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About preliminary materials for a theory of a young girl

Capitalism promises the Young-Girl to you, but also hatred of the Young-Girl. Real young girls could be construed as most powerful in capitalist society because they consume the most, but they are also simultaneously condemned for it – they’re mocked, vain, shallow, narcissists, bitchy, dumb, “asking for it”. This is how hegemony functions. The Young-Girl is the model citizen not because we idolize or adore her, but because by exhausting her potential on the cultivation of her appearance in order to accumulate adulterated social power, she is neutralized as revolutionary. From a young age, women’s bodily appearance is pedestalled as her most vital attribute but the labour required to reach such standards and the outcome of that labour is then penalized. Photographer Juno Calypso’s images of Joyce, a housewife disenchanted by the “laboured construct of femininity”, mechanically testing out beauty treatments and body improvement devices, and consumed by the perpetual pursuit of perfection often seen gazing, seemingly exhausted, into the camera or at her own reflection, embody these themes of desire and disappointment (Figure 7), Calypso adding that “I’ve always liked to work with things that people sneer at – anything that people consider tacky, low-brow, or that makes people say, ‘women are so stupid for liking this’ – that’s exactly the stuff I want more of”. (Calyspo, 2018) “By investing young people and women with an absurd symbolic surplus value, by making them the exclusive carriers of the two new kinds of esoteric knowledge proper to the new social order-con¬sumption and seduction-Spectacle has effectively emancipated the slaves of the past, but it has eman¬cipated them AS SLAVES.” (Tiqqun, 1999) Tiqqun’s Young-Girl is the citizen as consumer, but not just of material products, of ideology itself. I also would argue this as with the rise in the popularity of feminism and social media critique into the mainstream within the 21st century, capitalism has had to re-infiltrate itself a third time. An amalgamation of Tiqqun’s “organic young-girl” – “in solidarity” and “falsely liberated, in a word, fiendishly biopolitical”. (Tiqqun, 1999) With many women criticizing beauty standards, their own perception of themselves and products that perpetuate this violence, capitalism and The Young-Girl of it has been forced to find a way sell us feminism itself in order to ride and exploit this ‘trend’. To soften, police, adulterate, bedazzle and package up, put a bow on and sell us our own emancipation. A primary example of this neoliberal commodity feminism would be leading womenswear brand Topshop mass-producing £18 graphic ‘FEMINIST’ ‘REVOLUTION’ T-shirts (Figure 2) despite not only their complicity in exasperating euro-centric, unhealthy and unattainable standards for women in the west and their C.E.O being accused of sexual misconduct but the fashion giants’ reputation for poor ethical standards, ironically capitalising on feminism while, and by, exploiting under-privileged, under-paid mostly female factory workers in third-world countries. Goldsmiths BA Fine art student, Jade Evangeline is working in critiquing the intersection between misogyny and capitalism in her photo series visualising the dark insides of commodity feminism and the Young-Girl through pink kitsch hyper feminine imagery of smartphone with apps and adverts containing slogans such as “Believe in Feminism? Why not buy it? ON SALE NOW. 50% OFF. CLICK HERE” and products like shampoo bottles and cosmetic containers labelled ‘feminism’, mirroring and satirizing vapid marketing ploys with hashtags such as ‘#BeFeminstAndBeBeautiful’ on the bottles. Jade commenting on her work that “Capitalism is inherently anti-feminist, it cannot be bought or sold” (Figure 3) Similarly, to Jade, artist Madelyne Beckles explores in the sinister manifestation of Young-Girl and commodity feminism into popular culture in her video art by producing moving image and audio that mimic TV infomercials and sex lines but to sell feminism itself text such as “1800-flirty-feminist” “call now!” “with today’s brand of feminism, you no longer have to compromise looking cute for the small price of £69.69”. (Figure 4 & 5) “Consumer society now seeks out its best supporters from among the marginalized elements of traditional society-women and youth first, followed by homosexuals and immigrants.” (Tiqqun, 1999) Historically, capitalism is reliant on gender being defined in a biological essentialist sense and assigning roles as inherent to biology and genitalia; as man and woman. It necessaries that sex is seen as a means of reproduction and that there must be a man and woman as formerly defined. Capitalism protects cis-heteronormativity as it relies on the ever-increasing production of new workers and thus more people to sell to, increasing profits. (Butler, 2006) however in order for capitalism and the Young Girl of it to infiltrate itself again once, to “socialize” and still profit from the LGBTQ+ queer community, the same neo-liberal commodification of emancipation and Young-Girlism could be said of the appropriation of gay Pride into ‘Rainbow capitalism’ by corporate entities with questionable motives, cashing in on a movement which was once the protest for queer liberation, using rainbows as a branding technique on their products, creating the illusion of inclusiveness for their brand (i.e. MacDonald’s, Coca-Cola, NETFLIX, Facebook) (Figure 6) despite not donating proceeds to LGBTQ+ causes or attempting to address issues queer people still frequently face such as legal discrimination, hate crimes, homelessness, lack of access to health care and education, poverty, mental illness and suicide.

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