Relative Tensions

  • Cat Mahoney


Postfeminism is not an ideological position or coherent theoretical framework that can be applied externally to the analysis of texts. Popular postfeminism is knowable only through its workings in the representation of gender in ‘postfeminist’ media texts. The introduction along with the rest of this book, therefore, seeks to identify and deconstruct a postfeminist sensibility within its source texts. It demonstrates that this postfeminist sensibility inflects representations of women from the Second World War and immediate post-war period. Because of television’s central role in the formation of cultural memory, it creates a lens through which women’s history and women’s historical identities are viewed in the present day. This postfeminist lens is thereby dehistoricised as an aspect of essential femininity and the politics of the present are cast onto the past.


Postfeminism Neoliberalism Television drama Cultural memory Feminism Historical apparatus 


  1. Abel, S. (2012). ‘Postfeminism Meets Hegemonic Masculinities’. In: K. Ross (ed.), The Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Media. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 401–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agirre, K. (2012). ‘“Whenever a Man Takes You to Lunch Around Here”: Tracing Post-feminist Sensibility in Mad Men’. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, 4(2), 155–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aldgate, A. and Richards, J. (2007). Britain Can Take It: The British Cinema in the Second World War. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Ally McBeal (1997–2002). Created by D. E. Kelley [DVD]. New York: Fox.Google Scholar
  5. Backs to the Land (1977–1978). Written by D. Climie [DVD]. UK: ITV.Google Scholar
  6. Britannia (2018). Written by J. Butterworth [online]. Seattle: Amazon Prime Video. Available at: (accessed 20 September 2019).
  7. Brooks, A. (1997). Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory and Cultural Forms. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  8. Burke, P. (2011). ‘History as Social Memory’. In: D. Levy, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi and J. Olick (eds), The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 188–192.Google Scholar
  9. deGroot, J. (2016). Remaking History: The Past in Contemporary Historical Fictions. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  10. Drake, P. (2003). ‘“Mortgaged to Music”: New Retro Movies in 1990s Hollywood Cinema’. In: P. Grainge (ed.), Memory and Popular Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 183–201.Google Scholar
  11. Edwards, S. (2018). ‘Why Not Wearing a Poppy for Remembrance Day is Always a Political Act’. Independent Online. Available at: (accessed 15 October 2019).
  12. Ewence, H. (2013). ‘Memories of Suburbia: Autobiographical Fiction and Minority Narratives’. In: J. Tumblety (ed.), Memory and History: Understanding Memory as Source and Subject. London: Taylor & Francis, 160–174.Google Scholar
  13. Faludi, S. (1991). Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  14. Foucault, M. (2011). ‘Film in Popular Memory: An Interview with Michel Foucault’. In: D. Levy, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi and J. Olick (eds), The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 252–253.Google Scholar
  15. Foyle’s War (2002–2015). Written by A. Horowitz [DVD]. UK: ITV.Google Scholar
  16. Gill, R. (2007). ‘Postfeminist Media Culture: Elements of a Sensibility’. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(2), no pagination. Available at:
  17. Gill, R. (2008). ‘Culture and Subjectivity in Neoliberal and Postfeminist Times’. Subjectivity, 25(1), 432–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grainge, P. (2003). Memory and Popular Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gray, J. (1993). Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships. London: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  20. Gunpowder (2017). Written by R. Bennett [DVD]. UK: BBC One.Google Scholar
  21. Hallbwachs, M. (1992). On Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Heller, L. (1997). ‘The Persistence of Difference: Postfeminism, Popular Discourse, and Heterosexuality in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”’. Science Fiction, 24, 226–244.Google Scholar
  23. Hodgkin, K. and Radstone, S. (eds) (2003). Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Hoggard, L. (2019). ‘How to Avoid Turning Your Home Into a Manrepeller: Interiors Therapist Reveals the Items that Could Be Making Your Abode Off-putting to Men’. Daily Mail. Available at: (accessed 14 February 2019).
  25. Home Fires (2015–2016). Created by S. Block [online]. UK: ITV. Available at: (accessed 30 September 2019).
  26. hooks, b. (2014). Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. London: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Joseph, R. (2009). ‘“Tyra Banks is Fat”: Reading (Post-)racism and (Post-)feminism in the New Millennium’. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 26(3), 237–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kattago, S. (2015). ‘Written in Stone: Monuments and Representation’. In: S. Kattago (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Memory Studies. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 179–210.Google Scholar
  30. Khan, U. (2009). ‘BBC Land Girls Drama Slammed for Historical Inaccuracies’. The Telegraph, November 4. Available at: (accessed 12 June 2019).
  31. Land Girls (2009–2011). Written by R. Moore [online]. UK: BBC One. Available at: (accessed 30 September 2019).
  32. Landsberg, A. (2006). ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’. In: D. Bell and B. M. Kennedy (eds), The Cybercultures Reader. New York: Routledge, 190–203.Google Scholar
  33. Mad Men (2007–2015). Created by M. Weiner [DVD]. New York: AMC.Google Scholar
  34. Mahoney, C. (2017). ‘The Women’s Land Army Remembered on British Television’. In: J. Boyce Kay, C. Mahoney and C. Shaw (eds), The Past in Visual Culture: Essays on Memory, Nostalgia and the Media. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 46–63.Google Scholar
  35. Marvel’s Agent Carter (2015–2016). Created by C. Markus and S. McFeely [DVD]. California: ABC.Google Scholar
  36. McRobbie, A. (2004). ‘Post-feminism and Popular Culture’. Feminist Media Studies, 4(3), 255–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McRobbie, A. (2009). The Aftermath of Feminism, Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  38. Modleski, T. (1991). Feminism Without Women: Culture and Criticism in a ‘Postfeminist’ Age. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  39. Moseley, R. and Read, J. (2002). ‘“Having it Ally”: Popular Television (Post-)feminism’. Feminist Media Studies, 2(2), 231–249, Scholar
  40. Moseley, R., Wheatley, H. and Wood, H. (2017). ‘Introduction: Television for Women—What New Directions?’. In R. Moseley, H. Wheatley and H. Wood (eds), Television for Women New Directions. Oxon: Routledge, 1–12.Google Scholar
  41. Negra, D. and Tasker, Y. (2013). ‘Neoliberal Frames and Genres of Inequality: Recession-era Chick Flicks and Male-centred Corporate Melodrama’. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(3) 344–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nora, P. (2011). ‘Reasons for the Current Upsurge in Memory’. In: D. Levy, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi and J. Olick (eds), The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 437–440.Google Scholar
  43. Popular Memory Group (2011). ‘Popular Memory: Theory, Politics, Method’. In: D. Levy, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi and J. Olick (eds), The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 254–260.Google Scholar
  44. Rothberg, M. (2009). Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Samuel, R. (1996). Theatres of Memory Vol. 1: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture. London: Verso Books.Google Scholar
  46. Schudson, M. (1992). Watergate in American Memory: How We Remember, Forget, and Reconstruct the Past. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  47. Sex and the City (1998–2004). Created by D. Star [DVD]. New York: HBO.Google Scholar
  48. Summerfield, P. (2009). ‘Public Memory or Public Amnesia? British Women of the Second World War in Popular Films of the 1950s and 1960s’. The Journal of British Studies, 48(4), 935–957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. The Bletchley Circle (2012–2018). Written by G. Burt [online]. UK: ITV. Available at: (accessed 30 September 2019).
  50. The Flintstones (1960–1966). Created by W. Hannah and J. Barbera [DVD]. Los Angeles: Hannah Barbera Productions.Google Scholar
  51. The Tudors (2007–2010). Created by M. Hirst [DVD]. UK: BBC Two.Google Scholar
  52. Thomson, A. (2006). ‘Anzac Memories: Putting Popular Memory Theory into Practice in Australia’. In: R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds), The Oral History Reader. New York: Routledge, 301–310.Google Scholar
  53. Went the Day Well (1942). Directed by A. Cavalcanti [Film]. London: Ealing.Google Scholar
  54. Whelehan, I. (1995). Modern Feminist Thought: From the Second Wave to ‘Post-Feminism’. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cat Mahoney
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations