Overloaded : Popular culture and the future of feminism

Imelda Whelehan's critique of British popular culture, reviewed by Catherine Redfern.

, 16 April 2001

Yes! A critique of British popular culture! Makes a change from reading all those American feminist tomes and having to constantly think about how or even if they apply to the UK. Overloaded examines popular culture in the 90s, such as ‘laddism’ (something that never really took off in the same way in the US), ‘laddettes’, Men Behaving Badly, the Spice Girls, Bridget Jones, New Labour, and other icons of the decade. Imelda Whelehan takes Susan Faludi’s idea of a Backlash against feminism and applies it to modern British culture to show how we are experiencing a backlash. Specifically she looks at how anti-feminist ideas are packaged as ironic and cool, and how feminism has been diluted and twisted so that liberation and equality means being a laddette, indulging in the same crass behaviour as men have done in the past, and wearing a Wonderbra. Whelhan criticises self-proclaimed ‘new feminists’ such as Natasha Walter and Naomi Wolf, saying, as Faludi does, that their criticisms of second-wave feminism are part of the backlash themselves and regurgitations of the same myths feminism has always been subjected to. Overloaded has been criticised for not having enough in-depth analysis; but as an alternative to those who say feminism is no longer needed, to the criticisms of younger feminists, and to show that a feminist critique of modern culture is possible, it is a very worthwhile read.

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