Feminism and Popular Culture

When I wrote Feminism, Femininity and Popular Culture in the late 1990s, I wanted to examine the way in which feminist cultural studies had often rested on an opposition between ‘feminist’ and ‘feminine’ identities and explore how these identities were perhaps not necessarily incompatible. I was also frustrated by the ways in which earlier feminists had frequently positioned themselves as anti-popular culture. For generations of women growing up in the 1970s and later, popular culture was often one of the places we learned about feminism. These themes were developed in Feminism in Popular Culture (co-edited with Rachel Moseley) which examined what happened to feminism in popular culture and what new kinds of politics emerged from this.

More recently, I’ve tackled feminism’s relationship to domesticity. Although ideas associated with domesticity have undoubtedly contributed to women’s oppression, I argue that the solution isn’t for feminists to simply abandon the home. Instead, the challenge for feminism is to rethink the social and cultural value of home and to rework the meaning of domesticity.

I am currently working on a project that explores the history of feminist consumer activism. While there are detailed histories of feminist consumer activism in wider political struggles in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, my work constructs a relatively hidden history of the ways in which second-wave feminists used consumer activism to challenge gender, class and ‘racial’ inequality and used consumption practices to construct feminist lifestyles.

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