Diary films (Linder and Dalton) (Orr Vered and Humphreys)
(Dejmanee).
As I have suggested, postfeminst media is problematic,
though complicated; on one hand, it integrates qualities of a
“liberated woman” into the daily experience of female characters
–normalizing independence and female sexual desire, as well as
making women’s bodies a staple on screen. Dunham has a large
measure of creative control over the show, and that is clear in the
move away from figuring the female body from the exclusively
male gaze. But, on the other hand, postfeminist media does not
take any stance on, or responsibility for, the advancement of
women’s equity and often rely on tropes, assumptions, and
language that feed into internalized misogyny. In the case of Girls,
postfeminism also neglects intersectionality as a crucial theoretical
and practical frame through which to view gender oppression,
choosing instead to focus on how these women perform liberation
while ignoring the real power of activism or the impact of
structures like policy on the lived experiences of women.
In the following sections, I will highlight how these themes
of postfeminist media 1) focus on the individual, 2) an emphasis
on feminine empowerment as experienced exclusively through the
female body, and 3) sex as largely driven by consumerist notions
of consumption and personal agency—appear in episodes of Girls,
as well as how they relate to problematic narrative tropes that
postfeminism perpetuates. These tropes limit what society
considers possible, appropriate, or ideal for women, and, perhaps
more importantly, downplay the legitimate societal, political, and
economic barriers that women still face. Though Hannah, Marnie,
Jessa, and Shoshanna may feel relatable to a White, 20-something
audience as those viewers bumble through early adulthood, their
attempts at liberation and authenticity make the characters of Girls
convincing masquerades for pervasive misogyny.
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