Coffey, Laura (2013) “Innocent Until Proven Filthy”: A Corpus-Based Critical Stylistic Analysis Of Representations Of Men In Women’s Magazines. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis reports on a Critical Stylistic analysis of representations of men in a corpus of women’s magazines, with the aid of corpus linguistic methods. Focusing on four ‘textualconceptual’ (Jeffries, forthcoming) functions of text; Naming and Describing, Equating and Contrasting, Representing Processes/Events/States, and Assuming and Implying, it shows how the texts construct ideologies of masculinity that constitute the magazines’ performances of masculinity for a female audience.

I identify five central ideologies of masculinity, and gender more broadly, that occur across all four of the tools:
• Men are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’
• Men are driven by their carnal instincts
• Men are naturally aggressive
• Men and women are essentially different
• Heterosexuality is normative
These unifying themes are shown to be consistent with the forms of masculinity associated with the New Lad figure, linked to representations of masculinity in the ‘lads’ mags’ of the men’s magazine market.

Alongside these unifying themes, I also show how different kinds of masculine identity are emphasised depending on the kind of text they appear in, and in which genre of women’s magazine they feature. These differing representations are interpreted in terms of the flexibility of gender performance. This thesis argues that Butler’s theory of performativity can be applied to texts such as women’s magazines in two ways: women’s magazines form part of the “rigid, regulatory frame” (Butler, 1990: 33) which determines what constitutes acceptable performances of gender for society, and that they are also in themselves
performances of gender. They are also “a set of repeated acts [...] that congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance of a natural sort of being” (Butler, 1990: 33). The linguistic images of men inscribed in the pages of women’s magazines are repetitions that have become part of the naturalized, accepted performances of masculinity.

The ideologies of masculinity discussed here are potentially harmful from a feminist perspective, because if men are consistently shown to be aggressive or sexually driven, women may come to expect men to behave in this way.

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