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OpenEdition Books

eGirls, eCitizens

 | 
Jane Bailey
, 
Valerie Steeves

Part I: It’s Not That Simple: Complicating Girls’ Experiences on Social Media

Chapter III. Thinking beyond the Internet as a Tool: Girls’ Online Spaces as Postfeminist Structures of Surveillance

Akane Kanai

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Mary Celeste Kearney, “Girls’ Media Studies 2.0,” in Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls (...)
  • 2 Leslie Regan Shade, “Internet Social Networking in Young Women’s Everyday Lives: Some Insights fro (...)
  • 3 Ibid.; Niels van Doorn, Liesbet van Zoonen & Sally Wyatt, “Writing from Experience: Presentations (...)
  • 4 Jessalynn Keller, “Virtual Feminisms: Girls’ Blogging Communities, Feminist Activism, and Particip (...)

1Mary Celeste Kearney argues that girls’ media studies scholarship, as part of its feminist underpinnings, understands girls to be “powerful agential beings.”1 Accordingly, it can be observed that within scholarship, internet technologies like social network sites (SNS) and blogs are optimistically constructed as a potential instrument by which girls control their identity2 or a kind of territory that girls can claim as their own.3 However, I suggest that this construction of “empowered girls” and its corollary of the internet as instrument to be wielded, can be productively called into question through further attention to the structures of surveillance, intimacy, and sociality when considering girls’ identity online. More specifically, this chapter seeks to contribute to girls’ media studies by building on its dialogue with feminist media scholarship of postfeminist identity that draws upon the Foucauldian notions of surveillance and discipline. I suggest that interrogating online spaces of sociality for girls as potentially disciplinary sites gives some explanatory power to common practices of identity by girls and young women with mainstream, regulatory postfeminist themes. My interest in doing so is not in order to contend that girls are not powerful, nor to speak for all girls; girls have demonstrated significant forms of resistance to mainstream gendered discourses through online activity such as in feminist blogs and other modes of digital organization.4 However, I engage here with recurring, conventional themes identified in girls’ self-presentation and suggest a reinvigoration of scholarly attention to the discursive social conditions of online production as a way forward for scholars of girls’ media.

  • 5 Rosalind Gill, Gender and the Media (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007); Angela McRobbie, The Aftermat (...)

2I begin with the context of feminist research aims in girls’ media studies, and contemporary questions of control and autonomy in girls’ identity-building online. I then foreground feminist Foucauldian scholarship in theorising how discipline and control have become constitutive elements of prevalent contemporary (postfeminist) femininities. Specifically, I draw on insights as to how postfeminist individuality harnesses the notion of constant discipline and self-surveillance as a means of success in a neo-liberal world, with the successful or “top” girl cast as the one who can produce herself as a successful postfeminist self-brand.5 I then build on contributions of media scholarship to contend that the structures and participatory premises of interactive media can work to facilitate surveillance and monitoring. This paper thus seeks to disturb the conceptualization of the online space as a tool that girls are able to take up, by repositioning online spaces as complex, mediated sites of power within which girls’ identities are implicated.

Media, Technology, and Feminist Scholarship

  • 6 Charlotte Brunsdon, Julie D’Acci & Lynn Spigel, “Identity in Feminist Television Criticism,” in Fe (...)
  • 7 Gill, supra note 5 at 4.
  • 8 James Benet, “Conclusion: Will Media Treatment of Women Improve?” in Hearth and Home: Images of Wo (...)
  • 9 Brunsdon et al, supra note 6; Brunsdon, supra note 6.
  • 10 Ien Ang, Desperately Seeking the Audience (London and New York: Routledge, 1991); Brunsdon, supra (...)

3Media has constituted a complex and variegated site of inquiry for feminist scholars of identity. Feminist scholars have sought to understand how women have received, interpreted, and constructed media as a means of circulating meaning, connection, and power.6 As media technologies have shifted and changed, arguably, so too have women’s relationship to media and feminist theorisations of these. Initially, much second-wave feminist work in the 1970s and 1980s focused on mass broadcast media. Television, and the sexist representations to which women were subject, coincided with the theoretical predominance of a “‘hypodermic” or technologically determinist view of the media. This view understood audiences to be directly influenced by media, in absorbing media messages.7 Thus, the second-wave feminist push for “better” and more “realistic” representations of assertive, independent, and intelligent women in media,8 perhaps, reflected the idea of women audiences as at risk of passive acceptance of what was seen to be the broadcasting of feminine inferiority.9 Later, with the “cultural turn” influenced by British cultural studies, feminist media scholars began asking how women, as active meaning makers, understood the media products they were consuming.10 Arguably, with the contemporary state of media metamorphosis, the construct of the audience, the representation contained in the media artifact, and the media producer have become increasingly entangled and complex with associated transformations in feminine identity. While concerns about sexist media representations and women’s meaning-making are still relevant, I suggest that one of the major changes that drives contemporary scholarship is the significant shift in the assumptions about women’s power over their (re)presentation. The possibilities of self-representation open up different questions about power and control in women’s relationship to media.

  • 11 Kearney, supra note 1.
  • 12 Deirdre M. Kelly, Shauna Pomerantz & Dawn H. Currie, “‘No Boundaries’? Girls’ Interactive, Online (...)
  • 13 danah boyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Soci (...)
  • 14 Michelle S. Bae, “Go Cyworld! Korean Diasporic Girls Producing New Korean Femininity,” in Girl Wid (...)
  • 15 Anita Harris, “Young Women, Late Modern Politics, and the Participatory Possibilities of Online Cu (...)
  • 16 boyd, supra note 13; Paul Hodkinson & Sian Lincoln, “Online Journals as Virtual Bedrooms?: Young P (...)
  • 17 Carla E. Stokes, “’Get on My Level’: How Black American Adolescent Girls Construct Identify and Ne (...)
  • 18 Ibid., at 63.

4The feminist underpinnings of girls’ media studies are similarly reflected in the desire to understand how girls are able to exploit selfrepresentative and user-based digital media for their own (beneficial) identity development.11 Scholars have viewed spaces where girls are able to control, prune, and manage their identity as an important part of an empowering identity-building trajectory.12 Youth studies and girls’ studies scholars often emphasize the possibilities of online blogging and social networking, in particular, in providing empowering spaces or tools that young people can use to negotiate identity, connect, and grow.13 Accordingly, characteristic research questions ask whether girls can carve out their own individual identity by going online,14 or how girls can claim space online as part of a new online “public sphere” where they can air their issues and concerns.15 This involves asking how the internet can be used as a tool by girls, or analyzing online spaces in terms of their affordances.16 As an example, Carla E. Stokes examines SNS NevaEvaLand to understand how black girls in their online personas negotiate racist and sexist discourses of their hypersexualization and deviance.17 She concludes that the girls’ pages she considered were “influenced” by norms of beauty and sexuality in commercial hip hop culture that construct black women as (hetero)sexual accessories.18 I suggest that visible here is a subtextual premise, representative of the focus in scholarship of youth online identity, that the online sphere presents a neutral space where girls are able to potentially control or resist outside or offline negative messages.

  • 19 Kearney, supra note 1.
  • 20 Marnina Gonick, “Between ‘Girl Power’ and ‘Reviving Ophelia’: Constituting the Neoliberal Girl Sub (...)
  • 21 Gonick, supra note 20 at 2.
  • 22 Ibid.
  • 23 Lynne Edwards, “Victims, Villains, and Vixens: Teen Girls and Internet Crime,“ in Girl Wide Web: G (...)
  • 24 Edwards, ibid., at 13–30; Shayla Thiel-Stern, “Femininity out of Control on the Internet: A Critic (...)
  • 25 Bae, supra note 14; Ashley D. Grisso & David Weiss, “What Are Gurls Talking About? Adolescent Girl (...)

5It is important, from a feminist standpoint, to valorize girls’ exploration of online identity.19 At the same time, I suggest that an emphasis on girls’ power or agency in negotiating identity online needs to be carefully distinguished from elements of contemporary discourses of “Girl Power.”20 Girls’ studies scholars such as Marnina Gonick have noted that “Girl Power” discourse is predicated on a binary, complementary twin discourse which emphasizes the everpresent proximity of girls to failure and danger. Drawing on the title of the best-selling 1994 book by psychologist Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, a high-profile example of this form of discourse, Gonick suggests that the discourse of Reviving Ophelia, together with Girl Power, participates in the psychological knowledge surrounding the neo-liberal girl subject.21 Girls who fail to meet the problematic neo-liberal standard of the “self-determining individual” of “Girl Power” discourse are then at risk of personification as the fragile and vulnerable Ophelia who populates the narratives of internet danger.22 In media panics, the internet is often conceptualized as an unknown and dangerous space for girls in particular.23 This can be particularly seen in relation to accounts of girls’ sexual identities online, which often take the form of reproducing sexist narratives: either “innocent” and vulnerable to sexual predators; or precocious “vixens” whose overt sexuality is condemned.24 In contradistinction to this, girls’ studies scholarship constructs the internet as a space where girls experiment and learn.25 However, I suggest that the construction of the girl as an already able internet “user” who is able to control her own construction, must be understood within the architecture of the online space concerned, which is always already situated within social discourses and relations.

  • 26 Gill, supra note 5 at 254.
  • 27 Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul: the Shaping of the Private Self (London: Free Association Books, (...)
  • 28 Rosalind Gill & Christina Scharff, “Introduction,” in New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalis (...)
  • 29 Angela McRobbie, “Top Girls?: Young Women and the Post-Feminist Sexual Contract,” Cultural Studies (...)

6In this chapter, I highlight the potential slippage of the notion of control over self-presentation as a means of girls’ empowerment/Girl Power with postfeminist, neo-liberal discourses of identity. By postfeminism, I refer to the Western cultural sensibility that feminism, particularly second-wave feminism, is no longer relevant, rather than postfeminism epistemological rupture, third-wave of feminism, or as cultural backlash.26 I also underline that it is a sensibility that dovetails with hybrid and mobile neo-liberal rationalities27 that construct and normalize the self-regulating, freely choosing and autonomous subject, erasing the social/political and the collective from the formation of subjectivity.28 As McRobbie notes, postfeminism requires girls and young women to come forward as aspiring economic agents, on the condition that they exploit traditional feminine traits and overcome (what are cast as) the individual obstacles of race and class.29

  • 30 Dawn H. Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly & Shauna Pomerantz, Girl Power: Girls Reinventing Girlhood. (New (...)
  • 31 Catherine Driscoll “Girl Culture, Revenge and Global Capitalism: Cybergirls, Riot Grrls, Spice Gir (...)
  • 32 Ibid., at 189.

7One might observe the correlation of postfeminism with major elements of Girl Power discourse, such as the emphasis on ambition, perfection, and individualism.30 Evidently, the way these qualities fit into a successful neo-liberal subjectivity shows how neoliberalism animates both Girl Power and postfeminism. However, this is not to say that both discourses completely overlap. I suggest that one key distinction might be that postfeminism, as I have outlined, incorporates second-wave feminism in order to repudiate its necessity. Accordingly, feminism and anti-feminism are inextricably entangled. However, critiques of the wide-ranging, diverse discourses which make up Girl Power related more to debates around Girl Power’s relationship to feminism. In view of Girl Power’s increasingly commercial dissemination of feminist-inflected ideas, could Girl Power be considered feminism, or was this a step too far?31 One example of this debate coalesces in one of the major mainstream embodiments of Girl Power in the 1990s: the Spice Girls. Although signifying the commodification and (untenable) dilution of feminism to some, Driscoll suggests that the group’s market accessibility produced a shift in broadening the possibilities of girlhood, even while demonstrating complicity with current systems of power and identity.32 Though similar in many ways, Girl Power, then, can be understood as a varied set of discourses coming to prominence in the 1990s, which challenges the boundaries of what feminism might be, whilst postfeminism sets out clear ideas of what feminism constitutes, in order to dismiss its relevance.

  • 33 Stuart Hall, “Who Needs Identity?” in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Stuart Hall & Paul du Ga (...)

8Having said this, my primary concern here is with the overlap of neo-liberal individuality that both postfeminism and Girl Power offer, and with how postfeminism provides techniques of selfhood that further facilitate this individuality. Thus, in focusing on girls and power, this chapter builds on girls’ media scholarship by particularly interrogating the individualistic, postfeminist and neo-liberal discursive context in which girls forge their identities. Taking up the idea that identity is made up of sets of processes and practices that are attached to socially and culturally constructed subject positions,33 my aim is to analyze how girls’ practices of identity can be understood by reference to the social and cultural discourses within which girls’ identity-making is implicated. In particular, I turn my lens on the way that notions of surveillance, discipline, and control, as routes to empowered individuality, have arguably become formative in prevalent understandings of feminine identity.

Surveillance, Discipline, and Postfeminist Identity

9In this section, I outline the way feminist scholars of contemporary postfeminist identity have drawn on Foucauldian notions of surveillance and discipline. One of the best known, earlier feminist articulations of feminine self-surveillance is found in Sandra Bartky’s essay published in 1988, which connects panopticism to the production of disciplinary practices of femininity:

  • 34 Sandra Bartky, “Feminism, Foucault and the Modernisation of Patriarchal Power,” in Feminism and Fo (...)

The woman who checks her makeup half a dozen times a day to see if her foundation has caked or her mascara run, who worries that the wind or rain may spoil her hairdo, who looks frequently to see if her stockings have bagged at the ankle, or who, feeling fat, monitors everything she eats, has become, just as surely as the inmate of the panopticon, a self-policing subject, a self committed to a relentless self-surveillance.34

  • 35 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan. 2nd ed. (Ne (...)
  • 36 Ibid., at 200–202.

10Bartky’s theorization of control and self-surveillance as a feminine practice draws on Foucault’s discussion of panopticism,35 which conjures a “docile” subject, rendered disciplined through being aware of the potential of surveillance at all times. Foucault uses Jeremy Bentham’s model prison order to illustrate the way in which this disciplinary power works. The panopticon, Foucault argues, was an exemplar of functional and hierarchical space, where prisoners were positioned in individual cells around the walls of a round building, and a surveillance tower, through which the surveyor was never visible, was located in the centre of the building. While the eye of the supervisor was unseen, prisoners were individually visible at all times, and aware of this visibility. In Foucault’s articulation, consciousness of the possibility of the supervisor’s gaze, given that the supervisor was never directly seen, normalizes and regularizes the prisoners; thus, it is not simply visibility, but visibility within an individualized and hierarchical system that produces docile, disciplined, and useful bodies.36

  • 37 Malin Sveningsson Elm, “Exploring and Negotiating Femininity: Young Women’s Creation of Style in a (...)
  • 38 Jessica Ringrose, “Sluts, Whores, Fat Slags and Playboy Bunnies: Teen Girls’ Negotiation of ‘Sexy’ (...)
  • 39 Gill, supra note 5; McRobbie, supra note 5; McRobbie, supra note 29; Riordan, supra note 20; Estel (...)

11Bartky offers an important initial feminist theorization of the concept of discipline in connecting this self-surveillance with feminine practices of identity. This connection is manifested online with girls’ documented preoccupation in SNS, in particular, with managing their appearance through practices such as ensuring that only “good” photos are uploaded,37 and airbrushing one’s photos.38 However, this does not quite account for the diverse visual contexts and practices through which surveillance and self-surveillance occur in the contemporary context. I note in particular the tenor of “independence” that marks the self-presentation of girls online. Further, discipline and self-surveillance are now emphasized as means of empowerment or rather, individual feminine success.39

  • 40 Gill & Scharff, supra note 28.
  • 41 McRobbie, supra note 5.
  • 42 McRobbie, supra note 29.

12I argue that recent feminist work unpacking postfeminist media culture can serve as an inroad into understanding feminine identity practised through digital media. As I noted above, postfeminism can be understood as a sensibility which signals that feminism is no longer needed, which normalizes the self-regulating, autonomous subject.40 McRobbie argues that the ideal postfeminist subject, the “top girl” operates from the (neo-liberal) understanding that her power stems from visibility of her own individual control of particular feminine domains.41 Specifically, the top girl must exercise control over her (feminine) appearance, (hetero)sexuality, career or career potential, and independence. Each of these feminine domains is of importance, as one domain cannot be individually disentangled from the other domains. For example, an active (hetero)sexuality embodies the independence, individualism, and control of one’s body in postfeminist aspiration. Thus, one can hedonistically engage in sex, but only on the basis that one does not procreate and one’s body matches normative feminine ideals.42 These interconnected domains can be understood as “luminous spaces” or “luminosities”:

  • 43 McRobbie, supra note 5 at 60.

The power they [the top girls] seem to be collectively in possession of, is “created by the light itself.” These luminosities are suggestive of post-feminist equality while also defining and circumscribing the conditions of such a status. They are clouds of light which give young women a shimmering presence, and in so doing they also mark out the terrain of the consummately and reassuringly feminine.43

13McRobbie’s articulation of these spaces that illuminate “top girls,” making visible and yet simultaneously circumscribing, suggests a powerful correlation with the panoptic prisoner of Foucault’s imagining: highly visible, individualized, and confined. Indeed, these postfeminist girl subjects could be seen as exemplars of Foucault’s articulation of discipline, given the high degree of self-surveillance associated with this visibility.

  • 44 Alison Winch, Girlfriends and Postfeminist Sisterhood (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 5.
  • 45 Though, arguably, these forums might also be considered to feature synoptic structures of surveill (...)
  • 46 Winch, supra note 44 at 187.
  • 47 Ibid. at 191.

14Alison Winch takes up the idea of the panopticon quite specifically in the “gynaepticon,” as she terms it, as a means of conceptualizing the panoptic media, beauty, and lifestyle industries that purvey the idea of control of one’s body as work that is never finished.44 She cites as examples commercial bridal websites, such as confetti.co.uk and hitched.co.uk, which facilitate socializing by brides-to-be in order to build affective links to their websites.45 The brides mutually confess their shame over their weight and bodies and express determination that they will achieve their ideal body weight for their “special day,” providing regular updates to other members of the group.46 Winch calls this labour an investment in “erotic capital,” capital recognized by the other potential brides in their surveillance of each other in an intimate “girlfriend gaze.”47 Winch’s example illustrates the way discipline, goal-setting, labour, and consumption in one’s personal sphere are bound together in feminine achievement. Particularly, it illustrates how the luminous spaces that McRobbie articulates must in fact work together in order to denote “erotic capital”: the body, the dress, and the aspiration are all mobilized to achieve a notion of ideal femininity. This reveals an intimate entanglement of femininity with norms of discipline, surveillance, and feminine sociality, imbricated within a commercial and consumerist setting.

  • 48 Andrea L. Press, “’Feminism? That’s So Seventies’: Girls and Young Women Discuss Femininity and Fe (...)
  • 49 Thomas Mathiesen, “The Viewer Society: Michel Foucault’s ‘Panopticon’ Revisited,” Theoretical Crim (...)

15While I suggest that Winch’s case study is an illustrative example of digitally incited, mutually exercised feminine discipline, I am not suggesting that Foucault’s panopticon is always directly transposable onto structures of SNS. Rather, my point is that, in drawing on this work on postfeminism, it is useful to more broadly consider the way structures of visibility, hierarchies, and social discourses work to create the conditions in which identity is made. For example, feminist work on spectatorship of the self-representative genre of reality television highlights features of synoptic regulation of others.48 Thomas Mathiesen originally conceptualized synopticism as a key omission of Foucault’s, arguing that the contemporary media context enabled social control through synoptic structures — where the masses saw the few, influential media personalities, as well as the (panoptic) unknown, bureaucratic halls of power that surveyed the masses.49

  • 50 Aaron Doyle, “Revisiting the Synopticon: Reconsidering Mathiesen’s ‘the Viewer Society’ in the Age (...)
  • 51 Daniel Trottier, “Watching Yourself, Watching Others: Popular Representations of Panoptic Surveill (...)
  • 52 Press, supra note 48; Skeggs & Wood, supra note 48.
  • 53 Press, supra, at 129.
  • 54 Ibid., at 127.
  • 55 Vincent Miller, “New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture,” Convergence: The International Journal (...)
  • 56 Jodi Dean, Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (Cambridge: Polity Press, 20 (...)

16While synopticism has been critiqued orf its top-down conceptualization of social control and its focus on broadcast television in what is now a much more digitally convergent environment,50 arguably a focus on mutual surveillance is still useful in thinking through postfeminist social regulation. Rather than Mathiesen’s notion that seeing the few directly influenced the masses through their authority, reality television research indicates that seeing the few (aspiring reality stars) can catalyze disciplinary action by the viewing masses. For example, Daniel Trottier illustrates how the synoptic viewing structure of reality television works effectively to facilitate the measurement and comparison of where everyone is located on a “grid” of judgment — a “market” of personalities.51 Indeed, feminist media research indicates that this invitation to disciplinary spectatorship is often taken up, with girls and women taking pleasure in judging reality participants according to traditional gender criteria.52 However, interestingly, Andrea Press’s research on girls and young women of college age watching the reality show America’s Next Top Model demonstrates that, while the young white women were quick to discipline both competitors and host Tyra Banks in traditionally gendered terms, the young black women in the study were more likely to note Tyra Banks’s achievements, perhaps as a fellow black woman.53 Further, the young women of college age in general were more critical than the middle school girls watching the show.54 Thus, this raises questions as to how other, overlapping identities relating to race and age might, in fact, counter postfeminist narratives of individuality and competition. The young white women in the study, rather than the girls or the young black women, were more primed to see the contestants and Banks in terms of gendered rivalry. Ultimately, neither synopticism nor panopticism as an individual lens will enable scholars to grapple with the intricacies of the ways in which girls or internet users in general produce online identity. Rather, they draw attention to different aspects of the social environment of surveillance within which identity is practised. Accordingly, I suggest that having reference to varying and diverse configurations of postfeminist surveillance, discipline, and control, in keeping with structures of viewing and producing identity, can help to understand girls’ practices of self-representation in online spaces, as well as in other self-representative contexts. Online, surveillance may be considered to intensify in two ways. First, the intensification occurs in the type of content that individuals share online. Increasingly “personal” content, by which I mean content that relates to ostensibly non-professional matters such as one’s daily consumption, one’s social circle, and one’s family, is offered up to online contacts and friends through blogs and social networks.55 Second, surveillance is intensified in relation to time spent online. As many-to-many broadcasting is facilitated through being able to both publish posts at any time and access someone’s personal posts through a digital interface at any time, the period of time over which surveillance can be performed is also extended.56

  • 57 Ringrose, supra note 38; Jessica Ringrose & Katarina Eriksson Barajas, “Gendered Risks and Opportu (...)
  • 58 Ringrose & Barajas, ibid., at 126.
  • 59 Ibid., at 170–179.

17Jessica Ringrose’s ethnographic work on girls’ digitized sexual identities on the SNS Bebo, gives an example of how girls’ sexual self-representations online can be considered to be manifestations of postfeminist luminosities, performed under intensified surveillance in the school context.57 Bebo, a site mainly used by adolescents, operates through the use of profiles that are interactive through the choice of a background “skin,” and the ability to upload pictures, applications, and updates on the self. Ringrose’s work involved male and female students aged 14 to 16 from two schools in the United Kingdom, one a high-achieving rural secondary school with low levels of socio-economic disadvantage, and the other an estate school in South London, with high levels of economic deprivation.58 Through interviews and textual analysis of their profiles, Ringrose found that girls’ profiles from both schools demonstrated significant “hypersexualized” and “pornified” content, where girls performed considerable sexual knowledge and desire. For example, the Playboy bunny was a popular feature on girls’ skins, as were idealized images of youthful, slim, white feminine bodies in clothing revealing heteronormatively “sexy” features. Girls uploaded photobrushed pictures of themselves according to heterosexual conventions, with significant display of cleavage. Additionally, in their profiles, girls made public statements connoting knowledge and expertise in sex, referring to sexual positions but also talking about selling sex, one semi-humorous example being “Hi Im Denise And ii Like It UpThe Bum ... Just Like Your Mum! And I Suck Dick for £5’.” However, Ringrose notes that while girls’ profiles evinced a confident, explicit mainstream heterosexuality, channelling an impression of empowerment, offline girls told a different story. One respondent admitted she was in fact very self-conscious about her appearance and weight, though she frequently uploaded pictures of herself. Contradictions in how sexual confidence could be manifested and practised were common. In terms of relationships, girls were expected to wait for boys to approach them, according to contradictory social imperatives within the framework of school social relations. Though some girls attempted to appropriate terms such as “whore” and “slut” by using them affectionately between each other, Ringrose argues that the social microcosm within which this occurred prevented girls from being able to escape the shame of non-normative sexual behaviour. Being called a “fat slag,” as one interviewee was, could indeed be used as a traditionally sexist and classist insult.59

  • 60 Amy Shields Dobson, “Bitches, Bunnies and Bffs (Best Friends Forever): A Feminist Analysis of Youn (...)
  • 61 Amy Shields Dobson, “‘Individuality is Everything’: ‘Autonomous’ Femininity in MySpace Mottos and (...)
  • 62 Amy Shields Dobson, “The Representation of Female Friendships on Young Women’s MySpace Profiles: T (...)
  • 63 Ibid.,at 141.

18Amy Dobson’s investigation of young Australian women’s sexual self-representations on MySpace also found evidence of postfeminist aspirations.60 Aged between 18 and 21, the young women used similar methods to those employed by the girls in Ringrose’s Bebo study to demonstrate an explicit heterosexual confidence and attractiveness. Though this representation appears to conform to dominant notions of young, feminine “sexiness,” or “heterosexiness,” as Dobson terms it, there are also clear aspirational messages from the young women about their individuality and autonomy, with mottos such as “i am unattached, as free as a bird … i don’t depend on nobody and nobody depends on me,” and “individuality is everything.”61 Further, this autonomy from (male) sexualization is expressed through representations of belonging to a strong pack of tight-knit, but exclusive, girlfriends: “You’re only as strong as The tables you dance on. The drinks you mix & the friends you roll with”62 and “we’re not sarcastic — we’re hilarious; we’re not annoying — we’re just cooler than you; we’re not bitches — we just don’t like you; and we’re not obsessed — we’re just best friends.’63

  • 64 Dobson, supra note 62.
  • 65 McRobbie, supra note 5.
  • 66 See also Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Ca (...)
  • 67 Dobson “Bitches, Bunnies and Bffs,” supra note 60 at 63.

19I suggest Dobson’s and Ringrose’s work exposes some representative contradictions in the ways that sexuality is used to build online identity through a postfeminist rationale. The MySpace representations that Dobson investigated can be understood as part of a postfeminist compulsion to demonstrate heterosexiness as a form of independence, particularly given that the aspirational tone of the messages emphasizes personal autonomy. This feminine individuality, Dobson suggests, can also be seen as an outcome of the “girls can do anything” self-esteem discourse and strong internalization of neoliberal discourses of individualization.64 These young women evince an understanding of the postfeminist self as an ever-improvable project, within McRobbie’s luminosity of upward mobility,65 usually figured as career and education.66 Thus, as Dobson observes, the profiles evince a strong need to demonstrate, somewhat ironically, to an outside audience that one does not need approval.67

  • 68 Productive in the Foucauldian sense of the word.
  • 69 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge Classics, 2006); Gill, supra note 5; M (...)
  • 70 Curry et al, supra note 30 at 20.
  • 71 Ringrose, supra note 38; Dobson, supra note 61.
  • 72 Ringrose & Barajas, supra note 57 at 124.

20I contend that reference to postfeminist discourses of identity can help us grapple with the contradictions presented in these girls’ online profiles. Using this lens, this confident hypersexuality, performed independence and body visibility are recast as highly productive68 and regulatory dimensions of femininity, particularly for adolescent girls and young women.69 The examples of Ringrose’s and Dobson’s work highlight the normalization of postfeminist surveillance in the girls’ production of identity, in the way that girls must manage contradictions in what empowerment must mean on a highly individual basis. As Girl Power emphasized the “personal power of individual girls to pursue an unlimited future,”70 here, postfeminism appears as a context in which this “personal power” is derived through surveillance. Ringrose emphasized the role of intensified surveillance by the school peer group as the audience for whom the “heterosexiness” in profiles was produced.71 The display of sexual confidence, heterosexiness, and availability online can in fact be understood as an expected, constitutive element of girls’ self-branding within the school gender “market.” Indeed, Ringrose and Barajas suggest that girls’ hypersexualized presentations on Bebo correlate with Gill’s insight that postfeminist empowerment requires one to always appear “up for it,” while simultaneously, control of one’s sexuality in the school context meant sexual restraint.72 Thus, this performance can be understood as a manifestation of postfeminist regulation, shaped by a matrix of factors: the context of surveillance in Bebo, the social school environment, postfeminist discourses, and mainstream porn culture.

  • 73 Winch, supra note 44.
  • 74 Dobson, supra note 60.
  • 75 Ibid.
  • 76 Bartky, supra note 34.

21The young women on MySpace in Dobson’s (2011) study could also be argued to be producing practices of exclusive and individualistic friendship under the “girlfriend gaze” elaborated by Winch. The girlfriend gaze signifies the way that postfeminist surveillance is extended through practices of feminine, homosocial friendship.73 While Dobson notes the determinedly heterosexual tone of these representations,74 suggestive of male (heterosexual) surveillance, the constant tributes to particular friends suggests that the same circle of friends use MySpace to connect and, indeed, to survey other friends. The intimate surveillance facilitated by the platform of MySpace here furthers and heightens the girlfriend gaze. Dobson notes that proclamations of enduring affection for one’s girlfriends construct a world of satisfaction that is complete through this girlfriendship. However, these girlfriends are also used in these profiles within traditionally sexist terms, by constructing and disciplining “other women” and distinguishing oneself from the feminine masses.75 Thus, the profiles can be seen to be regulative of others, while also manifesting the production of self through regulatory discourses. From these case studies, postfeminist surveillance for girls and young women can be seen to operate individually, practised on the self and through peers.76 Surveillance operates and works ever more intensively, both within commercial sites and within female peer settings, where postfeminist narratives of discipline and control have been taken up and accepted within sites of intimate sociality like online forums.

Sites of Postfeminist Discipline and Surveillance: Interactive Media

  • 77 Mark Andrejevic, Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); Sue C (...)
  • 78 Dobson “Bitches, Bunnies and Bffs,” supra note 60 at 7.

22I have discussed how feminist scholarship has identified the acceptance of self-surveillance and discipline in particular domains as a means of “empowerment,” a vital part of postfeminist narratives. I now explore some structural aspects of interactive media that may intensify the call to girls to enact and embody postfeminist discipline, though this will differ across platforms.77 By interactive media, I mean a broad range of media, including reality television and digital interfaces, which involve a “relational premise”78 of interactivity and self-production.

  • 79 Sarah Banet-Weiser, “Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and Youtube,” in Med (...)
  • 80 Ibid., at 278.
  • 81 Kristyn Gorton & Joanne Garde-Hansen, “From Old Media Whore to New Media Troll,” Feminist Media St (...)
  • 82 Alison Winch, “The Girlfriend Gaze: Women’s Friendship and Intimacy Circles Are Increasingly Takin (...)

23I have argued that digital interfaces intensify surveillance in relation to the content of posts and extension of surveillance in terms of time. In constituting a means of intensified surveillance, interactive media arguably foregrounds the invitation to disciplined, regulatory production of individuality, as it requires the online participant to work on her recognizability in fitting into an existing visual/gendered economy of representation, for unknown numbers of watching others. Notably, Sarah Banet-Weiser suggests that “branded postfeminism has only intensified in the online era” in terms of the ways in which the self is constructed and represented, drawing attention to the way that self-branding on YouTube constructs a deliberate association of commercial products and names with feelings and relationships.79 This, she argues, is due to two effects of the digital revolution: consumers can be said to be more in control of their own productions, but also increasingly under surveillance by media industries. Thus, discipline and control are intensified in the interactive online environment. When considering the interactivity of a platform, Banet-Weiser argues that scholars ought to consider the way that the practices of production and consumption play out. She considers YouTube an ideal means to construct the postfeminist self-brand, as it rewards the “contemporary interactive subject”;80 the mechanism of online feedback incites the continual shaping of the self-brand in structuring the relationship between creators and viewers as that of brand–consumer. Often, this feedback might be extremely harsh and overtly disciplinary;81 though, as Winch argues, the girlfriend gaze can be as or more effective in furthering postfeminist discipline.82 Girls are provided with gendered feedback on how best to improve their channel’s popularity through increased numbers of “views.”

  • 83 Andrejevic, supra note 77 at 6.
  • 84 Collins, supra note 77.
  • 85 Dobson, supra note 60 at 7.
  • 86 Skeggs & Wood, supra note 48.
  • 87 Banet-Weiser, supra note 79; Alison Hearn, “’John, a 20-Year-Old Boston Native with a Great Sense (...)
  • 88 Press, supra note 48; Skeggs & Wood, supra note 48.

24I suggest that this structure of interactive surveillance offers particularly disciplinary forms of identity practice. The “star” of the reality show or a YouTube Channel offers a disciplinary visibility, as it imbricates the participant within a neo-liberal rationality; the “work of being watched”83 actively encourages the commoditization of the self as a brand, as a process in the medium of self-representation, and as an end in itself.84 Though I contend that online spaces like SNS and blogs feature different structures of visibility and interactive, disciplinary feedback, attention to a context of heightened surveillance by others can assist in understanding how spectators or internet users adopt disciplinary practices. By participating in the relational premise85 of watching “real people” at some level, the spectator or user is invited to take up a disciplinary position, comparing and measuring the participants.86 Thus, interactivity facilitates the adoption of the logic of the self as brand; as participant, knowing one is seen by many, one must labour and control one’s image to perfect the brand that is consumed.87 As a reality television spectator, one understands that the participants of reality television are required to “sell themselves,” thereby inciting disciplinary judgment on the part of the consumer. As I have indicated above, audience studies of girl and women spectators indicate that this invitation is often, though not always, taken up.88

  • 89 Manago et al, supra note 36; Ringrose, supra note 38; Shade, supra note 2.
  • 90 Shade, supra note 2.
  • 91 Winch, supra note 44.
  • 92 Winch, supra note 44 at 25.

25I suggest that this feminine disciplinary appraisal is also reflected in the way that girls view the profiles of other girls on SNS, appraising choices of profile pictures and documentation of private leisure activities ranging from drinking to sport.89 I note, however, that this appraisal is not necessarily malicious. Shade, for example, notes that while older girls in her focus group were critical of the SNS presentations of younger girls, criticism was expressed in terms of concern for the impressions given off by the younger girls that were susceptible to judgment by “others.”90 Thus, the older girls had already adopted disciplinary feminine standards in self-representation, and wanted to act in a “role model” capacity for younger girls. Criticism was a way of wanting to “help” younger girls in a disciplinary world. This echoes Winch’s discussion of how “girlfriendship” operates to normalize and legitimate the monitoring of oneself in relation to appearance and bodily maintenance.91 I point particularly to Winch’s example of a bridal group based on forum members that sets a weight loss target, with other members supporting each other’s “goals.”92 Winch notes that women often return to these groups even after they have been married, indicating the value of sociality, but also how intimacy is effectively built through the disciplinary narrative of feminine weight loss. Winch’s discussion of these web forums demonstrates that, even as the ambient privacy of the internet furthers intimate feminine sociality, it also heightens the reach and intensity of postfeminist discipline through feminine surveillance. These web forums act to regulate and engender feminine norms even as individual women find support.

  • 93 Gill, supra note 5.
  • 94 Dobson, supra note 60.
  • 95 Gill, supra note 5.
  • 96 Rob Cover, “Performing and Undoing Identity Online: Social Networking, Identity Theories and the I (...)

26Though femininity is cast as a project that requires ever-more work and constant feedback in order to find acceptance in society at large, I note that the outcome of this labour is still stressed as being one’s “true” self.93 This requirement to ensure one’s acts reflect one’s “true” self arguably requires further labour and discipline. I suggest that this is the case particularly within sites of more intensified spaces of surveillance, like the online environment. This is arguably seen in the way the girls in Dobson’s study frequently uploaded quotes expressing aspirational autonomy next to images of mainstream heterosexiness.94 This upholds the postfeminist idea that one is sexy, but “for oneself” rather than for others, disavowing the possibility of societal structures as producing one’s own practices.95 The postfeminist luminosity of independence, entangled with these other domains of bodily appearance and sexuality, operates to legitimate feminine disciplinary practices and labour on oneself as part of one’s “true” identity. However, this “authenticity” must be constantly proven by virtue of the nature of the online environment. Thus, a disciplined and controlled profile building a picture of one’s “true” self must be regularly and consistently maintained and updated. While girls may be enabled to carefully construct a disciplined and controlled self-narrative through online tools, online contacts may have the potential to disrupt it. Interestingly, Rob Cover argues that the “friendship” regime of Facebook, while inciting the recording of a consistent and unified self, may be destabilized through the interaction and surveillance of online friends.96 The work of discipline towards achieving postfeminist identity is thus ongoing and never quite achieved. Interactive media accordingly intensifies selfsurveillance through not only inciting disciplined self-presentation for the appraisal of others, but requiring that this presentation be constantly and consistently maintained.

27Three forms of repetitive disciplinary identity practice, then, can be observed to invite postfeminist identity performance in online spaces of sociality: a disciplined and controlled interactive media participant, or one who strives to achieve an authentic brand; the disciplinary judgment applied by the discerning consumer; and the internalized disciplinary eye of the spectator. These practices demonstrate girls working within a system of power, a system that operates to make girls visible, but often according to postfeminist understandings of empowerment through discipline and control over selected domains.

Concluding Thoughts

28The idea of one’s identity as ultimately controlled by oneself is arguably highly appealing, and speaks to desires for one’s autonomy and independence. However, this need for control needs to be situated within a broader context of mediated gender cultures. I have argued that online spaces of interactive sociality, such as SNS and blogs, by inviting certain practices of discipline and control, and operating through conditions of heightened surveillance and/or intimacy, should be understood as sites of potentially intensified conditions of production and regulation of postfeminist femininity. I suggest that the interrogation of these social conditions of surveillance, whether this be a heterosexual adolescent peer-policing environment, or in the intimate setting of “girlfriendship,” promises potential in the understanding of tensions in girls’ production of self online. Discourses of Girl Power and postfeminism both provide a template for girls’ agency, which emphasize individual rather than social power. However, postfeminism increasingly draws on the idea of the personal brand and surveillance as a route to power, at the expense of the social. Claims of girls’ power, if not grounded in consideration of how technological, social, and cultural conditions shape the way that individuality and “power” itself can be performed, may not adequately address girls’ lived experience.

  • 97 Dobson, supra note 60 at 376.

29I have drawn on feminist Foucauldian scholarship and girls’ media studies scholarship to offer what I hope will be a useful theoretical contribution for thinking through girls’ production of self in a complex, technologically varied, and mediated world. In doing so, my intention has not been to close down the possibility of resistance for girls using the online medium to construct identity. Rather, my aim has been to ask about the work done by online structures of surveillance and the discursive possibilities that are (unevenly) available to girls. My aim has also been to alleviate some of the implicit pressures on girls in feminist aspirations for their liberation; as Dobson notes, the girl as “sign” is heavily weighted as a symbol of (meritocratic) progress and potential.97 My hope is that, in analyzing the way girls’ digital identity is often enmeshed in broader postfeminist, neo-liberal narratives, we might be able to better understand the highly complex and fraught world that girls must negotiate and through which girls’ practices are “produced.” In doing so, we may be able to more empathetically and realistically appreciate the ways girls do identity, the meaning of which changes through discourse, technologies, and other forms of power.

Notes

1 Mary Celeste Kearney, “Girls’ Media Studies 2.0,” in Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture, ed. Mary Celeste Kearney (New York: Peter Lang, 2011), 3.

2 Leslie Regan Shade, “Internet Social Networking in Young Women’s Everyday Lives: Some Insights from Focus Groups,” Our Schools, Our Selves (2008), <http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Our_Schools_Ourselve/8_Shade_internet_social_networking.pdf>.

3 Ibid.; Niels van Doorn, Liesbet van Zoonen & Sally Wyatt, “Writing from Experience: Presentations of Gender Identity on Weblogs,” European Journal of Women’s Studies 14:2 (2007), <http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/57/13/02/PDF/PEER_stage2_10.1177%252F1350506807075819.pdf.>

4 Jessalynn Keller, “Virtual Feminisms: Girls’ Blogging Communities, Feminist Activism, and Participatory Politics,” Information, Communication & Society 15:3 (2011), <http://www.academia.edu/1364158/Virtual_Feminisms_Girls_blogging_communities_feminist_activism_and_participatory_politics>; Jessalynn Keller, “Fiercely Real?: Tyra Banks and the Making of New Media Celebrity,” Feminist Media Studies 14:1 (2014), <http://www.academia.edu/2174890/Fiercely_Real_Tyra_Banks_and_the_Making_of_New_Media_Celebrity>.

5 Rosalind Gill, Gender and the Media (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007); Angela McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change (London: SAGE 2009), 56.

6 Charlotte Brunsdon, Julie D’Acci & Lynn Spigel, “Identity in Feminist Television Criticism,” in Feminist Television Criticism: A Reader, ed. Charlotte Brunsdon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2008); Charlotte Brunsdon, “The Feminist, the Housewife and the Soap Opera,” in The Feminist, the Housewife, and the Soap Opera, eds. Charlotte Brunsdon & John Coughie, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Gill, ibid. note 5; Myra Macdonald, Representing Women: Myths of Femininity in the Popular Media (London: Edward Arnold, 1995).

7 Gill, supra note 5 at 4.

8 James Benet, “Conclusion: Will Media Treatment of Women Improve?” in Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media, ed. Gaye Tuchman, Arlene Kaplan Daniels & James Benet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978); Carol Lopate, “Daytime Television: You’ll Never Want to Leave Home,” Feminist Studies 3:3/4 (1976): doi:10.2307/3177728; Gaye Tuchman, “Introduction: The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media,” in Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media, ed. Gaye Tuchman, Arlene Kaplan Daniels & James Benet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).

9 Brunsdon et al, supra note 6; Brunsdon, supra note 6.

10 Ien Ang, Desperately Seeking the Audience (London and New York: Routledge, 1991); Brunsdon, supra note 6 at 23–26.

11 Kearney, supra note 1.

12 Deirdre M. Kelly, Shauna Pomerantz & Dawn H. Currie, “‘No Boundaries’? Girls’ Interactive, Online Learning About Femininities,” Youth & Society, 38:1 (2006), <http://wenku.baidu.com/view/ec998d8a680203d- 8ce2f2484.html>; Rodda Leage & Ivana Chalmers, “Degrees of Caution: Arab Girls Unveil on Facebook,” in Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella (New York: Peter Lang, 2010).

13 danah boyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life,” in Youth, Identity and Digital Media, ed. David Buckingham (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008); Koen Leurs & Sandra Ponzanesi, “Gendering the Construction of Instant Messaging,” in Women and Language: Essays on Gendered Communication across Media, ed. Melissa Ames & Sarah Himsel Burcon (Jefferson: McFarland, 2011); Susannah Stern, “Producing Sites, Exploring Identities: Youth Online Authorship,” in Youth, Identity and Digital Media, ed. David Buckingham (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2008); Jacqueline Ryan Vickery, “Blogrings as Virtual Communities for Adolescent Girls,” in Girl Wide Web 2.0 (see note 12)

14 Michelle S. Bae, “Go Cyworld! Korean Diasporic Girls Producing New Korean Femininity,” in Girl Wide Web 2.0 (see note 12); Kelly et al, supra note 12; Shayla Marie Thiel, “’IM Me’: Identity Construction and Gender Negotiation in the World of Adolescent Girls and Instant Messaging,” in Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella (New York: Peter Lang, 2008).

15 Anita Harris, “Young Women, Late Modern Politics, and the Participatory Possibilities of Online Cultures,” Journal of Youth Studies 11:5 (2008): 5, doi:10.1080/13676260802282950.

16 boyd, supra note 13; Paul Hodkinson & Sian Lincoln, “Online Journals as Virtual Bedrooms?: Young People, Identity and Personal Space,” Young 16:1 (2008), <http://www.paulhodkinson.co.uk/publications/hodkinsonlincoln.pdf>; Kelly et al, supra note 12; Sonia Livingstone, “Taking Risky Opportunities in Youthful Content Creation: Teenagers’ Use of Social Networking Sites for Intimacy, Privacy and Self-Expression,” New Media & Society 10:3 (2008), <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27072/1/Taking_risky_opportunities_in_youthful_content_creation_(LSERO).pdf>; Priscilla Regan & Valerie Steeves, “Kids R Us: Online Social Networking and the Potential for Empowerment,” Surveillance and Society, 8:2 (2010), <http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/3483/3437>.

17 Carla E. Stokes, “’Get on My Level’: How Black American Adolescent Girls Construct Identify and Negotiate Sexuality on the Internet,” in Girl Wide Web 2.0 (see note 12), 47.

18 Ibid., at 63.

19 Kearney, supra note 1.

20 Marnina Gonick, “Between ‘Girl Power’ and ‘Reviving Ophelia’: Constituting the Neoliberal Girl Subject,” NWSA Journal 18:2 (2006), <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA149460403&v=2.1&u=otta77973&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=b34a2d730c564e3db5529594f24d99bf>; E. Riordan, “Commodified Agents and Empowered Girls: Consuming and Producing Feminism,” Journal of Communication Inquiry 25:3 (2001), doi:10.1177/0196859901025003006.

21 Gonick, supra note 20 at 2.

22 Ibid.

23 Lynne Edwards, “Victims, Villains, and Vixens: Teen Girls and Internet Crime,“ in Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet, and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella (New York: Peter Lang, 2005); Sharon Mazzarella, “Introduction: It’s a Girl Wide Web,” in Girl Wide Web (see note 14).

24 Edwards, ibid., at 13–30; Shayla Thiel-Stern, “Femininity out of Control on the Internet: A Critical Analysis of Media Representations of Gender, Youth, and Myspace.Com in International News Discourses,” Girlhood Studies 2:1 (2009): doi:10.1177/1461444812459171.

25 Bae, supra note 14; Ashley D. Grisso & David Weiss, “What Are Gurls Talking About? Adolescent Girls’ Construction of Sexual Identity on Gurl.Com,” in Girl Wide Web (see note 14); Kearney, supra note 1; Kelly et al, supra note 12; Thiel, supra note 14; Vickery, supra note 13.

26 Gill, supra note 5 at 254.

27 Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul: the Shaping of the Private Self (London: Free Association Books, 1999).

28 Rosalind Gill & Christina Scharff, “Introduction,” in New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity, ed. Rosalind Gill & Christina Scharff (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

29 Angela McRobbie, “Top Girls?: Young Women and the Post-Feminist Sexual Contract,” Cultural Studies 21: 4–5 (2007): doi:10.1080/095023807 01279044.

30 Dawn H. Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly & Shauna Pomerantz, Girl Power: Girls Reinventing Girlhood. (New York: Peter Lang, 2009).

31 Catherine Driscoll “Girl Culture, Revenge and Global Capitalism: Cybergirls, Riot Grrls, Spice Girls,” Australian Feminist Studies 14:29 (1999), 178: doi:10.1080/08164649993425.

32 Ibid., at 189.

33 Stuart Hall, “Who Needs Identity?” in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Stuart Hall & Paul du Gay (London: SAGE, 1996).

34 Sandra Bartky, “Feminism, Foucault and the Modernisation of Patriarchal Power,” in Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance, ed. Irene Diamond & Lee Quinby (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988), 81.

35 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan. 2nd ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).

36 Ibid., at 200–202.

37 Malin Sveningsson Elm, “Exploring and Negotiating Femininity: Young Women’s Creation of Style in a Swedish Internet Community,” Young 17:3 (2009), <http://www.academia.edu/473916/Exploring_and_negotiating_femininity>; Adriana M. Manago, Michael B. Graham, Patricia M. Greenfield & Goldie Salimkhan, “Self-Presentation and Gender on MySpace,” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29:6 (2008), <http://www.cdmc.ucla.edu/Published_Research_files/mggs-2008.pdf>; Shade, supra note 2.

38 Jessica Ringrose, “Sluts, Whores, Fat Slags and Playboy Bunnies: Teen Girls’ Negotiation of ‘Sexy’ on Social Networking Sites and at School,” in Girls and Education 3–16: Continuing Concerns, New Agendas, ed. Carolyn Jackson, Emma Carrie & Emma Renold (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2010).

39 Gill, supra note 5; McRobbie, supra note 5; McRobbie, supra note 29; Riordan, supra note 20; Estella Tincknell, “Scourging the Abject Body: Ten Years Younger and Fragmented Femininity under Neoliberalism,” in New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity, ed. Rosalind Gill & Christina Scharff (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

40 Gill & Scharff, supra note 28.

41 McRobbie, supra note 5.

42 McRobbie, supra note 29.

43 McRobbie, supra note 5 at 60.

44 Alison Winch, Girlfriends and Postfeminist Sisterhood (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 5.

45 Though, arguably, these forums might also be considered to feature synoptic structures of surveillance in the mutual gaze.

46 Winch, supra note 44 at 187.

47 Ibid. at 191.

48 Andrea L. Press, “’Feminism? That’s So Seventies’: Girls and Young Women Discuss Femininity and Feminism in America’s Next Top Model,” in New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity, ed. Rosalind Gill & Christina Scharff (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Beverley Skeggs & Helen Wood, Reacting to Reality Television: Performance, Audience and Value (London: Routledge, 2013).

49 Thomas Mathiesen, “The Viewer Society: Michel Foucault’s ‘Panopticon’ Revisited,” Theoretical Criminology 1:2 (1997), <http://core.roehampton.ac.uk/repository2/content2/subs/J.Lorent/J.Lorent1413/Mathiesen%20 (1997)%20The%20viewer%20society.pdf>.

50 Aaron Doyle, “Revisiting the Synopticon: Reconsidering Mathiesen’s ‘the Viewer Society’ in the Age of Web 2.0,” Theoretical Criminology 15 (2011): doi:10.1177/1362480610396645.

51 Daniel Trottier, “Watching Yourself, Watching Others: Popular Representations of Panoptic Surveillance In Reality TV Programs,” in How Real Is Reality TV? Essays on Representation and Truth, edited by David S. Escoffery (Jefferson: McFarland, 2006), 273–275.

52 Press, supra note 48; Skeggs & Wood, supra note 48.

53 Press, supra, at 129.

54 Ibid., at 127.

55 Vincent Miller, “New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture,” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14:4 (2008), <http://www.academia.edu/176454/New_Media_Networking_and_Phatic_Culture>; Liesbet van Zoonen, “From Identity to Identification: Fixating the Fragmented Self,” Media, Culture & Society 35:1 (2013), <http://mitp-webdev.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/9780262524834_sch_0001.pdf>.

56 Jodi Dean, Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010); Alexa Tsoulis-Reay, “Omg I’m Online … Again! MySpace, Msn and the Everyday Mediation of Girls,” Screen Education 53 (2009).

57 Ringrose, supra note 38; Jessica Ringrose & Katarina Eriksson Barajas, “Gendered Risks and Opportunities? Exploring Teen Girls’ Digitized Sexual Identities in Postfeminist Media Contexts,” International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics 7:2 (2011): 121, <http://www.academia.edu/1472908/Gendered_risks_and_opportunities_Exploring_teen_girls_digital_sexual_identity_in_postfeminist_media_contexts>.

58 Ringrose & Barajas, ibid., at 126.

59 Ibid., at 170–179.

60 Amy Shields Dobson, “Bitches, Bunnies and Bffs (Best Friends Forever): A Feminist Analysis of Young Women’s Performance of Contemporary Popular Femininities on MySpace,” (PhD diss., Monash University, 2010); Dobson, “Hetero-Sexy Representation by Young Women on MySpace: The Politics of Performing an ‘Objectified’ Self,” in Outskirts (2011), <http://www.outskirts.arts.uwa.edu.au.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/volumes/volume-25/amy-shields-dobson>.

61 Amy Shields Dobson, “‘Individuality is Everything’: ‘Autonomous’ Femininity in MySpace Mottos and Self-Descriptions,” Continuum 26:3 (2012): 375, doi:10.1080/10304312.2012.665835.

62 Amy Shields Dobson, “The Representation of Female Friendships on Young Women’s MySpace Profiles: The All-Female World and the Feminine ‘Other,’” in Youth Culture and Net Culture: Online Social Practices, ed. E. Dunkels, G. M. Franberg & C. Hallgren (Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2011), 134.

63 Ibid.,at 141.

64 Dobson, supra note 62.

65 McRobbie, supra note 5.

66 See also Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991), 102, relating to the self as improvable project.

67 Dobson “Bitches, Bunnies and Bffs,” supra note 60 at 63.

68 Productive in the Foucauldian sense of the word.

69 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge Classics, 2006); Gill, supra note 5; McRobbie, supra note 5.

70 Curry et al, supra note 30 at 20.

71 Ringrose, supra note 38; Dobson, supra note 61.

72 Ringrose & Barajas, supra note 57 at 124.

73 Winch, supra note 44.

74 Dobson, supra note 60.

75 Ibid.

76 Bartky, supra note 34.

77 Mark Andrejevic, Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); Sue Collins, “Making the Most out of 15 Minutes: Reality TV’s Dispensable Celebrity,” Television & New Media 9:2 (2008): doi:10.1177/0163443711415746; Catherine Driscoll & Melissa Gregg, “Convergence Culture and the Legacy of Feminist Cultural Studies,” Cultural Studies, 25 (2011), <http://www.academia.edu/1021401/Convergence_Culture_and_the_Legacy_of_Feminist_Cultural_Studies>; Laurie Ouellette & Julie Wilson, “Women’s Work,” Cultural Studies 25:4-5 (2011), <http://julieannwilson.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/womens-workaffective-labor-and-convergence-culture1.pdf>.

78 Dobson “Bitches, Bunnies and Bffs,” supra note 60 at 7.

79 Sarah Banet-Weiser, “Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and Youtube,” in Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture, ed. Mary Celeste Kearney (New York: Peter Lang, 2011), 284.

80 Ibid., at 278.

81 Kristyn Gorton & Joanne Garde-Hansen, “From Old Media Whore to New Media Troll,” Feminist Media Studies 13:2 (2013), doi:10.1080/14680777.2012.678370; Camille Nurka, “Public Bodies,” Feminist Media Studies (2013), <http://www.academia.edu/5892465/Public_Bodies>.

82 Alison Winch, “The Girlfriend Gaze: Women’s Friendship and Intimacy Circles Are Increasingly Taking on the Function of Mutual Self-Policing,” Soundings 52 (2012), <http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2012-12-04- winch-en.html>.

83 Andrejevic, supra note 77 at 6.

84 Collins, supra note 77.

85 Dobson, supra note 60 at 7.

86 Skeggs & Wood, supra note 48.

87 Banet-Weiser, supra note 79; Alison Hearn, “’John, a 20-Year-Old Boston Native with a Great Sense of Humor’: On the Spectacularization of the ‘Self’ and the Incorporation of Identity in the Age of Reality Television,” in The Celebrity Culture Reader, ed. P. David Marshall (New York: Routledge, 2006); Su Holmes, “When Will I Be Famous? Reappraising the Debate About Fame in Reality TV,” in How Real Is Reality TV: Essays on Representation and Truth, ed. David S. Escoffery (Jefferson: McFarland, 2006).

88 Press, supra note 48; Skeggs & Wood, supra note 48.

89 Manago et al, supra note 36; Ringrose, supra note 38; Shade, supra note 2.

90 Shade, supra note 2.

91 Winch, supra note 44.

92 Winch, supra note 44 at 25.

93 Gill, supra note 5.

94 Dobson, supra note 60.

95 Gill, supra note 5.

96 Rob Cover, “Performing and Undoing Identity Online: Social Networking, Identity Theories and the Incompatibility of Online Profiles and Friendship Regimes,” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 18:2 (2012): 183, doi:10.1177/1354856511433684.

97 Dobson, supra note 60 at 376.

Auteur

Akane Kanai completed her BA/LLB with honours at the University of Melbourne in 2008. She began her professional career as a lawyer, working in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors before returning to study. She completed her MSc in gender, media, and culture at the London School of Economics with distinction and returned to Melbourne to begin her doctoral study at Monash University. Her research concerns new femininities and the circulation of memes in digital culture. Other research interests include issues of race, masculinities, reality television, and celebrity culture

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