Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

African Feminism, Feminism, Nigeria

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.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. You write well. Clarity, honesty permeate your article.
    Keep it up.

  2. Sokari

    Simi -I agree with your position on this. But in thinking through the notion of a post-feminism I am reminded of the ‘post-racism’ narrative that accompanied Obama’s election and we know how ridiculously wrong that is. In the post Thatcher period it was ‘post class. Possibly we can ask a similar set of questions as we would for race and class say around unwaged labour of women which may include responsibilities for caring of family members, house work, sexual favors – so what happens if you refuse to have sex with your husband, partner, boyfriend, compulsory heterosexuality, reproductive rights and here I include the right to not pair up with the intention of reproducing . In the context of Nigeria where domestic labour is common what about the rights of girls and women in these positions. As you say ‘post-feminism’ discourse serves the same purpose as post-race and class – silencing critique. Even if it does have some traction in a Nigerian context and I am not yet convinced, it’s with a small elite, monied class of women? Can one be post-feminist yet remain under the tyranny of weaves and other assaults on women’s bodies?

  3. Comment by post author

    Simi Dosekun

    Thanks for the comment. I agree completely with your analogies of post-race and class, which in the examples you give are about symbolic changes which are then said to represent something structural. I think post-feminism is an elite discourse in general, not just in Nigeria, but maybe particularly so in a context like Nigeria where very few feminist positions have been institutionalised. I am not sure how much traction it has in Nigeria, but anecdotally and from my personal experience in certain circles, I think it has some. I also think hints of it can be found in the new women’s magazines, which pretty much target an elite urban audience. But something else I am interested in is the ways in which post-feminist ideas may be Nigerian-ised, so e.g. I think the idea of women ‘having it all’ in Nigeria may include having a ‘good man’ who pays your bills and buys you expensive stuff, having a ‘personal relationship’ with God, being blessed by God etc.