Consuming Gender (CfP)

From the delightful 'women laughing alone with salad' meme
At least I’ve got my salad. (Image from the fabulous ‘women laughing alone with salad’ meme.)

Because I’m clearly not busy enough writing my thesis, or putting together two events (see BAVS 2016 and Fantasies of Contemporary Culture), I am excited to announce that I’ll also be co-editing a special issue of Cardiff University’s Assuming Gender journal. If you guessed that the issue title, ‘Consuming Gender’, was inspired by this year’s BAVS theme, ‘Consuming (the) Victorians’, congratulations! You are correct.

You can find the call for papers below:


Consuming Gender

This special issue of Assuming Gender – an online, peer-reviewed academic journal from Cardiff University – seeks to explore the way gender is both presented and consumed through popular media and advertising. As Ann Herrmann points out in the article ‘Shopping for Identities’, commodities ‘are characterised by their dual nature: material composition and symbolic meaning’ (Herrmann 2002: 539). Consumer culture plays a significant role in constructing valid (and normative) identity categories with which consumers are encouraged to identify.

From a Times Higher Education article suggesting that 'students with consumer mindset get lower grades'. Not just blonde, female students, hopefully.
From a Times Higher Education article suggesting that ‘students with consumer mindset get lower grades’. Not just the blonde, female ones, hopefully.

Scholars as diverse as Americus Reed, Laura C. Nelson, and Henry Jenkins have theorised the ways in which identity and consumer culture are intertwined. Reed, for example, claims in ‘Activating the Self-Importance of Consumer Selves’ that ‘[s]ocial identities are mental representations that can become a basic part of how consumers view themselves’ (Reed 2004: 286). In a later article on ‘Identity-Based Consumer Behaviour’, Reed and others use the example of athletics to illustrate their point: ‘if consumers view themselves as “athletes”, they are likely to behave in ways that are consistent with what it means to “be” an athlete’ (Reed, Forehand, Puntoni and Warlop 2002: 310). Consumption thus becomes defined by identity, and identity becomes defined by consumption.

From the mock article 'If Athlete Ads Were Honest', 2012.
From the mock article ‘If Athlete Ads Were Honest’, 2012.

While the construction of identities based on athleticism seems relatively benign, the case quickly becomes more complicated when consumer identities are racially, economically, or sexually coded. In addition to delineating the borders between various interest groups, consumer culture plays a significant role in establishing and maintaining binary identity distinctions (male/female, gay/straight, black/white), undermining the validity of those identifying across or in-between one or more categories, or who refuse categorisation at all. Those identities not classified as valid consumer groups are not seen as valid identities at all.

feminism-gender-stereotypes-900x542
No caption needed.

For this special issue of Assuming Gender, we invite articles that focus specifically on the idea of ‘Consuming Gender’. How has consumer culture constructed (and how has it been constructed by) gender through the ages?

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

·       Consuming gender/gendered consumption

·       Historical contexts of gendered consumption

·       Feminist/postfeminist approaches to consumption

·       Consumption and intersectionality

·       Queer consumption

·       Media constructions of (gendered) consumer identities

·       Post/colonialism and gendered consumption

Please send a proposal of roughly 500 words to Megen de Bruin-Molé, Akira Suwa and Daný van Dam at gender@cardiff.ac.uk under the subject line ‘CFP Consuming Gender’, including your name, e-mail institutional affiliation (if any), and a biographical note (100 words maximum). We welcome papers from scholars of all backgrounds, disciplines, and career stages. The deadline for proposals is 16 October, 2016, and completed papers of 5000 to 8000 words will be expected no later than 16 April, 2017.

Assuming Gender is an electronic journal dedicated to the timely analysis of constructions of gendered texts, practices, and subjectivities. This journal seeks to continue and shift debates on how gender is problematized in contemporary discourses as well as participate in the dialogue and tensions that maintain the urgency of such conversations. Prior issues can be viewed on www.assuminggender.com.


© Sharpe Suiting
Image © Sharpe Suiting

Need some help getting started on an abstract? Check out this 2013 article on how ‘women hold the key to the regeneration of the high street’This more recent piece introduces readers to Queer fashion designer Leon Wu, of Sharpe Suiting. A 2015 study argues that gender neutral toys empower children, and this CSNBC article includes a number gendered shopping generalisations, such as the gem: ‘Men like to read’. US retail giant Target’s move away from gender-based signs is also worth a look. And in the interests of intersectionality, this article argues that ‘advertising is a tax only poor people pay’, while this one discusses the portrayal of black people in a recent Gap ad.

Or you could just watch these YouTube clips:

10 Things I Hate About You – Prada Backpack

Burger King – The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Toys Commercial (2010)

Adam Ruins Everything – Why People Think Video Games are Just for Boys