The Postfeminist Mystique

Feminism and Shakespearean Adaptation in 10 Things I Hate About You and She's the Man


  • Jennifer Clement University of Canterbury


"The Postfeminist Mystique: Feminism and Shakespearean Adaptation in 10 Things I Hate About You and She's the Man" focuses on two recent teen adaptations of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night, respectively. While I agree with those critics who read these films as conservative appropriations of Shakespeare's cultural capital, I focus specifically on how both movies exploit the generational divide between second and third-wave feminism in order to discredit feminism in general. As I show, 10 Things I Hate About You associates feminism with unproductive anger, absent or threatening older women, and the inability to form or maintain close relationships, while the more recent She's the Man suggests that the second-wave victory of Title IX is no longer necessary, since the really good female players can play with the "guys" and the others will not want to play, anyway. In other words, both movies flatten out the complex and often disturbing patterns of gender and sexuality in Shakespeare's plays to authorize a "postfeminist" view of society and to suggest that feminism is outdated, irrelevant, and even harmful.

Author Biography

Jennifer Clement, University of Canterbury

Jennifer Clement is a Lecturer in English at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, NZ. Her research interests include Shakespearean adaptations, the writings of Elizabeth I, Reformation literature, gender studies, and early modern how-to manuals, such as herbals.