Authored by: Catharine Lumby

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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In her definitive essay “Postfeminism,” Sarah Gamble notes that the term “post-feminism” originated in the early 1980s in the news and other popular media. She says media commentators typically used the term to indicate “joyous liberation from the ideological shackles of a hopelessly outdated feminist movement” (Gamble 2006: 36). A clear, if highly unsympathetic, example of this understanding of the term can be found in Susan Faludi’s best-selling book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women (1991), in which she names postfeminism as covertly hostile to the broader aims of the women’s movement. As Gamble explains:

For Faludi, postfeminism is the backlash, and its triumph lies in its ability to define itself as an ironic, pseudo-intellectual critique on the feminist movement, rather than an overtly hostile response to it. In a society which largely defines itself through media-inspired images, women are easily persuaded that feminism is unfashionable, passé, and therefore not worthy of serious consideration. “We’re all ‘post-feminist’ now, they assert, meaning not that women have arrived at equal justice and moved beyond it, but simply that they themselves are beyond even pretending to care.”

(Gamble 2006: 38)

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