Contra Fraser on Feminism and Neoliberalism
Article first published online: 3 JAN 2012
© by Hypatia, Inc.
Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 179–196, February 2013
How to Cite
Funk, N. (2013), Contra Fraser on Feminism and Neoliberalism. Hypatia, 28: 179–196. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01259.x
- Issue published online: 31 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 3 JAN 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 11 AUG 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 5 AUG 2011
- Manuscript Received: 13 JUN 2011
This article is a critical examination of Nancy Fraser's contrast of early second-wave feminism and contemporary global feminism in “Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History,” (Fraser 2009). Fraser contrasts emancipatory early second-wave feminism, strongly critical of capitalism, with feminism in the age of neoliberalism as being in a “dangerous liaison” with neoliberalism. I argue that Fraser's historical account of 1970s mainstream second-wave feminism is inaccurate, that it was not generally anti-capitalist, critical of the welfare system, or challenging the priority of paid labor. I claim Fraser mistakenly takes a minority feminist position as mainstream. I further argue that Fraser's account of feminism today echoes arguments from James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer (2001) to Hester Eisenstein (2009), but such arguments ignore contemporary feminist minority positions. I challenge Fraser's arguments that feminism legitimates neoliberalism to women, that women's NGOs are simply service-providers enabling the state to withdraw services, and that criticisms of microcredit lending programs can be generalized into criticisms of women's feminism and women's NGOs today. I argue that these claims are vast over-generalizations and ignore countertrends. I give empirical evidence to support my objections by considering women's activities in post-communist European countries, which Fraser discusses.