Postfeminist ideology “takes feminism into account” by framing liberal feminist principles as already achieved, thus preempting a more radical feminist politics that it constructs as both unpleasant and irrelevant. In a corresponding mode, postfeminist cultural objects derive their power in part by preempting feminist critique with irony. It is precisely this ideological double bind that the comedian Amy Schumer confronts. This essay analyzes how Schumer develops a feminist critique of the knotty problems of postfeminist ideology. Postfeminism casts feminism as abject, as the “repulsive and disgusting” monster that perpetually endangers the “empowered” postfeminist woman of today. But Schumer inverts this construction: in her show's sketches, postfeminism as an ideological formation materializes in an array of comic abjections to which Schumer's persona is subject. In short, the condition of postfeminism is one of abjection. The comic hyperbole of Schumer's character's abjections, combined with her uncritical complicity, invokes for the viewer feminist solutions.
A Rather Crude Feminism: Amy Schumer, Postfeminism, and Abjection
Jason Middleton is an associate professor in the English Department and the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, and director of the Film and Media Studies Program, at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Documentary's Awkward Turn: Cringe Comedy and Media Spectatorship (Routledge, 2014) and coeditor of Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones (Duke University Press, 2007). His work has been published in Cinema Journal, Journal of Visual Culture, Popular Music, Velvet Light Trap, Afterimage, Avidly, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His current book project is titled Documentary's Body: Instructional Aesthetics and Transmodal Affects.
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Jason Middleton; A Rather Crude Feminism: Amy Schumer, Postfeminism, and Abjection. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2017; 3 (2): 121–140. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2017.3.2.121
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