The Bold Feminist

  • Abstract:

    My paper revolves around ‘identity as a performative and political tool and/or as a site of political resistance and change.’ I will use the concept ‘popular feminism’ to critically evaluate the current feminist momentum, characterized by its proliferation in pop culture and fashion, and its impact on the feminist movement with regards to empowerment and resistance. Popular feminism can be characterized as the increasing visibility and popularity of feminism within mainstream popular culture. This form of feminism is increasingly incorporating a more intersectional approach, but I would still argue that the current feminist identity is problematic through its exclusionary attitude. I will exemplify this through the American television show The Bold Type by Freeform that aired in 2017. This show has been celebrated for its representation of women of color and queer relationships. However, through analyzing the feminist statements that are featured in the show (e.g. intersectionality, the portrayal of female sexuality), I uncover the problematic structures that are apparent in the current feminist momentum. Popular feminism promotes a type of empowerment that is limited due to the power relations that it perpetuates and the lack of resistance it generates. This becomes evident through the The Bold Type’s focus on consumer behavior and sexual agency as sources of empowerment. This form of individual empowerment is tied to those that are in the privileged social position to obtain this and does not include resistance against patriarchal societal structures. Empowerment entails a process, beginning with a state of disempowerment. However, the women that are represented in popular feminism are highly privileged and as such, do not reflect empowerment. As such, it fails to address systematic inequalities with regards to gender that are still apparent in society.