Feminism is omnipresent: be it in glowing letters in the stage background of Beyoncé, be it in the media images of women politicians like Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton, be it in passionate lip service from Facebook manager Sheryl Sandberg.
But is every manifestation of feminism emancipatory? The philosophers Cinzia Arruza and Nancy Fraser and the historian Tithi Bhattacharya have now written a "Manifesto of Feminism for the 99%" - in which they plead for a feminism that understands fundamentally anti-capitalist.
The starting point of her argumentation is a currently widespread caricature: on the one hand, reactionary, sexually conservative authoritarianism and, on the other hand, the progressive, feminist-promoting neoliberalism dominate. While reactionaries - Donald Trump in particular - outnumber themselves with chauvinistic statements, proponents of neo-liberal policies present the economic system as a promise of salvation that promotes equality thanks to its progressive logic.
The strength of the book by Arruza, Fraser and Bhattacharya is to challenge these false alternatives between supposedly progressive neo-liberalism posing as feminist and reactionary authoritarianism expressing anti-feminist sentiment. The authors consistently expose a false contradiction, because in fact the two sides complement each other more than they contradict each other.
Both are based on inequality: when Sandberg or Clinton, for example, advocate more women in top positions, they limit their demands to their own privileged circles, without thinking through the economic conditions of inequality. After all, less privileged women can, for example, reduce their care responsibilities - caring for children and family members - much more poorly to the shoulders of others in order to make a career themselves.
Clear criticism of power relations
Instead of such a top-down feminism, Arruza, Fraser and Bhattacharya see some political potential in the strike movements that began in 2016 in Poland and Argentina. At that time, women protested mainly against abortion laws and violent crime against women. The strike in Argentina is also directed against the policies of the conservative government of Mauricio Macri, who escaped the poorest support amid a severe economic crisis. Since then, the movements have been networking globally, in which the authors constitute a new transnational form of organization of the strike, which is in close alliance with other anti-capitalist movements.
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Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, Nancy Fraser
Feminism for the 99%: A manifesto
Matthes & Seitz Berlin
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Her following fifteen theses offer both critical food for thought and political demands; For example, explanations of how strongly our economic system is based on unpaid care, as well as analyzes of the role of sexuality in capitalist social systems. In the course of this, the authors show, among other things, how concessions to feminist struggles globally lead to the introduction of rights, such as protection against violence in the workplace, which, however, can not be perceived by many women because they lack the necessary resources, to leave the household.
As long as economic accelerators are not fought in their origins, the concession of rights remains a symbolic policy, according to the authors - a thesis similar to that offered by the ethnologist Arjun Appadurai, who emphasizes that global competitive pressure and increasing inequality provoke policies of resentment which are received and reinforced by right-wing populist parties and movements.
The only drawback of this compact analysis is the sometimes very bumpy translation. However, this does not diminish the sharpness of ideas of the theses put forward. At the beginning of the 20th century, socialist feminists called for bread and roses as a metaphor for the struggle for an equal society and against exploitation. The manifesto adopts this motto to return to a radical feminism that wants nothing less than social, economic and gender equality for all - including those who do not fall below the one percent.