In April, Professor Rosalind Gill gave the keynote at the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists in Perth, Western Australia. The title of a 45 minute plenary address was “Objectification: what is it good for?” Those old enough to remember will recognize this as a play on the song ‘War what is it good for’. Whilst Edwin Starr concluded with a bald “absolutely nothing”, Ros was more equivocal , pointing to three changes that ‘troubled’ the use of the term as a way of talking about representations of women. First, the shift away from depictions of women as passive, sex objects towards showing some as active, playful sexual subjects; secondly, the increasing idealization and eroticization of male bodies in public space; and thirdly the way in which image makers (such as magazine editors or advertisers) frequently anticipate and build in responses to accusations of objectification (or indeed sexism more generally)
Intimacy, Mediation and Power
On May 21, CMCI hosted the second in a series of six ESRC-funded seminars designed to open up and complicate discourses about the alleged “sexualisation of culture”. On a beautiful sunny day, 50 people came to hear talks about male seduction communities, queer, transnational subjectivities online in the Gulf, the difficulties of interpreting interview talk about sexual experiences, and ‘sex on the newsstand shelf. Photographer and activist Alex Brew also presented her recent project Asking for It.
The grantholder is Ros Gill, in collaboration with Meg Barker (Open University), Emma Renolds (Cardiff) and Jessica Ringrose (Institute of Education). The third seminar will take place at King’s on November 5th 2010.
The Future of Cultural Work
June 7th 2010–lively post-election debates characterized the one-day conference on the future of cultural work, organized by CMCI’s Ros Gill and Andy Pratt, in conjunction with Mark Banks and Stephanie Taylor from the Open University. More than 100 people gathered to hear 30 presentations addressing issues from arts funding to precariousness and social exclusion. More than 25 would-be presenters were turned away, indicating the significant upsurge of interest in this topic. Whatever the future for cultural work, there certainly seems to be a future for discussions about this, with many current and recent Ph.D.s reflecting the “turn to labour” in interests about culture.