Sexism re-loaded ··· or sexism re-presented? Irrelevant precision and the British press

2014-06-30T14:12:10Z (GMT) by Fred Attenborough
If part of the project of a feminist media studies is to explore the various ways in which sexism operates through the media, then how might this be achieved? Any answer to this question will depend upon how the concept of "sexism" is understood. Much existing research has tended to approach sexism as an etic, analyst-driven phenomenon; that is, as something to be defined by the analyst during the study of media representations that may be sexist, but that are very rarely about sexism. In this article, however, attention is given to the hitherto largely unexplored idea of sexism as an emic, participant-driven phenomenon that gets defined within media representations that are, very directly, about incidents of sexism. Newspaper reports of an incident of sexist behaviour in the world of English Premier League football are analysed for the ways in which they re-resented complaints about that behaviour. Developing the concept of "irrelevant precision," this article shows that and how those re-resentations worked to undermine the legitimacy of the complaints and, by implication, the idea that anything sexist had taken place. The article concludes with a discussion of how this concept contributes to the project of a feminist media studies. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.