Notes on the Perfect: Competitive Femininity in Neoliberal Times

McRobbie, Angela. 2015. Notes on the Perfect: Competitive Femininity in Neoliberal Times. Australian Feminist Studies, 30(83), pp. 3-20. ISSN 0816-4649 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article argues that at a point in time when feminism (in a variety of its forms) has re-entered political culture and civil society, there is, as though to hold this threat of new feminism at bay, an amplification of control of women, mostly by corporeal means, so as to ensure the maintenance of existing power relations. However the importance of ensuring male dominance is carefully disguised through the dispositif which takes the form of feminine self-regulation. The ‘perfect’ emerges as a horizon of expectation, through which young women are persuaded to seek self-definition. Feminism, at the same time, is made compatible with an individualising project and is also made to fit with the idea of competition. With competition as a key component of contemporary neoliberalism, (pace Foucault) the article construes the violent underpinnings of the perfect, arguing that it acts to stifle the possibility of an expansive feminist movement. It recaptures dissenting voices by legitimating and giving space in popular culture to a relatively manicured and celebrity-driven idea of imperfection or ‘failure’.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


28 April 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2016 10:22

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:44

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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