Looking back and looking forwards: issues in Western feminist theory and cultural analysis from the 1970s to the present



More that 40 years on since the start of the Second-wave, how can we understand and learn from the history of feminism since 1968? This essay looks at the cultural politics and analysis that emerged in second wave feminism. It outlines the critiques of universalism and ethnocentrism made by Black, 'Third World' and other postcolonial feminist critics. It outlines how, from the mid 1970s onwards, feminist literary and cultural critics began to engage with new theoretical and critical modes with a view to developing different ways of conceptualising, understanding and analysing patriarchy that complexified understandings of female difference and women‘s experience. The essay further considers the emergence of forms of 'third wave' feminism and their relationship to 'postfeminism'. The essay concludes by re-emphasising the importance of understanding the complexity of feminism since the 1960s and argues that ways forward require knowledge of and respect for different positions, combined with supportive on-going debate.


Feminismcultural politicspatriarchysecond wavedifferencethird wavepostfeminism
  • Volume: 1 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 3-22
  • DOI: 10.18573/ipics.25
  • Published on 1 Mar 2010
  • Peer Reviewed