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Title:The Bachelor Industry: The Surveillance and Governing of Women
Author(s):Dubrofsky, Rachel E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ono, Kent A.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American Studies
Abstract:The dissertation looks at the reality-based television series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette as rich and germane contemporary televisual sites for a cultural analysis of images of women in popular U.S. culture. Methodologically, I use a feminist cultural studies framework influenced by Michel Foucault's work, combining close textual analysis, formal analysis, discourse analysis, production history, and theoretical analytics. I use the term the "Bachelor Industry" (BI) to gesture beyond the economic and ratings success of the shows to the technologizing and production of specific ideas and dynamics about women who are "bad" at love. How is this story about women who are "bad" at love told? How does this story "make sense"? And, more generally, how does contemporary reality-based television construct women under surveillance? I explore these questions by looking at the BI's use of contemporary tropes about the therapeutic, postfeminism, race, and the pornographic. Scholars studying contemporary therapeutic culture observe that subjects are incited to constantly work on, change, the self. In the BI, however, participants claim a therapeutic good by asserting a "therapeutics of the self," a pride in displaying a consistent and unchanged self under surveillance across disparate social spaces. The BI creates a new space, a "postfeminist nirvana" where women have reconciled the conflicts noted by scholars studying postfeminist discourse (tensions among work/career, love/family, and sexuality) and are able to achieve their postfeminist goals free of these conflicts and difficult choices. Not only does the BI use racial stereotypes to recenter whiteness, but the story of whiteness is embedded in the very structure of the BI through use of the trope of the Westernized version of the Eastern harem, the shows duplicating the imperialist and oppressive racist structure of the trope. The BI uses quasi-pornographic representations of women's moments of extreme emotion, akin to the "money shot" in film pornography, to provide proof of a woman's unsuitability for love---proof of her loss of control and of the danger she poses to the stability of the harem.
Issue Date:2005
Description:272 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3182255
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2005

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