Date of Award
Master of Science
James A. Crook
Dorothy Bowles, Candace White
The nonfiction content, excluding advertisements, of a purposive sample of five women's electronic magazines - Commitment (www.committment.com), European Woman (www.europeanwoman.net), Jun (www.junmagazine.com), WomenCentral (www.womencentral.msn.com), and iVillage (www ivillage com) - was analyzed to measure three things whether the e-zine represented traditional or feminist ideology, the stereotypic femininity or masculinity of female characters in the articles, and the portrayal of women in images contained in the e-zine These e-zines were studied primarily to determine if their overall portrayal of women was stereotypical as are traditional women's magazines' portrayal of women. According to previous studies of traditional women's magazines, this particular medium limits women to traditional womanly roles, those of mother, wife, homemaker, and even sex/beauty object. However, according to the tenets of cyberfeminism, computer technology may be the key to women liberating themselves from such limiting portrayals. It was therefore hypothesized that women's online magazines go beyond these traditional roles in their portrayal of women. The overall ideology for each e-zine in the sample could be one of three things: traditional ideology, which deals with the subjects of fashion and/or beauty, family, parenting, dating behaviors, sex, relationship problems, and household activities; feminist ideology, which deals with education, careers, hobbies, physical and/or mental health, and self-help/improvement, or neither of these two ideologies. In this study 52 percent of the articles coded represented feminist ideology, 47 percent represented traditional ideology, and the remaining three percent presented neither ideology. Female characters' level of femininity was measured on a five-point scale with a score of one indicating that all traits are masculine and a score of five indicating that all traits are feminine. Scores in this study ranged from mostly feminine to all masculine. Images of women were measured on a five-point scale with a score of one indicating that the woman/women in the image is/are portrayed as a sex object(s) and a score of five indicating that the woman/women is/are portrayed as a true individual(s). Sixty-nine percent of the images examined earned a score of 5.
Sparger, Jennifer Ann, "Femininity on the web : an analysis of ideology, images, and gendered personality traits in women's online magazines. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2000.