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Across the WavesHow the United States and France Shaped the International Age of Radio$
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Derek W. Vaillant

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041419

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041419.001.0001

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The Air of Paris

The Air of Paris

Women’s Talk Radio, Gender, and the Art of Self-Fashioning

(p.102) 5 The Air of Paris
Across the Waves

Derek W. Vaillant

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines a popular U.S.-distributed English-language radio series produced by the FBS in Paris during the Cold War. Bonjour Mesdames (Hello Ladies) was a talk program dedicated to fashion, lifestyle, and symbolic gender repair of French and U.S. women. Hosted by Marjorie Dunton, the series invited U.S. listeners to support France as consumers, tourists, and self-fulfilling individuals. The program also gave voice to gender unconventionality among the male staff, some of whom voiced their non-conformism on the air. Rife with contradiction in its conservative framing of womanhood and Franco-French ideals of white racial essence on the one hand, and celebration of female agency and self-knowledge on the other, Bonjour Mesdames constitutes a remarkable artifact of U.S.–French gender politics.

Keywords:   gender, sexuality, haute couture, exchange, women, race, whiteness, consumerism, tourism, Paris, homosexuality, queer, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), State Department, Marshall Plan

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