‘Kitten Heels’: Everyday Footwear Practices and Cultural Representations of Public Femininity
University of York, United Kingdom
Within the study of beauty and fashion cultures, footwear, as both a discursively constituted symbol of particular types of femininity and as an everyday embodied practice, has hitherto been a neglected area of study (see Robinson, 2013). Data from a recent three year UK ESRC case study on footwear, identity and transition, revealed the gendered choices, practices and performances by the male and female shoe-wearers in the study, in family, leisure, work, and relationship sites. The’ doing of gender’ as female participants transitioned across and within these spheres, revealed much, for example, about how femininity and women’s identity is constructed, normalised, resisted and transformed (see Robinson, 2015).
The concept of aesthetic labour is currently being used as a way to explore and conceptualise how employers control embodied work practices, through employees being expected, implicitly or explicitly, to adjust their looks or personal persona in order to present a desired occupational image. However, here, by attempting to refine this concept, I expand on the project’s earlier insights around women’s shoe practices through a case study of the much debated and cultural representation of UK Prime Minister, Theresa May's, historic choice of 'kitten heels'. This story made global media headlines again in 2016, when she was urged by trade unionists to wear 'flats', so that women did not feel compelled to wear potentially damaging high heels to work. Thus, I argue that a consideration of femininity, footwear, and transition across both public and spheres, allows for cultural representations of a ‘public’, political femininity, to be both deconstructed and challenged.
The Portrayal of Women in the news: an analysis of Portuguese print media
University of Lisbon / ISCSP/ CIEG, Portugal
Given feminist role in society, on the one hand, and women increasing participation in public life at all levels on the other hand, it should be expected that news items reflected the same participation level and promoted a general idea of gender equality. Drawing from the idea that representation, and especially media representations, constitute a normative function of the language that reveals or distorts what is taken as true about gender issues, our approach combines a quantitative content analysis with qualitative discourse analysis to explore the way women are being portrayed in Portuguese print media.
Media’s capacity of setting the agenda has been affecting the construction of a certain vision of the world and although digital media have been developing its audience coverage, people still turn to print media to deepen their knowledge on news facts. Content analysis is designed so as to characterize the relevance and highlight of news on women, but also reading how protagonists are characterized, news sources, to whom main “voices” in the news belong and news direction. Discourse analysis focuses on major arguments for a positive or negative direction in the news. Our corpus of over 5300 news items comprehends major print media in Portugal, including daily and weekly newspapers and information magazines for a whole one year period (2014).
A deeper knowledge of media representations as social outputs on women’s role may contribute to rethink activist strategies and academic stances.
The Role of Gender in Active Ageing: a Literature Review
1Research Group on Ageing (GIE-CSIC); Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography (IEGD); Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Madrid, Spain; 2Institute of Gender Studies (IEG) and Department of Social Analysis; Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M). Getafe, Spain; 3National Centre of Epidemiology and CIBERNED; Institute of Health Carlos III (CNE; ISCIII). Madrid, Spain; 4Department of Sociology; University of Granada. Granada, Spain
Introduction: Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation, security and learning in the course of life, in order to enhance quality of life as people age. In this model, gender is a cross-cutting determinant for understanding and promoting active ageing (WHO, 2002; Faber, 2015). The sociologist Arber and Ginn (1995) pioneered the contribution on the relationship gender/ageing.
Objective: To analyze differences in active ageing, from a gender perspective, considering the dimensions established in its definition: health, participation, security, long life learning, and other dimensions where elder women are major participants, e.g. caregiving.
Material and method: Scientific literature as well as public policies documents will be reviewed to analyze the role of gender in active ageing and in other frameworks of ageing (healthy, productive, successful, positive,…). A bibliographic database developed by the authors will be used, with references dated between 2001 and 2016. Content analysis will be applied using Atlas.ti program.
Results: Negative characteristics of ageing in the group of women (living more years in solitude, with poorer conditions in the dimensions of active ageing) could drive to results that corroborate a worse active ageing. In addition to the influence of the variable sex, the gender dimension (social perception of the older adults, roles attributed according to sex ...) can also introduce relevant differences among women vs men in their active ageing.
This proposal underlines the need of evaluation, and conveys the existence of the gender gap by considering social factors in the context of active ageing.