postfeminist is usually to point out the ways in which a text takes
gender equality for granted.
To describe postfeminism as an ideology, or as a lens of
study, is more difficult, however. There is not definitive consensus
on the term, particularly because it has been used in differing
manifestations since the Women’s Suffrage Movement to describe
the state of women’s social, political, and economic culture post-
achieving certain feminist milestones (Orr Vered and Humphreys).
Vered and Humphreys (2014) argue, however, that postfeminism
is most indicative of the integration of neoliberal ideals reduction
of social welfare and individualism into our assumption that the
goals of Second Wave Feminism have been accomplished and
incorporated into mainstream culture (157). It is important to note
that postfeminism is not a replacement for feminist thought, nor
especially of feminist critical analyses. It is reactionary and runs, at
many times, counter to the goals of liberal feminism, discarding a
focus on the “structures of patriarchy” for the belief that individuals
are now capable and responsible for their own liberation (Orr
Vered and Humphreys). To talk about postfeminist media is
usually to do so through a critical feminist lens, and to mark the
ways in which contemporary media representations of gender are
harmful, even when they appear to be empowering.
Postfeminist media representations exhibit female
empowerment as: (a) achieved through an individually-empowered
mindset, (b) tied to the exclusively female body, and (c)
experienced through sexual pleasure as both an act of
consumption and as emotional and psychological gratification
(Adriaens). Girls is certainly not the only example; postfeminist
thought has manifested itself in popular culture steadily over the
past decade. Sex in the City, as mentioned previously, is an example,
but so too are Ally McBeal, The Mindy Project, and the Bridget Jones’s
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