This article engages with the influential narrative about the co-optation of feminism in conditions of neoliberalism put forward by prominent feminist thinkers Nancy Fraser, Hester Eisenstein and Angela McRobbie. After drawing out the twin visions of 'progressive' feminist politics that undergird this narrative — cached out in terms of either the retrieval of past socialist feminist glories or personal reinvention — we subject to critical scrutiny both the substantive claims made and the conceptual scaffolding invoked. We argue that the proleptic imaginings of all three authors, in different ways, are highly circumscribed in terms of the recommended agent, agenda and practices of progressive politics, and clouded by conceptual muddle over the meanings of 'left', 'radical' and 'progressive'. Taken together, these problems render the conclusions of Fraser, Eisenstein and McRobbie at best unconvincing and at worst dismissive of contemporary feminist efforts to challenge neoliberalism. We end the paper by disentangling and redefining left, radical and progressive and by sketching a contrasting substantive vision of progressive feminist politics enabled by this reconceptualisation.
- feminist politics