Jackie and Just Seventeen: Girls’ Comics and Magazines in the 1980s

  • Angela McRobbie
Part of the Youth Questions book series (YQ)


Since ‘Jackie: An Ideology of Adolescent Femininity’ was first published in the late 1970s,1 feminist scholarship in the field of media studies has grown enormously. Both women’s magazines and romantic fiction, have been the subject of sustained critical attention. They have been recognised as key cultural forms reflective of distinctively feminine pleasures. Romance exists, of course, well beyond the pages of the magazines. It carries readers, viewers and audiences through a multiplicity of other forms. These include romantic novels, romantic films, and romantic records. Romance has also been credited with supplying the framework for female fantasy. Studying popular romances has been seen therefore, by feminist critics like Cora Kaplan, as offering a possible point of entry for understanding important aspects of the feminine psyche.2


Teenage Girl Music Industry Youth Culture Record Company Body Shop 
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Notes and references

  1. 1.
    A. McRobbie, Chapter 5 in this volume.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    C. Kaplan, ‘The Thorn Birds: Fiction, Fantasy, Femininity’ in V. Burgin (ed.) Formations of Fantasy, London, Methuen, 1986.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    C. Brunsdon Chapter 4 E. Seiter (ed.) Rethinking the Audience, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Kaplan, ‘The Thorn Birds’.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    D. Morley, Family Television: Cultural Power and Domestic Leisure, Comedia, 1987, London.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    J. Radway, Reading the Romance: Women Patriarchy and Popular Literature, London, Verso, 1987.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See, for example, R. Johnson ‘The Story So Far: and the Future Transformed’ in Introduction to D. Punter (ed.) Contemporary Cultural Studies, Longman, 1986; and S. Hall, ‘Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms’ in T. Bennet (ed.) Culture, Ideology and Social Process, London, Batsford Academic, 1981.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See, for example, E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1974; Raymond Williams, Culture and Society, London, Chatto & Windus, 1958; and R. Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1957.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    P. Willis, Learning to Labour, Aldershot, Saxon House, 1977.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    D. Morley, Family Television.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. Radway, Reading the Romance.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    I. Eng, ‘Feminist Desire and Female Pleasure: On Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature, in Camera Obscura, 17/18 (Spring/Summer 1988).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    M. Barker et al., ‘Methods for Cultural Studies Students’, in Introduction to D. Punter (ed.) Contemporary Cultural Studies, London, Longman, 1986.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    E. Fraser ‘Teenage Girls Reading Jackie’ in Media Culture and Society Sage, vol. 19, 1987.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    M. McLoughlin, ‘The Pleasures of Reading’, unpublished BA dissertation, North East London Polytechnic, 1987.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. Baudrillard, ‘The Ecstasy of Communication’ in H. Foster (ed.) Post-modern Culture, London, Pluto Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    J. Radway, Reading the Romance.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J. Winship, Inside Women’s Magazines, London, Pandora, 1987.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    M. MacFadyean, ‘Agony Aunts and Advice Columns’ in The New Statesman and Society, 19 August 1988.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    J. Winship, Inside Women’s Magazines.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    M. Foucault, A History of Sexuality, vol. I, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1982; and S. Heath, The Sexual Fix, London, Macmillan, 1982.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    S. Heath, The Sexual Fix.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    C. Weedon, Feminist Practice and Post-Structuralist Theory, Oxford, Blackwell, 1987.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    S. Hall in ‘Working Papers’ in ‘Cultural Studies’.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    S. Frith, Music For Pleasure, London, Polity Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    B. Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment, London and New York, Thames and Hudson, 1967.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    A. McRobbie, ‘Interviewing Juliet Mitchell’ in New Left Review, no 170, August 1988.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    E. Carter ‘Alice in Consumer Wonderland’ in A. McRobbie and M. Nava (eds) Gender and Generation, London, Macmillan, 1984; and ‘Intimate Outscapes: Problem Page Letters and the Remaking of the 1950s German Family’ in L. Roman (ed.) Becoming Feminine, Brighton, Falmer Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    S. Hall, in ‘Working Papers in ‘Cultural Studies.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    M. Ryan, ‘The Politics of Post-modernism in Postmodernism: Theory, Culture and Society, vol 5, nos 2–3, June 1988.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
  32. 32.
    The conclusion to a version of ‘Jackie: An Ideology of Adolescent Feminity’ which appeared in A. McRobbie and T. McCabe (eds) Feminism For Girls looked to the possibility of an alternative to Jackie which countered its ideas and values with a sharp-edged feminist approach. The economics of the early 1980s however put paid to numerous alternative publishing ventures, and Shocking Pink, a magazine which attempted to put this idea into practice, seemed to disappear as suddenly as it appeared in the first place. From then on the debate in Left and feminist circles moved — imperceptibly perhaps — towards the idea of working within the mainstream and trying to bring to the large media institutions new and critical ideas. This arguement also took into account the widespread idea that publications like Jackie were bought because of their appealing format. There was something about them that thousands of young readers liked. It was impossible to duplicate this out in the wilderness of the alternatives, better therefore to move back towards the big institutions and work to transform them.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Angela McRobbie 1991

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  • Angela McRobbie

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