Angela McRobbie is a British cultural theorist, feminist and commentator whose work combines the study of popular culture, contemporary media practices and feminism through conceptions of a third-person reflexive gaze. She is a Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths College University, University of London (thank you Wiki for the succinct description).
McRobbie’s YouTube talk below can be rather dense at times, though I am interested in some of the things that she has to say about the current ‘aftermath of feminism’ – as she describes it – and thought to share it here as it relates to my current research.
Drawing on a vocabulary that includes words like ‘empowerment’ and ‘choice’, these elements are then converted into a much more individualistic discourse, and they are deployed in this new guise, particularly in media and popular culture, but also by agencies of the state, as a kind of substitute for feminism. These new and seemingly ‘modern’ ideas about women and especially young women are then disseminated more aggressively, so as to ensure that a new women’s movement will not re-emerge. ‘Feminism’ is insturmentalized, it is brought forward and claimed by Western governments, as a signal to the rest of the world that it is a key part of what freedom now means.
Freedom is revitalized and brought up-to-date with this faux-feminism. The boundaries between the West and the rest can, as a result, be more specifically coded in term of gender, and the granting of sexual freedoms. If this sounds like a conspiracy thesis, then one of the tasks I must set myself in this book is to demonstrate how this takes place at ground level, and how the consent and participation of young women is sought, and seemingly secured, in a multiplicity of ways that defy the notion of a centralized power in charge of the demise of feminism, in such as way that it will never again rise from the ashes. (McRobbie 2010)
I think that this political cartoon by Malcolm Evans, Cruel Culture, succinctly identifies the intersectional complexities of present day ‘feminism’.