Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Advertising and Feminism: The Great Deception.

First and foremost, I love the topic. As a feminist fanatic myself, I enjoyed researching and exploring the journey from the mainstream beginngings of feminism of the 60s and the aspirational Cosmo girl, to today's empowered post feminist icon. After, and during writing my dissertation I realised how relevant my study was, the topic of "what is feminism today" constantly debated in women's magazines. Now, modern woman are not only confused of their role, but are confused with the identity of feminism. I found in my third chapter, there was a backlash against feminism in the 80s, which branded feminism as outdated and restricting. Basically feminism was now seen as unfashionable, to say you were a femininst was assioatated with being a man- hating hairy lesbian! I personally think this is sad, as while modern women distance themselves away from the label of feminism simply stating "equality has now been achieved", women who have freedom now forget that without the early feminists we as women today would not have the right to vote, to have equal pay, to be sexually liberated. To be a feminist should be seen as a positive thing, even if it is now seen as over. Perhaps modern women simply do not call themselves feminists as they feel they do not have the right. Alientated and distanced from the active movement of feminism in the sixties, many feel they cannot connect to the label of feminism.

So, how about the so called New Feminism of the 90s? Several books have surfaced discussing the new "power feminism" the modern take on feminism. Personally the "aspirational" post feminist figures of Katie Price as empowering for young women, just don't ring in true for me. How can posing for men, using your sexuality to essentially please men be empowering?
Many young women I know, see pole dancers and the like as "empowering strong figures" but perhaps unfashionably so, I just don't see how. In my study I argued the infamous influx of WonderBra advertisements which were portrayed as confident, assertive images of desirable women who were in control of their sexuality, were merely sexually objectifying images of women targeted at the male gaze. Not so different from the past sexual objects for men to look at that feminist fought so hard to resist. Now women, are openly welcoming the male gaze and sexual expolitation under the post feminist guise that they are "pleasing themselves" not men. Sexy is now cool, and it is a sign of your "sexual liberation" to show you are comfortable with your sexuality, to make an objection backwardly brands you as "uptight" and evidentbly an old fashioned feminist.

I discovered however what with the backlash of feminism, it ulitmately allows advertising and generally culture to provide sexist images under the guise that it is now "post feminist" as women are no longer exploited- but are actively choosing to be sexual objects. This is worrying as it represents a deeper and higher form of expolitation as women are actively choosing, there is no objection and advertisers can freely present sexist images, without critque.

Feminism has ulimately turned full circle. Whilst triumps of feminism include women now being heavyweights in their careers being just as successful as men and can choose their own lifestyle. Many young women today, the Katie Price's of the noughties, choose to regress back to the passive sexual objects for men's admiration.

If this is the "new feminism" I'd rather be part of the old one...

Oh wait, that means I'm a big hairy lesbian right?!

P.s as you can see I find this issue heats me up, and would love either to doo further studying in Women's Studies, anyone know what Uni's do it? Or would generally love to rant in articles as a journalist. X

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