The Incorporation of Women: A Comparison of North American and Mexican Popular Narrative

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Mass culture narrative guides women through the social labyrinth. Yet as I shall show, there are various plots which may be differentiated according to what it is that women are being asked to sacrifice. In the case of romantic fiction, women are asked to sacrifice their intelligence, whereas in the comic strip novels they often sacrifice romance. [...] the manner in which women are positioned usually depends on quite archaic mechanisms—a kind of anachronistic "political unconscious" which nevertheless allows the modern woman to be constituted. This anachronism is deployed in mass culture narrative addressed both to relatively affluent women (the mass of women in the metropolitan countries and selected groups of privileged consumers in the third world) and to women who are integrated or about to be integrated into the lower levels of the work force. Thus the ancient form of romance is deployed to represent the utopian side of modernization, the utopia in which there can be unlimited gratification without guilt or social disapproval. The dystopia that corresponds to it is the world of oppressive work in which the very commodities that promise gratification are produced. The (utopian) romance provides women with a dream of an ideal reconciliation between their individual desire for love and their desire for social approval, a reconciliation which will be achieved by a process of self-­censorship. On the other hand, in the popular literature addressed to those women who are positioned differently within the international division of labor, romance is shown to be deceptive. (123)