“Gendering the Commodity Audience” by Meehan


In “Gendering the Commodity Audience: Critical Media Research, Feminism, and Political Economy” by Eileen R. Meehan, the article’s main thesis concentrate on the sexism in the media. The author argues that the media focus on mostly the male audience, and ignoring the female audience as a profitable target market for advertisers, contradict the capitalistic approach, which might be explained by the total absence of a feminist perspective in media researches.

Main Text

The author’s main argument concentrates on the analysis of the commodity audience as a representation of the relation of the media in producing the shows and programs that form such audience and the advertisement market which is willing to pay for it. In that, opposes the opinion that the media was not led by any forces other than promoting the common ideology, and partially supported the opinion that commodity audience “played a crucial role in advertiser-supported media.” (Meehan and Riordan 212). Her contribution was in outlining the factors that shaped the manufactured commodity, which was revealed by implementing the feminist perspective, i.e. societal division based on gender and prejudice assumption about gender. (Meehan and Riordan 216).

The author supports her argument by analyzing the gradual changes in the daytime audience, in being mostly female housewives, doing housework, and listening and watching shows, to the periods when policies brought “more women generally, and more college-educated women specifically, into the documented workforce. The authors argued that these shifts did not change the focus on white male audience, as the advertisers’ most valuable audience during prime time. In that regard, the authors questions the reasonability of such division, as reaching spenders by advertisers would have required targeting women.

Nevertheless, even such assumption might be based on sexism in the media, assuming the established division of labor, where the patriarchal view is that men work while women are assigned to housework and shopping. In that sense, these assumptions ignore the fact that women have sought and secured paid work, and form the potential category of spenders in the country.


The strength of the article can be seen through the presentation of a different perspective in the media economy. The usage of real cases rather than theories contributed to significance of the work, specifically in what concerns the shifts in expanding the demographic factors in the ratings. Nevertheless, the findings of the article cannot be limited to the feminist perspective, which importance was extensively stated at the beginning of the article. In that regard, another article “Women Characters and “Real World” Femininity” by Julie D’Accci, centers the whole analysis on the portrayal of women in the media, which from a feminine perspective can be seen as having more impact than the emphasis of advertisers.

Accordingly, the analysis of women depiction can have an apparent contribution that will have a major effect, where “network’s interventions … challenged not only conventional definitions of femininity but also institutionalized differences among women” (Newcomb 134). As comparison, the presented arguments in both works take a broad scope, where for example, the cases of rape in a chapter in “Post-Backlash Feminism” by Kellie Bean, present a more extensive narration of two contradicting positions, that is feminist and conservatives. In that regard, the methods used differ from both previous articles in presenting a practical approach based on the media rather than on literary works, which in the cases concerning media might seem as a more efficient approach.

Works Cited

Bean, Kellie. Post-Backlash Feminism : Women and the Media since Reagan-Bush. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2007.

Meehan, Eileen R., and Ellen Riordan. Sex & Money : Feminism and Political Economy in the Media. Commerce and Mass Culture Series. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Newcomb, Horace. “Television: The Critical View”. 2000. Oxford University Press.

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