‘Post-feminism’, as stated by Angela McRobbie, ‘refers to an active process by which feminist gains of the 1970s and 80s come to be undermined’.
Starting with the 1990s, clear and visible criticism of feminism is presented in the media. Through the use of articles right-leaning newspapers such as Daily Mail, as well as the resurgence ‘Lads Mags’, the iconography of the feminist started to be constructed in a certain unflattering way, such as ‘decisively aged’ and ‘redundant’. It led to creating ‘a distance from feminism’ from the part of young women, who grow up in a more gender-equal society that is hard fought by previous generations of feminists. As likely a result from the manipulating nature of the media, young women of the 90s onwards refused to be identified under the same ‘we’ with feminists.
However, it is this conflicting nature of the cultural space of post-feminism that help cement the existence of feminism into popular culture even more.
Post-feminism is also about subtle undoing of feminism in certain ways. Sexy ad campaigns featuring beautiful models, while still celebrating the immortal presence of the male gaze, is still self-conscious of the sexist nature of the ads themselves. There is an element of playfulness that separate these ads from the ads with the same characteristics decades before. The irony does not escape viewers either, as thanks to the media, male and female viewers alike are aware of the patriarchal values but are free to enjoy the ads without all the politics embedded with them.
Above is a link to a clip from The Simpsons TV show, showing a new Malibu Stacy doll line that speaks only sexist phrases that anger the feminist inside Lisa Simpson. Release in the mid 90s, the episode clearly strike into the cultural space regarding feminism and post feminism. However, we are doing so in a guilty and relaxing manner, as we are well aware of the tounge-in-cheek and ironic nature so often lying in the heart of ‘The Simpsons’.