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Feminism as Framed by the WorldEssay

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¶ … Cheese with that Whine?

Nowadays, it is commonly perceived that young women may find themselves disembodied from a society in which gender roles, no longer fixed, are in flux. As the traditional social class structures wanes, losing their hold in the second- or late-modernity context, individuals are urged ever more to create their own social structures. However, at the same time, society is full of 'should' and 'ought' statements, which directly contradict the idea of 'create your own'. Individuals need to develop internal self-monitoring systems to replace dependence on structured pathways and set ways. Individuals now are encouraged to choose the type of life they wish to lead. Girls (and boys) are encouraged to have a plan for their lives. Ideally, individuals will be more reflexive regarding all their life's aspects, including making appropriate choices with regards to marriage (personal partnerships), working lives, understanding work flexibility, and/or moving away from reliance upon security in the form of hand-outs from large-scale bureaucracies that formerly allocated specific, possibly-unchanging roles to their personnel (McRobbie).

Post-feminism invokes and employs feminism positively, as an ideology that could be considered to imply achievement of 'equality' to establish an entire range of new connotations. The very presence of the new verbiage highlights that feminism may not be needed any longer; it refers to an expended force. This could be seen in UK's Independent newspaper feature 'Bridget Jones's Diary', followed by the extremely successful novel and films. The lead character Bridget Jones has an infectious girlishness that generates a generational lucidity that is markedly post-feminist. Bridget wishes to follow her dreams for romance, find herself the right husband, marry and have children; remaining unmarried is her greatest fear. Bridget is portrayed as a reassuringly feminine personality, not very career-minded, despite knowing that she ought to be. Many of Bridget's actions reveal her charm: she gives a confused speech during a book launching event; she appears to be filled with silly thoughts, and yet in her own way, is quite witty and clever. Above all, she desperately seeks the perfect man. The movie celebrates a sort of endearing femininity and scatter-brained personality as if this is something that was lost. In this particular context, post-feminism appears to be mildly reprimanding feminist history. Yet it also salvages and reestablishes a few palatable elements, such as the right to smoke, drink, enjoy city life, be financially independent, and have sexual freedom (McRobbie).

In a society where sexual imbalance persists, one focus some find illustrating a lesser or demeaning role for women concerns sexualization in books, movies, films, commercials, and etc. There are far too many examples demonstrating that visual pleasure is, for the most part, divided into male/active and female/passive. A male's determining regard projects its fantasy on a suitably styled female figure. Women, in their conventional exhibitionist roles, are, at once, eyed and showcased with their look hinting at strong erotic and visual impact, such that they may be believed to suggest to-be-looked-at-ness. Females portrayed as sexual objects are the erotic spectacle's leitmotif: from strip-teases to pin-ups, from Busby Berkeley to Ziegfeld, they look, play to, and symbolize male desire; mainstream movies neatly combine narrative and spectacle. The appearance of women is indispensable in normal narrative films; the female presence works contrary to the progress of the story-line, freezing action flow in instants of erotic thoughts. This alien appearance should be cohesively integrated with the story-line. As is stated by Budd Botticher, what matters is what is provoked by the heroine, or, to be more precise, what the heroine represents. She is the fear or love aroused in the film's hero, she is the person to be rescued, and she is the motivator of his actions. The woman, in herself, does not have the slightest significance (Mulvey).

Women displayed in movies traditionally, function on two levels - as erotic objects for the screen story's male characters, and as erotic objects for spectators in the theatre, with shifting tension portrayed between the glances on both sides of the movie screen. The woman acts within the story: the spectator's gaze and the gaze of the male characters are combined neatly without breaking the verisimilitude of the narrative. The performing female's sexual impact takes the movie to an indeterminate place, for an instant, outside of its own space and time, like the songs of Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, (a movie from the last century) and the first appearance of Marilyn Monroe in The River of No Return (another movie from the last century). Likewise, conventional leg- close-ups, with Marlene Dietrich as a famous example from the last century, show the tendency to objectify women for erotic purposes (Mulvey). There are unlimited examples of what has been called blatant sexism in older movies. The real question would be whether that is changing in modern film, and the rise of the female hero, no longer just an object to be rescued, would suggest that this is the case. Consider for example 'Lara Croft', both a successful game and at least two successful movies.

Why is feminism a celebratory or even political tool for women?

While a majority of American women defend feminism's basic concepts, they are inclined to be averse to the feminist tag. For example, a study in 1989 showed only 33% of women surveyed indicated that they consider themselves to be feminists, in spite of overwhelming encouragement for issues addressed by the movement, and the popular opinion that it has generally improved women's status (Beck).

A wide array of kinds of feminist thinking and activity are found, which predate what has been called the second feminism wave of the 60s and 70s. It is, however, from this second feminism wave that contemporary theories and debates have arisen, and an entry of feminism into academic life has occurred. It is extremely difficult to define feminism, as it never involved a uniform collection of ideas; the nature and aims of feminist issues were contested hotly from the beginning. It is, however, accepted in general that feminism denotes a type of politics that aspires to intercede in and change the imbalanced power relations that can be found between males and females. An important consideration that is often neglected is that there is a distinction between 'equality and equity', and it is not 'equality' that feminists actually want, but rather 'equity'.

Caroline Ramazanogiu expands on this and tentatively defines feminism in the form of several social theories that demonstrate the relationships between the two genders in society. As well, she discusses the dissimilarities between male and female experience theories, as these also represent a political system. The feminism of the 1960s- and1970s, as well as that of the 21st century, current times, did not simply endeavor to provide an explanation for the inequality/inequity between women and men, but sought to employ this as a foundation for change. There were, however, vital differences between clarifications presented and the kinds of political practices adopted (Hollows).

Feminists are different in character and form in varying geographical contexts. If both the United States and the United Kingdom are considered, some similarities can be seen in feminist concerns, regardless of significant differences in the types of feminism created. In these two nations, feminists struggles included: equal pay, equal opportunities for jobs, and equal educational access; abortion rights and free contraception; unpaid domestic work; the need for child-care facilities; legal and economic independence. As well, they attested to the right of women to define personal sexuality, and opposed sexual and domestic violence. However, crucial differences may also be found between the two countries with respect to feminism. In America, Betty Fdriedan founded the National Organization for Women (NOW), established in 1966. This organization advocated legal reforms to confer the same opportunities and rights to women that men enjoyed. Also, in the latter part of the 1960s, some American women, through their association with the counterculture and student politics, would declare that ending women's oppression did not require reforms; instead, it required a radical change in society - the defeat of patriarchy. This was not by any means representative of all American women of that era, or even a large percentage, but it was a vocal minority. However, in Britain, while a radical societal transformation was also called for by feminists, the local 'brand' of feminism developed according to a stronger Marxist politics and socialist tradition. British feminists were, thus, a lot more likely to reason that the struggle for women's liberation of women needed a tackling of both capitalism and patriarchy, than their American counterparts (Hollows).

How do they employ and exploit the feminist discourse at the same time?

The past few decades showed an escalation of neo-liberal reformation, involving opening country economies to global capital, and an erosion of the guarantees and rights previously won by organized labor. Neo-liberal rules have propelled ever more sections of society into informal and more flexible working conditions. This has led to a crisis of masculinized organized labor, an end… [END OF PREVIEW]

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