Post feminism is clearly a complex, multi-faceted idea. Mindy Kaling sets up a really interesting dynamic within post feminism. The first, most obvious aspect that stands out to me about the Mindy Project is that she is unarguably the main character of the show. This in itself highlights a strong female character.
I found myself questioning how this show and Kaling’s character really fit into post feminism. I think the best way to describe this is that she has a balance in her life that most women in the media do not have. She does not focus completely on her social life as we see in a show like Sex and the City where even Bradshaw is focused on her personal life even in her blogs. However, Kaling also does not focus completely on her work. I think feminism would argue that women have the right to obtain a career which is something that hasn’t always been accessible. Therefore, now women should take advantage of that and find purpose in gaining respect through their job and career. Kaling has the best of both worlds in this way because while she has a social life and relationships, she also has a very respected, educated career. I thought this was cool because she is not even just a nurse, but an obstetrician which is really empowering.
In the episode we watched, I was sort of surprised by the way that Kaling went about her sexuality. At the end of the episode she went nearly straight from her date to hooking up with the guy from her work. At first I was shocked in a way. But after thinking about it, I think the only reason I was shocked was because this is a situation that is never portrayed in the media. If a woman in the media hooks up with two people in a short amount of time, she is generally portrayed as scandalous. However, in this episode it is viewed as acceptable, but doesn’t even make a big deal about it at all. I think this is important because Kaling is respectable for wanting and trying to find a relationship as we saw on her date, but she also has sexual relations with people. However, this is nearly unaddressed in most medium. This demonstrates how a character like this doesn’t have to be one extreme or the other. Furthermore, she doesn’t rely on a male for her happiness or to fulfill her needs. She has sexual needs just like everyone else, but unlike Sex and the City, it isn’t the whole focus of the show.
One thing that I noticed which was also addressed in this blog was merely who Kaling is as a main character. She is not the stereotypical woman that we see as female lead roles. This is most visible in her race, which as this blog mentions, she is the first South-Asian actress to star as the lead in a television show. While this is amazing, this aspect of her doesn’t define her. On many shows and in movies, race often times is the main trait of the characters and sort of defines them in some way. I’ve never seen other episodes, but in the one we watched it didn’t point out her race or make any comment about it that I noticed. While her race and her progress as an actress is admirable, post feminism plays out by showing that it doesn’t need to be pointed out and it doesn’t define her.
Lastly, she also defies the stereotypical females we see on television in her body type which is another thing that is addressed in this blog. In her book, Kaling even describes herself as chubby. Despite her weight, she is not made into a joke as we see in a lot of shows with overweight people. Furthermore, the leads on television are very rarely overweight. It is also important to see how Kaling is portrayed sexually despite her weight. All of these defy the stereotypes constantly visible in the media.
I think post feminism is calling for women like Kaling to be more common rather than standing out – and for this to become more normal in everyday media!