Bodies, sexualities and women leaders in popular culture: from spectacle to metapicture

Bell, Emma and Sinclair, Amanda (2016). Bodies, sexualities and women leaders in popular culture: from spectacle to metapicture. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 31(5/6) pp. 322–338.



Purpose – This paper focuses on visual representation of women leaders and how women leaders’ bodies and sexualities are rendered visible in particular ways.
Design/methodology/approach – The arguments are based on a reading of the Danish television drama series, Borgen. The authors interpret the meaning of this text and consider what audiences might gain from watching it.
Findings – The analysis of Borgen highlights the role of popular culture in resisting patriarchal values and enabling women to reclaim leadership.
Originality/value – The metaphor of the spectacle enables explanation of the representation of women leaders in popular culture as passive, fetishised objects of the masculine gaze. These pervasive representational practices place considerable pressure on women leaders to manage their bodies and sexualities in particular ways. However, popular culture also provides alternative representations of women leaders as embodied and agentic. The notion of the metapicture offers a means of destabilising confining notions of female leadership within popular culture and opening up alternatives

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