Documents

Bitch. Contemporary Feminism in American Consumer Culture

Description
Catherine Scallen
Categories
Published
of 49
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
Share
Transcript
  121 bitch. contemporary feminism inamerican consumer culture BITCH.CONTEMPORARY FEMINISM IN AMERICAN CONSUMER CULTURECATHERINE SCALLEN Introduction: Bitch Te perpetrator: a perky blue glass cup with “Bitch” splashedacross the ront in a swirly, girly, silver script: Figure 1 Oh, so humorous. urns out this “Slang Pint Glass” is one o a am-ily: Douchebag, Fucker, Slut, Pimp, and Hot Mess are all neatly packed in right next to each other on the shelves o Urban Outt-ters. What a set! Who is buying these? And why? It is here, with onenot so average drinking glass, that this Bitch Tesis began.Further research reveals a copious number o other Bitch prod-ucts running around town. Te pervasive Bitch! Lest the glass belonely, Urban Outtters accompanies it with almost anything yourlittle Bitchy heart could desire. Glasses, plates, bowls, snow globes,birthday banners, you name it: Urban Outtters has a version o it with “Bitch” scrawled across the ront. Barnes & Noble proudly dis-plays “Bitch a Day” calendars and planners, along with relationship  journal of undergraduate research 122 advice books ( Why Men Love Bitches  [2000] and Why Men Marry Bitches  [2006] by Sherry Argov) and dieting books ( Skinny Bitch [2005] by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin). Australian-based R  Winery manuactures a red wine named simply “Bitch,” and also themore upbeat “Bitch Bubbly” champagne. What is going on? Tese products suggest a sort o highly com-mercialized, mainstream Bitch Culture. o the uncritical consumer,it may seem that American women are now embracing the term“Bitch” (at least materially), and claiming it as their own sel-elected,sel-empowering label, rather than letting it be used against them inits traditional derogatory ashion. Is that true? Can “Bitch” ever bean empowering term? I so, what type o women claim empower-ment rom the word Bitch? Exactly what type o woman is the envi-sioned consumer o this Bitch Culture?Beore we dive in, it is o the utmost importance that the CapitalB Bitch be distinguished rom the lower case b bitch. In this thesis,I use the term “Capital B Bitch” (or just “Bitch”) to dene both thecommodied products (reerred to as Bitch Products or, collectively,Bitch Culture) and the belie held by some that by capitalizing thederogatory “bitch,” the term becomes immediately redened as astrong, independent, and empowered emale. When reerring to theterm historically used to put women down, I will use the term “low-er case b bitch” (or simply, “bitch”).It would be easy to write o these products as just another mech-anism o a repressive patriarchal society: some at cat white dudeschilling in their corporate headquarters, laughing at the droneso mindless upper-middle class American women with too muchmoney and too much ree time, out purchasing these products. It istempting to simply point ngers and shake heads at the sad state o contemporary American society and modern-day eminism. But do-ing so would not ully explain why  this commercialized Bitch Cul-ture exists today, and why the products themselves are so popular.Te act remains: these products not only exist, but continue to bemanuactured and purchased, and have been or at least the past ten  123 bitch. contemporary feminism inamerican consumer culture years. What does this tell us about eminism and American womentoday? Cue academic research into posteminist consumer culture: All that’s needed is a nice, tidy denition o posteminism tohelp contextualize the Bitch Products and to analyze them morethoroughly. Only one minor detail poses a problem: the single con-sistent characteristic o posteminism, as it is dened or describedby many a heady academic scholar, is its ambiguous and inherently contradictory nature. Te whole tiresome “love the eminine/hatethe eminine; you can’t be a eminist i you’re this; you can’t be aeminist i you’re that; and put the damn lipstick down, no, wait:pick the high heels up” debate prevents the agreement on any sorto concrete denition o posteminism. At the same time, it keepsmodern eminists arguing among themselves rather than rallying to-gether as a cohesive whole.I began this thesis with Stephanie Genz and Benjamin A. Bra-bon’s Posteminism: Cultural exts and Teories  (2009), but quickly reached a boiling point while trying to discern a useul, workingdenition o posteminism. I let discouraged and rustrated withthe utile inghting among eminists today, both within and outsideo academia.Imagine my curiosity, then, upon returning to college and be-ing assigned an article titled “Posteminist Media Culture: Elementso a Sensibility” by one Rosalind Gill. Te elation did not comeuntil ater I had read the article and discovered precisely what I wassearching or: a rereshing and honest admission that the attemptsto dene posteminism are indeed circular and ineective. Our bestbet is to take a step back and understand it as a sensibility, or a cul-tural eeling and understanding, rather than a strict denition. AsGill writes:…[P]osteminism should be conceived o as a sensibility.From this perspective posteminist media culture should beour critical object — a phenomenon into which scholars o culture should inquire — rather than an analytic perspective.  journal of undergraduate research 124 Tis approach does not require a static notion o one singleauthentic eminism as a comparison point, but instead isinormed by postmodernist and constructionist perspec-tives and seeks to examine what is distinctive about con-temporary articulations o gender in the media. Tis new notion emphasizes the contradictory nature o posteministdiscourses and the entanglement o both eminist and anti-eminist themes within them. 1 Tus, I discovered that the interesting, noteworthy, and produc-tive part o this thesis lies not in determining whether or not theseproducts are eminist or empowering (indeed, what would a truly eminist or empowering pint glass even look like?), but rather, inreecting on how the existence o these products generates an un-derstanding o gender and identity in the twenty rst century, andhow these products both individually and collectively shape an un-derstanding o contemporary eminism both as a liestyle and as apolitical movement.Gill also provides what has proven to be an immensely useulramework or contextualizing Capital B Bitch Culture, and speci-cally, Bitch Products:Tis new notion… also points to a number o other rela-tively stable eatures that comprise or constitute a postem-inist discourse. Tese include the notion that emininity is a bodily property; the shit rom objectication to sub- jectication; the emphasis upon sel-surveillance, monitor-ing and discipline; a ocus upon individualism, choice andempowerment; the dominance o a makeover paradigm; aresurgence in ideas o natural sexual dierence; a markedsexualization o culture; and an emphasis upon consumer-ism and the commodication o dierence. Tese themescoexist with, and are structured by, stark and continuing
Search
Tags
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks