Home > family dynamics, gender issues, psychology > The representation of the father within media texts: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis. (Part 2)

The representation of the father within media texts: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis. (Part 2)

June 30th, 2010

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Analysing the text was interesting yet difficult at times due to contradictory discursive constructions and changing approaches throughout the magazines which will be explained later. Choosing a particular article was not so challenging as for the most part the tone of the content was similar however one particular magazine stood out for a variety of reasons which are explored in the analysis, and it was found that no particular article as such could be chosen.

Analysis:

All parents are women and only the female opinion of child rearing is valuable.

Interestingly, when analysing the articles it emerged that whenever a statement of parental experiences was made it was made by a mother.

“When Violet was 2, she started to have nightmares so I’d let her get into our bed, says mum Kelly”

From ‘Practical Parenting’

“Nothing will ever compare to our first Christmas with Molly, admits Amanda Langley, mum to Molly 12 months”

From ‘Mother and Baby’

The construction of the text in this way gives the impression that it is primarily aimed at women but more interestingly that the opinion of a mother has a greater value than the opinion of a father. This also positions the mother, rather than the father, as the main carer of the children. Furthermore it may make the reader feel that, if a mother, only their experiences and opinions are of any relevancy or if the reader is a father that their experiences are of no interest. This may also make the reader, if male; lose interest in any experiences that they associate with their children. While this view may seem extreme, the supposedly superior opinion of the female surfaces again when any experts are called upon, particularly within Mother and Baby magazine.

“Of course, if you’re happy to share your bed, then don’t lose sleep over it, suggest Helen Ball senior lecturer in anthropology”

From ‘Mother and Baby’

“If your child is ill, stay with her in her room if you feel you should, recommends Mandy Gurney”

From ‘Mother and Baby’

“Plan Christmas with your partner in advance, advises relationship expert Gladeana McMahon”

From ‘Practical Parenting’

The positioning of primarily female experts within this magazine is, in part, understandable due to the fact the magazine is entitled Mother and Baby however this may also suggest that females and in particular, mothers, are gender bias and would value the opinion only of another female or give a females opinion a higher value than that of a males. It would seem that these texts have an ‘all parents are women’ discourse and ‘only the female opinion is valuable’ discourse running throughout them. This is, however, a highly idealistic view of parenting. Although, historically, the male figure within the family has been seen as the breadwinner (Matta and Martin, 2006) that spends most of their time at work rather than at home contributing to the upbringing of the children, particularly within industrial society, presently the role of the male has changed dramatically. Increasingly, fathers are being rendered as involved in the upbringing of their children (Skevik, 2006). Fatherhood has become a central focus of social change and social attitudes portray expectancy for both parents to be equally involved in every aspect of their children’s lives (Hawkins and Amato and King, 2006). With this in mind perhaps the magazines should be aiming to include both parents rather than singling out the female as the main carer. Practical Parenting seems to address this issue though only on a very small scale (and somewhat contradictory to the almost constantly used female related terms) by sometimes using the term ‘parents’ or ‘mum and dad’;

“When there are two parents in a bed”

From ‘Practical Parenting’

“It might end up with mum or dad being relegated to the sofa”

From ‘Practical Parenting’

At the same time, surprisingly, and perhaps an attempt to include the male within the role of parenting, Mother and Baby includes the expert opinion of a male;

“It is vital to remember that you have new roles as parents, says life coach Peter Barnard”

From ‘Mother and Baby’

However the context in with this opinion is given is fairly ‘common sense’ as it will be obviously apparent to parents that they have become just that; parents which is clearly a role change from husband, wife or partner. It is from this that the next discourse arises.

When it comes to parents, best let the women get on with it as the men are inane.

The above title gives strong suggestion for the next identified discursive construction. Mother and Baby magazine, as its title suggests, is predominantly aimed at women.

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