An interesting review of some current arguments about the state of feminism. I’ve been somewhat intrigued by “postfeminsim,” not because I agree with it, but because it traffics in the same language as “postirony.” In other words, when young women where T-shirts with “babe” or hot pants with crude sexual language printed on their butt, one wonders if this is “empowerment” (as some suggest) and if our resistance to such things represents a generation gap of Old Lefties who don’t get young people. Admittedly, I don’t mean to sound stodgy but I do feel that rampant “hooking up” (it’s not just a female issue, mind you) is not a sign of a healthy culture. Everything done in balance.
I enjoyed the following article because it showed that the arguments are neither black or white, but as usual, marketers are the wild card in the mix. Amanda Marcotte connects “princes” marketing to children with the Pussycat phenom of older kids. Complicated stuff!
If young women are doing fine by themselves by picking up the books and working hard and presenting a very real challenge to male dominance, then what should we make of the “Girls Gone Wild” stereotype? The notion that college age women are wasting their potential somehow by acting like nothing more than sex objects is paralleled neatly by the notion that the kindergarten set of girls that are supposedly rejecting their feminist parents in order to embrace the fluffy princess phenomenon, pushed mostly by the Disney company. In fact, the princess marketing has something of a “gotcha” element to it, as if the miles of pink and lace present an irresistible temptation for the inner delicate flowers of young girls. The more likely story is that the relentless drumbeat of marketing the Princess line has made girls feel that they’re missing out if they aren’t a part of it.
The grown-up version of Disney’s Princess line is the TV show “The Pussycat Dolls,” where the symbol of belonging is not a pink lace princess dress, but a feather boa. Granted, the Pussycat Dolls are highly sexualized, but the marketing push is the same as the Princess line, the story being one about how women and girls find themselves irresistibly drawn away from participation in the real world and towards feminine accoutrements and being on display rather than being active. And these messages are coming, as they always have, from marketers that are more interested in protecting male privilege and making money than everything else. The co-option of words like “empowering” from feminists should be taken for what it is, a backlash wolf in feminist sheep clothing.