Monday, March 20, 2017

Core Post 2: Feminism (Week 10)

What I most appreciated about Butler's argument was her willingness to provide the historical context for post-feminism as a concept and term; which genuinely expanded my own understanding of it as both a media enthusiast and as a woman who navigates social spaces and circles that could easily fit into Butler's almost-sociological analysis. I agreed with her points on the commodification of female empowerment as well as her call to other scholars to integrate the work of feminists of color and queer theorists as a means of correcting a history of exclusion that reinforced white, middle-class female experiences as the norm. I was especially interested in Butler's statement that "women of color may be in a unique position to disrupt, at least symbolically, the whiteness of postfeminism," and applied this concept to my own comparison of the post-feminist shows Girls and Insecure (Butler, 50).

Both developed and aired on HBO, Girls and Insecure are written, show-run, and acted by contemporary female voices (Lena Dunham and Issa Rae respectively) who have the agency to show their perspectives and experiences in honest, flawed, relatable ways. While Girls is arguably the poster-child for white feminism (having tendency to fall to the glamorization that it so desperately tried to separate from in earlier seasons), Insecure is about the work and personal lives of several twenty-something women of color and succeeds in exploring the intersection of race, identity, culture, and sexuality in a way that is far less intellectually apathetic than Butler describes post-feminism to be.

With that said, Insecure does share a degree of flawed feminism that Girls is guilty of, in that the exploration of heterosexual relationships has more of a priority than the female friendships that both shows claim to be propped against. There is no conversation between the protagonists of Insecure that doesn't somehow become about the men they're sleeping with and Girls has arguably devoted more time to developing the arcs of male characters than several of the main women. As a result, I am left feeling unsure if Insecure can be a true disruption when Issa Rae still has to answer to HBO, a network that is famously sex-skewed in its content and run by white men. This personal confusion only highlights the flawed state of post-feminism that Butler illustrates in that any movement, which requires no understanding of historical context, can only do so much.

1 comment:

  1. I think you make an interesting point around Insecure, although I would point out that it started as a web series--and from what I gather, the overall tone and narrative approaches of the web series don't differ too heavily from the HBO version. (I have not seen the web series, but I have watched Insecure and am generally a fan.) She was still dating men and still talking about men with her friends, even when she was in control of the content. Although the web series format allowed her to devote entire short episodes to non-dating topics, which contrasts the way dating is weaved throughout every episode of the HBO show. Maybe someone else has a better idea around the nuances between the two as far as approaching heterosexual relationships goes. Perhaps, though, her willingness focus on heterosexual dating (among the other topics that you mention) made HBO see the show as potentially marketable in the first place?