Phoca, S. and R. Wright. 1999. Introducing Postfeminism.

Phoca, Sophia and Rebecca Wright. 1999. Introducing Postfeminism. New York: Totem Books.

Postfeminism – not as feminism is over, but a shift in feminist theory. Interrogation of linguistic derivations of masculine and feminine as associated with male and femaleness (biological aspects of gendered identities).

Postfeminism around since 1968 through deconstruction, rooted in psychoanalysis, postmodernism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, particularly that of French gender advocacy, some supporting the women’s movement but rejecting the term feminism. Promoting difference, instead of assimilation that drives movements for equality.

Foundations of movement within equality and identity orientations – identity must, here, be understood as unique, and not articulate of the sameness that many feminist organizations claimed. Breaking apart heterosexual binarism because lesbians are not dependent upon male definition of woman (imbued with power, subjugation) – therefore, are lesbians not women?

Positioned against biological determinism, and for social construction of gender – rejecting psychoanalysis as biologically essentialist and promoting political processes that reject patriarchy – reclaiming femininity and female identities, rejecting motherhood as oppressive conditions.

  • However, appropriation of psychoanalysis to understand unconscious mechanisms that reify patriarchy, and relationships between body and language – furthered by French movement of po et psych in the 1970s, deconstructing Freud, Lacan, and Derrida.
  • See also Joan Riviere’s “Womanliness as Masquerade” – women performing femininity as a way to diffuse tension of masculine successes – based in Freud’s phallicism and sexuality, but interesting exploration of masculine mimesis – tie into McRobbie (2009)?

Rejects humanism, as European traditions not that self-improvements and progress are unlimited and are opportunistically equal; anti-humanists note the bounded social, cultural, economic, and psychological structures that limit human agency and action. Rejects modernity and its associated concepts of truth, justice, subjectivity, commitment to moral and social progress through reason

Camille Paglia – rejects “victim feminism” of second-wave – puts date rape outcomes in hands of women, saying that women should take responsibility to avoid situations that may endanger them. Proclaims Madonna as ideal for “true feminism” – embracing femaleness, sexuality, control, agency. Resorts to binarism and essentialism of masculine sexuality as active, femininity as passive – emancipated women thus adopt activity (masculinity) for agency – female libertinism as means of empowerment (thus, women must be like men to gain access to power traditionally reserved for men).

Additionally, other new feminists reject the dehumanizing nature of pornography and objectification – censorship in this area inhibits women’s exploration of their sexuality and ways to express it – S&M, for example, can transform suffering of social powerlessness into enactions of power.

Clue in: parody and pastiche (furthered by Jameson) based in avant-garde shock and originality – “irrational eclecticism”. Parody as imitating myth of originality through repetition, offering new or old meaning to similar contexts. Pastiche as forms of homogenizing borrowing, committed in ways that construct the appropriation of goods and ideas in nostalgic, yet value-free ways.

Expanding upon Foucault – dominated groups are complicit in their domination as they participate in societies and actions that are imbued with and replicate existing power relations. This does not, however, offer liberationist or resistance.

Expanding upon Butler – repetition of performance offers “naturalized identity” – rooted in cultural narratives, cultural signification (and its associated fictions). Draws from both Jameson and Riviere!

hooks challenges postmodernism – postmodernism draws attention to otherness and difference, but the theorization of these differences often ignore real conditions of marginalization, excluding empirical experiences of people (particularly women) of color.

Voyeurism and fetishism both come from Freud – watching without being observed, avoiding castration; male responses to perceived lack (here, phallus) – men are put into subject positions.

*** Just buy this book. It will serve you for contemporary, post-modern theories, as well as understanding works in symbolism, the gaze, discipline, and so forth.


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