This is an absolutely wonderful article. After recently reading about the Sandberg/Slaughter debacle, I found myself intensely frustrated that this sort of capitalist-apologism was being passed as feminism in the 21st century. I was working myself up to post about it myself, but I think you really hit the nail on the head–by focusing on what racism, sexism, classism, etc. etc. are all methods for achieving: power. The problem with opposition movements–reformist or revolutionary–is that once individuals or institutions actually acquire power, they are unlikely to want to give it up, whatever their ideologies. This is perhaps even truer for the sorts of people who get involved in politics and even organizing in the first place. But instead of focusing on a critique of the fundamental issue at hand–how we humans manage the possession and application of power in societies, mainstream feminist discourse is instead begging the question, assuming that of course power will be vested in the hands of a very few–so lets at least make sure a few of them are women.
So the fundamental question is whether we actually trust powerful women like Sandberg to fight the good fight and advance the cause of real racial, class, and sex equality. Who with a straight face can actually answer in the affirmative? Women are just as capable of cynical, self-serving power-wrangling as anyone else. Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, Indira Ghandi–did any of these women usher in some era of grand liberation? I don’t raise this example to suggest that any of these women was particularly evil or a failure, but rather to suggest that women in power are not intrinsically different than men in power. And I do think that here we run into a rough spot with feminist analysis; the reality of patriarchy is de facto: it doesn’t mean that men in power sit in their oak-lined offices all day thinking, “how can I help my fellow men get *even more* power over women?” Power is, I think, assigned to men because that structure is the most efficient way for men at the top to maximize their own power and for a host of economic and social reasons.
Likewise, I don’t think that most women in power sit in *their* oak-lined offices wondering how they can advance the cause of women. I’m sure some genuinely do, but I think the vast majority sit in their leather-upholstered chair wondering how they can maximize their *own* power, wealth, influence, and prestige. If helping some women, or all women, will serve those ends, then, sure they will. If, on the other hand, blocking paid-sick leave for female workers will help their chances in the next election, then…guess what? That’s what 99% of women will do, because they are just as human as male leaders.
This is one of those posts that can go nowhere but down.
There are things you simply cannot do in this life and slaying unicorns is one of them.
What do I mean by “slaying unicorns”? It’s an old Livejournal term. It means providing evidence that one’s sacred emotional belief or object is either not a) universal b) all that great or c) grounded in reality or supported by empirical evidence.
I am really, really bad about this. I tend to slay unicorns even when I only mean to make an observation or intend to honor my own truth or even when I just mean to get through the day. I end up slaying unicorns way more than I’d like. My hands are filthy with their rainbow blood.
An initial tentative reaction about not seeing my…
View original post 1,879 more words