Enlightened Sexism: Whether It Is Fact Or Fiction
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Enlightened Sexism: Whether It Is Fact Or Fiction

An Analysis of The Rise Of Enlightened Sexism by Susan J. Douglas

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Enlightened Sexism: Whether It Is Fact Or Fiction
A Look At Feminism

The 21st century is a controversy. Since the first wave of progressive movements took place post-Cold War, the United States have been under a delirium that what was normality then, now fits into the mold that people want today. With the most current Presidential Election, we can see that the society has been divided into those who believe that legal change means social acceptance, and those who still believe that the problem of marginal oppression is still quite relevant as we approach the second decade of the 21st century. The aim of Susan J. Douglas’s The Rise of Enlightened Sexism is to prove the point that in a world of “post-sexism”, “post-racism”, and “post-homophobia”, the fight is nowhere near over for the equality of the subjugated shadows that are fighting to be heard by today’s population.

The ignorance that the fight for equality has been successful in ending is because pop culture and technology cleaved the society in half. Douglas describes our current world split by pop culture, where the oppressed who lived before the 1990’s are in one corner, and the millennials in the other corner. What we see on television is the depiction of Dr. Bailey, a successful Chief of Surgery, with a functional family, respect from colleagues, and courage to voice her own opinion without any social degradation. What is shown is superwoman, someone who is in the minority yet overcomes all the hardships that affect almost anyone that tries to tackle the inevitable complications. As a person of color, Superwoman Dr. Miranda Bailey gets to conform to mediated stereotypes of an African American women who is charged to be loud and opinionated. Because it is so blindly expected from pop culture to mold races into a uniform, even the creator of the show, Shonda Rhimes, who is also a woman of color, unknowingly subjects the character to unconscious judgement from the masses, thus aiding in the validation to the stereotype.

The instance of Miranda Bailey is a frequent necessity in the development of characters and pop figures who must bare all to a cosmetic society. When culture is analyzed by Douglas’s argument, since the fight for equality has already been accomplished because the standards were implicated generations ago, it is postulated humor to revisit sexual portrayal of the human body. With the fiscal pressure of the current economy, there is normative pressure to be a career woman, thus making successful careers and sexual images associated with but as interchangeable as oil is to water. Juggling expectations of sex, career, intelligence, and youthfulness is the reason behind the necessity for feminism, because the implications are impossible, yet still expected to be achieved and maintained.

Douglas’s chapter “Reality Bites” lists ten reasons to support the theory behind Enlightened Sexism, including that women are emotional, must be sexual but not too sexual, and belong in a domestic lifestyle. All of these instances prove to be impossible to coincide with one another. The complications of an impossible definition of being a society’s perfect woman is due to the fiscal need for change, yet the inability to adapt to the change socially. As we are supposedly living in the post-sexism era, it only makes sense to create a character like Dr. Miranda Bailey, who is a successful, and well off surgeon. The reality is that a woman’s common job, even now in the 21st century is secretary, retail worker, and personal sales. The depiction of female CEO’s, surgeons, and attorneys coincides with the oblivion that modern day is post-sexism.

Beyoncé Knowles is current pop culture’s biggest faces of feminism, and although the criticism is plentiful, this figure incorporated the feminist ideology into the beginning of a most recent song, Flawless. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who in one of her more well-known talks verbalizes the concepts of social and fiscal inequity that modern day women encounter. The inclusion of Adichie’s definition of contemporary inequality gives a pop figure’s superpower of social pressure towards the masses, a positive and productive method of disintegrating the negative limelight that the term feminism has been burdened to carry. While attaining to both sex and intelligence, the reference to Adichie gives consumers a grasp on the Figure’s overall outtake on the purpose behind the ability to influence. “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Adichie so simply describes feminism to be an innocent attempt at leveling the playing field, so why is the term left to leave a negative taste on the tongue whenever it is spoken?

The mold that we solidified in post-Cold War taught us that uniformity was safe, but safety and happiness are oil and water as well. While it is entirely true that conventionality keeps the conflict at bay, it is all too settled. It is like setting down a cup of coffee, and putting a chocolate at the bottom of it. If you don’t do anything to change (your coffee), the chocolate (happiness), dissipates. Now, however you choose to create your disruption determines the severity of disaster that it generates. There are plenty of progressive movements that resulted in vandalism, destruction of property, injuries, and even death. In the instance of the Trump protests immediately following his win in the election, marches took to the streets where unsafe environments arose. The radicalism of any movement can lead to the negative connotation of the goal, no matter the objective.

The overlook of feminism comes from two different backgrounds: radical feminism, and the threatened top 1% of the population if cultural standards completely overturn. While many everyday men and women will explain that their view on feminism is of men-hating, loud, opinionated women, it is not the case for the majority. A radical feminist is not to be looking down the barrel of a gun and being able to distinguish the one single affecter. Rather, it is the crowd of thousands, and all of a sudden one singular person shoots a gun in the air and terrifies the rest; and while the identity of that one person remains unknown, the entirety of the crowd is blamed for creating an environment where one person can create unease.

The mass media, and those who funnel money into channel broadcasts who are able to interpret an event how they wish the masses to see it, is who aids in preventing social normality of feminism. Market Consumerism has created the monopoly in which money means happiness. If those who have everything they could want in the world do, then what is the purpose of standing behind a movement in which that could change? Since it is a well-known fact that having money also means power in politics, this is the perfect time to mention the defunding of public education systems through the Trump Administration. Since it is illegal for a child not to attend school while in the country of The United States, what is taught to them melts them into the mold of social normality and rarely gives room for individual input on what the student is interested to learn about. In a society of standardized testing and ensuring that The United States desperately clings to being viewed as an educated country; there is no room or time for the interpretation of feminism and whether or not it is necessary to be prevalent in society today.

The choice of higher education shines light on the subjects that are in the dark in an effort to save time, money, and definitive culture. Thus, when attention is brought to the subject, misunderstanding of the term is common. Feminism is defined as equality of sexes, however the need for equality is widespread, and caused by numerous reasons. The belief that we live in a society where race does not affect the oppressed, is of the same origin where it is thought that the sexes are equal.

The compilation of evidence proves that the term feminist is socially derogatory because of the oblivion that millennials have been raised in. The new generation is blindly leading themselves in a path where women are “equal” and minorities are “equal” and the gay community is “equal”. However, as this generation is coming to an age where we are starting to partake in attaining careers, and being politically informed, the uniformity of the mold is starting to tremble.

It comes down to the individual’s choice. The thing about the media is that it is so broad in topic template that you can choose to watch a sex figure portray someone socially acceptable in a high intelligence field; or you can become informed on the issues regarding politics, the environment, or the economy. The individual chooses to believe that sexism and racism does or does not exist, and dependent primarily on personal background, how the society handles the individual can be the catalyst in the realization that oppression still exists. The entire reason behind the controversy that we live in a “post-” society derives from the split between those who recognize the issue and are willing to address the inequality, and those who believe that all men are created equal because that is what the Constitution says.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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