The insta babes and London fash-pack have found a new aesthetic in reworked noughties’ bling (and PVC, fishnets and faux-fur). The club kids worshipping noughties Britney and Paris aren’t being ‘ironic’ (this isn’t 2008), they’re tapping into the cultural phenomen of ‘post-feminism’. Post-feminism as a term is not so well documented, but it manifests itself in 2016 as a rejection of the feminist label in favour of self-empowerment via fabulosity.
And why would you not be tempted to reject feminism?? Feminism is, in so many ways, flawed. It emerged from a group of white, middle-class, heterosexual women who were not aiming for ‘liberation’ but were looking to access the higher degree of privilege afforded to their male peers.This racism, ableism, classism, homophobia and heterosexism carries into feminism today, which repeatedly lets down POC, LGBTQI+, the differently-abled and other minorities.
Rejecting feminism is not necessarily rejecting the fight for equality.
Case in point being womanism. This movement developed in the 80s against a backdrop of inadequate and unequal feminism and focusses on the intersecting effects of racism and sexism upon black women. Rooted in the writings of Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Clenora Hudson-Weems and Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi, it’s hard to define, it’s influential and it’s powerful.
And while post-feminism was once associated with lazy notions of girl-power and pink, it’s revival subverts these hegemonic ideas of femininity. Fuelled by Judith Butler’s ideas on gender performance as well as the entry of drag culture into the mainstream (thanks, Ru Paul) what has emerged is a hyped-up and hyper-sexed feminine androgyny, rejecting binaristic ideas of gender. Post-feminism allows discussions of equality to emerge which are not mired in the male/female dialectic or founded with ‘heterosexual’ as the default. Soaked in late-stage capitalism and hedonism but nourished by complex gender theory, post-feminism is so very now.