Archive for Hegemonic Femininity
On January 20th Popular Culture 2180 explored the concept of hegemony. A concept that I now understand as the ability of one social class to dominate the rest through imposed norms, values, and practices. Capitalism and the elites are the dominating social class that keeps us consuming through culturally constructed norms and practices. It is important to note the culturally constructed aspect as norms, values, and practices are all subject to change due to the context in which they are situated. This becomes evident while exploring the notion of hegemonic femininity.
Strangelove lectures that “every society has its ideal type of gender”. While looking at Western society in different contexts, one is able to view the transformation of the female body. The transformation is important because it keeps women in a constant state of dissatisfaction with their own bodies, a state which keeps them in hyper-consumption mode.
A flashback to the 50’s: Marilyn Monroe was the first nude centerfold to be featured in Playboy. She accommodated to the desires and interests of men at the time with her appearance and sexy persona. Much as the elites today, men were the dominant group to which women must cater in order to be deemed acceptable. Unfortunately for Monroe, a sex symbol for half a century, in Today’s Western society her curves would categorize her as being overweight, defiantly not the ‘ideal’ body of femininity that we have come to know.
I laughed in class when Strangelove described the ideal femininity of today as “cocaine chick”, yet upon further reflection I would have to agree. While researching model requirements, in regards to height and size I couldn’t find a solid answer yet it appears most agencies are looking for women with the dimensions 34B-24-34. Rarely would agencies accept girls with a waist 25 inches, and even seldom larger. To put it into perspective the ideal woman today is 14 dresses sizes smaller than Monroe. This is a scary thought and puts us in danger physically, emotionally, and financially.
Strangelove states that “money moves across class systems and seldom moves outside of it [thus enhancing] the wealth of the Capitalist economy”. Hegemonic femininity keeps us consuming through diet pills, gym memberships, brand name clothing, tanning lotions, make up, hair products, and skin products just to name a few. My point here is, if we seldom move outside our financial bracket, why are we spending so much time and money to achieve an ‘ideal’ femininity which we can never reach as it is always subject to change?! Today was an eye opener…