The problem lies in what this neoliberal feminism skims over, and the behaviours it promotes as a result of these omissions. It focuses on equality before the law, with both Women Who Work and Lean In paying tribute to previous generations fights’ for legal parity, and presenting the struggle for gender equality as now largely down to the individual, who must ensure that she makes the most of the opportunities available to her.
This downplays structural barriers to success. Take the issue of care work which is still disproportionately carried out by women. Without institutional support, it is impossible for people with caring responsibilities to “lean in” the way that people without such responsibilities can. Female empowerment is impossible without challenging workplaces that take the ‘unencumbered’ individual as the standard.
Within neoliberal feminism, these issues are subsumed within the general idea of ‘personal improvement.’ As academic Wendy Larner has noted, neoliberalism is more than policies aimed at promoting privatisation or fiscal austerity – it is a new way of thinking about, and regulating, the self, with good citizens seen as “individualised and active subjects responsible for enhancing their own well-being”. In other words: it is up to you, the individual, to succeed.
#capitalismwilleatitself: It’s up to you: why neoliberal feminism isn’t feminism at all - @5050oD