Not that Innocent: The discursive construction of girls' sexuality in Dolly magazine
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This study examines the discursive construction of girls' sexuality in the teen magazine, Dolly. It uses Dolly to illustrate the ambiguity surrounding girls' sexuality in the media which render it simultaneously problematic and a source of entertainment. This focus was inspired by recent publicity surrounding teen sexual practices in New Zealand, where various media and governmental debates have rendered teen, and in particular girls' sexuality a 'sex crisis' (The New Zealand Listener: 14-20 May 2005) with which New Zealand is faced. The study uses a multi-modal approach, combining ethnographic research and textual analysis. The former consists of a questionnaire with one hundred and nineteen respondents from two socio-demographically different secondary schools and supports previous research that demonstrates the important role of magazines in the lives of young women. The latter involves an examination of fifteen issues of Dolly and suggests that the identities of the reader, subject and author are discursively constructed through the prevalent discourses in the magazine. The often contradictory discourses upon which this study focuses are confession, victimisation, epidemic, medicine, desire and girl power. The identities constructed are equally contradictory and include a naïve, knowledgeable, deviant or normal but always heterosexually desiring and desirable reader. In general, the study provides an insight into the ambiguity surrounding girls' sexuality in popular culture, and into the potential implications of this on girls' sexual, personal and social development and identity.