The accusation of narcissism leveled at self-photographers and, if opaquely, at teenage girls in particular is evidence of an extraordinary lack of insight into the workings of femininity under late capitalism.
Keen’s moral condemnation of the selfie as an act of narcissism is plainly unencumbered by any consideration that narcissism, as a personality trait, may not only be what capital expects but alsodemands from young girls, in order that they be legible as girls at all.
Which is not to re-categorize the selfie as a radical act of political empowerment (although this view has been taken up, more or less successfully, on hundreds of Tumblrs across the Internet). When it comes to the selfie, my preference is to strike the word empowerment from our vocabularies entirely. I’d also like to leave out narcissism as an individual moral failing, and the phrase male gaze because, really? Male gaze? Really.
Selfies, like orgasms, Girls, make-up, and high heels are most often — and most tediously — discussed in the frame of will-she won’t-she individualist choice feminism, which inevitably ends up in one of two places. First, that everything women do is feminist because they’re women and they’re doing it. Second, that nothing women do that relates to making bodies interesting or beautiful is feminist because, like, dudes run the advertising agencies or something. Both of these positions are boring at best, and politically useless at worst.
Read the rest of the article on Textual Relations