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‘I’m a Free Bitch Baby’, a ‘Material Girl’: Interrogating Audience Interpretations of the Postfeminist Performances of Lady Gaga and Madonna

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Abstract

In postfeminist society it is suggested that women have ‘made it’; that emancipation has been achieved. Machin and Thornborrow (2006: 187) refer to contemporary representation of women to articulate this premise, arguing that in western societies, compared to 40 years ago, discourses perpetuated by the media represent women as having personal and sexual autonomy. I argue that, despite offering women a greater extent of cultural visibility, contemporary representations of female identity are still highly regulated. Similarly, much of the existing literature that challenges the ideals of postfeminism presents women as cultural dupes, seduced by an attractive mediated guise of liberation (Coppock et al., 1995; Rojek, 2001; Taylor, 1985; Wykes and Gunter, 2005). While it is vital to understand what the cultural industry does to people, interrogating the images and ideals they present us with, I argue that it is equally important to acknowledge what different people do with the products of the cultural industry. As indicated throughout the collection, this book addresses the question of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, and this chapter acknowledges the everyday actions of women as sites of vital political action, interrogating how they rationalise the complex images of ‘liberated’ postfeminist women offered to them.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of Being a Woman
Subtitle of host publicationFeminism, Media and 21st Century Popular Culture
EditorsHeather Savigny, Helen Warner
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK
Chapter4
Pages67-90
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-38466-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-48098-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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