Post-feminism: what it is and what it contributes to the question of gender

Under the name of postfeminism a set of works is grouped together who take a critical stance on previous feminist movements, while claiming the diversity of identities (and the freedom to choose), beyond heterosexuality and sex-gender binarism.

Postfeminism emerged between the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and has not only helped to rethink the feminist movement itself, but also to expand the ways we identify and interact in different spaces (in the relationships of women). partner, family, school, health institutions, etc.).

Below, we go over some of its background, as well as some of the main proposals.

    Break with previous feminism and certain antecedents

    After decades of struggles that had played an important role in promoting equal rights, feminism stops and realizes that, to a large extent, these struggles have focused on bringing women together, as if “the woman” were a fixed and stable identity and a subjective experience.

    From there, many questions arise. For example, what makes a person considered a “woman”? Is the body sexual? Are these sexual practices? As we fought on behalf of the “woman”, have we also reified the same binary structures that have oppressed us? If gender is a social construct, who can a woman be? And how? And in the face of all this, What is the political subject of feminism?

    In other words, post-feminism was organized around the consensus that the vast majority of previous feminist struggles had been based on a static, binary concept of “woman,” so many of its premises quickly shifted towards uncritical essentialism. It then opens a new course of action and political demand for feminism, Based on a reflection on identity and subjectivity.

      Poststructuralism and feminism

      Under the influence of poststructuralism (Which reacted to structuralist binarism and which pays more attention to the latency of speech than to language itself), the subjective experience of speaking beings has been brought into play for feminism.

      Poststructuralism paved the way for a “deconstruction” of the text, which was eventually applied to thinking about (sexual) subjects, whose identity had been taken for granted.

      In other words, post-feminism he wonders about the process of identity construction, Not only of the “female” sexual subject, but of the very relationships that have historically been marked by sex-gender binarism.

      Thus, they consider that this system (and even feminism itself) had been based on heterosexuality as a normative practice, which means that, at first, we settled into a number of exclusive categories, the goal is to shape our desires, our knowledge, and our links to binary and often unequal relationships.

      Faced with a dispersed and unstable subject, feminism, or ratherFeminisms (already in the plural), also become processes in permanent construction, which maintain a critical position vis-à-vis feminisms considered as “colonial” and “patriarchal”, for example liberal feminism.

      The plurality of identities

      With post-feminism they finish discovering the multiplicity of signifiers which mean that there is no uniqueness in “being woman”, nor in “being man”, being “feminine”, “masculine”, etc. Postfeminism turns this into a struggle for the freedom to choose an identity, to transform it or to live it, and to have one’s own desire recognized.

      Thus, it positions itself as a commitment to diversity, which seeks to defend different experiences, different bodies, desires and lifestyles. But this cannot happen in the traditional, asymmetrical sex-gender system, so there is a need to overturn the limits and norms that have been imposed.

      Feminists themselves are recognized as being made up of different identities, where nothing is fixed or determined. The identity of sexual subjects consists of a series of contingencies and subjective experiences that occur according to each person’s life history; beyond being determined by physical traits which have historically been recognized as “ sexual traits ”.

      For example, lesbian and trans identity, as well as female masculinity, are particularly relevant as one of the main struggles (which have gone unnoticed not only in patriarchal and heteronormous society, but in feminism itself) .

        Queer theory and trans bodies

        Society is a space for the construction of sexuality. Through speeches and practices the desires and connections that largely legitimize heterosexuality and gender binarism are normalized as the only one possible. It also creates exclusion spaces for identities that do not conform to their standards.

        Against this, queer theory justifies what had been considered “ rare ” (queer, in English), i.e. takes sexual experiences different from heteronormal-peripheral sexualities, as a category of analysis for denounce abuses, omissions, discrimination, etc. , which defined the forms of life in the West.

        Thus, the term “queer”, which was once used as an insult, is appropriated by people whose sexuality and identity were on the periphery and becomes a powerful symbol of struggle and demand.

        For its part, movement of intersex, transgender and transgender people, Questions that masculinity has not been something exclusive to the heterosexual male body (the male sexed body); nor femininity something exclusive of the sexualized female body, but throughout history there has been a great multiplicity of forms to experience sexuality that have gone beyond the heterocentrado system.

        Both queer theory and trans experiences call for the diversity of identities of biological bodies, as well as the multiplicity of sexual practices and orientations that they were not provided for by heterosexual regulations.

        In short, for post-feminism, the struggle for equality shifts from diversity and opposition to asymmetric sex-gender binarism. Their commitment is the free choice of identity against the violence to which those who do not identify with heteronormative sexualities are systematically exposed.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Alegre, C. (2013). The post-feminist perspective in education. Resist school. International Journal of Social Science Research, 9 (1): 145-161.
        • Wright, E. (2013). Lacan and post-feminism. Gedisa: Barcelona.
        • Fonseca, C. and Quintero, ML (2009). Queer Theory: The Deconstruction of Peripheral Sexualities. Sociological (Mexico), 24 (69): 43-60.
        • Velasco, S. (2009). Gender, gender and health. Theory and methods for clinical practice and health programs. Minerva: Madrid.

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