Jennifer Hyland Wang (2018) Producing a Radio Housewife: Clara, Lu ‘n’ Em, Gendered Labor, and the Early Days of Radio
This article examines how the writers and publicists behind the pioneering radio serial Clara, Lu ‘n’ Em circulated representations of gendered labor in early prime-time and daytime network radio. Through their satiric impersonations of “syntax-scrambling” midwestern housewives, the careful promotion of the three young stars, and their sale of Super Suds to American housewives, they established gender norms for both the production and the consumption of commercial messages in early radio. The creative team supporting Clara, Lu ‘n’ Em helped write the script for how broadcasters and sponsors could negotiate economic pressures and cultural concerns about women’s paid work in the young medium. By embracing domesticity, the program negotiated the division then developing between prime-time and daytime programming, modeled modern consumer behavior for a mass female audience, and pledged its support for gendered spheres of labor.
This article has also been added to our bibliography.
(re-posted from the Radio Studies mailing list)
The MeCCSA Radio Studies Network (UK) is delighted to announce a ‘Save the Date’ for the forthcoming symposium “Signal Strength: women & media practice in conflict and crisis situations”. In association also with the MeCCSA Women’s Media Studies Network and the British Academy for the humanities and social sciences, the University of Sheffield is planning to host this one day event on Thursday 8th March 2018 – International Women’s Day.
This symposium will examine the extent to which radio – and other forms of media – provide a platform for women who are, or have been, in situations of conflict and crisis. A mix of talks and presentations will address the areas of radio and media, as implicated in women’s experiences of conflict and crisis around the world.
Drawing on practice and academic research, discussions will explore multiple angles such as: – gendering media strategies to improve the recognition and representation of women in peril; issues surrounding the safety and protection of women journalists and aid workers; and the limits and limitation of media freedoms.
Speakers include: Caroline Vuillemin, CEO, Fondation Hirondelle, Lausanne; Dr Helen Turton, University of Sheffield; Tala Halawa, BBC, West Bank. Details regarding further speakers and the cfp will be issued shortly but for now, please save the date! Please direct any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Following on from the post on the Call for contributions: SONIC CYBERFEMINISMS The conference will begin later this week. Check it out here.
UNIVERSITY OF LINCOLN, UK
5-6th MAY 2017
DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: 12 FEBRUARY 2017
Details here: https://soniccyberfeminisms.wordpress.com/
Another dispatch from Australia:
Virginia Madsen has just published a new article comparing women’s work on features in Australian and Britain in Media Australia International. (And indeed, do check out all of Media International Australia, Volume 161, Issue 1, dealing with women’s work)
This article explores the roles of some of the key women producers, broadcasters and writers who were able to work within the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) from their foundational periods to the 1950s. Despite the predominantly male culture of radio broadcasting from the 1920s to the 1970s, this article considers the significance and long-term impacts of some of these overlooked female pioneers at the forefront of developing a range of new reality and ‘talk’ forms and techniques. While the article draws on primary BBC research, it also aims to address these openings, cultures and roles as they existed historically for women in the ABC. How did the ABC compare in its foundational period? Significantly, this paper contrasts the two organisations in the light of their approaches to modernity, arguing that BBC features, the department it engendered, and the traditions it influenced, had far reaching impacts; one of these relating to those opportunities opened for women to develop entirely new forms of media communication: the unrehearsed interview and actuality documentary programmes.
Carla Teixeira has authored a new online feature for Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive about “Women in Radio” chronicling the lives and work of many of Australia’s women radio pioneers. Through texts and sound clips from seven key women in the early years of Australian wireless, it highlights the roles of women not only as presenters and performers but also as writers and producers from the earliest years.
Fascinating story on Scroll.in about amateur radio in India, including some references as well to the peculiar culture of gender that has evolved since the earliest days:
The term YL, or young lady, meaning an unmarried woman of any age, was coined in 1920 as a concession to the growing number of female hams. In time, when women married, they became known as XYLs, or ex-young ladies. After women operators in 1940 took umbrage to the second term, it became convention to call any licensed female ham, regardless of marital status, YL. Unlicensed wives of operators are XYLs. Men, regardless of marital status, are OM or old man.
Prasad is something of a trailblazer in the world of hams in India, with more awards and felicitations than she can list.
She became a ham in 1980, when there were perhaps only 50 YLs in India. She was a science student, but not familiar with electronics. Nor did she know English at the time, having studied in her first language, Telugu, until then. When she expressed interest in joining up, she faced stiff opposition from her community.
“Because my family are Brahmins, the Brahmins said, ‘No, no, you should not talk to gents. When you go on the radio, you will talk to gents only, no ladies’,” said Prasad. “But my brother-in-law supported me and said that if I become a ham, as a YL, I would be very popular. So I said okay.”
Prasad worked overtime to pick up the skills she needed. Today, she is among the most prominent hams in the country. Her call sign, or unique identifier with which she introduces herself while operating her radio, is VU2RBI.
Do check out the whole article!
A new article by Kate Murphy on pioneer has just been published in the BBC news magazine, outlining the position of women at the BBC. Paid maternity leave, no marriage bar (until 1932) and thus – not surprisingly – a wide range of highly educated, pioneering broadcasters. Also splendid photographs showing women engaged at all levels of production. Check it out.
Gendered divisions of labour are common in the history of radio production (and are one of the things groups like the Sound Women are seeking to address.) It has happened quite regularly that once a technical task (such as sound technician) becomes a domain open to women, it is also devalued – or vice versa.
In discussion today with Andras Simongati-Farquhar, an MA student at the Insitute of Sonology in the Hague , he pointed out that such a phenomenon also seems to have occurred in the Soviet Union’s radio jamming activities. This is mentioned in a section of a documentary by Rimantas Pleikys, former Minister for Communications and Informatics of Lithuania, called The Empire of Noise about Soviet radio jamming. While transmitting jamming signals was the domain of the men, it was largely a corps of women who monitored frequencies for the effects of jamming. Check out the section of the documentary here: