Postfeminism: Cultural Texts and Theories

By Stéphanie Genz; Benjamin A. Brabon | Go to book overview

Introduction: Postfeminist Contexts

Postfeminism is a concept fraught with contradictions. Loathed by some and celebrated by others, it emerged in the late twentieth century in a number of cultural, academic and political contexts, from popular journalism and media to feminist analyses, postmodern theories and neo-liberal rhetoric. Critics have claimed and appropriated the term for a variety of definitions, ranging from a conservative backlash, Girl Power, third wave feminism and postmodern/poststructuralist feminism. In popular culture, it has often been associated with female characters like the Spice Girls and Helen Fielding’s chick heroine Bridget Jones, who has been embraced/criticised as the poster child of postfeminism. In academic writings, it sits alongside other ‘post-’ discourses – including postmodernism and postcolonialism – and here, it refers to a shift in the understanding and construction of identity and gender categories (like ‘Woman’, ‘Man’ and ‘Feminist’). Likewise, in social and political investigations, postfeminism has been read as indicative of a ‘post-traditional’ era characterised by dramatic changes in basic social relationships, role stereotyping and conceptions of agency (Gauntlett; Mann). While commentators have found fault with postfeminism’s interpretative potential and flexibility – Coppock and Gamble, for example, deplore the fact that ‘postfeminism remains a product of assumption’ and ‘exactly what it constitutes… is a matter for frequently impassioned debate’ (Coppock et al. 4; Gamble 43) – they also have acknowledged its significance and impact. As Rosalind Gill writes, ’[t]here is, as yet, no parallel for postfeminism’ (Gender and the Media 250).

This book endeavours to take stock of the postfeminist phenomenon, which has confounded and split contemporary critics with its contradictory meanings and pluralistic outlook. It provides an overview of postfeminism’s

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Postfeminism: Cultural Texts and Theories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Introduction- Postfeminist Contexts 1
  • 1 - Backlash and New Traditionalism 51
  • 2 - New Feminism- Victim vs. Power 64
  • 3 - Girl Power and Chick Lit 76
  • 4 - Do-Me Feminism and Raunch Culture 91
  • 5 - Postmodern (Post)Feminism 106
  • 6 - Queer (Post)Feminism 124
  • 7 - Men and Postfeminism 132
  • 8 - Cyber-Postfeminism 145
  • 9 - Third Wave Feminism 156
  • 10 - Micro-Politics and Enterprise Culture 166
  • Afterword- Postfeminist Possibilities 178
  • Bibliography 180
  • Index 196
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