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Table of contents
The vertical axis represents the audience's relationship to the media text in terms of sociocultural factors. Turnbull moves on to suggest a third dimension to her map, adding an axis on which intellectuals position themselves in regard to the audience. She suggests that this position is revealed by the use of pronouns -whether an 'us' and 'them' position is taken, or whether an overidentification occurs, assuming that '"we" may speak on their behalf since we too are part of the audience' p.
The position which she advocates taking up is in the centre of the map, where there is a position of an unstable '1';. It allows for a consideration of how our socio-cultural contexts come into play with our textual experiences, and it is therefore a discursive position in which we cannot escape the consequences of our own power relationships as academics and intellectuals. I was concerned by the fact that I was unsure where to position myself on the three-dimensional theoretical map that she describes.
I am not completely comfortable with any of the extreme positions she has described on the map, and since she argues that the point at which the two axes cross is the least stable, that is where I will position myself. I do not want to take an 'us' and 'them' position with regard to other members of the audience.
Nor can I assume that I am reacting to images arid texts in the same way as other members of the audience, since my access to various discourses is increasing as I pursue academic study in this area. As Turnbull says, 'to assume that we may speak with authority for our community is yet another power move, silencing other voices' 8. Tumbull discusses her teaching as an area of her intellectual endeavour in which she can empower her students by providing them with discursive tools for understanding themselves and their relationship to media. As a social worker, I am attempting to empower the women who request counselling.
I also believe that I can, and should, provide discursive tools to the women for understanding themselves and their context, including their relationship to media. White, , combined with academic study in the area of cultural studies and critical pedagogy. White takes a poststructuralist position with regard to subjectivity, believing that subjectivity is not fixed, but that it is influenced by meaning-making activity. He believes subjectivity is produced through discursive practices and that language and meaning-making activities are powerful.
Unlike psychoanalysts who are pathology-focused O'Hanlon, 22 and who believe that childhood experiences shape how we interpret images as adults, White believes that images start in the present and reach backwards, finding other elements with which to resonate. These texts, with which people engage, may contribute to people's meaning-making in current situations, and these images may then move backwards in time, finding memories with which to resonate, which then consolidate the meanings.
White gives an example of this process by describing how an adult incest survivor will make meaning of her memories of abuse, by possibly thinking that it proves that she is bad and unlovable. That meaning is then expressed in her daily life by her being abusive towards herself. By adding a 'loving herself' story-line, she can reinterpret the past experience.
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While in this new territory, she can look back at the abuse and give it a new meaning, by realising that she was a victim of abuse. This new meaning will then shape new experiences - it might lead to rage and a passion for justice. White suggests that new meaning will give new expression and new action , and that therapists need to provide people who are consulting them with a scaffold on which to build new meanings.
This is done by externalising the problem, situating the problem within the context and politicising it, while broadening the person's audience, by involving as many others in the process as possible, in order to attempt to minimise the reliance on the therapist. If people need to be provided with scaffold-like frameworks in order to make meaning of their current situations and their past experiences, I wonder if it is possible that abused women are seeking out popular cultural texts, which can be used as frameworks for making meaning of their abusive situations.
As opposed to the general perception of abused women as being passive and victim-like, my experience of abused women has been that they are actively engaged in attempting to understand and improve their situations. My concern is that they find popular cultural texts that may reinforce, rather than challenge, their positions within abusive relationships. Mercer's description of complicit pleasure in Bennett et al.
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He represents the act of engagement with a particular text as a double helix in motion. He considers one half of the double helix as representing power, and the other half pleasure. It is then possible to visualise the relationship between power and pleasure as being made up of points of persuasion, resistance and negotiation. This explains how, despite being in a position of resistance to depictions of control of women, I may still enjoy certain texts, and why I am concerned that abused women could be in positions of persuasion, or negotiation, with those same depictions.
I do not believe reading or viewing these texts will necessarily make any of us who are already in resistance to the notion of being controlled, vulnerable to abusive relationships, but I am concerned for those women who are already in abusive relationships. The subtle romanticization of control. I think I have been clear, but want to reiterate before examining texts that I am considering the possible meanings which could be taken from these texts by women who are attempting to make sense of their context of living with an abusive partner.
I am not assuming that anyone else would take these same meanings. I want to make it clear that while I have witnessed wife assault as a child, I have not experienced spousal violence. I am writing as a social worker, concerned with the practice problem of how to deconstruct meanings that assaulted women have already made regarding controlling behaviour being romantic, and their need to take care of their partner.
Due to comments made by women in counselling sessions, I first looked at the messages presented in romance novels. What struck me as I read romance novels was the similarity they shared with the story of Beauty and the Beast. Walt Disney's theatre and video release of Beauty and the Beast has obviously been very successful, and the paraphernalia accompanying it still fill toyshops and children's clothing departments.
Beauty and the Beast (TV Series –) - IMDb
The best for adults. The best for kids. The advertisements suggest that this romance is suitable for adults and children; that the whole family will enjoy it. Why is it so popular?
There is some difference between the original story of Beauty and the Beast and the Disney version. Adams has completed a thorough analysis of the reading of the original version of Beauty and the Beast and the negotiation of affect and cognition in its reading by an 8-year-old girl. He breaks the text down into signifying units, describing the levels of semiosis, grammatical unit, affect signified, results, propositions and signifiers of each.
He then provides the child's version of text, using the same units. He suggests that by displacing affect onto a signifier in the text the child makes her way through the text. Although he suggests that Beauty and the Beast is meant to direct the reader to think about marriage, guilt and herself, the 8-year-old child actually uses it to think about her mother.
He says, 'postponing the grim reality she will one day face, she stays as a child attached to her father and finding every reason to distrust her mother' p. What is useful about his study is that he points out the impact of the reader's affect and cognition on the meaning taken from the text, regardless of what the intended purpose of the text might have been.
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Giroux and Simon propose using the notion of consent while attempting to understand bow people 'negotiate elements of place and agency as a result of their investments in particular relations of meaning constructed through popular forms' p. They suggest that an over reliance on ideology critique limits our ability to understand hegemonic and counter-hegemonic struggles and the 'production and regulation of desire. They quote Grossberg as saying:. It is only in terms of these relations that we can understand people's need and ability to maintain a 'faith' in something beyond their immediate existence.
Giroux and Simon, It is as if Grossberg is speaking about abused women. They are struggling to survive, since there is often a real danger that they will be severely beaten, if not killed, but they carry on struggling, since any alternative options may be limited, by maintaining a faith in the power of love and marriage and the patriarchy. Through the romanticization of abuse in popular cultural texts, their involvement in abusive relationships may be reinforced. An abused woman's reading of Beauty and the Beast would, therefore, be different from that of an 8-year-old's or even of an academic's, since her affect and environment of which she needs to make meaning will be different.
In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Belle is shown as enjoying books with adventure and romance, wanting something more exciting than her boring provincial life.
The Beast's Love
Gaston, the handsome village hunter wants to marry her because she is the most beautiful woman in the village, but she thinks he is a boorish lout and his description of her as his wife, cooking and darning for him and having his children, does not appeal to her. So far so good. One day, her father loses his way in a forest and takes shelter in the Beast's castle. We have been told already that the Beast had been a handsome spoiled young prince who would not allow an ugly old hag to take refuge in his castle.
However, she had actually been a beautiful enchantress in disguise, testing the prince, and she put a spell on his castle, turning him into a beast and all his servants into objects, such as teapots, candlesticks and clocks. She has given him an enchanted rose and told him that if he has not learned how to love, and if he is not loved, by the time he is 21, the final petal will drop from the rose and the spell will never be broken. When the Beast discovers that his servants have given Belle's father refuge he is angry, believing him to be a spy, and throws him into a dungeon.
When the father's horse returns home, Belle is worried and goes looking for her father. The horse leads her to the Beast's castle. She finds her father and is worried that he seems ill. The Beast finds them together and is furious, frightening Belle. Despite her fear, she asks the Beast to keep her, and let her father go since he is so ill.