January 19, 2020

The Dynamics of Feminist Capitalism

“In the six years since Lean In was published, Sheryl Sandberg’s capitalist brand of feminism has been embraced, rejected, and intensely debated within the professional sphere. Amidst this public examination of the work lives of women, a similarly capitalist approach to feminism has infiltrated our personal lives, this one with barely a murmur of recognition.

Over the past two years, it has become standard to describe effort in relationships as “emotional labor.” Google search trends show that interest in the term has steadily increased since 2015; it significantly picked up late in October 2017, shortly after Gemma Hartley used the term in a powerful Harper’s Bazaar essay on household chores and “nagging.” Hartley described herself as the “manager” of her household, a term employed by other women to describe the burden of attending to family needs. Other work-focused terms have infiltrated the home, including the “second shift” and weekly “meetings” between spouses, all of which assign financial value to caretaking.

In a bid to get recognition for their efforts outside of work, feminists have rapidly adopted the language of the workplace to denote value. The move is born out of justified frustration. But it inadvertently places home affairs in a capitalist hierarchy, diminishing their value from a non-profit-driven perspective.”

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