The relationship between postfeminism, postmodernism and post-colonialism is an important one when understanding some of the central issues considered in the debates outlined in the following chapters. The concept of ‘post:’ common to all three discourses can be the subject of misconception in the popular interpretation of the terms. Postfeminism as in the case of post-colonialism and postmodernism is often used to signal a complete break in a previous range of usually ‘oppressive’ relations. ‘Post’ as used in these instances often implies that these relations have been overcome and replaced and in this context the emphasis is on a new range of temporal, political and cultural relations. This use of the concept of ‘post’ is highly problematic.

As it is understood in this book the concept of ‘post’ implies a process of ongoing transformation and change. As Spoonley (1995a: 49) comments, post-colonialism can be seen as marking ‘a critical engagement with colonialism, not to claim that colonialism has been overturned’. In the same way, postfeminism can be understood as critically engaging with patriarchy and postmodernism as similarly engaged with the principles of modernism. It does not assume that either patriarchal or modernist discourses and frames of reference have been replaced or superseded.

As Spoonley (1995a:53) notes: ‘The “post” of post-colonialism refers to a “continuous engagement with the effects of colonial occupation”’ (Thomas, 1993:8).

Postfeminism also occupies a similar ‘critical’ position in regard to earlier feminist frameworks at the same time as critically engaging with patriarchal and imperialist discourses. In doing so it challenges hegemonic assumptions held by second wave feminist epistemologies that patriarchal and imperialist oppression was a universally experienced oppression. As Gunew and Yeatman maintain, there is a need to

organise around local allegiances in order to dismantle once again the universal models which however benign they may appear, work ultimately to confirm the old power structures, whether these be partriarchies or neo-imperialisms.

(Gunew and Yeatman 1993:xiv)

Postfeminism, as with post-colonialism, ‘represents one interesting possibility within the politics of difference that have emerged as an important site of political mobilisation…’ (Spoonley 1995a:64).