Capitalism and Club Feminism

Sudy: Surveying the Damage, Part II, in which she says in very few words what I have tried to get to, requiring far too many:

…a feminism pitched to a buying audience is a feminism sold.

What she’s getting at was also well addressed by a commenter in one of those endless (insomnia abating) threads on Feministe, who noted that we talk all the time about “intersectionality” as the intersection of identity features (sex, race, and class being the big ones) rather than as the intersection of oppressions and oppressive forces of sexism, racism and capitalism. I emphasize that last one in particular because it is glossed over in these discussions constantly – in addition to the career-talk, there is also the unquestioned, barely even acknowledged, assumption that the goal of getting young women (or young men) to self-identify as feminists is a laudable one. Getting our numbers up is a goal, and if pressed, the argument would be that as we make more feminists/allies, more of them will agitate for change, more of them will vote with women’s issues in mind, more of them will live their own lives in feminist ways. But numbers have become the only part of the game, they’ve become not only the method of success, but the measure.

Before one can engage in criticism of books published by feminist authors by an ostensibly feminist press, one has to issue the caveat that of course, it is thrilling and exciting and wondrous to see feminist authors publishing feminist books and more feminist books on more feminist shelves is full-frontal-fabulous. If you aren’t happy to see those sales, if you couldn’t care less whether Seal Press folds or not, well then…why do you hate America?

“Because a feminism pitched to a buying audience is a feminism sold.”

Betacandy used the term Narcissist Feminism, and it is, but in a much more banal sense, it’s just simply capitalist individualist feminism. Several women (mainly in comments) have suggested that they don’t feel like they can call themselves feminists anymore, given what they now see of the banners raised on the masts of the flagship. Others have expressed anger or frustration at this attitude, asking why we should allow feminism to be defined only by this self-aggrandizing, self-promoting element. I’m on the fence as to the specific question, but I’m honestly troubled by the thought that the loss of numbers within the group of women wearing the “Club Feminist” label, even when nothing else about the political beliefs, statements, and actions of the women has changed, is, in and of itself, a loss.

Club Feminism is capitalism, not community. I’ve had some more personal thoughts running around my head lately relating to living in community, what that entails and why it’s so damn hard, and maybe I’ll post them later, though I must admit that I’m finding the real world rather distracting of late.

2 thoughts on “Capitalism and Club Feminism

  1. *cheers and waves flags* well said! especially this:

    we talk all the time about “intersectionality” as the intersection of identity features (sex, race, and class being the big ones) rather than as the intersection of oppressions and oppressive forces of sexism, racism and capitalism.

    on the question of calling yourself a feminism, i hate the thought of abandoning the term to a small group of women. feminism has been around for much longer than, say, seal press. i’d argue that letting feminism be defined by yer capitalist individualist style of feminists is betraying all those women who’ve been part of the movement in the past (and still are). of course the meaning of feminism’s always been debated, argh, i can see this comment getting bogged down in qualifications, but my general point is: yay for defending feminism as a structural critique! including critique of structures such as capitalism! :D

  2. purtek says:

    Thanks, and welcome. :)

    Overall, I think I agree with what you say about the history of feminism not being grounded in capitalism, and not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as it were. But that’s for me, personally. If other women want to choose another term, or just go label-free, and want to express their anger with flagship feminism by doing so, that’s not a decision I would argue with them, however. I’d far prefer to work with *those* women than with those who appear to be handing out membership cards – I’m far more concerned with the content, in other words, than in whether or not someone is doing whatever they’re doing under the banner of Feminist Brand Politics, you know?

    Anyway, short version, thanks.

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