Although all three of this week’s readings focused on the implications of postfeminism in our contemporary media landscape, each piece also touched on postfeminism in relation to race, popular culture, and consumerism. Sarah Banet-Weiser’s “What’s Your Flava? Race and Postfeminism in Media Culture” particularly underscores the capitalist imperative of postfeminism, which is fueled by a focus on individualism and “rhetorics of choice reframed in terms of consumer purchases,” (pg. 233). An obvious example of the consequences of postfeminism is the existence and celebration of Sex and the City, but there are numerous series that followed suit, such as Gossip Girl, or as I will argue in my presentation this week, Girls. Though the latter does not blatantly showcase consumerism and consumption in the same manner as the former two, each show focuses on women who are “empowered” and use their purchasing power as an enactment of their individuality.
In “For White Girls Only? Postfeminism and the Politics of Inclusion,” Jess Butler outlines a notion of postfeminism based on narrative, performance, and/or text. This list follows the work of Rosalind Gill, who argued that postfeminism “should be conceived of as a sensibility that characterizes an ever-increasing number of cultural forms,” (pg. 43). I believe that all six characteristics presented by Butler are showcased in Sex and the City, but in particular a “shift from sexual objectification to sexual subjectification,” “self-surveillance, self-discipline, and a makeover paradigm,” the emphasis of “individualism, choice, and empowerment as the primary route to a women’s independence and freedom,” and the promotion of “consumerism and the commodification of difference,” (pg. 44). Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte all find empowerment in their sexuality, individualism, and imagined consumer power. Each character is hyper-aware of her appearance and how she is perceived by others, particularly men. Each woman also uses consumption as a way to enact individuality and choice.
Particularly in the episode screened in class, ironically titled “A Woman’s Right to Shoes,” Carrie bases the essence of her womanhood on a pair of Manolo Blahniks. Outside of the context of the series, it seems that Carrie’s ability to reduce her individuality and agency to something so trivial is in part due to her status as a white, upper middle class, heterosexual woman. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte are all able to indulge in a seemingly unruffled postfeminist lifestyle because of their status, which is not afforded to most women.