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Menstruation in news media : The impact of media discourses on the menstrual taboo in France

Fusaro, Déborah LU (2016) MKVM13 20161
Media and Communication Studies
Department of Communication and Media
Abstract
The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the news media can challenge a social construction when it covers an event related to a taboo. The main question guiding this thesis is how the news media discourses about the ‘tampon tax´ in France can challenge the menstrual taboo. Every society is constituted of taboos which aim at maintaining order and hierarchies. However, these taboos oppress the ones who live with them, since they are reduced to silence and invisibility, which means that all their issues will be forgotten. The menstrual taboo is one of them and tends towards oppressing and stigmatizing women with the aim of keeping them away from the public sphere. Indeed, menstruation is considered as a threat for patriarchy so that... (More)
The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the news media can challenge a social construction when it covers an event related to a taboo. The main question guiding this thesis is how the news media discourses about the ‘tampon tax´ in France can challenge the menstrual taboo. Every society is constituted of taboos which aim at maintaining order and hierarchies. However, these taboos oppress the ones who live with them, since they are reduced to silence and invisibility, which means that all their issues will be forgotten. The menstrual taboo is one of them and tends towards oppressing and stigmatizing women with the aim of keeping them away from the public sphere. Indeed, menstruation is considered as a threat for patriarchy so that women have to keep their periods invisible and controlled. The menstrual taboo has also consequences on women's health, well-being and even social status. All the stereotypes about menstruation are widely spread through the media whose discursive practices reproduces these stereotypes and reinforce them. In mass media, menstruation is, in fact, either invisible or depicted in a negative way. However, in 2015 in France, menstruation has been under the spotlight thanks to the debate to lower the tax on menstrual products. This battle named by news media outlets and activists the ‘tampon tax’ has led to important media coverage and also to several demonstrations and activists actions. Although the debate was mainly an economic one, it has brought menstruation at the heart of the public sphere. In this research, I used critical discourse analysis to analyse all the national French newspapers, online news media and two TV news which covered the debate about the 'tampon tax'. Through this thesis, I found out that the discourses about the 'tampon tax' in the news media are either economic or feminist. Although these two discourses are very different, they both tend to reproduce gender stereotypes about menstruation and they also depict menstrual blood as an abject threat. I argue that the news media cannot challenge the menstrual taboo as long as they represent menstruation as a threat for society and that activists can, however, use menstrual blood as a weapon against the power with the aim of getting freed from patriarchy. (Less)
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author
Fusaro, Déborah LU
supervisor
organization
course
MKVM13 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
menstruation, patriarchy, menstrual blood, news media, abjection, activism
language
English
id
8872699
date added to LUP
2016-06-23 16:45:16
date last changed
2016-06-23 16:45:16
@misc{8872699,
  abstract     = {The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the news media can challenge a social construction when it covers an event related to a taboo. The main question guiding this thesis is how the news media discourses about the ‘tampon tax´ in France can challenge the menstrual taboo. Every society is constituted of taboos which aim at maintaining order and hierarchies. However, these taboos oppress the ones who live with them, since they are reduced to silence and invisibility, which means that all their issues will be forgotten. The menstrual taboo is one of them and tends towards oppressing and stigmatizing women with the aim of keeping them away from the public sphere. Indeed, menstruation is considered as a threat for patriarchy so that women have to keep their periods invisible and controlled. The menstrual taboo has also consequences on women's health, well-being and even social status. All the stereotypes about menstruation are widely spread through the media whose discursive practices reproduces these stereotypes and reinforce them. In mass media, menstruation is, in fact, either invisible or depicted in a negative way. However, in 2015 in France, menstruation has been under the spotlight thanks to the debate to lower the tax on menstrual products. This battle named by news media outlets and activists the ‘tampon tax’ has led to important media coverage and also to several demonstrations and activists actions. Although the debate was mainly an economic one, it has brought menstruation at the heart of the public sphere. In this research, I used critical discourse analysis to analyse all the national French newspapers, online news media and two TV news which covered the debate about the 'tampon tax'. Through this thesis, I found out that the discourses about the 'tampon tax' in the news media are either economic or feminist. Although these two discourses are very different, they both tend to reproduce gender stereotypes about menstruation and they also depict menstrual blood as an abject threat. I argue that the news media cannot challenge the menstrual taboo as long as they represent menstruation as a threat for society and that activists can, however, use menstrual blood as a weapon against the power with the aim of getting freed from patriarchy.},
  author       = {Fusaro, Déborah},
  keyword      = {menstruation,patriarchy,menstrual blood,news media,abjection,activism},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Menstruation in news media : The impact of media discourses on the menstrual taboo in France},
  year         = {2016},
}