When watching Zooey in New Girl, I thought that she fit into our discussion of a post feminine persona very well. At the beginning of the episode she gets laid off and is pleased when she gets to pick out of the lost and found box for toys that a grown woman should never want. Later, she plays the shot girl who is just too cute for the job. The playfulness that Jess brings is no doubt funny, but it is also detrimental to the feminist cause because it portrays her as content and agreeable.
Interestingly enough, with this playful “girly” persona as Jess, Zooey claims to be a feminist. In a recent issue of Glamour, Zooey claims, “I’m just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?”
This was cool for me to read because in our class discussion I had a really hard time grasping what a feminist should really look like. I thought, does a feminist have to dress like a guy and not shave her legs to certify herself as a feminist? Does she constantly have to worry about presenting herself in such a way so that people do not judge her if she does in fact appear too girly to be a feminist? Zooey helped provide part of my answer, and in many ways she is a pretty extreme example.
I think about women like Beyonce and the like that do not want to call themselves feminists but are some of the most powerful women around. Part of the issue is that we have come so far with the opportunities for women. Do men outnumber women in the fortune 500 CEOs and in political positions? Yes. But, in my opinion, time will have the biggest impact on bridging this gap. Because so much of our culture is urged to be progressive, we forget what the ways that the adult generation was raised with. By Zooey calling herself a feminist while so many other stars fear that this may hurt their image or truly are content with their place in society, she recognizes the issues with equality that still exist. I respect that she can call herself a feminist, taking offense to questions about her desire to have kids by saying “would you ask George Clooney that?”. She also shuts down the critique of her “dream girl” persona on screen (also referred to as “adorable”) by saying, “If you are tearing down somebody who has forged her own path just for wearing a tiara, rethink your priorities. I never stop myself from doing something because I’m afraid of what people might think.”
The apparent contradiction between Zooey’s media image and her feminist stance is importance because I believe it shows a way for someone to have it both ways. For all of these stars like Beyonce who do not want to feminist image, they are just reinforcing postfeminine culture of being content.
Here is a YouTube of someone who clearly does not agree with Zooey’s endorsement for Cotton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lYp94xZQ7Y