Hannah’s flaws back at her, they don’t do much ultimately in terms
of critique because Hannah and her voice are slow to change and
quick to monopolize the screen.
During the fourth season, for example, Hannah briefly
attends graduate school in Iowa. Her writing is so autobiographical
that her classmates find it difficult to critique, and upon receiving
those negative responses, Hannah forces her perspective on each
of her classmates regarding the manifestations of their identities in
their own creative writing. In doing so, Hannah embodies the
complicated position of postfeminism simultaneously
representing and undermining feminist argument. When a male
member accuses her of being hysterical, she pushes back against
the misogynist foundations of the word. She retaliates, however,
when a series of observations that are rooted in both racial and,
most prominently, heteronormative stereotypes. When the tense
situation comes to a head, Hannah quits the program, rejecting the
institution that is rightly pushing back against her narcissistic
worldview, an institution that also could have benefitted from the
presence of a feminist voice.
Perhaps we as viewers are supposed to interpret this as
folly, but without some deeper resolution, the plot upholds
Hannah’s commitment to operating as a free individual. Hannah is
aware of feminism and utilizes its vocabulary but acts primarily to
remove herself from the undesirable situation, as though simply
leaving a “negative environment” is an appropriate or even viable
solution. Clearly, she holds a privileged perspective, one that
declines engagement rather than experiences personal discomfort.
Hannah’s empowerment arises in choosing herself. This
commitment to individualism, rather than to contesting structures
in the liberal feminist tradition, is further manifest in the “free
woman’s” experience of her empowered femininity through her
female body.
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