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From Sex and the City to Girls: paving the way for ‘post? feminism’
In 1994, McRobbie flagged a desire for a diverse feminist politics in response to a burgeoning postfeminist culture. For twenty years, feminists have explored postfeminist texts and experiences, debating the meaning and deployment of postfeminism. However, they continue to identify an impasse in terms of feminist engagement with the concept. In this chapter, we address this impasse through a comparative analysis of two postfeminist US television series: Sex and the City (SATC) (1998-2004) and Girls (2012-). Through this analysis, we explore how postfeminist discourses are deployed through Girls, focusing on key themes of sexuality, reproductive choice, and embodiment.
In light of SATC's influence on contemporary postfeminist dramas, we wonder how the characters of Girls relate to their SATC precursors. We also question what kind of feminist narrative defines Girls. Is postfeminism useful in this analysis? We argue that SATC's postfeminist legacy 'lurks on the periphery' of Girls, moulding it into a 'new' kind of postfeminist narrative (Whelehan, 2010, p. 161 ). From the inter-textual nod of the SATC poster on Shoshanna's bedroom wall in the pilot episode, to the ways in which the characters navigate sexuality and relationships, Lena Dunham cannot ignore SATC as a formative cultural text while simultaneously railing against it. By questioning and challenging its influences from earlier generations of second-wave feminism and postfeminism, we argue that Girls allows for a re-articulation of postfeminism for a millennial generation. Given this generational shift from SATC's postfeminism, we suggest the term 'post? feminism' as a means of theorising the 'new' postfeminist narratives being deployed in Girls.
Publication titleReading Lena Dunham's Girls: feminism, postfeminism, authenticity and gendered performance in contemporary television
EditorsM Nash and I Whelehan
Department/SchoolSchool of Social Sciences
Place of publicationLondon, United Kingdom
Rights statementCopyright 2017 The Authors