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Still Red Hot? Postfeminism and Gender Subjectivity in the Airline Industry

Duffy, K and Hancock, P and Tyler, M (2017) 'Still Red Hot? Postfeminism and Gender Subjectivity in the Airline Industry.' Gender, Work and Organization, 24 (3). pp. 260-273. ISSN 0968-6673

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This article considers the relationship between postfeminism and gender subjectivity through a critique of the retro-aesthetic encoded into 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 1980s-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 sexualized 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 cooptation 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 postfeminist 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 preoccupied with the self as a performative project, one that characterizes postfeminist writing but that is at odds with a critique of the discrimination and disadvantage perpetuated within and by the industry.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: postfeminism; gender subjectivity; airline industry; encoding; retro-aesthetics; sales-service work
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD58.7 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 16:18
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:41

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