One way gender is socially constructed is through cultural texts; they help us make sense of and organize our world and understand ourselves as social beings. Greeting cards are one such text. In spite of the proliferation of relatively inexpensive, immediate forms of communication, such as cell-phones and email, the traditional paper card persists - in the United States, approximately 7 billion of them are purchased every year. Research to date on greeting cards and gender falls primarily into two types: one type has examined cards as cultural texts, divorcing the messages from their context, and looking for meaning in individual words, colors, or images; the other type has examined the cultural contexts in which greeting cards are used, ignoring how that use circulates and perpetuates normative gender messages. This essay draws on the fields of feminist theory, cultural studies, and rhetorical theory, to suggest a theoretical middle ground between these two poles, one which takes into account both the messages and the specific contexts in which they are used. On this middle ground, greeting cards can be examined as a rhetorical genre which constitutes a type of social action. Greeting cards both help construct our understandings of gender and gendered relationships and may actually rely on us recognizing ourselves in stereotypically gendered terms.
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||MAI 47/05M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Womens studies, Mass communications, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Gender, Greeting cards, Recognition, Rhetoric, Stereotypes|
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