“Bitch” Culture

From Kirsty Fairclough at Genders:

I situate the celebrity gossip blog phenomenon as an important, but largely unexamined, register for the transmission and reiteration of discourses of contemporary postfeminist media culture – a culture which, as Tasker and Negra assert:

is inherently contradictory, characterized by a double discourse that works to construct feminism as a phenomenon of the past, traces of which can be found (and sometimes even valued) in the present; postfeminism suggests that it is the very success of feminism that produces its irrelevance for contemporary culture (Tasker and Negra, 8).

I position gossip bloggers within this context, one which regularly suggests that feminism in its traditional sense is no longer necessary. Although postfeminism does at times complicate this assertion, as it can celebrate feminist gains in a limited and frequently reductive fashion, it almost always evokes – as Tasker and Negra assert – “the pastness” of feminism, implying that we can only look back at a feminist movement that no longer holds much relevance to a twenty-first century media culture. It appears that this “pastness” has been willfully embraced in popular culture, evidenced in the hyper-sexualization of popular culture from the Girls Gone Wild phenomenon to the E! reality show Girls of The Playboy Mansion (2005-present). Post- feminism is both a complex and loaded term and one that, in a neo-liberal society, has been packaged successfully, suggesting that women must buy into the products of makeover and celebrity culture in order to demonstrate their “empowerment”. This reinforces the notion that the principles of second wave feminism are archaic, and it operates to further fuel cultural anxieties surrounding body image, relationships, careers and motherhood.

Read the whole thing here


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