This article explores the six-part television debate series No Man's Land, which was broadcast on ITV in Britain in 1973. It argues that the program is a historically significant example of the public orientation of the women's liberation movement and its engagement with, rather than straightforward hostility toward, the mass media. The program was produced by women who were active in the women's liberation movement; it was presented by the feminist Juliet Mitchell; and its studio audience was populated by, among others, many women who were aligned with the movement. The format of No Man's Land mixed short documentary films that were explicitly concerned with the structural oppression of women and discussion with a studio audience in response to the themes of these films. The article reflects on how television texts such as No Man's Land tend to be absent from existing popular and academic histories; it suggests that dominant understandings of the relationship between the mass media and the women's liberation movement as mutually antagonistic frequently function to close off the spaces where such texts might be considered. Through close analysis of the program and its reviews in print media, it considers the problems and possibilities of and constraints on early second-wave feminists who appropriated and operated within mass-media—and specifically televised—forms. It also points to the importance of socialist feminism as a discursive context for British television in the early 1970s.
Speaking Bitterness: Second-Wave Feminism, Television Talk, and the Case of No Man's Land (1973)
Jilly Boyce Kay is a PhD candidate at De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom. Her thesis considers the relationship between television talk programs and feminism(s) in Britain between 1970 and 1990. She has published research on gender and political debate on television, the gender politics of afternoon programming in the 1970s, and the framing of austerity economics in the British media.
Jilly Boyce Kay; Speaking Bitterness: Second-Wave Feminism, Television Talk, and the Case of No Man's Land (1973). Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2015; 1 (2): 64–89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2015.1.2.064
Download citation file: