Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reading Questions: April 9 Tasker/Negra

1.In McRobbie’s article, she makes the claim that postfeminism has undermined gains of feminism, and that feminism is now regarded as unnecessary. Have feminist gains been fully dismantled, and if so, what are the root causes of this happening? If not, what traces of feminism have lasted, and why? Granted, women have earned greater freedoms, but according to Projanksy’s findings, consumption is the new remedy for providing women with empowerment. One can see signs of this everywhere, with changing roles of women balancing it “all,” and in many cases, spending is the savior. For example, women can have gym memberships to look fit, spa treatments to feel young, nannies and dog walkers to take the load off when they’re at the office. However, have the underlying restraints on female identity been lifted? Have women’s struggles, while not identical to the original struggles of early feminists, really disappeared? If not, what are the new struggles within postfeminist culture? Is feminism “embarrassing” to younger women because it threatens their new identity and powers gained through consumption? Does this mean that class differences will take precedent for women in postfeminism?

2. Projanksy’s study of the rhetoric of “girl power” illuminates the discourses that surround media’s portrayal of the “new” realms of femininity. It seems that girls’ achievements are modeled within a heterosexual, capitalist framework that defines them with values that would originally have been placed on boys. However, the ultimate message coming through is that girls will never be as strong as boys, and although it’s okay to be a girl and enjoy these freedoms while you can – as girl becomes woman, such "freedoms" once again become limited. In other words, the essence of freedom trails away over time. Girls have “the life”; as women experience the”new empowerment” of postfeminism, they also suffer the backlash when they hit 40, and are still expected to find a husband, AND work, AND have children, AND look ten years under their age. Is this progress?

3. Banet-Weiser makes some depressingly accurate points, when she describes how the media, realizing that they have to pay attention to diversity, do so because it’s smart business. The sliding scale of color, in what she describes as “ambiguous” ethnicities, is similar to the gender issue regarding girl/woman as presented in the media. One could also argue that gays are often presented in a non-threatening manner, commoditized for palatable consumption. It's like some of these deep lines that have divided society, are being effectively rubbed off as if they were soft pencil lead . If differences of race,culture and gender can now be marketed within safe parameters, effectively whitewashing deeper issues or cultural differences, does this mean racial and gender differences will become increasingly passe, like the supposed disappearance of feminism? In other words, by consuming, does this mean we can all live together happily in “one world,” defined by the global corporations? Will those deeper issues disappear through our new roles as global consumers, as a result of globalization and the New Economy? Are these attempts at erasing differences to create a “global consumer” that can be more easily targeted? Would this be a good thing, and how would it manifest itself in terms of gender? -Molly

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