The end(s) of feminism(s)? From <i>Madonna</i> to <i>Ally McBeal</i>

Geraldine Harris

in Beyond Representation

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780719074585
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701010 | DOI:
The end(s) of feminism(s)? From Madonna to Ally McBeal

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This chapter considers the progress/progressiveness of the representation and construction of feminism within television, and examines the discourses that have informed and shaped feminist television criticism. It uses the debates produced around the first three seasons of Ally McBeal as a starting point to explore the complexities of the relationship between the ‘feminine’, feminism, post feminism and postmodern feminism, in both the academic and the public spheres. In the process it maps out the differences and similarities between a ‘resistant feminine aesthetic’, the formal strategies associated with postmodern feminism in the 1990s and a more general ‘postmodern aesthetic’. It argues that because all of these are defined in opposition to a monolithic notion of ‘realism’ and in relation to one another, a collapse can occur in which ‘the feminine’, as both a subject position and an aesthetic, becomes characterised as ‘inherently’ resistant and subversive. Finally, it emphasizes how and why a confusion of these terms might have emerged and allowed for an appropriation, depoliticisation and trivialisation of the feminist debate.

Keywords: Madonna; Ally McBeal; feminism; postmodern aesthetic; postmodern feminisation

Chapter.  12511 words. 

Subjects: Television

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