Post-feminist never

This slogan sums up my most generous attitude towards ‘post-feminism.’ But even if we get to a post-patriarchy we’ll still need to be feminists to make sure we stay there. So actually I’ll be a post-feminist never.

I think it wasn’t clear in my first post so I’ll say unequivocally that I do not advocate or believe in post-feminism anywhere, particularly in Africa. I think post-feminism is a lie and one of the things it does is silence feminism and social critique. But one of the questions my research is asking is whether post-feminist ideas have some traction amongst women of a certain class in Nigeria, as paradoxical as this may be. I think the answer is yes.

By post-feminism I mean the kinds the ideas we hear mostly in Western media, popular and even political discourse, that women are now ‘free’ and ‘empowered,’ so we can now ‘have it all,’ we can now be ‘up for it’ like men, we can now ‘choose’ whatever we want. ‘Girls rule the world’ as Beyonce has told us. This can be rather hectic so we must remember to pamper ourselves at one fabulous spa or another, express our girl power by buying this makeup or that short skirt, and rejuvenate ourselves with this or that face cream or face lift ‘because we are worth it.’

Of course in the West these kinds of discourses implicitly talk to only certain kinds of women — middle-class, White, educated, heterosexual, size 10-12, with disposable income. A token black woman or two may be allowed in. Also implicit is feminism, how women got so ‘free,’ but let’s conveniently forget about that, we don’t need it anymore anyway…

Post-feminism as I understand it is neoliberal, it is individualistic, it is consumerist. In response to critique it says ‘choice.’ In Nigeria I felt like I began to hear such discourses among girl friends and peers and in the new women’s magazines and websites, so that’s where my research questions began to emerge. But when I looked at feminist literature on post-feminism, written mostly from the UK and the States, there was little recognition that post-feminism is global, not just Western and white, so it’s become another angle of my research to speak to this literature.