Speciically, I am interested in the ways young women negotiate belonging and enact connection with others not in spite of, but through the mobilisation of post-feminist economies of knowledge and value. It has been well doc- umented that post-feminist notions of subjectivity depend on an imperviousness to the social Rosalind Gill The contradictions of the post-feminist subject are held together through a deep neoliberal individuality Gill ; Angela McRobbie , and a per- formed indiference to the inluence of others Amy Shields Dobson ; Jessica Ringrose and Katarina Eriksson Barajas KANAI which to tell the self.
This article considers how an intimate public Lauren Berlant located on the blogging platform Tumblr can provide insights into cultures of sociality built around post-feminist knowledges of value and normativity. Tumblr has been chosen as a space for this inquiry, given that it is a digital platform that is particularly attractive for young people see e.
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Matt Hart , as a highly visual, largely anonymous space creating the conditions for afective lows and connections James Ash ; Alexander Cho In particular, this article explores the circulation of self-representative blog posts through which young women make themselves intelligible to others. Two aspects to this relational construction of self will be considered.
These igures—the best friend, Other girls, hot guys, creeps, and the boyfriend— are used as relational resources through which young women may articulate normativity within these post-feminist social knowledges. These igures, through varying relations of proximity and distance, materialise contradictory post-feminist compulsions to enact indi- viduality whilst demonstrating social relatability to others. Post-feminist individuality and digital cultures It has been identiied that post-feminist ideals of autonomous, independent feminine indi- viduality resonate in Western digital cultures Sarah Banet-Weiser ; Dobson ; Akane Kanai a; Jessalynn Marie Keller ; Ringrose and Barajas ; Amanda Rossie ; Winch Given that post-feminism, Banet-Weiser argues, has almost seamlessly merged with consumer culture, it provides a rich discursive context for understanding and producing the self as a brand, particularly in its emphasis on individualised, marketised empowerment which is highly compatible in feminine digital spaces.
Beyond the opportu- nities to broadcast the self, digital spaces constitute sites of self-surveillance, monitoring, and work.
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Marwick Rossie and Banet-Weiser argue that the logic of platforms such as YouTube rewards practices of production and consumption in which the self is made into a brand for continual feedback for audiences. Post-feminism, then, produces particular economies of gendered value that individuals are compelled to draw on and use, whilst feminine qualities that do not it within this framework are disavowed as valueless.
As with post-feminist cultures and institutions more broadly, the imagined subject is autonomous, active, self-regulating, and entrepreneurial Rosalind Gill and Christina Scharf The post-feminist subject monitors and labours at not only her self-brand but how she feels and relexively adapts her disposition towards possible obstacles and barriers. The individual is presumed to be able to draw on commodiied attributes to live gender as a style, or aesthetic Sarah Banet-Weiser , rather than be produced through it as a historical, institutional, and cultural formation.
Here, I draw attention to how post-feminist notions of individuality rely on a gendered inscription of key igures, from which low certain afective dispositions that young women must efect in order to constitute self-determining subjects of value. Macpherson , then, requires the presence of others, to appear as resources to be accessed, as I demonstrate with the use of the igures that circulate here.
Approaching post-feminist negotiations through afective-discursive analysis Post-feminism is a central object of analysis in this article as it constitutes a framework that instates knowledges of valued contemporary femininity, as well as an afective-discursive disposition determining how such gendered value may be extracted and accumulated by the self.
Meredith Nash and Ruby Grant note that post-feminism as a concept has been contested in terms of its explanatory power. This understanding enables me to analyse the blog posts of my case study, which, indeed, articulate emotions presumed to be recognisable and decipherable within girlfriend- ship cultures. GIFs are sourced from diverse media such as television, ilm, or YouTube, articulating feelings ranging from frustration and rivalry, to joy and embarrassment in the posts. These posts, then, can be understood to constitute part of the broader turn to the visual in articulating feelings and emotions in digital culture see e.
Sun Sun Lim and oper- ate on the presumed literacy of the reader to piece together the afective signiication of the post. I frame this space of circulation of these blog posts and concordant readerly Figure 1. In this article, I outline how afective-discursive knowledges are mobilised by young women to make themselves intelligible to other young women within post-feminist econ- omies of value. These knowledges enable the igures of the best friend, Other girls, hot guys, creeps, and the boyfriend to tell a story about the self that is recognised by young women in a digital context where little other identifying material is available.
Post-feminist individ- uality is enacted as a relational disposition towards others, requiring relationships with others to be objectiied and reiied in order to display value. I begin with the feminine igures of this public: The best friend is deined through a relation of proximity; she constitutes a mirror relecting back a self with idealised feminine traits. Importantly, there is only one best friend, matching the individuality of the authorial self of the blog posts.
Such a igure is exalted above any boy friend ; she usually perfectly matches the interests, pleasures, and activities that the blogger engages in. References to the best friend in the blogs usually involve enjoying the same activities together: In the texts of the various blogs, the best friend creates a sense of mutual warmth and simplicity. As Winch notes, girlfriendship in popular culture is usually portrayed as two women embodying or becoming an essential feminine sameness or com- plementary versions of the same person, enacting a privileged exclusivity and feminine normativity.
KANAI At the same time, the best friend also shores up the individuality of the self, as she con- stitutes an asset. This relationship, however, is not free from rivalry. The post juxtaposes a purportedly loving description with a caustic punchline: The best friend thus inhabits a singular privileged position as the feminine mirror to the self, though such a position is dependent on meeting certain gendered requirements. Belonging in this public, then, is predicated on both the possession and mobilisation of post-feminist knowledges, as well as a disposition towards others of warmth predicated on a sameness of experience.
They dare to wear velour tracksuits; they ask stupid questions; their choice in heels leaves much to be desired; their thong is visible. The self is evidently always already positioned against such igures. Regina George, as a pop culture igure who has a complicated relationship with her own girlfriends, is constituted nonetheless as a igure that privileges her best friends above Other girls as a matter of course, regardless of the innocuous actions of the Other girl.
The sheer arbitrariness and excessiveness of the response may also be understood as a means by which to poke fun at the absurdity of the required standards of girlfriend loyalty. One example constitutes the post in Figure 1: Across the blogs, the relation between the self and Other girls is set up as a tension between an individuated relatable feminine self, and an unlikeable, failing mass femininity.
Undiferentiated Other girls should accordingly be seen as productive; they are used afectively-discursively as a foil, the constitutive limit Skeggs , producing the self as a relatable post-feminist individual.
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It is thus deemed that it is recognisable, even normal, to show antipathy towards this abject mass femininity. The spectatorial girlfriend reader can thus never be the Other girl, being textually invited to share in collective gripes about her. Other girls are mythic, mobile, and adaptable, produced as always already outside the surfaces constructed through the afective inclusion of the best friend and spectatorial girl- friend.
Thus, femininities are divided into a bubble of sameness in which the best friend, as normative mirror, and the spectatorial girlfriend reader are invited to participate. Outside this bubble is an otherness represented by almost any other girl. Individuality accordingly might be seen as the adoption of a default masculine standard. Hot guys and creeps: KANAI they often describe undergraduate university-related social situations.
Yet, this igure is also characterised by a relation of ambivalence through which such desire is managed. A certain awkwardness or cheesiness is recurringly highlighted in the depicted lirtatious reactions. Such awkwardness is set up as an object of humour. These lirtatious techniques are often conveyed to be bumbling and inappropriate by using GIFs of animals or men aping femininity for laughs. Such contrast between the desire and the exag- gerated lack of sexual competency can be seen as a technique for negotiating classed, social systems of value.
Hooking up, then, as a means of enacting desire, is squarely posited as a phenomenon of drunken party culture—as part of practising social belonging, but impor- tantly, without appearing to try too hard Kalish and Kimmel A certain post-feminist nonchalance is efected; one must be fun or silly as a result of licensed drunken abandon, but not too desperate for male attention. Described in a noncha- lant manner, they work as a source of humour through which the desirability and it within youthful party cultures may be demonstrated.
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In and of itself, a hook up might be fun, but there is a notable silence as to the pleasure experienced in the actual encounter. Accordingly, the line between engaging in heterosexual pursuit as a desiring individual, and participating in collective social rituals of enacting desire as a means of demonstrating post-feminist normativity, is blurred. The creep is a igure that circulates in the blogs mainly to function as the abject double of the hot guy.
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As such, he constitutes an afective-discursive resource demonstrating the powers of distinction of the discerning post-feminist subject. Like the Other girl, rejection precedes him. Whilst Other girls act more broadly as the constitutive limit of the self, the creep acts as a sexual boundary, the limit that produces a discerning, sexually empowered post-feminist subject. There is a distinct lack of description as to why the creep is creepy, which could be due to a range of common practices such as encroaching upon personal space, or engaging in other types of unwanted harassment.
This absence suggests two dominant explanations. However, I suggest that this lack of description also indicates the diiculty within a post-feminist lexicon of articulating feminine victimisa- tion; the self must be articulated in relations of control, picking and choosing relations with others. Of course, sexual harassment or assault is not funny, and this blog-based public operates on a humorous afective relationality. Yet, curiously, in a university context where much recent discussion highlights the endemic proportions of sexual assault on American campuses see e.
Michael Kimmel , there is a notable absence of the sense of being personally wronged when creeps are cited. In a post-feminist vocabulary of individualised sexual empowerment, I suggest that the creep is only speakable as the ugly twin of the hot guy; he exists for the important purpose of showing discerning sexual taste and the post-fem- inist power of sexual rejection of inferior men. The boyfriend: Amber Heard riposte à nouveau.
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