Gender and Class

Neoliberalism

Liberal is a type of economic theory and neo means new. New liberalism promotes notions of free market competition and free enterprise.

Proponents’ argument: a free and competitive market is good; choice is good, everyone has a chance to ‘improve’ themselves – social mobility is possible.

Critics’ argument: focuses too much on competition and the free market. Lacks focus on community and fairness. Societies aren’t usually fair or equal.

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Neoliberal Myth: ‘Having it all’

Barthes notion of myth sees certain ideologies as ‘common sense’.

Neoliberal ideologies of individualism and upward mobility help to create the myth that women can have (and importantly), should want a successful career, family, social life as well as maintaining their appearance.

‘We are all familiar with the tropes of the super-woman and women “having it all” (Erwin 1996) that exist as bourgeois ideals of femininity at present’ (Ringrose and Walkerdine 2008: 232).

‘Many dichotomies, including clever/pretty, private/public, rational/irrational are apparently resolved in these new bourgeois fantasies of femininity—a new vision of a Stepford fembot who excels in the traditionally feminine terrains of the home and shopping mall as well as in the masculine domains of education, the office, and the gym’ (Ringrose and Walkerdine 2008: 232).

This coincides with the myth that to be feminine is to be maternal.

The institution of ‘motherhood’ is often used as a way of scrutinising women.

Self Help Culture

What has intensified in our neo-liberal, individualizing times is the psychological imperative to improve and transform the self through the ready resources made available in self-help culture which dominates popular culture, particularly contemporary television programming’ (Ringrose and Walkerdine 2008: 235).

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Sexuality and ‘inappropriateness’ 

For some, women who spend time on their make-up of a morning to go to work or college are seen as inappropriate while women who spend time on their make-up for a night out are perceived as normal.

Sometimes people shame others because of the clothes they wear because of the inappropriateness of say, short skirts and stretch jeans: coding regarding to societal perceptions and not fashion.

Yummy Mummy Vs Chav Mum: Two Media Stereotypes

The Yummy Mummy is seen in regards to middle to upper class females. It has emerged as a positive stereotype that shows ‘a glamorous and aspirational ‘lifestyle choice” celebrating white, heterosexual, middle class motherhood.

The Chav Mum is a popular cultural reference ‘as a site of humour, disgust and moral outrage’. This sees negative stereotypes of working class motherhood with perceptions of them being feckless, irresponsible and bad.

These notes and photos are from my year two semester one lectures and seminars.
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