University of Hertfordshire

Loose Women: a ‘skin deep’ manifestation of commercialized post-feminism or an empowering space for feminist discourses?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMeCCSA 2019: Conference contribution (forthcoming - January 2019)
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019

Abstract

ITV’s Loose Women is a live human interest topical discussion show presented by and for women that attracts daily audiences of around one million and many more through social media. It claims to deliver “real, authentic and empowered women having an upfront and candid discussion” (ITV Insights, 2017). The editor in chief of ITV Daytime, Emma Gormley, recently stated that “its currency is ratings” and that an active presence on social media is part of the extension of the brand (Interview: Media Masters, 31 May 2018).

This thematic analysis of one year’s worth of programmes, their presence online, and the show’s associated mainstream media coverage asks whether Loose Women in its online and broadcast forms offers an empowering and holistic vision of female ageing that is often absent from mainstream media. Much of its storytelling is conducted through the experiences of female celebrities. The brand itself is heavily broadcast-focused but its online interaction with viewers and the mainstream media appears to be led by shock accounts of celebrity lifestyles. Does this approach normalize the postfeminist vision of woman as a project of self-improvement or is it an example of genuinely subversive popular feminism? Is it possible to be both? To what extent does the logic of online representation challenge or facilitate more diverse perspectives on femininity?

The working hypothesis behind the research is that, through the construction of the TV programme, it provides an authentic and diverse representation of the dilemmas facing women, at least in part, while also submitting to a relentless and increasingly mediatized commercial logic.

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