Brock University

Feminist Methodologies: media and discourse

Feminists have long been known for raising new and significant analytic questions, challenges and innovations in addressing methodological issues in scholarship. The very different paper topics in this session all address the challenges of inferential methodological translations related to analytic contexts – from embodied movement into written text, from quantitative analysis into feminist interpretive frames and from interview data into racialized and sexualized social analysis that is required for interpretation. These papers all reflect on some potentialities of feminist methodologies in the addressing of both long standing and emergent research questions, as well as the innovations and challenges entailed by their use.
Co-sponsored by:

Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE/ACFTS)

Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education (CASWE/ACEFE) Canadian Committee on Women’s History (CCWS/CCHF)

Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA/ACSP)

Canadian Sociology Association (CSA/SCS)

Women and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF)

Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW/ICREF)

Session Organizer: Marleny Bonnycastle, Canadian Association for Social Work Education/Association canadienne pour la formation en travail social (CASWE/ACFTS), ; Linda Christiansen-Ruffman, St. Mary's University, ; Ann Denis, University of Ottawa, ; Magda Fahrni, Canadian Committee on Women’s History/ Comité canadien de l’histoire des femmes (CCWH/CCHF –part of CHA/SHC), ; Tammy Findlay, Women’s Program Organizer, Canadian Political Science Association/Association canadienne de science politique (CPSA/ACSP), ; Marie Lovrod, Women and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF), ; Lisa Starr, Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education/Association canadienne pour l’étude sur les femmes et l’éducation (CASWE /ACÉFÉ – part of CSSE/SCÉÉ),


Feminism Advancing Masculinities Evolution: A Critical Theoretical and Discursive Analysis of Black Masculinity

Funke Oba, Wilfrid Laurier University,

This paper is part of a broader exploration of contributions of Afrocentric feminists to deconstructing the social construction of black masculinity. Using Afrocentric feminism and critical race theory I contend that feminist discourses render race invisible by obfuscating intersecting oppressions of gender and race. Both traditional masculinities studies and feminism fail to adequately interrogate worldviews and power relations shaping hegemonic discourses. Black males in Canada face a crisis of identity between the benefits they ostensibly have as males and the realities of their lived experiences. White feminist discourse produces incongruous stereotypes of all males on one hand and all Blacks on the other.  I argue that the lack of differentiation is detrimental to the feminist cause; it promotes ambiguous conflicted identities among Black young males, fostering their yearning for a traditional masculinity whose benefits relentlessly elude them. I theorize that a feminism that interrogates the complexities of raced and gendered discourses can mitigate frustration and confusion among Black males, thereby reducing their resistance to new ways of being men. Re-envisioned feminist methodologies focused on power relations have potentials for rethinking the essentialization and reductionism of Black masculinity and addressing contemporary and future challenges.


Feminists and the Image of Women in the Media

Rishma Johal, Simon Fraser University,

A mass consumer culture influences decisions that we make on a daily basis and insinuates messages about sex, race, and gender particularly through the sexualized depiction of women. This raises an important issue in regards to the media’s depiction of women today as agents of sex. Many women argue that this is empowering but others oppose these depictions by highlighting the fact that the media still characterizes women as thin, white, provocative, and sexually objectified beings. Many feminists argue that the media perpetuates very particular notions of beauty and sex on women, which are both sexist and racist in character. Some recent media projects have responded to criticism from feminists about propagating beauty myths and ideals through a number of endeavours. They have included images of racialized men and women in their advertisements, launched empowerment campaigns for women, and adopted advertisements that convey women’s real bodies. This paper argues that feminist methodologies, discussions, and discourses are necessary to facilitate change within media outlets that produce a highly sexualized image of women, despite inconsistencies among women’s views. Feminist agreements and disagreements produce a forum for discussion, which creates a space to enact change. Thus, this paper will explore how various feminist discourses have influenced the media to respond to their concerns about the image of women in the media.


Feminist Intersectionality Meets Public Discourse: York University and the Balance of Rights

Rebecca Collins-Nelsen, McMaster University, , Julie Gouweloos, McMaster University,

Intersectionality’s capacity to unearth the complex nature of social inequality resonates with many feminist scholars. Since its birth in critical race and black feminist thought, intersectional analyses continue to illuminate the shortcomings of unifocal examinations of oppression, and demonstrate the need for a multifaceted and interwoven approach. Yet despite the fecundity of intersectional analyses, the authors question whether conceptualizing issues of equity as multifarious and interwoven has resonated beyond the realm of academia and into public discourse. Using content analysis to examine national print media portrayals of a recent rights-based challenge at York University, our case study investigates how tangled issues of equity and rights are articulated in public media coverage. We find that rigid media reporting formulas, coupled with austere approaches to bureaucracy, are ill-equipped to communicate the complicated nature of rights-based matters. Our study identifies the barriers inherent in media framing techniques and suggests more adequate applications of intersectionality are necessary within public discourse. Furthermore, our findings have implications for expanding the public relevance of intersectionality as an analytic tool that aids in our collective understanding of social inequality.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie