Monday, January 30, 2012

The Dangers of the Postfeminist Media Culture

Gill’s final chapter centers around the idea that today’s media is driven by a postfeminist sensibility. What she means by this is that in response to second wave feminism of the 1960’s and 1970’s, postfeminism has emerged as a critique of such feminism in that it shifts away from the concern with gender equality to focus more on the debate between gender differences. This postfeminist sensibility has also realized that feminism must encompass all women, not just white, middle-class women. Yet while this sounds progressive and seems to be in sync with neoliberalism, what this sensibility uncovers are the serious problems society faces today with sexism through the postfeminist media culture. This culture is obsessed with the women’s body. A woman’s body has become their main source of identity because of how magazines and television portray women in today’s world. Gill discusses how women are always at a risk of “failing” when dealing with their body image. While men are rarely scrutinized through the media, whole magazines and shows are dedicated to evaluating the female body and deeming what is acceptable and what is not, with being “fat” serving as the death penalty to a woman’s image.
Not only is the body image issue a problem introduced by today’s postfeminist media, but there is now an uneven distribution of discourses of sex as well. Sex is presented to young girls as a discipline and emotional labor that girls must master to possess power in the real world. Advertisers have responded to feminist critiques by creating a new type of figure to sell, “the sexually autonomous, heterosexual, young woman who plays with her sexual power.” What I have seen emerge from this in the media is this notion of whether or not a girl is “DTF”, something promoted strongly in MTV’s Jersey Shore. This insinuates that a girl is either a prude (not socially ideal), or down to fudge* (something that everyone should be, according to society). Yet DTF never pertains to men, it is strictly used as a classification for women. Gill notes that in recent years, porno has become reality, that women are in fact down to have random sex with strangers on a whim. Thus, there are serious gender discourses applied to sex. I believe this is a slippery slope, with something that was once precious being turned into a necessary requirement on the female societal résumé. 

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