I speak from personal experience when I say these opening words, proclaimed at the beginning of every Gossip Girl episode, engrain themselves in the minds of teenage female viewers. As each episode progresses, these words introduce reoccurring concepts of gossip, drama and fashion, while featuring strong female protagonists depicted as seemingly independent, sexually empowered consumers. Yet these characters, whose lives revolve around money and sex, are enough to send any true feminist – my mother included – sprinting back to the 1970s. Depicting a frightening relationship between TV and society, Gossip Girl represents the post-feminist era in which modern female empowerment focuses on high consumption and sexual subjectification, resulting in a deconstruction of the equality modern women attempt to gain.
While feminist goals of the 70s and 80s focused on equality, modern post-feminist goals willingly forgo certain freedoms in exchange for the freedom to consume. Gossip Girl is structured to further this value of consumption, specifically fashion consumption and its role in femininity. The show’s depiction of a lavish lifestyle promotes a specific social standard evident in the heavy product placement and the stressed importance of dressing right to fit in with the other characters. Indeed, the most popular, powerful girls are dressed head-to-toe in designer brands and rule over the “less fortunate.” The main character, Blair Waldorf, is even referred to as “Queen B” and rules with an iron – and well manicured – fist. Yet despite the fact that Blair is strong and goal-oriented – in line with the definition of feminist – her...
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...rs the idea that a woman’s sexuality is her best tool. In a post-feminist era, as portrayed by Gossip Girl, a woman’s body – not her brains or ability – is her source of power.
Despite it’s faults, one cannot deny Gossip Girl’s success amongst viewers. Perhaps that speaks to society at large, in which equating power to purchased clothes and sexuality represents the modern powerful woman. Yet regardless of post-feminist belief, it is impossible to be independent and still dependent on the validation of social constructions commanding certain appearances and attitudes towards consumption. It is not viable to be both a sex object and a sexually empowered, yet still objectified, person. While Gossip Girl may attempt to portray the strength of such characters and appeal to the “empowered” modern woman, it deconstructs the true equality feminism still fights to achieve.
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