Do You Relate to This? Femininity, Affective Intimate Cultures and Neoliberalism

  • Akane Kanai


This chapter provides an introduction to the importance of relatability, and its status as a normative affective relation in girlfriend cultures. Relatability, I suggest, is linked to women’s intimate cultures and the feeling of belonging within what Lauren Berlant (The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture. Duke University Press, Durham, 2008) has termed ‘intimate publics’. In this book, I analyse a digital intimate public based on Tumblr, which I term the ‘WSWCM public’, in which feelings of commonality are circulated through ‘reaction GIF’ texts. I situate this public within a history of Western women’s cultures offering pleasures of affective sameness, and neoliberal cultures. This chapter introduces the key concerns of this book: the pleasures and politics of feeling ‘the same’ as other women; and the simultaneous intimate and disciplinary affective register through which a ‘relatable’ self may be mediated. I also provide an account of affective-discursive analysis as a method through which affective femininities may be analysed.


Intimate public Relatability Neoliberalism Postfeminism Affect Digital methods 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akane Kanai
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Media, Film and JournalismMonash UniversityCaulfieldAustralia

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