Monday, January 30, 2012

Post-Feminism as Hegemonic Construct

This chapter from Gill is a popular topic in all women's studies classes: the idea that we are in a post-feminist world in which women are still oppressed.  As Gill discusses the different depictions of women in the media throughout the 80's and 90's as well as the prevalence of women's magazines it remains to be seen where the feminism ever was in these areas of media.  What is most alarming is that women are embracing the Ally Mcbeal, Spice Girls, and Porn Stars as the new way to female empowerment and freedom.  This ideas harkens back to the first chapters of Feminist Media Studies and its depiction of the porn industry.  This male centric media form has crossed over into the "real world" of media and because of its creation by white, first class, heterosexual males, it has been presented as the new norm instead of a plasticized depiction of reality.

What Gill seems to be attempting to say is that the hegemonic oppressive forces has picked up on the most opportunistic portions of the feminist movements.  Women wanted sexual freedom? Well why not take a pole dancing class and show the world just how free you are.  Furthermore, show the media you don't care what they think of your body by wearing that really short skirt and skin tight shirt.  That will definitely show the oppressive media forces that you won't take it from them.  And the worst part is that I buy into this too.  No woman is safe from the ways in which the media has seeped into our lives and socially constructed the ways in which women view their bodies and their sexualities.  Furthermore, Gill points out the politicization of the female body as well as the media's seeming ownership over it as an object to project ideas and marketing schemas on.  Its as though the hegemonic discourse took feminists cry that we wanted choices and then twisted them to their own ends.  See ladies, you can choose which crash diet to go on. What kind of work out will give you the best results? Look at all the choices you have at the makeup counter.  And if thats not enough you now have the choice to permanently alter your body through expensive plastic surgery so that you can gain control of your life and feel better. Post-feminism is alive and well in our society but I would argue that the "post" means no longer "by and for women" but more so "by and for men."

As Gill points out, the most horrifying aspect of the post-feminist movement is how it is all based around choice and how in reality women really have no choice at all.  Through the influx of pornography into main stream media women can no longer choose to identify our own sexuality but are instead forced to exist within a literal virgin/whore dichotomy.  Do we own our sexuality and go to pole dancing classes, or do we remain chaste until marriage? And the entire thing is so muddied that we really don't even have the ability to find the middle ground.  Furthermore, wanting a healthy physique is a good thing but do we want "rock hard abs" because they are better for our overall health or for purely cosmetic reasons? Women now have plenty of options but really no true choice for ourselves. Because of the media's view of the post-feminist world and the discourses crafted by the hegemonic majority it has become almost impossible for women to craft a real true, "feminist," opinion or any real opinion at all.  We no longer have a pro-woman option, but rather multiple options that masquerade as pro-woman but are actually pro-hegemonic male.

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