Sender, Katherine

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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
  • Publication
    Sex Sells: Sex, Class, and Taste in Commercial Gay and Lesbian Media
    (2003-01-01) Sender, Katherine
    A teenage girl kneels on the backseat of a car in short shorts, turning toward the camera with a look both innocent and wanton. A young man lounges shirtless, his top fly button open, gazing with lazy invitation through the frame. "What’s the story in these ads?" I ask students. "Well, you know," they shrug, "sex sells." Frustrated at how this aphorism closes down discussion, I have begun to consider its status as a commonsense response to some advertising. Antonio Gramsci and others have written about how "commonsense" beliefs become naturalized, taken for granted as "the way things are," and thereby obscure their own ideological foundations. "Sex sells" precludes further analysis: "Well, what can you say? We all know that sex sells and that advertisers use sexualized images of women/men/ teens/whomever to market products." The common sense of "sex sells" masks the relationship between sexuality and commerce, discouraging analysis of the particular ways that sex is articulated to marketing and ignoring the limits placed on visible manifestations of sexuality in advertising and commercial media. To put this another way, when might sex not sell? What manifestations of sex are not commercially viable? How do some forms of sex preclude selling?
  • Publication
    Business, Not Politics: Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender People and the Consumer Sphere
    (2002-02-01) Sender, Katherine
    In mainstream and gay media gay consumers are becoming big business. Within the last year, Queer as Folk, Showtime's serialized version of gay life, showed bad boy Brian helping a homophobic businessman turn a failing product around by marketing to gay consumers; Miller Lite brought us a television commercial showing two handsome gay men; Procter & Gamble placed ads in gay and lesbian publications; and Showtime and MTV announced they were developing the first, partly ad-supported, gay cable channel. This growing media and marketing attention to lesbians and gays has been consistently framed by marketers as a matter of "business, not politics": as a spokesperson from Naya said in 1993, "This is not a political decision to go after the gay niche. It was a business decision." Yet to see these developments as a spontaneous blossoming of the gay market in an age of corporate liberalism effaces the efforts of largely gay- and lesbian-identified marketers to research, package, and sell gay consumers to national corporations since the early 1970s. This paper investigates how marketers have actively produced the gay market, and how this process in turn circulates a narrow version of gay visibility. What assumptions do marketers hold about gay and lesbian consumers? What negative stereotypes must marketers counteract, and what positive ones do they put in their place? How do marketers define their roles not just as businesspeople, but as experts, educators, and progressives? In what ways do marketers privilege business over politics, and how does this shape the gay market? In response to the Miller spokeswoman quoted above, marketing to gays and lesbians does get a great deal more complicated than merely selling a product to consumers.
  • Publication
    Queens for a Day: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and the Neoliberal Project
    (2005-01-01) Sender, Katherine
    This paper moves beyond a conventional critique of Bravo's popular makeover show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy that focuses on gay stereotyping to consider how the show puts gay cultural expertise to work to reform a heterosexual masculinity that is compatible with the neoliberal moment. By analyzing 40 episodes of the show, in addition to a number of related texts, the author considers the newly public acknowledgement of gay taste and consumer expertise; the "crisis of masculinity" that requires that heterosexual men must now attend to their relationships, image, and domestic habitus; and the remaking of the straight guy into not only an improved romantic partner - the metrosexual - but a more flexible, employable worker. The author concludes by considering how camp deconstructs some of Queer Eye's most heteronormative aims, even while leaving its class and consumption rationales intact.
  • Publication
    Evolution, Not Revolution
    (2004-01-01) Sender, Katherine
    "Advertising clearly isn't treating the gay movement as a viable market, deserving of special campaigns and special treatment, as it is now beginning to do with blacks and women and has done for years with teenagers." So declared Advertising Age in 1972, under the headline: "No Gay Market Yet, Admen, Gays Agree:" Yet within three decades, the gay market and, gay and lesbian media were sufficiently established for Viacom subsidiaries MTV and Showtime to explore the development of a gay cable channel, Outlet. MTV executive Matt Farber described this progression as "an evolution, not a revolution," contrasting the image of a revolution - a politically motivated, violent upheaval with a Darwinian ideal, where natural selection by an intrinsically fair, equilibrium-seeking free market facilitates an inexorable march toward increasingly progressive images of GLBT people, "Evolution, not revolution" is the cousin of "business, not politics": it suggests that gay marketing, and the media it supports, simply evolved through rational development within the entrepreneurial sphere, and disavows the efforts of marketers, media publishers, journalists, market researchers, and consumers themselves toward actively producing this market. Yet despite marketers' claims that they are interested in gay and lesbian consumers for dispassionate reasons of "business, not politics," the history of the gay market shows that this consumer niche was forged out of an intimate meeting of the entrepreneurial search for ever-expanding sources of revenue and the political quest for sexual equality.
  • Publication
    To Have and to Be: Sex, Gender, and the Paradox of Change
    (1997) Sender, Katherine
    The body is one locus of control in the organization of social life, a site upon which social order is maintained. Within that order, a fundamental structure relies upon the radical dichotomization of, on the one hand, female and male and, on the other, femininity and masculinity: gender is understood to be an immutable and consistent distinction which is natural to sex' and therefore to the organization of bodies. In this paper, I take three texts which address the mutability of both sex and gender through genital transformation. I suggest that while these texts challenge the idea that sex and gender are both fixed, they also reinstate a precise relationship between sex and gender, that is, between femaleness and femininity and maleness and masculinity. My main focus is on Will Self's paired novellas "Cock & Bull" (1992), where desires and anxieties about gender mutation play out in a fictional setting. This is complemented by Garfinkel's (1967) presentation of "Agnes," an "intersexed" person, who goes through sex reassignment surgery, and Bornstein's "Gender Outlaw" (1994), an autobiographical work on the same theme.
  • Publication
    Defending Fair Use in the Age of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
    (2007-01-01) Sender, Katherine; Decherney, Peter
    This article describes the efforts of the authors to challenge the limits placed on Fair Use by the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Increasing DMCA-backed corporate control over the use of digital media has limited educators' ability to teach effectively. The DMCA allows for a triennial challenge to the restrictions on copying media, an elaborate process which the authors successfully negotiated in order to secure an exemption. Communication, film studies, and media studies professors may now circumvent encryption on DVDs and other digital media in their departmental libraries for use in teaching. Narrow as this exemption may be, it nevertheless joins efforts of educators and filmmakers to protect fair use.
  • Publication
    Review of Martha Gever, Entertaining Lesbians: Celebrity, Sexuality, and Self-Invention
    (2005-05-01) Sender, Katherine
    As her characteristically witty title suggests, in her new book Martha Gever "entertains" lesbians from a number of perspectives: she discusses lesbians in entertainment industries; she addresses how lesbians have entertained a variety of audiences, including lesbians; and she provides an overview of the ways popular culture has entertained the idea of lesbian celebrity since the early twentieth century. Her project, however, is to offer neither a "portrait gallery of lesbian celebrities" nor a "blanket characterization of the transformations of popular culture" that lesbian celebrity may have effected (p. 191). Instead, she is concerned with lesbian celebrities' "self-invention, which is intimately related to opportunities for self-display, as well as the continual monitoring and adjustment of self-image".
  • Publication
    Dualcasting: Bravo's Gay Programming and the Quest for Women Audiences
    (2007-09-01) Sender, Katherine
    In the summer of 2003, gays were big news in the United States and Canada: the U.S. Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws in all states, the Canadian government decided to award marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Gene Robinson was confirmed as the bishop of New Hampshire, making him the first openly gay and partnered Episcopalian bishop in the Anglican church. The television show that catalyzed the national imagination was Bravo cable channel's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a makeover show in which five gay men worked with the raw material of a stylistically and socially incompetent heterosexual in order to "build a better straight man."