City Research Online

Obscenity versus objectification: a feminist reading of Leveson and its aftermath

Toms, K. (2021). Obscenity versus objectification: a feminist reading of Leveson and its aftermath. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis provides the first significant study of the Leveson Inquiry hearings where feminist activists gave evidence about media sexism and sexualised imagery and the then editor of The Sun, Dominic Mohan was recalled to defend the Page 3 feature. Identifying and analysing three key discourses – moral, liberal and feminist – at the Leveson Inquiry, this thesis contextualises and theorises debates about media sexism on the cusp of both a resurgent feminism and renewed misogyny. This is a qualitative, mixed methods, feminist thematic analysis which examines a range of textual sources including transcripts and written evidence from the Leveson Inquiry, as well as interviews gathered for the purposes of this research with key feminist campaigners. This thesis contributes to understandings about how power operates and is sustained through the media and judiciary and how media portrayals of women are defined and debated. It is argued that these hearings at the Leveson Inquiry were a significant moment on the public record with implications for tabloid newspapers, press regulation and feminist campaigning. An extensive repertoire of sexist justifications, defences and argumentations is identified at the Leveson Inquiry, alongside feminist strategies of resistance in this hostile postfeminist context. A triple entanglement of moral, liberal and neoliberal male rights argumentations is identified, which, it is argued, acts to silence an emergent feminist human rights discourse.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Katie Toms_Obscenity versus objectification.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 31 July 2024 due to copyright restrictions.

To request a copy, please use the button below.

Request a copy


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login