On Nancy Fraser’s Mea Culpa and Feminism as a Tool of Oppression

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN11 - Sheryl Sandberg, ...

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN11 – Sheryl Sandberg, one of the victims of male domination. The women who make her clothing in Bangladesh are her sisters.

Nancy Fraser is a disgrace and the very strange and very public mea culpa published this week by The Guardian reeks of indecency and lip service paid to the sudden realization of what, I believe, feminism may eventually come to call their very own brew of phallocentrism. The article, however, does exude in copious amounts what anyone who has crossed paths with what for some reason some insist in calling a philosopher would have promptly noticed: the woman is the possessor of some of the most formidable lack of political foresight known to man (and women) engendered deep in the loins of intellectual dishonesty and duplicitousness. Thus opens this crocodilian dirge sang over the paltry remains of American egalitarianism:

As a feminist, I’ve always assumed that by fighting to emancipate women I was building a better world – more egalitarian, just and free. But lately I’ve begun to worry that ideals pioneered by feminists are serving quite different ends. I worry, specifically, that our critique of sexism is now supplying the justification for new forms of inequality and exploitation.’

Really? That is not how you are mostly remembered by students and associates, madam. Rather, Ms Fraser, has been the very expression of a woman who sat on a 6 figure salary as students directly under her yoke barely had enough money to make ends meet. Many of these students were male and carrying a penis perhaps they deserved the poetic ancestral revenge exacted by one of the many feminist self proclaimed avatars of all historical forms of oppressed feminine intellect. But at the very same time, the crowded field of students in precarious situations including those foreign graduate students with little or no means who were feeding both her overgrown sense of entitlement and her pockets by teaching classes in her department for about 3/100 of her yearly salary not just with her acquiescence but by her active administrative design probably have a more nuanced understanding of her idea of egalitarianism.

One may, of course, think that this anecdotarium of political perversity is no more than circumstantial evidence or that perhaps the force of the discussion should be directed at the argument and not at the woman. But then again, feminism and in particular American feminism has been erected as a monument to slave morality. From its corridors, all forms of brutality has been perpetrated and this for many decades. So when suddenly Fraser points out that “In a cruel twist of fate, I fear that the movement for women’s liberation has become entangled in a dangerous liaison with neoliberal efforts to build a free-market society.” All that the general public should point out is that this is not better than her long list of massive administrative, political and intellectual miscalculations.

American feminism is a long standing monstrosity built on the most aberrant forms of Randian/Reganite libertarianism. Only Fraser and other idiots of the same ilk could have missed the fact that the entire project at least in its rather distasteful American version swallowed the version of heroic solitude and personal benefit of the stupidest forms of libertarian personalism whole. A cursory glance at the model of the ‘successful woman’ projected by beasts of burden like Sheryl Sandberg should furnish a clear picture of how far the epic account of feminism has come.

As Fraser, Sandberg is the very archetype of the imbecility of American feminism. Both of these women portray themselves as members of the ‘siblinghood’ of the oppressed and they have never, not once in 50 years, missed one chance to present their credentials showing their membership in the great family of those whose opportunities and aspirations have been curtailed by ‘the man’. To this we may add, Ms Huffington, both Ms. Clintons, Ms. Obama,  Ms Gillard but also Madonna, Byonce, Angelina Jolie and an enormous contingent of professional beneficiaries of historical victimization who teach and study in just about every American university. But here is the simple and all important question: is really Nancy part of the same group than Reshma Begum, the 19 year old who barely survived the Bangladesh factory collapse in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh? What kind of perverse beast, what type of intellectual miscreant could choose to demand benefits from a clearly forged membership card to the club of the dispossessed? In fact, what kind of otherworldly evil could benefit from the oppression and dispossession of this young woman by wearing the under paid labor of her hands and then decry her victimization. Well, much of American feminism.

Indeed,  Fraser surprise at feminism’s “worldview…increasingly expressed in individualist terms” is nothing but a complete an absolute farce. Both her ascent to intellectual power as that of many of the people around her are the very expression of the long-standing individualism and careerism, though certainly not meritocracy. If American feminism ever  “criticised a society that promoted careerism… prioritised social solidarity…[or] valorised “care” and interdependence”, it did so in some immemorial past and in the voice of humanists and not of feminists. Should any doubt exist about this take into consideration the evangelical zeal with which Americans feminists like her passed sentence on humanism and forms of communitarianism in other parts of the world which–by their dim lights–were used to abscond the oppression of their putative sisters.

However, we should agree with Fraser that feminism has never been kin on meritocratic systems. Rather, feminism has judged meritocracy–and merit with it–to be nothing but another of the myriad mechanisms of male male domination. What for career anti-semites was the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy, for feminists was the invisible association of humans with penises. As such, a system of advancement began to take shape based on a well-established practice designed to protect ineptitude: moral demands of natural equality and under these demands some of the most egregious forms of corruption and nepotism. All for the sake of equality. Women were to be taken into the system because they were women–the US did this with other minorities as well with similarly atrocious results–and that was that.

So just as disingenuous as her feigned surprise at the current state of her art is Fraser  blame on the new capitalism. Capitalism has not co-opted feminism, feminism–and feminists like her–were active, willing and well-remunerated designers of these anarchic libertarianism. Pure and simple. American feminism modeled its idea of success on the object that they could see, the successful American male and all they did was add two breasts and subtract one penis. On account of this, we ended with the a broadened field of American chauvinism.

So yes, as Fraser points out, feminism helped to dismantle the integrity of the family as a unit of economic stability. But more importantly, in the moralized stupidity of treating family as a mechanism of oppression they liberated the individual to the elements with no shelter or recourse. When feminists vomited the word ‘patriarchal’ and rammed Jane Austin down out throats while pointing to the importance of the extended families in third-world countries as simple expressions of male domination, they guaranteed the dismembering of social fabrics in favor of individualism. The fact that Fraser needed hindsight to detect the detail shows nothing but her stupidity, former and current.

Equally breathtaking is Fraser’s surprise at the depletion of bread and butter from the tables of men. The day that the public sphere in the US finally accepted the moralization of gender and turned every man into a potential perpetrator of rape and pillage, those household that still had men in them–one can only guess how many–became target of political righteousness. So identity politics, which Fraser so much liked until she no longer did–guaranteed that equality as a value would first be purified of gender moral maculae. Equality would only be allotted to the equalers, the victims, the women.

In the wake of all of this, one can only wonder how Fraser could possible say that the critique of state welfare was “progressive in the era of state-organised capitalism”. The critique was a reactionary act of political and intellectual myopia and nothing more than that. As the previous forms of feminist stupidity, this critique has also been built on the blind ambition of women using a political neologism to hide their personalistic agendas. What to the untrained eye of Fraser seems to be a coincidental fact is indeed one of the many causal determinants of the state of affairs. Feminism was and continues to be, in addition to the other forms, a project in economic and commercial libertarianism, which is just too happy to see the state die.

There is one more element in American feminism that Fraser seems to miss and that is its deep puritan anti-sexualism. American feminists have made of sex a dirty word and have turned the entire iconography of sexuality into an expression of gender violence. In fact, it is no surprise that the notion of consent–a term closely related to contractual mechanisms–has more sociological relevance in their political imaginary than the transgression of non-consent. For feminists, sex is guilty unless mediated by a semi-tacit contract. Both the suspicion of sexual activity and the contractual allowance for its practice can, in this narrative, only be certified by women, who once again are the determinant actor in controlling sexual activity. In this story men are merely brutes that ought to be moderated by the letter of the law and the force of punishment. This is not merely a way of  foreclosing sexual violence but, more importantly, it is the very mechanism by which men can be rendered because of their putative guilt with no agency. This is indeed, the product of turning the space of the private into the political which feminists used to find desirable. For these women, no better instrument to preserve the integrity of women has been devised than the NSA’s Prism or the GCHQ’s Tempora.

The problem with Fraser’s eulogy to bad feminism is nothing but minuscule and untimely. In this discussion, this woman argues with Ms Sandberg. Her conversation is with people that are ultimately as perverse and inept as herself. Who have been as instrumental as herself in perpetrating these political catastrophes and doing all they could to export them by way of the NGO’s and other missionary mechanisms that she now decries. The time has come for these people to guard pensive silence and admit that their projects have been nothing than a bloody disaster. That the only good to come out of them has been their own mediocre but well-remunerated carrers.

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