The problem: control and anti-control
The author is a female subject who resists. Resisting what? A mutated version of the Feminine Mystique. It seems to me that waves of feminists are like pesticides, killing barrages after barrages of insects called patriarchy, without really stopping the mutation of its social control.
One trap after another appear along way of the crossfire between feminism and misogyny, this time, it is The Beauty Myth, restricting women's presentation.
Vicarious knowledge: work, culture, psycho, sex and relationship
Women find themselves limited in workplace, indoctrinated by women's magazines, infactuated by cult-like beauty ideology, and frustrated by the distorted heterosexual relationship. But they find no way out, because The Beauty Myth is the rule of the game. They feel unfair, they want to change the rule.
Arguments: the body, self-ownership, pain and choice
Do they have weapons to tackle anti-feminist backlashes? The author provides several analytical and argumentative tools, equipping women in intense public debates. Should women lose weight? Should women undergo cosmetic surgery? There are plenty of reasons answering the questions negatively. Except for some of the fomenting parts, I think the author's arguments are quite convincing and forceful.
Social movement: other considerations
Then, what is to be done, in order to liberate women from The Beauty Myth? It is primarily a political mission. A third wave feminist movement is needed. But what concrete steps are desirable really depend on individual feminists' opinions. Yes, women are controlled. Yes, women and men share unequal social status. Yes, this is coercion and restrict to women's flourishment as human beings. Yes, actions must be taken. But if the core problems lie in the production of subjects, in this case, women, isn't this new wave of feminism reinforcing the gendering process without distablizing the logic of social oppression? If like Freud held, as the author cites, that civilization is built on the suppression of the libido, which means that dehumanization is the key to civilization, what are we to do with our civilization? As Luce Irigary said, women are "cancelled" by the phallocentrist culture and linguistic structure. Before, during, and after we embark on feminist social movement, we should indeed consider female social nonexistence.
More questions to ask
Under this background, what constitutes as a meaningful political action?
- How to avoid such temporary satisfaction after the second wave that makes room for the patriarchy?
- What is the agenda after women are truly liberated? The limitation of feminist ethics and identity politics?
- What is the ultimate goal of feminism? Liberation? Liberation in what sense? Feminist perfectionism? Gender equality? The eradication of gender identity?
- What does it mean to be substantially existing in a society?
- What should feminist movement adopt in order not to force women to represent women and to produce meaningful, fulfilling and existing subjects?
As such, I hold that the core problem is not choice, but subject production and social (non)existence (a core element of which is what Nancy Fraser calls social recognition).
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