One of the themes I picked up on throughout this chapter was the idea of 'having it both ways' and I think this topic is a very important one to discuss and dissect. Why can't we be both a male fantasy and an established professional? I believe that we can in fact be both, as long as we understand the deeper constraints. Gill talks on page 251 about Ally McBeal possessing what it takes to be both "what men want" as well as a successful woman. She is sometimes considered a postfeminist heroine because she is not "observing arbitrary boundaries." But I wouldn't be so sure this is always the case.
We talked a lot last
semester in Issues In Feminism about the importance of understanding the
restrictions and expectations society has placed on women and how they may or
may not effect your decisions and desires. Often, the issue comes up of whether
or not women taking part in certain activities such as cosmetic surgery or
simply getting a wax is empowering or oppressive. This issue comes up on page
260 in which Gill discusses how women are targeted as having the free will to
make over their bodies in order to 'please themselves' not anyone else,
especially men, and how women can 'use beauty' to empower themselves. However,
this notion assumes a lot of things such as all women are heterosexual and
obsessed with men (260). Also, the image that women are adhering to is for the
most part, all the same which does not seem to represent something you are
doing for your individual self.
While I do believe that
these acts can be extremely empowering, for that to happen, one must be
informed and aware of why they want these alterations and why they make them
feel good. I believe that a large majority of the reason can be given to the
media. We are constantly told that the most successful women fit a certain,
narrow standard. We see it in movies, television, advertising and the rest of
the entertainment industry.
So, are women becoming more
empowered by taking their 'beauty' into their own hands and 'having it all'?
Maybe, but in order to do so, they must realize why they feel the need
to do so. And that reason is the media. They have placed unachievable standards
on the vast majority of women.