In this introductory essay, we begin by discussing the attraction and limits of the ‘wave’ metaphor in feminist history and politics, before moving into a wider discussion of feminist subjectivity and agency. We then summarize the key issues, themes and objects/sites for contemporary feminists, before ending with some reflections on the changing character of feminist strategy. We argue that while the wave metaphor has been popular among feminists in many parts of Europe, it does not travel easily across national and regional borders, and should best be understood as a way of framing feminist practice, rather than referring to discreet cohorts of feminists. We can also discern a broader trend whereby preoccupations around the precise character of the feminist subject have given way to more diverse conceptions of feminist subjectivity in which the role of historically excluded constituencies within feminism – queers, lesibian, gay, bisexual and trans* women, black and minority ethnic women and indeed men – are, in some contexts, more visible. This is reflected in the practices of contemporary feminisms, in which the dominant approach is what we might call, following Bice Maiguashca, a ‘principled pragmatism’, characterized by a steadfast opposition to gender inequality alongside a degree of fluidity and flexibility in terms of the strategies and tactics used.