This article serves to decry the crisis of feminism in its failure to be consistent with its historical mission of overturning capitalist patriarchal agenda.
Feminism as a political concept, introduced a form of politics quite distinct from the modernising ambitions of nationalism or labour. Its history of thought includes the confrontation of dominant representations of women, and the generation of accurate representations of women. Feminism is actually about ‘women’s responses to realities designed by Men. In the fullness of capitalist patriarchal time, men retain their rights in a public and legal sense, while social ‘responsibility’ falls to women. Feminism sets out to unmake such cultural habits that are deeply ingrained in daily life. Its politics reflects a common intuition that somehow the struggle for a feminine voice is to be heard.
Feminism in its proper meaning, aspires to correct the social relations of exploitation and colonisation regardless of historical context. Women having been demeaned by capitalist patriarchal expectations, felt a need to purify and rebuild their selves. Emphasising equality over economic injustices, women urged the need for a new language, reintegrating reason and passion for wholesomeness. Women`s movement has passed through several stages. Beginning with securing constitutional basics for women such as the vote and right to property ownership, grappling with injustices such as illiteracy, domestic violence, reproductive rights, and equal pay. These struggles still go on, as women abuse by men still goes unexamined under patriarchal capitalist institutions, because men seem to be comfortable with this kind of dehumanisation.
From my observation, liberal feminists across the globe have abandoned their cause, and jumped into the patriarchal syntax order .Women politicians, academics, activists have found a place and achieved a fixed ego identity inside the law and language of the Father. Their particular target is now central to the maintenance of capitalist patriarchy. They are not even free to question the corruption of men, yet the dismembering of women is everywhere to see. In Botswana, a woman is battered every day, she is raped every month, psychologically harassed at the job place every week.
Scandals of women marginalisation, where women swell the ranks of part ÔÇô time, contract, and sensual positions without security, advanced opportunities or retirement benefits are not raised in parliament by women legislatures. Their uncritical contributions as legislatures, economic advisers on pertinent issues such as budget spending on armaments, security intelligence, child abuse, ferrying students on trucks, including their security and safety during their school – trips are expressed with caution. Their silence is too loud, on issues such as the need to introduce work – based childcare programmes and the abolishment of minimum wage in favour of the living wage which could raise many women`s lives above the poverty datum line. Unfortunately, the masculinity of politics seems to have clouded the ethical vision and theory of many feminists (particularly liberal feminists) in that they enter the debate of gender development on a wrong head assumption. Their presence in high places has little impact.
Instead of playing a vanguardist role in helping to make the public aware of social alternatives, some women MPs advocate for women to sell their bodies as a labour or sexual commodity for capitalist patriarchal men, without recognising that when such agendas are pushed on women, the underclass woman is reduced to accepting daily survival itself as the ‘meaning of life’, which in turn surrenders her to an abstract idol called profit. Support of prostitution by liberal feminists, is to not only permit the colonisation and appropriation of women`s body but to approve the male determined figuration of female desire. Taking such a political stance by women, is to adopt a crushing exploitation of the ‘relational self.’
It should be noted that such development misfortunes are not accidental, but are as a result of the political confusion surrounding liberal feminism which is complicit towards the capitalist patriarchal convenience. Liberal feminism is conflicted in that a self-actualising politics of affluent women chases institutional acceptance by the privilege, and thus subjecting itself to a number of misbegotten political manoeuvres. The problem with liberal feminism is that it is so rooted in the masculinist presumptions that even were women in charge of political power, they would retain the core characteristics that many feminists and progressive men find troubling.
The drawback of women political achievements is impacted by the very concept of liberal feminism, which is corrupted by its origins in the individualistic and adversarial ideology of liberal political tradition. Liberal feminism has shaped a class of women who have now become impressed by the climate of self – interested speculation and the rapid exploitation of public resources for self aggrandizement. Liberal feminism has given in to the masculinist logic of accumulation. It has become a friendly partner to capitalist patriarchy. A few token of women admitted to the upper echelons of the political bureaucracy have become supremely tough, calculating and manipulative alongside men, sometimes even outsmarting the men at their own game. Some of these women in authority, are alleged to be immersed in practices of nepotism. Some women who serve as Secretaries of States do not find a problem in sanctioning military attacks on other nations, without any regard to the aftermaths of such evil decisions.
At times I wonder, if in order to represent herself, woman must assume a masculine position. As Marxist colleagues would say, ‘liberal feminism is a quietistic bourgeois idealism by default. Its scholasticism pacifies an emerging representation of women just an economic rationalism fixes the ambitions of their brothers.’
*Gaontebale Mokgosi writes from Ramotswa