Date: March 18 March 20, 2014
Location: University of Rochester
Post/Feminism/Media offers an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to participate in a dialogue about the state of media and reporting on women in a "postfeminist" age. For media scholars, postfeminism emerged in the early 2000s in tandem with critiques of neoliberalization as a way to underscore the deep contradictions and confusing appropriations of feminist discourses and ideologies in mainstream media. Whereas many feminists viewed these developments with despair, echoing Angela McRobbie's observation that in postfeminist texts, "Feminism is 'taken into account,' but only to be shown to be no longer necessary," others more optimistically considered the possibility that postfeminism could offer young women an alternative to first- and second-wave feminisms. However one might view postfeminism and its political efficacy, it is undeniable that media framed as feminist or postfeminist today tend to focus on the work and relations of white, elite women like Sheryl Sandberg, whose Lean In might be thought of as "feminism brought to you by the one percent."
In contrast, Post/Feminism/Media highlights the work and strategies of media makers who are producing critical stories about women and gender in the context of deepening class and racial inequalities, and ongoing gender discrimination in the journalism industry. This project asks how contemporary media makers produce feminist texts in the context of a postfeminist mediascape, in which feminism is either considered to be no longer pertinent because of the successes of the women's rights movement, or to be out of sync with the goals and values of younger generations of women. What is the purchase of feminism in journalism and media production today? With the deepening economic chasms separating the rich from the rest, how can socially responsible journalism bring to light gendered and classed inequalities and the lives of middle and working-class women? What are the challenges for journalists operating in a media industry that reproduces uncritical notions of postfeminism that often reinforce conservative political agendas? In these ambiguous times, how do cultural producers create critical work on gender that addresses the real lives of people laboring in a neoliberal postindustrial economy?
Alissa Quart, journalist and author of Branded, Hothouse Kids, and Republic of Outsiders.
Screening of The Last Clinic, a film by Maisie Crow, documenting the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. Post-screening discussion with Maisie Crow, collaborator Alissa Quart, and Rachael Phelps, Medical Director, Planned Parenthood of Western NY.
Andi Zeisler, Founder of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture.