Rubi Garcia

Major and Classification

American Studies and Ethnicity

Faculty Mentor

Shana Redmond, Ph.D.


American Studies and Ethnicity

McNair Project

“Negotiating Female Sexuality and Feminism in Contemporary America: Can the Two Co-exist?”

Project Abstract

Feminists from all over the world engaged in bitter disagreements over the visual album, Beyoncé (2013). The music videos that accompanied the songs in the album portrayed the American singer, Beyoncé, in distinct sexual poses, which flaunted both her physicality and sexuality. Some feminists praised the album for its embracement and celebration of the female body; others, however, blatantly criticized it for its hypersexualization and vulgarity. The heated debate that ensued over Beyoncé revealed the difficulties of rigidly defining the word “feminist” in the contemporary United States. Current feminist literature has demonstrated that people individually ascribe meanings to “feminist”. Yet, the multi-dimensionality of feminism continues to be ignored today despite living in the “Third Feminist Wave”. Thus, this research study investigates a) how individuals negotiate feminism, b) their perspectives on women’s sexuality in American pop music culture, c) and the role that pop music culture plays in the conceptualization of feminism. Evidence for this research stemmed from interviews conducted on the University of Southern California campus. Preliminary data found that unique contemporary experiences account for the diverse meanings attached to the words “feminist” and “feminism”. While feminists ultimately share a core commitment to gender equality, findings indicate that men and women have different interpretations of feminism that range across socio-historical contexts. Intersectionality plays an essential role in the negotiation of feminism. Further research should assess how the broadness of feminism leads individuals to be misinformed, excluded, and disassociated from the feminist experience.