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Incongruous encounters: media representations and lived experiences of stay-at-home mothers

Orgad, Shani (2016) Incongruous encounters: media representations and lived experiences of stay-at-home mothers. Feminist Media Studies, 16 (3). pp. 478-494. ISSN 1468-0777

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14680777.2015.1137963


This article juxtaposes mediated representations of stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) with accounts of twenty-two UK -educated middle-class SAHMs. It exposes a fundamental chasm between media constructions of women’s “opting out” of the workplace as a personal choice, and the factors shaping women’s decisions to leave a career, and their complex, often painful consequences. The juxtaposition highlights three aspects largely rendered invisible in current representations of SAHMs: (1) the influence of husbands’ demanding careers and work cultures on their wives’ “choices” to not return to paid employment; (2) the issue of childcare; and (3) women’s immense unpaid domestic and maternal labour. Although media representations often fail to correspond to middle-class SAHMs’ lives, they shape their thinking and feelings and reconstruct their deepest yearnings and sense of self. In particular, SAHMs speak of feeling invisible, lacking confidence, and being silent and silenced. I conclude by discussing how the disconnect between media representation and SAHMs’ experience may be enhancing and sustaining their silence, which supports and re-secures a patriarchal capitalist system, and by reflecting on the role of feminist media research to voice the lived experience of gender inequality.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2016 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2016 15:59
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 02:07

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