefinitely, and we’d encourage you all to keep engaging with the content so long as there are issues to be explored, and interdisciplinary barriers to be broken down! If you sign up to receive email alerts of new comments, you can keep up with any ongoing conversations.

We sincerely hope you have enjoyed the conference – here are some things that you can do to stay in touch:

  • Check out the Compass journals and recommend to your librarian. Researchers, teaching faculty, and advanced students will all benefit from the accessible, informative articles that provide overviews of current research. Personal subscriptions are now also available.
  • Complete the post-conference opinion survey, coming to you next week. Your thoughts will help us make decisions about future conferences.
  • If you have suggestions, or even just a short comment, you can pop it in our Suggestion Box or Email us
  • Access the Publishing Workshops and Keynotes via iTunes (as from the conference website). The raw feed for the podcasts can be found here.
  • Share our keynote video lectures via our Vimeo channel
  • Tell others about your experience of the conference!

Final reminder: your 20% book discount token is valid until 15th November, so visit the book exhibit before then.

Until next time…?

Thanks again,

The Compass Team
www.blackwell-compass.com