Popularizing feminism : a comparative case study of British and Turkish women's magazines
This thesis is a comparative study of popularisation of feminism in Britain and Turkey in the 1990s. It focuses on selected British and Turkish women's magazines and examines the ways in which they engage with feminist concerns. The methodology is derived from feminist critical theory and cultural studies in order to address the dynamic interchange between feminist politics and mainstream or consumer women's interests and to examine the relationship between the concepts of feminism and femininity in contemporary women's magazines. The significance of the research lies in the identification of ways in which these texts incorporate and appropriate feminist discourses to the extent that the notion of femininity has increasingly come to be associated with feminist thought. The argument presented in this study is that the relationship between the producers of cultural texts and feminism, and producers and readers need to be taken into consideration to investigate how gendered subjectivities are reproduced in any given culture or crossculturally, by whom they are reproduced, in whose interests they work, and how they are constructed. This approach to popular culture will provide tools to articulate the political and cultural identities of women. The thesis is divided into three chapters. In the first, I discuss the evolution of feminist movements in the different historical and cultural contexts of Britain and Turkey by focusing on current feminist debates. The second chapter examines the women's magazine as a diverse form of popular culture with regard to its market and content. Contemporary women's magazine markets in these two countries and the ways in which these markets have been changed and expanded in conjunction with the development of feminist movements over the last two decades are discussed. This chapter also discusses the role of editors in defining a contemporary understanding of femininity for mass consumption and the editorial control of the magazine form as a commodity. The final chapter examines the dominant themes through which these texts have engaged with feminist issues. By comparing and contrasting the Turkish and British women's magazines I have found that specific conditions and politics engender a variety of diverse forms for the popularisation of feminism. Feminist themes and issues embedded in popular and commercial discourses are complex and various. However, I have found that the Turkish women's magazines primarily provide an outlet for women's voices and share a common goal with feminist politics of promoting female empowerment in the context of 1990s' Turkey. On the other hand, feminism is predominantly recognized as a cultural value by the British women's magazines in which feminism is often redefined through commodities and fetishized into a symbol of things. Their approach is defined as postfeminist which means the incorporation, revision and depoliticisation of feminist politics.