‘Post Feminism’ Has Become One Of The Most Fundamental, Yet Contested Notions In Feminist Studies Cultural Studies Essay

2004 words - 9 pages

‘Post Feminism’ has become one of the most fundamental, yet contested notions in feminist and cultural studies. Post feminism has no fixed meaning, and the term is used variously and more frequently contradictorily to signal a historical shift towards the female gender. Post feminism is mainly located in the academic context of television and cultural studies, in the media context of popular culture and within consumer culture. Post feminism is about feminism today and needs to be viewed in a contemporary context influenced by Individualism, post modernism and a neo liberal society with a decreased interest in politics and activism. Post feminism is best understood by being made up of a number of interrelated themes. These include the notion that femininity is a bodily property, the shift from objectification to subjectification, a focus on individualism and empowerment, the dominance of a societal paradigm, and a revival of ideas about natural sexual difference.
One of the most striking aspects of post-feminist media culture is its fixation with the female body. Femininity is viewed as a bodily property rather than being viewed as a social or psychological object. Instead of a focus on individualism being regarded as central to femininity, in today’s media it is the possession of a ‘sexy body’ that is represented as a woman’s key source of identity (Gill, 2007). But it is not just present day society that has influenced feminism and the female body. The body is presented as a woman’s source of power and has been subject to constant monitoring, discipline and remodelling in order to conform to social norms of female attractiveness. For over 3,000 years women’s ‘ideal body’ types have been determined by their society’s standard of beauty. In 2015, Buzzfeed compiled these trends and more into one video titled “Women’s Ideal Body Types throughout History.” A diverse cast of models shows how the standard of beauty for women has changed dramatically over time. The video shows a variety of archetypes through the years, from Ancient Egypt (c. 1292 - 1069 B.C.) to Italian Renaissance (c. 1400 - 1700) and the Golden Age Of Hollywood (c. 1930s - 1950s) to what is considered ‘Post Modern Beauty’ and how those archetypes were directly influenced by society, art and media thus proving the notion that ‘ideal’ is constantly being remodelled. (Buzzfeed, 2015).
The observation of women's bodies establishes the largest type of media content across all genres and media forms. Women's bodies are evaluated, scrutinised and dissected by women and men alike. Women can never really ‘get it right’ in postfeminist culture, yet postfeminist media, like tabloids, continually promote the idea that intensified self-surveillance and visible consumption will offer women paths to empowerment, pleasure and, most crucially, a “normal” or “Ideal” feminine lifestyle. Celebrity culture, in its emphasis on the contradictions between the private and public, talent and personali...


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