and celebrate, consumer culture. According to Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards third wave feminists appropriate girl into a remarkably productive girlie culture. This often involves a celebration of popular modes of femininity - including Barbie dolls, makeup, fashion magazines, high heels – using them, they say, isn’t short for ‘we’ve been duped’: ironic femininity.
Cultural or populist third wave feminists are thus supposed to accept their constituted female identity and its representation, and, at the same time, incorporate both a radical analysis of the signifying chain and a belief that somehow the agent can manipulate that which is signified. The point that marks this feminism as pivotal to a certain moment of capitalist development is whether or not it can grasp the agency within self-representation and the appropriation of that agency. Thus the argument about the commodification of the feminine aesthetic becomes an argument about whether or not valourisation is identical to reification. How can we tell whether the recent valourisation of difference, its fetishisation as intensity, self-affirmation, grrrl power is a precise response to particular social conditions. Ironic gestures may appreciate contingency and insert cognitive distance but also risk collapsing into more of the same. What appears to be a creative harnessing of archaic power might instead turn out to be the subordination of the aesthetic to the modern commercial logic; the repetitive sameness of the exchange commodity form that must always appear new. The more we repeat the mantras of difference, diversity, pluralism the more we hear modernist echoes, warning us that there is an inverse proportion between this jargon and homogenisation.
Lagging somewhat behind the United States developer who said in 1988 that postmodernism was over, Garry Potter and Jose Lopez in 2003 declared that it is in a state of decline ‘gone out of fashion’ not only because its most radical propositions today seem rather banal but also because it is an inadequate response to the times in which we live. Realism, they propose, offers a more reasonable and useful framework from which to approach the philosophical and social challenges of this century, and so it is realism, rather than postmodernism, that offers a truly fruitful