Modern feminists must realize that the spheres of capitalism and feminism mutually exclude one another.
Is it possible for activists to manifest the values of feminism and feminist movements under an economic system that prides itself on encouraging individual men and women to amass huge profits on the backs of America’s working class?
Is it possible to achieve a feminist world, a full-fledged feminist mode of existence, by promoting free market values like individualism and lifting one’s self up by one’s own bootstraps?
Is feminism, in other words, compatible with capitalism?
The answer is an incontestable no.
Okay, sure. Some feminists do not go beyond a limited agenda/objective of fighting to end the gender wage gap and enforcing equal pay (significant though these campaigns are within the constraints of a capitalist workforce). And some feminists translate “equality” as the equal right and opportunity, regardless of gender, to exploit and plunder marginalized, “othered” communities, whether one finds or invents them.
However, the highest form of feminist praxis, one uncompromisingly committed to overcoming gender and sexual hierarchy and creating a world where it’s possible for members of all genders and sexuality to fulfill their highest potential and form loving relationships, knows in its bones that capitalism and feminism mutually exclude one another. To put it more bluntly: a society based on capitalism destroys any chance or opportunity to realize the values of a feminist orientation.
Of all the various reasons that account for this, we’ve compiled just a few. Take a look at these five reasons why capitalism destroys the modern feminist movement:
1.Taylor Swift and Emma Watson
Not so much these two particular (white) women, but the political tendencies embodied by the likes of Taylor Swift (singer) and Emma Watson (actor), two influential white celebrity entertainers who, on the surface, appear to hold and support feminists values like sexual agency and female unity across racial and class lines, but appear to backpedal from their positions when they’re careers are in question.
In fact, capitalism creates and deploys these sorts of iffy feminist personas. You can add the Lena Dunhams and Amy Schumers of the world to the list. And these “feminists,” whether they intend to be or not, become capitalism’s unwitting agents. Until finally one is forced to ask: with feminist advocates and allies like these folks, who needs enemies?
2. White Feminism Always Wins
Dig deep enough into the historical record and you’ll find that capitalism always only benefits white feminists and prefers — nay, prioritizes — a general, global-wide human culture based on white identity.
Going even further, if this record suggests anything, it is that white feminists seem destined to always be the sole beneficiaries of a capitalist society, that in all areas of human life — aesthetics, education, health care, housing, employment, wealth, etc. — white feminists will always, always, find themselves winning, making out big, over their non-white counterparts.
3. When short-sighted movements like #GrabYourWallet and similar “protest with your dollars” campaigns lose their “it” factor.
Is the #GrabYourWallet anti-Trump boycott that targeted Ivanka Trump’s bottom line still on, or has it fizzled out yet? It’s a legitimate question. For, in capitalism, a system of human behavior that places a premium on the short-term psychic gains of sensationalism, economic boycotts such as #GrabYourWallet become a commodity like any other commodity and are only worthwhile investments when they’re “in style.”
4. The concept of capitalism is inherently anti-feminist (no one is equal).
If feminism is truly about creating a world based on gender equality — I mean, a genuine, multi-dimensional form of gender equality — then supporting an economic paradigm like capitalism which, in order to exist and grow, and create the conditions for its contradictions to shift and move, must manufacture inequality, is probably not the best idea.
5. Capitalism will never let the feminist movement be intersectional.
Show me a capitalist society that doesn’t rely on social divisions and the antagonisms of factions of groups, each of whom view their struggles independently of one another, and I’ll show you a rotten, decayed shell of an economic corpse.
As feminist movements today look to evaporate the foul aroma of white feminism and approach the work of modern feminist discourse and activism through an intersectional lens, which means rejecting certain basic divisions within the human species that are fundamental to the functionality of a free market — blacks versus whites; gays versus straights; disabled versus abled; men versus women — fighting against capitalism must become more of a mainstream priority.
Bottom line: The values that modern feminists aspire to — and work tirelessly for — will never be possible, will never be conceivable, under a capitalist regime.