Latinas in the city: a discussion of how young Mexican women identify and engage with Sex and the City
Cantu, Elizabeth Angelica
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Globalization trends and treaties, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have increased the access and flow of United States media and popular culture products in Mexico. Limited research has been done examining the exposure of Mexican audiences to U.S. media products and the possibility of mass media?s impact on Mexican cultural identity. This qualitative study examines how twenty college-educated Mexican women identify and engage with the transnational popular culture text of Sex and the City (SATC). A multi-disciplinary theoretical approach, mainly from cultural studies and media studies, provides the backbone for my study of a foreign audience?s identification and engagement with a U.S. popular culture text. Thematic categorization of my interview data showed that genre, gender, class and location all played a role in the media engagement process. SATC enabled these twenty women to examine their lived experiences in Mexican society and be exposed to alternative viewpoints. The women interviewed were active audience members that discussed their experiences as college-educated, career driven women associated with modernity but living in the traditional, patriarchal society of Mexico. The women interviewed preferred watching television from other countries, such as the U.S., because it resonated with their lived experiences more than the telenovelas, which are the most common form of television programming in Latin America. In terms of discussing the representation of women on SATC, women talked about the gender roles, myths and structural forces of Mexican society to engage in resistive pleasure and to talk about gender politics. For these Mexican women, discussing SATC allowed them to express concerns over the representation of women in telenovelas, the importance of having alternative viewpoints available to women, and the experiences that have allowed them to foster spaces for change based on SATC?s content and characters. While factors, such as education, socioeconomics and geographic location framed the respondent comments, SATC was a source of strategic knowledge and cultural capital for women to open up new discussions with friends and family, new ways of looking and living out their sexuality, and ideas of the female body.