Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hillary's Feminism

And now, a little radical theory for you all:

Hillary Clinton's imminent election serves as both the crowning achievement, and the last hurrah, of the kind of Second Wave feminism she represents.

Clinton's feminism is of the classic variety: a white-woman, glass-ceiling focused feminism that was the main force of the movement in the early 1970s, but which has since been superseded, and put into some amount of disrepute, by the intersectional feminisms that came later. (This analysis is complicated by the fact that she became prominent in large part because of the achievements of her husband; I'm going to put that to the side for now for the sake of clarity.) 

Clinton's form of feminism has the same flaws as integrationist racial and gay activism of recent decades: It focuses on the inclusion of women (affluent women mostly) into the economy and society as-it-already-exists, never asking it to change its priorities for having them. That is, women are now to be included at every level of boardroom, executive suite, etc., but completely on empire's terms - no change is demanded of capitalism's priorities or practices, save solely for the inclusion of the formerly marginalized population. 

It's interesting to see how having Trump as her opponent has served Clinton in this regard. Because he is so misogynistic, it puts her type of feminism into its best light. She is able to play the "champion of women" role to the hilt because he makes her form of feminism look both necessary and sufficient. Critiques of her approach are stifled because of this. 

More recent radical activists would not be satisfied with the kind of inclusiveness-as-sole-goal that Clinton represents. Even in capitalism's own terms, the fact that childcare, healthcare etc. are not taken as givens this long into the process shows the limits of the Second Wave approach. All the more so anything more radical, such as calling into question the demands of empire and capital themselves - which Clinton is not likely to do, as she has never done it before. 

Thus, Clinton's ascension is both the culmination of the Second Wave's goals, and their eclipse, as more radical feminists ask for more than the slice of the desiccated pie that Hillary's model offers. 

One thing Clinton has shown herself to be in this campaign, however, is open to pressure from the grassroots. Like Obama, she will do the right thing if she's forced to do so. It's up to us to do the forcing. 

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