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Gender,Sexuality and Diversity - Essay Example

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Gender,Sexuality and Diversity

This paper shall critically discuss the post-feminist argument that in Western societies, women are empowered to choose whether or not to engage in beauty practices. A discussion on the various manifestations of women empowerment will be included in this paper. Body Western societies are now seemingly perceived to be post-feminist, which may mean that structural elements negatively affecting women have already been managed and that any lingering differences between men and women are being attributed to the manifestations of individual choices (Jeffreys, 2005). Writers acknowledge that choice has become the battle cry of the post-feminist era; under these conditions, as long as the actions of women are based on their own choices, there is no need for further assessment of their actions and choices (Braun, 2009). Beauty practices are very much related to such post-feminist ideas and arguments. Even if the use of beauty products have been subjected to feminist critique, practices like putting on lipstick or shaving one’s legs do not any more represent issues for feminists (Stuart and Donahue, 2012). Third-wave feminists express that women’s power to choose the engagement in these beauty practices is a welcome element of feminism (Baumgardner and Richards, 2000). However, even with much support attributed to various choices, and even with the entry of women into areas in society where they were not previously included, women’s bodies are still made part of high surveillance and discipline (Jeffreys, 2005). The chances given to women to increase their achievements which were not available to them before has not been coordinated with the power to do away with the oppressive elements and practices of femininity. Scholars argue that the discarding of traditional female roles in the workplace has been matched with a greater focus on feminine bodies (Gill, 2007). Gill (2007) points out that femininity for the current western culture has followed the suggested trajectory laid out by Bartky (1990), Bordo (1993), and Wolf (1990) where social applications relating to femininity are not anymore directed towards the manifestation of traditional gender roles, but are leaning more towards practices which strongly highlight the management and beautification of women’s bodies. Postfeminist marks of liberation via empowerment and choices are placed within the context of harsh beauty requirements and images which Western women are compared to and judged against (Gill, 2006). In effect, with all the apparent choices, the contemporary western culture puts a very harsh and intense evaluation of women’s bodies. Contextualizing femininity within the post-feminist conditions is a major focus of contemporary feminist work (Evans,, 2010). Feminine beauty practices were a clear focus for the second-wave feminism with a more critical assessment made on the means by which such practices have impacted on the reification of the disparities between men and women, as well as the objectification of women (Bartky, 1990). By the end of the 1980s, as feminism secured more success in the liberation of women, the negative reaction against the second wave feminism caused new restrictions on women’s liberties (Jeffreys, 2005). The conditional message has been suggested relating to women gaining a more liberated status, for as long as such status is not made at the cost of their femininity. Such message is seen in ...Show more


The feminist movement led to major changes in the actions and perception about women. The movement also caused the empowerment of women, mostly in reference to civil and political rights…
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Gender,Sexuality and Diversity essay example
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