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NeoFeminism - Neofeminist Cinema


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my report in Media 304: Media and Identities at the University of the Philippines Diliman PhD Media Studies program at the College of Mass Communication

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NeoFeminism - Neofeminist Cinema

  1. 1. Neo-Feminism Female|Feminine|Stealth Feminists Neo-Feminist Cinema Girly Films, Chick Flicks and Consumer Culture Chona Rita R. Cruz (CINDY) 86-16518 PhD Media Studies Media 304: Media and Identities Dr. Elizabeth Enriquez
  2. 2. • What are your looks for your everyday life / roles / places and spaces? • How would you describe your personal style? • What type of clothes, bags, and accessories do you choose for yourself? • Who are the women you can most identify with, including the style angle? • What image/s of yourself do you cultivate for your identity/ies?
  3. 3. Definition of Terms
  4. 4. • • • • • • • • • • Female Feminine Feminist Feminisms Patriarchy Girly Film Four quadrants Fun, fearless female GIRL as identity – always in a state of “becoming” Singleton
  5. 5. The Feminisms Alison Jaggar Bell Hooks Simone De Beauvoir Betty Friedan Shulamith Firestone Helen Gurley Brown Hilary Radner
  6. 6. • A collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women • Equal opportunities for women in education and employment • United against institutionalized practices of oppression, discrimination and biological determinism and the appropriation of female labor (within the patriarchy) • Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women’s social roles and lived experience
  7. 7. Liberal Feminism • Equality through legal reform • The integration of women into the existing societal structure • A proposal for equality for men and women • “We may be women, but we have rights too.” • Asserts that all women are capable of asserting their ability to achieve equality without altering the structure of society.
  8. 8. Radical Feminism • Important foundation for “feminist flavors” • Viewed the oppression of women as the most fundamental form of oppression, which cuts across boundaries of race, culture, and economic class. • A male-based authority and power structure responsible for oppression and inequality • The woman’s body as the site of oppression • Total uprooting and reconstructing of society
  9. 9. Marxist Feminism • Attributes the oppression of women to the capitalist / private property system • Friedrick Engels “The Origin of the Family” • Women’s oppression will end only upon the overthrow of the capitalist system • Gender oppression will disappear with class oppression and exploitation (Marx) • Revolution to end capitalist mode of production
  10. 10. Socialist Feminism • The meeting of Marxist and Radical Feminism • Unequal standing in the workplace and the domestic sphere holds women down. • The patriarchal system devalues women and the work they do through institutionalized mechanisms and practices • Oppression of women as a part of the larger pattern that affects everyone in capitalism • Expresses the need to work alongside men and all other groups
  11. 11. Post-Colonial Feminism • Experiences endured during colonialism, including "migration, slavery, suppression, resistance, representation, difference, race, gender, place and responses to the influential discourses of imperial Europe.” • centers on racism, ethnic issues, and the longlasting economic, political, and cultural effects of colonialism, inextricably bound up with the unique gendered realities of non-White nonWestern women • React against both universalizing tendencies in Western feminist thought and a lack of attention to gender issues in mainstream postcolonial thought
  12. 12. • First Wave Feminism – equality in suffrage, marriage, and sexual desire; overturning of legal obstacles to gender equality • Second Wave Feminism – broadened the debate to cover a wider range of issues (sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, legal inequalities). 1960s (Women’s Lib) • Third Wave Feminism – identified with several diverse strains of feminist activity and study; arose as a reaction to the often assumed universal female identity (upper middle-class white women and their experiences).
  13. 13. • • • • • • Fourth wave feminism – happening now Spiritually informed activism Post feminism Neo-feminism Stealth feminism Developments with Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials
  14. 14. Neo-Feminism And its set of practices and discourses that define a certain position or “identities”
  15. 15. • “The tendency in feminine culture to evoke choice and development of individual agency as the defining tenets of feminine identity – best realized through an engagement with consumer culture in which the woman is encouraged to achieve self-fulfillment by purchasing, adorning, or surrounding herself with the goods that this culture can offer.”
  16. 16. • “Choice, particularly in the form of ‘shopping’, as a process of weighing and evaluating alternatives with a view to making a decision that optimizes the individual’s own position, is the fundamental principle that governs neo-feminist behavior.”
  17. 17. • JOHN FISKE: “It is worth noting that not only the pleasures are found in the ownership of commodities through which people can create or modify the context of everyday life and thus many of the meanings it bears, but also that the consumer’s moment of choice is an empowered moment. If money is power in capitalism, then buying, particularly if the act is voluntary, is an empowering moment for those whom the economic system otherwise subordinates…. *P+roduction may be essentially proletarian and consumption bourgeois.”
  18. 18. Establishment of the Neo-Feminist Paradigm
  19. 19. • Marrying later in life • Holding salaried positions, now active participants in the global economic system • Devoted to the pursuit of pleasure • Sexuality redefined as “a means of selfrealization rooted in pleasure and unconnected to reproduction”
  20. 20. • Emergence of the single girl as a feminine ideal • Achieves her identity outside marriage and does not define herself in terms of maternity • Sexual pleasure is a right • Defined through consumerism and her function in feminine consumer culture • Replacement of “maternal” as the defining trait of femininity • GIRL (or “yummy mommy”, as the case may be)
  21. 21. Neo-Feminist Ideals
  22. 22. • Emphasis on “femininity” and the feminine culture vs. a feminist culture • Pursuit of happiness as an entitlement • Woman at the center of her universe • Pragmatic approach to men • Identity achieved through achievement and fulfillment • Disassociates herself from traditional notions of patriarchy and the family, but remains convinced that her identity is largely defined in terms of her intimate relations with others
  23. 23. • The preservation and enhancement of glamour as a sign of the new and revitalized feminine identity • Self-fulfillment in CHOICES – singlehood, motherhood, or other roles • Normalizes sex as simply a fact of life and an entitlement of pleasure for a woman • Youthful, girlishness, a prolonged adolescence • Participation in the feminine consumer culture
  24. 24. Post-Feminism/Neo-Feminism Shared Qualities
  25. 25. • An obsessional preoccupation with the body • The emphasis upon self-surveillance, monitoring and discipline • Women present as active and desiring subjects • A focus upon individualism, choice and empowerment • a dominance of the makeover paradigm • The articulation or entanglement of feminist and anti-feminist ideas
  26. 26. • A resurgence in ideas of natural sexual difference • A marked sexualization of culturue • An emphasis on commodification and the commodification of difference • Irony and knowingness
  27. 27. Neo-Feminist Icons and Trendsetters
  28. 28. Helen Gurley Brown
  29. 29. Bond Feminism
  30. 30. Madonna
  31. 31. Jennifer Lopez
  32. 32. Chick Lit and Chick Flicks
  33. 33. Neo-Feminist Cinema Features and Implications
  34. 34. • Chastity no longer a valued characteristic • Self-interest at the forefront – prioritizing oneself • Power of choice • Love (and a man) is an angle lovely to have but ultimately not necessary • Friendships • Relations with and among women • Cinderella success – work and love • Boyfriend / marriage plot • Do-over, repeated reinvention
  35. 35. • Conspicuous consumption tied to identity formations, transformations, renewals, shifts • Happiness in material goods and surroundings – fashion, abode and workplace design • Fulfillment in acquisition of material goods • Makes the aspirational accessible • Films do not situate themselves against feminism but are indifferent to social and political concerns that set feminists apart from “strivers”
  36. 36. Traits of the Genre
  37. 37. • • • • Heroine at the center of her universe Female bonding, female friendship Redefined “marriage plot” Protagonist usually a single woman who works for a living, and whose work defines her • Girlish personality and looks • Consumer culture and consumer-culture competence are crucial elements in the setting • Consumer culture as a central aspect of the plot or as an incidental detour
  38. 38. • Thematically often exhibit a profound ambivalence about certain issues – role of romance, marriage, or work • Set in well-defined geographic locations that are urban in nature (New York, LA, Manhattan) • Concerned with theme of transformation – magical makeover – to give expression to an internal process of education (thus linked to consumer culture) • Do-over – past mistake is rectified • Intertextuality and nostalgic perspective for the past
  39. 39. Neo-Feminist Girly Films / Chick Flicks followed by Hilary Radner’s review
  40. 40. • The girly film illustrates how popular culture for women may constitute a way of thinking about issues that might be called women’s issues outside the context of academic or political debate. • A means of expressing and interrogating the terms of an evolving feminine identity in contemporary culture • Often offer satirical and critical perspectives of neo-feminist culture • Highly self-deprecating, mocks itself
  41. 41.
  42. 42. • Fairy tale • Becomes a template for feminine dreams of achievement • Instrumentalism negated by fantasy impossible endings • A relationship that begins with fellatio can end with a kiss. • Girlishness as a mode of being (independent of age)
  43. 43.
  44. 44. • Film evolves out of an ironic, critical perspective • Undermines and ridicules the values and perspectives represented by “Michelle” • Ability to mock itself while paradoxically sustaining and reproducing its objects of derision • Fantasy in which consumer culture might come to fulfill the need of women in a world that undermines traditional models for femininity without offering new possibilities
  45. 45. • Lowly “working girls” who struggle to make ends meet, surviving on a limited budget while admiring and attempting to emulate the lives of “It Girls” • “failure” to find adequate employment and husbands • Appear to be immune from the kinds of material concerns that plague others • Engage feminine consumer culture in fashion garments that they construct themselves • Ambiguous lesbian film
  46. 46.
  47. 47. • About the idea that a person’s worth can’t be judged one way or the other by what they look like, how they dress, what their vocabulary is….” • “Clueless” goes to Harvard (education is a luxury rather than a necessity) • Heroine moves outside the marriage plot • The ability to change her look [for her goals] is an important weapon in her cultural arsenal. • Empowerment and sisterhood… creating a connection to cross class boundaries • Appearance is crucial to a woman’s career, while implying that Elle’s focus on style is somehow an anomaly.
  48. 48.
  49. 49. • The Latina as the “other white” in the nation’s “dream of integration” • She is invisible in her maid’s uniform. • A man is important but a career is even more so. • “We’ve got to prove our mothers wrong.” • Differences in “race” can be accommodated through the acquisition of appropriate consumer culture items and become arbitrators of status in a system of privilege that depends solely upon a subject’s individual economic achievement.
  50. 50.
  51. 51. • The film, in typically girly manner, stresses both a work ethic that is almost Protestant in its fervor and also the need to be true to one’s self. • Coming-of-age tale about a smart Cinderella named Andy who undergoes a total makeover. • Meryl Streep on Miranda Priestly: “Most of the models for the character were on the male end of the species.” • The movie, while noting that she can be sadistic, inconsiderate and manipulative, is unmistakably on Miranda’s side.
  52. 52.
  53. 53. • The film promotes the fantasy through these endless do-overs, that girlishness as the sign of perpetual adolescence, with its promise of change and development and its rejection of stasis and fixity as the fate of the mature woman, offers a desirable and attainable identity, biological age notwithstanding. • These young women, unmarried and with an income whose primary purpose is their sustenance and gratification, represent an important market for the selling of consumer non-durables.
  54. 54.
  55. 55. • This persona highlights how neo-feminism assumes that men are disadvantaged within the feminine realm, and thus must be managed and manipulated, according to Cosmo tradition, or need to be educated. • An example of masculine self-absorption and insensitivity, and hence unworthy of the viewer’s sympathy. • Representation of masculinity as something that must be tamed or surmounted if the neofeminist heroine is to reach her goals.
  56. 56. My Critique
  57. 57. • Offers an accurate and comprehensive discussion (not “all-encompassing” but broadly representative) on the observations (and accompanying implications) of American female society and perhaps a segment Philippine female consumerist society • Radner makes a diagnosis of a stealth feminist “response” or “tendency” (as opposed to an organized movement) that arose from rebel and visionary trends in popular culture appropriated for profit by capitalists
  58. 58. • While the author makes the book a comfortable read, she draws from feminisms and may at times assume prior knowledge • Prompts self-examination as a member of a post-colonial society attuned to American pop culture and a participant/survivor in the capitalist mode of production • Push for the development angle – conscientious, enlightened consumerism, if it not politically progressive
  59. 59. References • • • • • • • • • • • • • Hilary Radner. Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks, and Consumer Culture Alison Jagger. Feminist Politics and Human Nature. “Who’s a Stealth Feminist” in “Alison Jaggar” in Wikipedia “Bell Hooks” in Wikipedia “Kinds of Feminism” in the University of Alabama in Huntsville “Feminism’s Fourth Wave” in UTNE Reader “What is Feminism? Introduction to Feminism” in “Feminism” in Wikipedia “First-Wave Feminism” in Wikipedia “Second-Wave Feminism” in Wikipedia “Third-Wave Feminism” in Wikipedia “Feminist Ideologies and Movements” in Wikipedia.