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After reading Ann Brooks, I am a little confused with the analysis of Madonna. Is the article saying that because Madonna was able to twist gender construction that feminism is dissolved? I think we are still far from resolving many issues not just for women but for the queer community, transgender, race, and masculinity perspectives too. Now that feminism has been around for several decades it hasn’t faded but rather it has merged with cultural studies and just complicated more issues. The origin of feminism was like opening a can of worms and the worms crawled out in every direction or it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. I don’t see feminism as a problem but rather a starting point to create awareness for want of equality. Feminism, like we discussed in this class, is very much based on white, middle-class women which excludes other races. A major problem would be that there are not enough black female scholars to chime in on their own experiences.
Some points that the article raises is similar to Karlyn’s article in that although women rise to power, our notions of self-beauty and materialism are misguided as well as our expected sexual roles as women. Advertising negatively promotes ways of flawless beauty and how accessible surgery can be to achieve this body image. Film teaches us how to behave. Looking back at Gossip Girl, young female teens use their bodies as rewards for something naughty rather than using their brains. When discussing Clueless and The Devil Wears Prada, Karlyn focuses on consumerism and how women’s rise to power almost corrupts our true wants and desires. Because women rise to power, we have a tendency to put work before our relationships which is to say that men can easily tackle or balance work and family but women can’t have both and we must choose between the two. I don’t believe this is an issue for everyone, but as a woman, I felt the pressure to marry and have children but I was also encouraged to get an education and follow my dreams. I have been married to my husband for 8 years with no children but when I look at my parent’s marriage spanning over 30 years, marriage to them is a right of passage or security and having children is like seeing a generation continue. I know that it upsets them that continuing with a higher education (my power) proceeds having children.
I encourage you to watch The Big Bang Theory, season 6, episode 18, “The Contractual Obligation Implementation.” In this episode, Leonard, Sheldon, and Howard are asked to go to a school and talk to a class of junior high girls and encourage them to take up important studies in science because there is a decline in women pursuing careers. When they are in a classroom, they call on Penny, Amy, and Bernadette to chime in on why they went into science. As they are talking, they are dressed like princesses…watch the scene. It relates to gender roles.
My other favorite episode from Big Bang Theory, is the episode, “The Egg Salad Equivalency.” Sheldon gets called into Human Resources because his assistant filed a sexual harassment claim against him…it addresses race and women.
I found Karlyn’s writing “Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers” interesting. In it, she borrows this term “Girl World” from the film Mean Girls to refer to this “liminal time and space between childhood and adulthood where girls rule” (78). She analyzes a few films that feature Girl World (Clueless, The Devil Wears Prada, and Mean Girls). The female characters from these film have many things in common. They are all well-to-do white middle class girls with their eyes on fashion and more or less traditional ‘girliness’. As someone who doesn’t buy the notion of postfeminism, I do not find it to be an indication of that world. Girl World, I believe, is a time and space girls can occupy proudly. Second wave feminism often denounces all girliness as a forced hegemonic construct. But might girliness be an identity one can proudly accept if they so choose? It seems to me that third wave feminism is more accepting of this notion, that is to say, women picking and choosing from any part of the spectrum–from the traditionally feminine to the traditionally masculine–to build their own identities. Zooey Deschanel’s character in “New Girl” is an interesting example of one who has sort of built her own identity, not conforming entirely to girliness or it’s opposite. She is okay watching Dirty Dancing, a film often labeled a ‘chick flick’, but is also uncomfortable performing femininity in other instances, such as her attempted striptease at the beginning of the pilot, where she can’t take herself seriously. “New Girl”, then, is possibly a third wave feminist notion–a woman who builds her own identity, rather than identifying herself based on normative values or, conversely, second wave feminist ideals that involve rejecting traditional feminism entirely.
I too found Karlyn’s article intriguing especially because I recently re-watched “Mean Girls” and whether or not I should be proud of the fact, I was thoroughly entertained. However, the re-viewing also caused me to consider Karlyn’s claims in regard to the film. I believe that Lohan’s character demonstrates the navigation between the various expectations of female behavior. She herself is a character concerned with the feelings of others, her parents are culturally conscious thinkers conerned with her development and values, her first set of friends are non-conformists who teach her the value of independence from social normative standards; it is only when she seeks to undermine the popular girls that she succumbs to the superficiality of mainstream popular culture.
What is most interesting to me is the way in which she seems inexorably drawn to the cosmetic appeal of popular culture throughout her scheming. It seems that while much mainstream media is quick to point out the pitfalls of popular culture it also demonstrates the glamour thereof and thus in a way justifies the appeal of superficial culture.
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