Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Real Carrie Bradshaw's "Humanist" Worldview - Core Post 4

After watching Sex and the City last week, I remembered seeing a blurb awhile back that said Sarah Jessica Parker identified as a humanist rather than a feminist. I typically roll my eyes at statements like these because I do not have faith in celebrities to clearly articulate what they mean and so they use words that sound smart, but do not necessarily mean what they think they mean.

However, a closer look at Parker's words indicates that perhaps she is a feminist after all - even more in-line with third-wave feminism too. "As [playwright] Wendy Wasserstein would say, I'm a humanist. I'm enormously appreciative of the work that my mother's generation did. We are the beneficiaries of a lot of disappointment, heartache, discouragement, and misunderstanding. But I see a lot of people trying to sort out their roles. People of color, gays, lesbians, and transgenders who are carving out this space. I’m not spitting in the face or being lazy about what still needs to be done — but I don’t think it’s just women anymore. We would be so enormously powerful if it were a humanist movement."

I'm left wondering if Parker's response is a product of "postfeminism," particularly Jess Butler's explication that postfeminsim "implies that gender equality has been achieved and feminist activism is thus no longer necessary" (44). Parker who is the idealized postfeminist subject since she is white, Western and a heterosexual woman (47) may have the privilege of a false consciousness to believe that the battle for her is over. In her mind she has moved passed feminism to “humanism.” Butler offers a solid analysis as to why someone could think like Parker. She writes, “Propped up by the (imagined) success of the women’s movement, a sex-positive (and racially exclusive) feminist legacy, and the ever-expanding neoliberal celebration of autonomy, individualism, and consumer choice, postfeminism surfaces as a more attractive alternative to previous forms of gender politics” (41).

Parker’s statement opens up an interesting question. As feminism’s inclusivity continues to expand, how does it convince others to remove prior conceptions of exclusivity and deal with competing postfeminism’s  requirement that “women ‘be who they want to be’ – just as long it is not a feminist” (44)?


  1. So there's this weird thing where female celebs are asked if they're feminists, because in our post-feminist world such a thing matters. But many who ask the question and many who answer it (http://www.bustle.com/articles/117519-9-female-celebrities-whove-bad-mouthed-feminism) aren't totally aware of the political difference between third-wave feminism and post-feminism the writers this week all acknowledged.

    Many women seem to be reductive (and Palin-esque) and weirdly think feminism is about "women over men," and others thing second-wave feminism is too deterministic about sexuality and gender in our current age.

    So these questions come up because of post-feminism, and many answer negatively because of post-feminism (hoping to be what they think is more accommodating to more people), but there is not enough understanding of the language of feminism (second or third wave), which leads to more badly understood answers).

    1. I've actually been thinking a lot about the inclination to ask women celebs if they're feminists - which was totally the thing to do between 2012 & 2014 - but I haven't heard many celebs reject feminism lately, which is interesting. What I gathered from this week's readings is that the tendency to publicly reject feminism is in part a result of the sort of individual empowerment that postfeminism encourages.

      I've often found that in women's issues related blogs and in my own writing on feminism in the past, there's this tendency to say "hey I'm a feminist but I think men are swell too!" which I absolutely think is a consequence of postfeminism. I myself have moved beyond that point, but because women are expected to be hyperaware of our image (and in particular, how our image and persona is perceived within a patriarchal society) sometimes it's difficult (at least in my own personal experience) to stay true to oneself while also trying to navigate a world where gender inequality is a fact of everyday life. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that in many ways, although it pains me every time I hear about it, I understand why famous women may feel that they need to distance themselves from feminism in order to sustain their image and careers.