Feminism Vs femininity? Exploring feminist dilemmas through cooperative inquiry research.

Sarah Riley, Christina Scharff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (SciVal)


This article analyses the findings from a cooperative inquiry study with seven feminist identified women based in the UK. It explores the tensions participants experienced in negotiating their feminist identification on the one hand and engagements in normative beauty practices on the other. A discourse analysis of participants’ talk identified an ideological dilemma of ‘feminism versus femininity’, a contemporary re-working of long-standing constructions of feminism and femininity as mutually exclusive. In exploring how this dilemma was negotiated, the article supports existing arguments that femininity is increasingly constructed as a bodily practice. The article also examines the consequences of employing the feminist versus femininity dilemma which included the use of anti-feminist and homophobic constructions. Strategies to resist the dilemma involved postfeminist individual choice arguments or refusal to participate in practices that were critiqued. These strategies were individualist, only partially successful, and failed to engage with the classed and racialised aspects of contemporary beauty ideals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • coperative inquiry
  • femininity
  • feminism
  • ideological delemmas
  • neoliberalism
  • postfeminism


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