Postfeminist healthism: Pregnant with anxiety in the time of contradiction

Adrienne Evans, Sarah Riley, Martine Robson

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    Abstract

    In this article, we present our concept of a ‘postfeminist healthism’. By this term, we mean the many ways women’s healthcare concerns are framed as an individual (often psychological) problem, where risks have to be managed through practices that are self-transformative and/or consumerist. The emphasis on women’s ideal ‘healthy’ self promises the achievement of a ‘good life’. But, as we explore, this promise is premised on a constant striving, shaped by contradictions that maintain anxiety. In turn, this anxiety keeps us beholden to normativity. In this article, we argue contradictions pertaining to health include 1) a desire for a normal healthy life, which is also 2) a form of largely unattainable perfection, and where 3) freedom and agency are performed through control of the self, often relying on digital technology and consumerism. We then present our original analysis of how these play out in contemporary understandings of the pregnant body. This embodiment is significant, we argue, because of its potential challenge to neoliberal individualism. We conclude by suggesting this makes it an important body on which to map the workings of postfeminist healthism, modern power, and the regulation of women through its affective, anxious intensities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-118
    Number of pages24
    JournalJura Gentium
    VolumeXVII
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Open access publication listed in DOAJ

    Keywords

    • postfeminist healthism
    • pregnancy
    • contradiction
    • anxiety
    • digital culture

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