Monday, January 30, 2012

Postfeminist Sensibility and Cosmopolitan Magazine

In Gill's chapter about postfeminist media culture, she discusses the ways in which the "third wave" of feminism is addressed as one of the following: postfeminism as epistemological rift, as historical change, or as backlash against feminism. Instead of categorizing post-feminism as one of these three conceptions, Gill instead makes the decision to regard postfeminism as a "sensibility" which she states "...does not require a static notion of authentic feminism as a comparison point, but instead is informed by postmodernist and constructionist perspectives and seeks to examine what is distinctive about contemporary articulations of gender in the media" (254-255). To highlight what exactly this means, Gill provides the reader with various examples of the ways in which this idea is construed throughout the media, making reference to issues such as sexualization of the body in advertisements, inappropriate targeting of girls as young as five-years-old in selling "sexy slogans" and G-strings, and lastly, the difference between boy and girl magazines.

On page 257, the discussion of "lad" magazines versus "straight women" magazines really caught my attention. To quote Gill: " magazines aimed at straight women, men are presented as complex, vulnerable human beings. But in magazines targeted at those same men women only ever discuss their underwear, sexual fantasies, 'filthiest moments' or body parts" (257). As I read this section, I envisioned a Cosmopolitan magazine cover, always emphasizing the articles about sex on the front cover. So, I went to Cosmopolitan's website to find this:


"The Perfect 'Do for a Bad Hair Day"
"Get Girl-Next-Door Hot"
"Blow His Mind Every Single Time"
"Naughtiest Sex Tips of the Year"

What part of Cosmopolitan could be constituted as post-feminist? While this magazine is consumed by girls as young as their early teens (perhaps even pre-teens), it negates its very purpose in presenting these stories to the public. Is Cosmo not intended to empower women? To make them more confident about their bodies, their personalities? It seems that instead, Cosmo is giving into the hegemonic structuring of gender-based society while masking these fallacies as gender empowering. I wonder what Gill would have to say about that...

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