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The fallacy of Girl Power – by MagicMushroom Part 3.

posted 8/10/2010 6:08:48 AM |
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This is the continuation of Parts 1. and 2.

........ the case is that post feminism (Girl Power) has “reclaimed everything traditionally feminine, including a love of dressing up and fashion” (Feasey, 2006 p 6). This state of affairs was characterised by the program’s portrayal of “witches as sisters, and as strong women, women who could be understood as post feminist insofar as they remained both dependent on, and dismissive of, traditional feminist discourse” (Feasey, 2006 p 7). Nonetheless, the program's popularity allowed modern women's perspectives to be explored in mainstream society. Furthermore, the program routinely centred on second wave tensions regarding: “women's insecurity and confusion about life choices, the conflicts of motherhood and career, single motherhood, sexual freedom, sexual harassment, and the social construction of women's gender roles in contemporary society” (Feasey, 2006 p 4). Whether second wave feminism's criticisms of the program’s fashion and beauty practices were applicable only to collage-educated, white middle-class women, only time will tell. Nonetheless, the 'Charmed' program's emphasis on female friendship and bonding as a form of contemporary feminism enlightened the overwhelming majority of other women in society who were of differing age, class, education, and ethnic backgrounds (Feasey, 2006 p 5).

Ally Mc Beal – sexy, safe and sellable
Perceived by feminist theorists as “the ultimate producer’s fantasy of feminism”, the American situation comedy television show, Ally Mc Beal, appealed to a teenage demographic which depicted the struggle of professional working women and feminism (Hammers, 2005. p.167). The basic theme of the show was that women could ascend to the higher echelons of a professional career, in this case law, while still maintaining many stereotypical feminine qualities such as indecisiveness, sexual attractiveness, emotion and irrationality (Hammers, 2005. p.168). The program embraced the notion that women can successfully attain professional positions, previously reserved for men. Alley’s portrayal as a lawyer was determinative in that she demonstrated how women could be feminine and gain equality without it affecting their ability to retain certain desired feminine qualities. However, Alley’s affirmation that the disciplining of her female body was necessary to comply with a “particular type of embodied and constructed femininity”; complicated the issues for teenage women who were seeking to create their own professional identity (Hammers, 2005. p.171). Moreover, the assertion that Ally could be observant of feminist ideologies while sanctioning masculinist, patriarchal discourses within the construct of her sexualised work environment was at best a confusing message. Young adolescent women who were seeking to create their own gender identity and sexual behaviours may have determined that to be successful, happy and well liked, a woman may be required to reject second wave feminist values and embrace dominant patriarchal philosophies and ideas. This perspective was characterised in the television show’s portrayal of Alley as an immature girl and not a grown woman. “Her teeny, school-like mini skirts reveal legs that taper upwards from the knee, as she holds mugs with both hands while peering over the rim with eyes as big as windmills” (Hammers, 2005. p.173). It is asserted that through such infantalisation, Alley’s body reflected a childlike and inferior status and demonstrated how the display and exploitation of women’s bodies can be co-opted by patriarchal discourses. Furthermore, Alley’s construct of feminism as expressed through her sexualised body and feminine clothing also reflected society’s movement away from the collective negotiation model (second wave feminism) towards models of self-determination (post feminism). Critics assert that the show’s post feminist emphasis on individual choice, personal style, and sexual empowerment was co-opted within masculinist discourses. Subsequently, feminist theorists advise young women to be extremely cautious in their efforts to seize social/sexual power through the ‘liberated’ deployment of their bodies, as such strategies are perceived to reinforce the bodily burdens, intrusions and barriers that already restrict women’s participation in professional life (Hammers, 2005.p. 180).

1. © Kelta Web Concepts, “A Feminist Perspective on Women and the Media”,, Last Updated 20/06/2003.

2. Feminism and Empowerment: A Critical Reading of Foucault.
Monique Deveaux Page 224
Feminist Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, Women's Agency: Empowerment and the Limits of Resistance (Summer, 1994), pp. 223-247
Published by: Feminist Studies, Inc.

3. Spice World: Constructing Femininity the Popular Way
Dafna Lemish. Popular Music and Society. Bowling Green: Feb 2003. Vol. 26, Iss. 1; pg. 17, 13 pgs
4. "A Little Too Ironic": The Appropriation and Packaging of Riot Grrrl Politics by Mainstream Female Musicians
Kristen Schilt. Popular Music and Society. Bowling Green: Feb 2003. Vol. 26, Iss. 1; pg. 5, 12 pgs
5. Girls just want to have fun with politics: out of the contradictions of popular culture, eco-grrrls are rising to redefine feminism, environmentalism and political action.
Fry, Kimberley, Lousley, Cheryl. Alternatives Journal. Waterloo: Spring 2001. Vol. 27, Iss. 2; pg. 24


Feminist Media Studies page66 (Media Culture & Society series)
Liesbet van Zoonen (BOOK) .


Journal of Medical Humanities, Vol. 24, Nos. 3/4, Winter 2003 ( C° 2003)

9. Foucault, Feminism, and Informed Choice
(Carolyn Ells1)

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Blogs by MagicMushroom:
The fallacy of Girl Power – by MagicMushroom Part 3.
The fallacy of Girl Power – by MagicMushroom Part 2.
The fallacy of Girl Power – by MagicMushroom Part 1.

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The fallacy of Girl Power – by MagicMushroom Part 3.