Has feminism really become capitalism’s handmaiden?

graffitti: "All my Marxist feminist dialectic brings the boys to the yard"

Has feminism become capitalism’s handmaiden? That’s what Nancy Fraser argues in a really fascinating piece over at The Guardian, claiming that feminist ideas have been used in the rise of neoliberalism:

In a cruel twist of fate, I fear that the movement for women’s liberation has become entangled in a dangerous liaison with neoliberal efforts to build a free-market society. That would explain how it came to pass that feminist ideas that once formed part of a radical worldview are increasingly expressed in individualist terms. Where feminists once criticised a society that promoted careerism, they now advise women to “lean in”. A movement that once prioritised social solidarity now celebrates female entrepreneurs. A perspective that once valorised “care” and interdependence now encourages individual advancement and meritocracy.

Fraser continues to argue that women’s liberation pointed ambiguously to two distinct futures: a participatory, democratic one, and one of liberal individualistic advancement. It’s a compelling argument, and I agree with many of the points she makes. That said, where she misses the mark is by starting with the assumption of a monolithic feminism. As long as there have been feminists, there have been feminisms, and while Fraser’s assessment does seem to match up to a feminism – perhaps even a quite dominant feminism – this critique overlooks that feminisms pioneered by women of color have always had an intersectional focus and even strong critiques of capitalism. While many of Fraser’s points ring quite true to me, this oversight seems pretty big.

What do you think?


Veronica is an immigrant queer writer, domestic artist, and music video enthusiast. 

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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