Third Way/ve: The politics of postfeminism

S. Genz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that the ‘Third Way’ philosophy that has been adopted by centre-left parties throughout Europe and the United States provides the conceptual framework to analyse contemporary postfeminism and its contentious micro-politics that emerges out of personal and daily gender-based struggles. The notion of a postfeminist micro-politics complicates the critical perception of postfeminism as a depoliticized and anti-feminist backlash and offers a dynamic model of political action that takes into account the multiple agency positions of individuals today. Postfeminism and the politics it endorses differ from emergent political movements such as third wave feminism in that they are not founded on second wave feminist theory and activism. Instead, postfeminist politics adopts a Third Way perspective to reconcile a number of conflicting concerns, from feminist calls for female equality and theoretical debates on anti-essentialism to the consumerist demands of capitalist society. These controversial new junctures are examined by paying particular attention to postfeminism’s female sexual agent who becomes the ‘entrepreneur’ of her own image, buying into standardized femininities while also seeking to resignify their meanings. In particular, the article discusses the paradoxical possibilities of ‘active consumption’ and ‘fashion feminism’ whereby women endeavour to achieve empowerment by exerting their consumer agency and using their bodies as political tools within the parameters of a capitalist economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-353
JournalFeminist Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


Cite this