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Feminist Counterpublics and Public Feminisms: Advancing a Critique of Racialized Sexualization in London’s Public Advertising

Ringrose, Jessica, Regehr, Kaitlyn (2020) Feminist Counterpublics and Public Feminisms: Advancing a Critique of Racialized Sexualization in London’s Public Advertising. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 46 (1). ISSN 0097-9740. (doi:10.1086/709362) (KAR id:78669)


Following public outcry over a body-shaming advertisement in the London transport network in 2015, the mayor of London commissioned a multimedia documentary-style study that involved sixteen interviews with women as they commuted throughout London; two “talk-back” art projects with twenty-two schoolgirls; and a survey of 2,012 Londoners. This paper explores our experience of undertaking this project as a mixed-methods, intersectional feminist research process. We discuss the complex relationship between feminist counterpublics and public feminisms and how we negotiated working with a range of stakeholders in our attempt to reshape public debates over gender and advertising. We explore a shift in advertising where women, once positioned as passive props for the male gaze, have been reimagined as postfeminist modes of confident address and forms of “femvertising”, which challenge women to live up to new hybrid forms of racialised, sexualised bodily ideals. Our statistical findings demonstrate an overwhelming public dislike of sexualized advertising, and our in-depth interviewing, focus groups, and collaging methodologies show how diverse women experience new forms of racialized sexualization as problematic rather than as evidence of diversity and inclusion. We argue that by explicitly adopting a feminist intersectional lens, we can foreground the racist and sexist force of ads and their impact on a range of diverse women and girls, documenting the nonconsensual and assaultive nature of public advertising and, therefore, the need for greater accountability from corporate and government stakeholders.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1086/709362
Projects: Public Feminism and Feminist Counter Publics: Using Intersectional Feminist Research to Challenge the Bodies in Public Advertising
Subjects: H Social Sciences
L Education
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Funders: [37325] UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Kaitlyn Regehr
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 17:39 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 17:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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