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The Discoursive Construction of Sexuality and Domesticity in the Brazilian 1950s

de Oliveira e Silva, Alice Ines; (1997) The Discoursive Construction of Sexuality and Domesticity in the Brazilian 1950s. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis analyses models and messages of femininity in the Brazilian 1950s, as expressed in popular culture in general and by normative literature destined for women readers. These sources indicate ways in which post-war Brazilian society attempted to accommodate the appeal of new models and values as displayed in films and magazines to the traditional ethics. Conversely they also represent a discursive site in which attempts to reconcile the restrictions of that ethics with the exigencies of modern bourgeois society were negotiated. First it deals with the foundations of the construction of femininity in Brazilian middle class terms discussing the gendered nature of Catholic doctrine and examining the cultural complex of honour and shame which informs traditional position of women in society. These patterns were transmitted by normative literature and reinforced through romantic novels. The analysis of the process of courtship ('namoro') and the description of the desacralization of woman in cartoons and pornographic comics reveal much about male values. 'Namoro' was embedded with ideas of chivalry derived from courtly love which awarded woman a high and sacred position. It is sharply contrasted with representations of women in male popular fiction. Images of woman in popular culture were frequently opposed to traditional representations which centred on modesty and passivity, and which either sanctified sexuality (in wedlock), or saw it as transgressive (outside the sphere of family). The new genre of advertisements, however, heightened sexual allure as the necessary element of femininity, contributing to 'domestication of seduction'. The counterpart of this seductive woman, was the new efficient housewife and mother, the target consumer of domestic appliances. Although at first glance it seems that imagery of consumption embodied the old dichotomy between the good asexual woman/mother/Mary/ and the bad/sexy /Eve/source of illicit pleasures, it will be argued that both are facets of the same ambiguous figure. Those models were pivotal for establishing parameters for the self-evaluation of middle-class women. They were also important for the construction of new paradigms for Brazilian society. A society which was trying to adjust its own image to that of a new world where progress, modernisation and democracy were seen as global ideals.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Discoursive Construction of Sexuality and Domesticity in the Brazilian 1950s
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10102549
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