What Happens to a Feminist Dream Deferred?

Kathleen Geier writes for The Nation:

womanhillaryclinton[…] Trump’s election is an unmitigated disaster for American women, but the way forward for feminism is clear. It requires jettisoning the corporate feminism of elites and replacing it with a feminism for the 99 percent—the kind of feminism that Clinton, with her history of support for neoliberal economic policies, could not credibly represent. During the campaign, Clinton cynically asked, “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow…would that end sexism?” But her distinction between economic issues on the one hand and gender issues on the other is a false dichotomy. Wall Street’s relentless financialization of the economy has been a major driver of the economic inequality that, in recent decades, has dramatically slowed women’s advancement. Soaring economic inequality is implicated in the stubborn persistence of the gender pay gap and in women’s declining levels of labor force participation. The domination of the rich in our political process is why we get austerity policies that entrench our society’s dependence on women’s unpaid caring labor.

Nancy Fraser has noted that in recent decades mainstream feminism has almost exclusively emphasized issues of “recognition”—addressing the cultural harms done to women—while marginalizing those of redistribution. But in order to reignite our stalled gender revolution, we must make the fight for economic justice central to feminism once again. Feminism cannot allow itself to be bought off with a superficial layer of gender diversity at the top that leaves the female masses behind and the oppressive structures and institutions of our society unchanged. Nor should feminists shrink from demanding the bold, radical changes that we need for women to thrive, including universal-childcare and basic-income programs, aggressive equal-pay laws, and more.



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