Monday, 10 February 2014

Representation of female identity in 1980's- music, fashion, employment

In the 80’s (in America) women were enjoying some hard-won equality battles that they achieved in the 70’s. As a result the 1980s in America showed a massive change in the representation of female identity. This post will explore the new representation of female identity in the 80’s across several areas such as female representation in music, employment and fashion.

In regard to representation of women in music it showed major signs of female strength, boldness and of course independence particularly from men). An example of this is clearly shown in the 1985 single by Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin singing lyrics

Now there was a time when we used to say that behind every great man there had to be a woman 
But in these times of change you know that it's no longer true 
So we’re comin' out of the kitchen ‘cause there’s something we forgot to say to you 
We say, "Sisters are doin' it for themselves."

Songs that praised female independence were popular among women as many could relate (and celebrate) to songs such as these about how women worked just as hard as men, about how they personal goals that didn't involve men, and about how women maybe didn't even need men at all to be happy.

Moving on to fashion, the 80’s introduced lifestyle choices that came to dictate a woman’s personal taste and social identity. Unlike the past, no single style or kind of fashion was universally expected for all women.  Mass media such as television, music, and magazines introduced new styles and attitudes relevant and accessible to the average American woman. Overall women of the 1980’s were marked as empowered, energetic, and endearing.

Following women’s sexual “liberation” during the 70’s, women of the 1980’s were empowered to cultivate strong identities alongside their male co-workers. For the working woman of the 80’s, fashion is largely marked by the adoption of masculine styles through a trend known as power dressing which introduced the power suit for women which gave women a more business and dominant appearance within the office, (but still able to remain clearly feminine). 

Other television shows such as “Who’s The Boss” also used power suit iconography to appeal to the new role of the working mom.

While women were socially empowered within the workplace, fashion and lifestyle magazines empowered women to take control of their appetites and activity levels. All of a sudden, the slender figure desired by much of the female population was confronted with new emphasis on a particularly toned and athletic physique.

Overall the media's representation of females during the 1980s portrayed female empowerment, independence and most of all equality in relation to men.

While there had been major success in female representation in music and fashion, there was also significant improvement in the representation and attitude towards working women in the 80’s. In this the Sun article in the 1990’s it looks back upon female employment throughout the 80’s. It shows there has been a huge rise in female employment in volume and in higher professions ‘millions across the United States -- moved into professional and managerial jobs during the 1980s, the data show’. It also states that ‘Nationally, the number of working women increased by 27 percent during the 1980s’.
It also highlights that in Maryland for the first time, the 1990 census shows, ‘women outnumbered men in Maryland in "professional specialty" occupations -- a U.S. Census Bureau category that includes everything from doctors, lawyers and scientists to teachers, nurses and librarians.
Nationally, the number of working women increased by 27 percent during the 1980s, according to 1990 census data being released today


No comments:

Post a Comment