Sarah Casey currently teaches in the postgraduate Communication stream at Griffith University, Queensland. Her research interests include media feminisms, celanthropy, and digital campaigning. Sarah is a co-author of Media and Society (6th edition) with Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler, and her forthcoming book, Australian Feminist Campaigning: Celanthropy, Online Activism, and Celebrity Feminism, will be released in 2018 by Peter Lang, Oxford.
Juliet Watson is the Unison Lecturer in Urban Housing and Homelessness, the Deputy Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab, and an Early Career Research Leader in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Her work focuses on gender, homelessness, youth, violence against women, inequality, and feminist theories. Juliet’s doctoral thesis won the 2016 Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association PhD Award. She is the author of Youth Homelessness and Survival Sex: Intimate Relationships and Gendered Subjectivities, published by Routledge.
Volume 37, November 2017
The changing role of mainstream media has transformed how feminist issues are disseminated and debated resulting in the number of feminist commentators in the Australian media substantially increasing. This amplification of feminist discourse by certain voices is occurring due to the possibilities for celebritisation generated by online and social media, gendered news and lifestyle commentaries. While this opens up space for greater representation of feminist voices, paradoxically, much of the feminist discourse in the mainstream media problematically reinforces the dominant paradigm rather than challenges it. Mainstream media celebrity feminists can seem unvarying in their homogeneity; their presence is non-threatening, privileged and palatable, and is often connected with a ‘feminism-as-a-business model’. In contrast, feminists who are perceived as more difficult or dogmatic are positioned as outliers or unpalatable. In this article, we discuss data collected in 2014 from two breakfast TV panels, The Mixed Grill (Today) and Kochie’s Angels (Sunrise) when both offered all female panels, headed by the male hosts of the programs. We also look at the same panels on both programs again in 2016 after they had been renamed as The Grill (Today) and Newsfeed (Sunrise), and had been restructured to include male panelists. In this paper we discuss contemporary celebrity feminism and question if the populist feminisms advocated in the mainstream media can offer opportunities for substantive political change or are devoid of meaningful feminist politics. These questions are explored through the conceptual framework of the unpalatable-palatable which asserts that celebrity feminism is not an uncomplicated or binaristic state but instead reflects a disrupted and disruptive state of flux.