The Idea of Solidarity

Over the years, feminism has faced many obstacles. For starters, the term itself has held a negative connotation in our society. These are the radicals, the man-haters, the anarchist; women that are bent on the destruction of all existing social order. Asides from this, the feminist movement is also often questioned. What is their purpose? Are they really looking for systemic change or is this movement just another excuse to cause chaos? These are just a few of the obstacles that the feminist movement deals with which also gain most of the public’s attention. Beyond these questions, however, there is a  bigger problem that needs to be addressed. That is the problem of the lack of solidarity across the feminist movement.
Although feminist may seem to be unified, there are many individuals who believe they are apart of a different struggle. In Nancy Fraser’s article, How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden- and how to reclaim it, we can see the struggle for solidarity. In Fraser’s eyes, the current feminist movement has become a movement that fuels exactly what feminist originally set out against. Neo-liberalist are taking feminist critiques on family wage, hierarchies in gender and the welfare state as an excuse to feed their system of capitalism. The “idea” of women empowerment has created a new world of “depressed wage levels, decreased job security, declining living standards, a steep rise in the numbers of hours worked [in a household], and a rise in poverty, increasingly concentrated in female-headed households,” (Fraser). The core principles that once fueled the feminist movement are now, “used to legitimize marketization and state retrenchment,” (Fraser).  Instead of seeking equality, Fraser sees the current movement as a system that has put on the same shoes of their oppressors. For her, the feminist movement needs to refocus on its core values.

'What do you say, gentlemen - ready for some girltalk?'

Satirical Comic by Jim Sizemore

The problem we run into with Fraser’s article is that it does not cover the entire feminist movement. As Brenna Bhandar and Denise Ferreira da Silva write in their article, White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome¸ Fraser seems to have neglected an entire side to the movement – the side of coloured and indigenous peoples. Bhandar and Silva critique Fraser’s arguments explaining how, “feminism has not prioritized ‘cultural sexism’ over economic redistribution.” For them, the movement should not only focus on, “state capitalism, but [on] globalized capitalism rooted in colonial legacies,” (Bhandar and Silva). The female empowerment that Fraser sees as fueling neo-liberalism is the same empowerment that women of colour have used to overcome years of slavery and colonialism. Being an active force in the workplace, becoming the breadwinner of the family, breaking down stereotypes and assumptions are all methods that women of colour have been using for years. Women of colour have been part of the feminist movement and they are tired of their accomplishments not being acknowledged.

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White Feminism.  Satirical Comic by Kate Beaton

Looking at both the articles, we can see why there is a problem of solidarity in the feminist movement. For Fraser, there is a lack of solidarity; women are becoming too focused on the idea of individualism. For Bhandar and Silva, solidarity is something that exists, to some extent, in the women of colour movements and it is something that white feminist need to acknowledge. Regardless, both these articles lack the idea of universal solidarity. Everyone has their own reasons behind why they consider themselves a feminist. Regardless of what these reasons may be, we all ultimately have one goal – to find the social, economical and political equality of all. This is what the movement needs to focus on. How can feminism be taken seriously if cannot take ourselves seriously? We cannot make a lasting impact on society if we keep allowing our differences – whether it be skin, beliefs or ideologies – get in the way of our cause. We should not draw lines between ourselves. Acknowledge each other. Acknowledge that there are differences and similarities in our movement. The feminist movement was built upon women who banded together because they were tired of the injustices that they constantly had to face. Together we are strong and together we must stand to achieve proper equality.

A slam poem titled, “Feminism” by Denver Team performed during the Brave New Voices Finals 2014

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