Still red hot? Post-feminism and gender subjectivity in the airline industry

Duffy, K. , Hancock, P. and Tyler, M. (2017) Still red hot? Post-feminism and gender subjectivity in the airline industry. Gender, Work and Organization, 24(3), pp. 260-273. (doi:10.1111/gwao.12147)

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This paper considers the relationship between post-feminism and gender subjectivity through a critique of the retro-aesthetic encoded in Virgin Atlantic’s Still Red Hot advertising campaign. Launched in 2009, and prompting a series of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, this high profile 25th-anniversary campaign featured crowds of people staring in awe at a group of 1980’s styled female cabin crew, and a male pilot, walking through an airport Arrivals lounge. As they pass they elicit a number of not only admiring glances, but also clearly sexualised responses, albeit portrayed in an exaggerated and, therefore, comedic manner, all set to the sound of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax. Focusing on the relationship between performativity, materiality and signification, or what Judith Butler (1990) calls ‘the scenography of production’, the analysis presented here reflects on the co-optation process played out in this particular advertisement, arguing that while ostensibly parodying the sexual iconography associated with the airline industry, it can also be read as an example of the organizational appropriation of post-feminist ideas regarding gender, sexuality and subjectivity. The discussion emphasizes how this retro-styled campaign is dependent upon the commodification of a knowing, ironic and playful subjectivity pre-occupied with the self as a performative project, one that characterises post-feminist writing but which is at odds with a critique of the discrimination and disadvantage perpetuated within and by the industry.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Duffy, Dr Katherine
Authors: Duffy, K., Hancock, P., and Tyler, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Gender, Work and Organization
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1468-0432
Published Online:30 November 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Wiley
First Published:First published in Gender, Work and Organization 24(3):260-273
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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