Raucous feminisms in neoliberal times

disruptive potential and the language of unruliness on Broad City


  • Maeve Eberhardt University of Vermont




neoliberalism, multimodal critical discourse analysis, media


There is no shortage of media representations that reinforce the neoliberal order, emphasise individual freedom and self-regulation and downplay structural inequities and systemic oppression. The current paper analyses an alternative representation that works to dismantle the dominant social order. I interrogate the disruptive potential of the ‘unruly woman’ on Broad City by exploring two discursive themes that present robust alternatives to a neoliberal feminist agenda: transgressive representations of female sexuality and desire and the visibility and normalisation of ‘unfeminine’ behaviours. Multimodal critical discourse analysis reveals how these themes highlight the tension between women’s will to act freely and the structural binds that keep groups oppressed beyond any freedom individuals may enjoy. As white women, Ilana and Abbi’s racial privilege is central in scaffolding their gendered freedom; however, self-reflexive critiques and inclusion of diverse, non-tokenised representations show a path
forward towards a collective and liberatory intersectional feminism.

Author Biography

Maeve Eberhardt, University of Vermont

Maeve Eberhardt is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Vermont. Working primarily with language in the media, her research examines the ways in which systemic power and privilege are reproduced, as well as how social actors work to destabilise such systems through linguistic and discursive practices.


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How to Cite

Eberhardt, M. (2021). Raucous feminisms in neoliberal times: disruptive potential and the language of unruliness on Broad City. Gender and Language, 15(1), 65–88. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.18824




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