"After postfeminism, what's next?"

Women of a previous generation said that their own mothers had missed out on the fruits of feminism. Like many women in my cohort, I discovered that my mother was born too early for postfeminism.

Of course, postfeminism makes sense only when basic legal and civil rights exist for both sexes — it's an irrelevant luxury for too many women on this planet. Letitia Baldrige, the dean of American manners (among other things), recently defined her own position as that of a "conservative feminist." It makes sense, for the restless privileged daughters of Western feminism, to become moderate postfeminists — not centrists, exactly, but realists.

Feminism is a seductive, useful and powerful ideology, provoking reaction and rebellion whenever it becomes an established player. When will postfeminism be a viable option the world over? Will it ever be possible? And, in those cultures where postfeminism plays an important role in women's lives, what's the next step? Is postfeminism a toy or a tool?

Tracy Quan is a member of the International Network of Sex Work Projects. She is the author of the novel, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl.

John Brockman, Editor and Publisher
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