Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kim Golombisky, Ph.D.


cultural studies, feminism, mass media, popular culture, MTV music videos, women's studies, Feminism, Mass media, Popular culture, MTV music videos, Women's studies


This study examined how young women audiences may make sense of music videos and how they relate music video messages to their own femininity. Studies of the representation of women in music videos mostly have focused on critiquing content, rather than audience interpretations. This study, using focus groups, looked at how young women interpret music videos featuring women artists and showed that young women perceive sexist and/or stereotypical depictions presented in the videos. During six focus groups, three music videos were reviewed by 49 college students, mostly consisting of young women in their early 20s. The researcher found themes emerging from the discussions recorded during the focus groups. Such themes reaffirmed previous critical scholarship on the content of music videos that women are presented as sex objects and objectified body parts in music videos, that portrayals of women function as unrealistic masculine fantasies, and that the videos contain narratives about cultural expectations for femininity. The results did support prior critical work, but they also uncovered interpretations filled with irony, contradiction, and paradox. This study examined women audience members' interpretations of feminine stereotypes in music videos and found that the women participants felt pressure to meet an impossible standard of an ideal feminine form, as defined by men. The results revealed the participants' concern about their own inadequacies in comparison. Participants generally observed that the women artists in the treatment music videos are not real women, but participants demonstrated a wistful desire to be more like the artists. The present study adds interpretive audience research to the literature on music video content analysis and supports prior conclusions based on content analysis.