Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory, and Cultural Forms

Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory, and Cultural Forms

Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory, and Cultural Forms

Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory, and Cultural Forms


Once seen as synonymous with 'any-feminism', postfeminism is now understood as the theoretical meeting-ground between feminism and anti-foundationalist movements such as postmodernism and post-colonialism. Brooks shows how feminism is being redefined.


Postfeminism, as an expression of a stage in the constant evolutionary movement of feminism, has gained greater currency in recent years. Once seen, somewhat crudely, as ‘anti-feminist’, the term is now understood as a useful conceptual frame of reference encompassing the intersection of feminism with a number of other anti-foundationalist movements including postmodernism, post-structuralism and post-colonialism. Postfeminism represents, as Yeatman (1994:49) claims, feminism’s ‘coming of age’, its maturity into a confident body of theory and politics, representing pluralism and difference and reflecting on its position in relation to other philosophical and political movements similarly demanding change.


The relationship between postfeminism, postmodernism and post-colonialism is an important one when understanding some of the central issues considered in the debates outlined in the following chapters. The concept of ‘post’ common to all three discourses can be the subject of misconception in the popular interpretation of the terms. Postfeminism as in the case of post-colonialism and postmodernism is often used to signal a complete break in a previous range of usually ‘oppressive’ relations. ‘Post’ as used in these instances often implies that these relations have been overcome and replaced and in this context the emphasis is on a new range of temporal, political and cultural relations. This use of the concept of ‘post’ is highly problematic.

As it is understood in this book the concept of ‘post’ implies a process of ongoing transformation and change. As Spoonley (1995a: 49) comments, post-colonialism can be seen as marking ‘a critical engagement with colonialism, not to claim that colonialism has been overturned’. In the same way, postfeminism can be understood as critically engaging with patriarchy and postmodernism as similarly engaged with the principles of modernism. It does not assume that either patriarchal or modernist discourses and frames of reference have been replaced or superseded. As Spoonley (1995a:53) notes: . . .

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