Feminism and Capitalism Can’t Coexist
It’s a corporate trend you see often, companies bringing social justice and advocacy into their marketing platforms. During pride month you see companies like Amazon constantly plastering the rainbow flag all over social media, billboards, and advertisements. Clothing companies like Aerie make body positivity a large part of their advertising campaigns.
What seems like advocacy from these corporations may come across as a breath of fresh air. However, when you look at the bigger picture, you see that these companies aren’t actually motivated by social justice or morals. Amazon is known for unethical practices against their employees, placing them in poor working conditions and using child labor. American Eagle CEO Jay Schottenstein has donated money to George W Bush, known for human rights violations in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay under his administration. Companies that engage in this proposed advocacy do so as amarketing tactic, driven by profit.
This issue of false advocacy points to a larger systemic problem, capitalism. A free market system driven by profit rather than the general welfare contradicts the notion of equality, and promotes exploitation as a means to generate wealth. This exploitation occurs at the expense of marginalized people.
A capitalist system where wealth is unevenly distributed to those in power perpetuates inequality. Those in power continue to accumulate wealth and reap the benefits of the working class’s labor. Capitalism functions on the basis of a social hierarchy, so progression to equality has to be stifled in order for capitalism to be in place.
Capitalism doesn’t just reproduce class inequality. The class divide intersects with social identities like race and gender. Those at the top of the social hierarchy capitalism helps to reproduce have the power, and motivation to reinforce cultural inequality. Under a capitalist system, there is no reason for cultural and institutional inequality to be dismantled as it benefits the class in power.
It may not seem like direct gendered discrimination is perpetuated by capitalism. Even though this isn’t true, exemplified by notable issues like the gendered wage gap and women’s health, feminism goes beyond gendered discrimination. The female experience and liberation of women doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Sexism plays into and interacts with other forms of discrimination like classism and racism, rather than an as an isolated occurrence.
The feminist movement advocates for equality between all groups, not exclusive to women. As long as there is a class divide that capitalism perpetuates, equality for women cannot occur. A reallocation of resources to the working class, and subsequently, other marginalized social identities is a necessary step in women’s liberation.
Featured image via Red Women’s Workshop