Pulp feminism: Discourse analysis of Bridget Jones's Diary, Sex and the City, and The Vagina Monologues
LE3 .A278 2006
Bachelor of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis addresses the tension that exists between women and feminism in western culture. I argue that, while women are interested in the gender-based empowerment that feminism offers, they are uncomfortable with the movement because it questions the existence of an essential femininity. Popular culture has responded to this tension with the creation of pulp feminism. Pulp feminism is a multi-medium phenomenon in which works of popular culture openly discuss the everyday routines and practices associated with womanhood and femininity. This discourse operates as a confession in which narrative personas discuss details of womanhood that have traditionally been viewed as unsuitable for conversation. Topics of confession include menstruation, beauty routines, and discomfort with feminism. In addition, the discourse addresses the frustration women experience as they struggle with the oppressive ideals of femininity. Insofar as this discourse transgresses the codes of silence surrounding womanhood, pulp feminism is experienced as liberating and rebellious. The thesis examines the literary manifestations of pulp feminism with reference to gender theories by Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault, Sandra Bartky, and Susan Bordo. The literary works I examine are Bridget Jonesâ€™s Diary, Sex and the City, and The Vagina Monologues. In addition, I offer a critical account of my participation in a staged production of The Vagina Monologues. My analysis of the literary texts and of the theatre production demonstrates that pulp feminism is not a viable alternative to feminism. While the confessional discourse of pulp feminism has the appearance of rebellion, it actually reifies oppressive norms of femininity.
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