Nancy Fraser in The Stone

As I see it, the mainstream feminism of our time has adopted an approach that cannot achieve justice even for women, let alone for anyone else. The trouble is, this feminism is focused on encouraging educated middle-class women to “lean in” and “crack the glass ceiling” – in other words, to climb the corporate ladder. By definition, then, its beneficiaries can only be women of the professional-managerial class. And absent structural changes in capitalist society, those women can only benefit by leaning on others — by offloading their own care work and housework onto low-waged, precarious workers, typically racialized and/or immigrant women. So this is not, and cannot be, a feminism for all women!

Read on.

2 thoughts on “Nancy Fraser in The Stone

  1. I am deeply puzzled by her account of mainstream feminism. I have to wonder if she thinks “mainstream” is what makes the NY Times best seller list.

    As I see it, the mainstream feminism of our time has adopted an approach that cannot achieve justice even for women, let alone for anyone else. The trouble is, this feminism is focused on encouraging educated middle-class women to “lean in” and “crack the glass ceiling” – in other words, to climb the corporate ladder. By definition, then, its beneficiaries can only be women of the professional-managerial class. And absent structural changes in capitalist society, those women can only benefit by leaning on others — by offloading their own care work and housework onto low-waged, precarious workers, typically racialized and/or immigrant women. So this is not, and cannot be, a feminism for all women!

  2. Anne – my thought exactly. Nancy Fraser’s idea seems to be that all we do is push for our own career advancement and let poorer women take the slack. There’s definitely some truth in the suggestion that there is such a social phenomenon (although it can’t be that big, seeing as few women are in a position to aim for the glass ceiling), but I don’t why it should be identified with feminism. Thoughtful feminism (and I do believe that at least part of what counts as mainstream is thoughtful) looks out for women every where, and especially the most disadvantaged. And even the ‘lean in’ feminists argue that the way to crack that glass ceiling is to lean on their husbands to do more child care and housework! At least that’s what Sheryl Sandberg argues.

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