Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Every time I examine articles about postfeminism, a question always comes to my mind: “What would be the ‘perfect’ place (e.g., utopia) for women in feminism?” Of course, the ultimate goal of feminism is achieving sexual equality, yet it is hard to imagine what women would be like and how they would be understood in the “perfect” society where sexual discriminations do not exist. In other words, what would be a “liberated woman” like? Within the accelerated capitalism, women became empowered (yes, it is a problematic term) through consumptions and postfeminism reinforces such understanding of women. However, as Tasker and Negra claim, liberation through consumption and aspiration might not empower women as women still remain unequally treated in various economic and social circumstances. (12) What would eventually liberate and empower women? Is an “empowered woman” an abstractive concept? How would you describe an “empowered woman”?

Reading a number of articles discussing postfeminim and media, especially the ones by Banet-Weiser and Springers at this time, I understood the nature of feminism: there are multiple kinds of feminist interests. As Banet-Weister writes, “the politics of feminism is quite obviously different for different generations.” (210) Similarly, feminist interests and the politics of them might be different amongst people depending on their identity categories, such as races, ethnicities, and nations. As are produced in the younger and later generations, the discourses of postfeminism are centered on youth. Acknowledging this very nature of feminism, I wonder if we can draw a common voice from these different kinds of feminist interests and situations. Is diversifying feminism possible? Could the same critiques of postfeminism or postfeminist representational culture in Western media be made in other countries? How does “context” come into play in feminism?

Angela McRobbie, one of the most influential scholars studying postfeminism and media, argues that in postfeminism “for feminism to be ‘taken into account’ it has to be understood as having already passed away.” (28) Yet, I am wondering if there is any popular media text that sees feminism to be necessarily addressed and puts forward some room for a feminist development in its text. Since postfeminism by nature is flexible, ambiguous, and ambivalent, sometimes a postfeminist media text can be understood as a feminist text. Understanding that feminism is understood, projected, and rejected in different ways among different groups of people because of their unique social and individual contexts, I question how a media text would be differently interpreted amongst various social groups. For example, how differently or similarly would “The Cosby Show” be decoded between well-educated, (upper) middle-class white and less-educated, working-class non-whites? What about the shows like “The ‘L’ Word”?

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