Zooey, what a cutie.

Zooey Deschanel. The perfect picture of a cute girl. She is even described in (500) Days of Summer as being a “woman. Height : average. Weight : average. Shoe Size : slightly above average. For all intents and purposes, Summer Finn : just another girl. Except she wasn’t. To wit, in 1998, Summer quoted a song by the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian in her high school yearbook. “Color my life with the chaos of trouble.” The spike in Michigan sells of their album “The Boy with the Arab Strap” continues to puzzle industry analysts. Summer’s employment at the daily freeze during the summer of her sophomore year coincided with an inexplicable 212% increase in revenue. Every apartment Summer rented at an average rate of 9.2% below market value, and her roundtrip commute to work averaged 18.4 double-takes per day. It was a rare quality, this “Summer effect.” Rare, yet something every post-adolescent male has encountered at least once in their lives.”

What does this tell us? She is a one of a kind girl. But what is it that makes her this way? In general, Zooey Deschanel is considered “too cute”. The article I read particularly mentioned her “doe like eyes, to her hip vintage style, her hypnotizing folk band singing voice, the hearts on her cell phone, and her website’s URL (hellogiggles.com). Even her first name has a favorite childhood fieldtrip destination hidden right in it!” In relation to post-feminism, that’s pretty much it. Deschanel is playful- from her ukelele playing and fun songs, along with her colorful dresses, to her attitude towards life and being a woman. In New Girl, Deschanel plays Jess, a young, lively school teacher living in an apartment with three men. On one hand, she is a perfect definition of a post-feminist type woman. She is very into girl type things. She likes to wear what she wants to wear (as, related to what we talked about in class, she is very involved in her ability to purchase), remain girly in a very masculine environment, and also be fun (she loves games, speaking in weird voices, and being CUTE).

This, however, is conflicted a little bit by some other aspects of her character. Jess has enormous sexual freedom, and expresses it constantly. She, at one point during the show, has a “sex buddy” of sorts who she initially introduces herself to with a fake name. This is more of a feminist ideal. She can sleep with who she wants to sleep with, and instead of the word “slut” floating around in the apartment, she is often greeted with signs of encouragement (including the occasional high-five from one of the three men). In the episode we watched in class, the importance of her job was stressed more than her ability to be a typical woman (when Schmidt hires her as a shot girl). She says “I am a teacher. It’s what I do.” This side of her is somewhat less post-feminist. She finds more pleasure in her ability to work at a respectable job than she does in embracing the idea of being appreciated for her sexiness.

It is difficult to say whether Zooey Deschanel actually fits under either category. She has said herself that she wants to be a feminist, responding to people’s comments on her actions by saying that “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 f–king feminist and wear a f–king Peter Pan collar. So f–king what?” But sometimes this is countered by the way she presents herself, which is much more post-feminist. Does she need feminism if she is so in tune with some of the other ideas of post-feminism?




3 thoughts on “Zooey, what a cutie.

  1. I was especially intrigued by your comment that Jess/Zooey finds a way to be “girly in a masculine environment.” It’s almost as if Jess’s postfeminist qualities are accentuated by the environment she lives in. In comparison to her male roommates, Jess really sticks out as a symbol of femininity and “girl power” : even though it’s often 2 against 1, Jess holds her own against Schmidt and Nick. In many ways, Jess’s girliness sets her apart, but she also uses it to her advantage.

    I agree that Jess’s sexual freedom is more of a feminist than postfeminist quality. However, I would challenge your idea that ““I am a teacher. It’s what I do” – is a divergence from postfeminism. In the context of this scene, Jess has competed with the other sexier shot girl for attention. Jess finally gives up when her dance moves appears more cutesy than erotic. Perhaps by conceding to the sexualized woman, Jess is also departing from feminism and acting in a more postfeminist way. Feminism encourages sexual freedom for women, and Jess’s shot girl opponent is a sex symbol!

  2. Here’s where it gets tricky: is the shot girl actually exercising sexual freedom? Or is she actually exercising her freedom to self-objectify, one of the major tenets of postfeminism? Need to tease this out a bit more —

  3. That’s what am wondering as well. I think you could make a case for both the sexualized shot girl and Jess as both having post-feministic qualities. Can a woman be both feministic and post-feministic at the same time or be both for different reasons? Also what does Jess’ desire to be a teacher really say about her in regards to post-feminism? Is it that by departing from being a sexualized and objectified figure she is able to be post-feministic, or is it that she is less post-feministic because she does not embrace her sexiness as a woman?

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