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Sluts that choose vs doormat gypsies: exploring affect in the postfeminist, visual moral economy of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Feminist Media Studies
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)369-387
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/01/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The UK primetime series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (Channel 4, 2010, 2011, 2012) offered audiences the opportunity to be armchair matrimonial ethnographers, to reveal the courtship curiosities of “one of the most secretive communities in the UK.” In spite of claims to social realist documentary, however, we argue that this programme has clearer resonances with “sexposé” reality television, producing and circulating a moral, visual economy premised upon the cultural figuration of “the gypsy bride.” The gypsy girl and gypsy bride are marked as victims of male gypsy oppression, of “backwards” and repressive cultural practices, of age-inappropriate sexualisation and “excessive” consumerism, and is thus defined by her failure to be a good aspirational postfeminist subject. In this paper, we explore the intersecting discourses around gender, sexuality, class, and race operative within Gypsy Wedding and analyse online forums responding to the programme. We use psychosocial methodologies and theories of affect to argue that the gypsy bride becomes a figure of abjection, desired and despised, and that the (readily accepted) invitation to be appalled by her “oppression” reveals the strategic potency of postfeminist notions of empowerment and the racist, sexist, and classist agendas it can serve.