What’s Neoliberal Feminism?

Sarah Jaffe explains in this piece. Some basics:

One of the insidious things about neoliberalism is how it has managed to absorb our vibrant, multifaceted liberation struggles into itself and spit them back out to us as monotone (dollar-bill-green) self-actualization narratives. The way this has happened to feminism is particularly instructive. As I wrote in Dissent last winter, the so-called “second wave” of feminism fought for women to gain access to work outside of the home and outside of the “pink-collar” fields. Yet in doing so, as Barbara Ehrenreich has written, some feminists wound up abandoning the fight for better conditions in what had always been considered women’s work—whether that be as teachers and nurses, or the work done in the home for little or no pay.

There’s a bit more to it, and this topic is crucial for helping to frame the current cultural debates over the extent to which women have achieved equal opportunity, and thus whether and what kind of feminism is needed in the 21st century.

For example, Jaffe contextualizes the cultural climate fueling the debate that raged upon the publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. She helps us go deeper than having to take simplistic sides dictating that we basically support or condemn Sandberg’s line of thought, by showing that what fuels Lean In is something much larger. For details read the full piece here.



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