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How Popular Fiction Reflects Debates About Gender And Sexuality: Feminism

1589 words - 6 pages

For the last few decades it is argued to what extent popular fiction reflects such things as social changes in our society and topical debates. In this paper I will discuss to what extent popular fiction reflects debates about gender and sexuality. Moreover, I will look at the difference between postfeminism and third-wave feminism, afterwards I will more closely look at Candace Bushnell's book Sex and the City (1996) and relate the book's ideas about woman and woman's sexuality to postfeminism and third-wave feminism ideas. I will also look at cyber-feminism in relation to another chick lit - Helen Fielding's book Bridget Jones's Diary (1996).
In my opinion, popular fiction reflects almost everything what happens in the contemporary society or in the minds of people who are living in this society. Those could be debates about living on Mars, about specific crime or woman's role in society and her responsibilities. As it is not the high-quality literature, it can be written while the topic is still actual and that makes this literature genre so significant. To my mind, popular fiction also reflects debates about gender and sexuality to a great extent. Nevertheless, it can be seen more clearly in some specific Popular fiction genres than in others. McCracken (1998: p.6) argues: “Popular fiction, we might say, mediates social conflict. In other words, it acts as a medium between reader and world through which the social contradictions of modernity can be played out.” Chick lit as a genre emerged in the mid-1990s when Helen Fielding's book Bridget Jones's Diary (1996) and Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City (1996) which turned out to being a great success. In mid-1990s a great number of women all over the world were paying attention to postfeminism and third-wave feminism ideas, even without being aware of it, as these ideas started to appear in the popular culture. Bridget Jones's Diary and Sex and the City is a great example of it. It has been argued that success of Bridget Jones's Diary lay in the 'that's me' phenomenon (Whelehan: 2002) In my opinion, that is the phenomenon of whole chick lit as a genre. Obviously, chick lit raises many important issues effecting women in contemporary society. Furthermore, there exists an opinion that chick lit reflects the everyday lives of young, middle-class working women in all the detail; for many women it gives a chance to look at themselves from aside.
While talking about chick lit and relevant theories and debates about it, it is essential to define some key terms, for instance, third-wave feminism and postfeminism, because nowadays lines between these two are often blurred together. Starr (2000: p.474) suggests: “Third-wave feminism is a term for a wide body of both popular and academic works of the 1990s. (..) Third wave feminists were especially concerned with issues facing adolescent girls and young women.” One feature of the third-wave feminism is the centrality of anger and the clear message that...

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