Women, visibility and morality in Kenyan popular media

Women, visibility and morality in Kenyan popular media
By Dina Ligaga
Size: 168 x 240 mm
Pages: 194 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-920033-63-7
Published: February 2020
Publishers: NISC (Pty) Ltd for African Humanities Program
Recommended Retail Price: R 325.00
Cover: Paperback

About the book

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Women, visibility and morality in Kenyan popular media explores familiar constructions of femininity to assess ways in which it circulates in discourse, both stereotypically and otherwise. It assesses the meanings of such discourses and their articulations in various public platforms in Kenya. The book draws together theoretical questions on ‘pre-convened’ scripts that contain or condition how women can circulate in public. The book asks questions about particular interpretations of women’s bodies that are considered transgressive or unruly and why these bodies become significant symbolic sites for the generation of knowledge on morality and sexuality. The book also poses questions about genre and representations of femininity. The assertion made is that for knowledges of femininity to circulate effectively, they must be melodramatic, spectacular and scandalous. Ultimately, the book asks how such a theorisation of popular modes of representation enable a better understanding of the connections between gender, sexuality and violence in Kenya.

Reviewer's Comments: 

‘Why are married women often the subject of ‘sex scandals’? Why is it scandalous for a married woman to have an extra-marital affair, but for men it demonstrates their ‘manhood’? Why is sexual desire ‘normal’ for men, but ‘immoral’ for women? Why are young, university-educated women framed in social media as money-grabbing hussies? What does it mean that women are challenging social norms about their place in society, and how they ought to conduct themselves? What are the social meanings of the media’s cautionary tales about the punishment meted out to women they mark as ‘wicked’, ‘loose’, ‘immoral’, ‘wild’, ‘difficult’, ‘educated’, when they step outside of patriarchal conventions of what it means to be a Kenyan woman? Ligaga innovatively shows us how we can read Kenyan women’s ‘transgressions’, not as moral flaws, but rather as demonstrations of how they negotiate the constraints of national cultural conventions, and in so doing offer new ways of ‘becoming’ a Kenyan woman.’
Lynette Steenveld, associate professor of Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa

Part of the African Humanities Series

About the Authors

Dina Ligaga is associate professor in the Department of Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She has published in the areas of media and cultural studies, and popular culture in Africa, with a specific focus on Kenyan popular culture. She is co-editor of Radio in Africa (2011) and Eastern African Intellectual Traditions (2012). She is also co-editor of the special issue on ‘Gender and Popular Imaginaries in Africa’, Agenda, 2018.

 

Contents

Chapter 1 Women, and the politics of visibility in Kenya
Chapter 2 Femininity, stereotypes and resistance in Kenyan public cultures 
Chapter 3 Radio and the construction of African womanhood 
Chapter 4 Scandal, surveillance and the spectacular ‘wicked’ woman 
Chapter 5 Consumption, good time girls and violence in public discourse 
Chapter 6 Women celebrities, hypervisibility and digital subjectivity in Kenya 
Chapter 7 Conclusion

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