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It Is Often Assumed That Soap Opera Appeals Primarily To Women. What Are The Grounds Of This Claim? Is It Convincing?

3450 words - 14 pages

It is often assumed that soap opera appeals primarily to women." What are the grounds for this claim? Is it convincing? This essay aims to discover the appeal of soap opera for women, explored through looking at the text itself and various writings surrounding the subject. The positions and meanings offered to the spectator will be identified, and I will examine whether these are in any way linked to the way women's expectations are perceived in society, and their position in the social structure. Following this I will explore research concerning the extent to which these positions and meanings are actually recognised and accepted by women. The appeal (if any) of soap opera to men will also be assessed, and hopefully used as a forum to highlight any changes in the genres appeal.The Personal Sphere...Many of the studies which analyse the appeal of soaps for women have found a multitude of factors which could lead to a strong following from female factions towards the genre of soap opera.In Geraghty's analysis she makes a clear distinction between the strong tendency of soaps, unlike most other television genres, to focus upon the personal sphere characterised by phenomena traditionally associated with feminine traits and lifestyle such as, "leisure...emotion...contemplation." (Geraghty, '91, p40). She highlights that these are deemed as "less effective and more passive" than the opposing features of "work...reason...action", traditionally associated with the male dominated arena of the public sphere. In our culture the public sphere and it's features are viewed as more significant, due to their perceived quality of being "essential for progress and change." Geraghty puts forward that because of this more detrimental feminine value structure upon which soaps are based, they are seen by their critics as "positively irritating and even unmanly" (Geraghty '91, p41) It is true to say that the majority of soaps still focus upon the personal sphere, however, the above view of the negative attitude towards their subject matter, is somewhat stereotypical and outdated. In particular a vast majority of younger followers of soaps in do not see them as irritating or particularly unmasculine, moreover they are simply entertaining and good fun.Furthermore in recent times the importance of a strong and stable homelife have been accentuated in our society, and many features of British soaps such as Coronation Street and Eastenders, promote this quite conservative view of the home.This engagement with "the personal" is seen by Geraghty as central to women's involvement with soaps, with women gaining pleasure from the way in which soaps "recognise and value the emotional work which women undertake in the personal sphere" (p43) However some critics, especially those of a marxist/feminist orientation, may interpret this as a device to reassure women that their home lives are recognised as important by society, in order to convince women to be satisfied within the...

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