Where The Girls Are

Catherine Redfern reviews Susan J. Douglas's book.

, 16 April 2001

An excellent, entertaining, amusing and easy to read analysis of the female

baby-boomer’s experience of growing up with the mass media. Douglas’s key

concept is that when it comes to women, the media is schizophrenic; promoting

feminism on the one hand, and negating it on the other, even in the same song

or TV programme.

All through her life, Douglas says she has been given

contradictory messages on what women should be. As a result, women are pulled in

opposite directions, drawn to the glossy images we see, yet hating them at the

same time.

This idea that the media is neither one thing nor the other and can

present opposing ideas at the same time is one of the best and most accuarate

analyses of the media I have ever read. Her other basic idea is the absolute

viability of women’s cultural history. Complaining that male figures such as

Elvis or the Beatles are seen as trailblazing cultural icons of massive

importance, whereas female acts are seen as superficial and somewhat

embarrassing. Douglas reclaims them, saying that singing your heart out to ‘Will

You Love Me Tomorrow’ is something to be celebrated, not dismissed as


‘Where the Girls Are’ takes us on an exhilerating tour from the

1950s to the early 90s, from the Shirelles to Madonna, from Beatle-mania to

Charlie’s Angels, through to the growth of second-wave of feminism in the 60s

and 70s, and the bizarre obsessions of the 80s. This is an excellent overview of

a woman’s experience of the last 40 years.

Have Your say

Comments are closed on this post


  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds