My Weekly Frustration: Week 2

This week we read a few chapters of Nancy Fraser’s Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. In the MOST general terms, what these chapters discussed was the shift from classical capitalist liberalism to a neoliberal agenda. To be a little more specific, Fraser discusses how this new-capitalistic frame uses the aims of second-wave feminism as a handmaiden to usher in the ideals and motivations to perpetuate the neoliberal agenda, which bolsters the same power dynamic of exclusion and discriminations (E.g., Racism, Sexism, Classism, Elitism, and Ableism to name a few) that traditional/classical liberalism founded (just in a new, more insidious way!). Fraser then moves to incite action to a new/revitalized feminist project. Generally, I was not very connected to this reading. I didn’t think that Fraser was writing to me, I thought this must have been directed to some elite class of people with autonomy and worth relative to the disparate power dynamic within our current social/political/economic frame. Even the use of the term race within the reading seemed uncomfortable to me. I suppose I will take this and turn it into a few questions that will hopefully generate some class discussion… I am going to need it, as I am leading discussion next week in which we are reading responses to some of things read this week! Here we go:

Chapter 8: Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World

– I thought of this chapter as the set up. Here’s where I will base my response:

“Addressing not only ordinary-political misrepresentation, but also misframing and meta-political misrepresentation, it allows us to grasp the problem of the frame as a matter of justice. Focused not only on the “what” of justice, but also on the “who” and the “how,” it enables us to evaluate the justice of alternative principles and alternative processes of frame-setting.” (Fraser, 208)

     1. Why is the framing aspect so important? Why do we worry about that in a fundamentally flawed, volatile social system, founded in power disparities, that has always worked in service to White heteropatriarchy? I mean, arguably, there are real reasons to call that out, but what is it really doing? If the neoliberal agenda is perpetuating the same basic power dynamic (except more insidiously), isn’t focus on the ‘who’ and ‘how’ a tool for the neoliberal shift to use to perpetuate their power dynamic? It seems like a re-centering of power. 

Chapter 9: Feminism, Capitalism, and the Cunning of History

-Here’s the meat n’ potatoes chapter. Here is where I base my response:

“It is often said that the movement’s relative success in transforming culture stands in sharp contrast with its relative failure to transform institutions.” (Fraser, 210)

     1. I connected with this statement as I feel like I am living this even now (what does that SAY about me?!). We are working to transform our culture (politics, society, economic standing) but at the same time we silently comply to the restrictions/limitations/regulations/discriminations placed by the institutions we must work within in order to gain the credentials needed to make the moves we think we ought to. What is another way to do this? Why must we continue to perpetuate the SAME struggle? Isn’t that simply perpetuating our own demise? But what else is there to do? Violent revolution? ‘Peaceful’ protests? Why must we work within these systems of power to RUPTURE THEM?! Doesn’t that seem contradictory? I mean, no wonder there is such a sharp contrast as this.

Chapter 10: Between Marketization and Social Protection: Resolving the Feminist Ambivalence

-This is the “I figured it out!” section. Here’s where I based my response:

“The effect of introducing this missing third will be to transform the double movement into a triple movement, encompassing marketization, social protection, and emancipation.” (Fraser, 230)

     1. Emancipation from domination through feminist critique? In our society? What type of feminist we talking here?


I hope to learn more about this reading tomorrow during our class discussion of it. I am frustrated and I hope for some clarity upon class. If I do find some clarity through our class discussion, I will be sure to update this post.



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5 Responses to My Weekly Frustration: Week 2

  1. Robin says:

    Your first question hits on the last question we talked about together in class: if disrupting the frame is how power perpetuates itself, how do we disrupt that? I wonder if the concept of disruption is even the right/most helpful one here. Maybe we need a new metaphor or ideal? Like, rerouting or something? I don’t know…what would the new ideal be?

    • thepsych1 says:

      Thank you for your comment! I have been thinking about this since last night, and I think [feminist] disruption is what has been commodified in this neoliberal context (E.g., Gaga Feminism, charades of empowered sexually exploited feminists figures in mainstream, a blissfully ignorant side-stepping perpetuation of white supremacist heteropatriarchy through the suggestion of a revitalized feminism focused on “emancipation from domination” stemming from a privileged white feminist perspective, etc.,) so I think you’re definitely right about it not being the most helpful term to use here. I can see a new ideal being something like ‘repelling’ the frame (through exposure and critique). I can see this metaphor working because not only would we be continually exposing and unpacking the insidiousness of the frame, but also through this perpetual critical discourse there might be a chance to cause extreme discomfort to the foundations of the frame. This is important because this discomfort could (and likely would) end up repelling those within the power normative from our critical discourse. But that is EXACTLY what we would need. If we could repel the power majority enough through our discourse and action, there could be potential for a major shift|break away from the frame, as they would be forced (by their discomfort) into [explicitly] “showing their cards” so-to-speak… I will definitely keep ruminating on this though because there are probably a ton of different ways to conceptualize this ideal and there needs to be a lot more thought given to the ideal I just put out there. I do, however, find my initial suggestion of repelling the frame to be doing more than quintessentially disrupting.

  2. Amy Jenkins says:

    My mother always gets on me that if the young people of this nation want anything to change then we need to get out, protest and cause a disturbance. She references back to her youth and the protests over the Vietnam War as well as some of the feminist struggles she encountered. In recent events, she reflects on the recent political happenings in Egypt. I don’t know the answer to your questions of how to transform our society and cause a disturbance that can rupture the system structures. The fact that we must rupture them and break them down, is obvious. I think that all we are able to do now, is keep the conversation open, keep asking questions, keep trying to find a way to dismantle the system that keeps so many,in a position of subordination.

    • thepsych1 says:

      Thank you for your comment. I apologize for how incredibly long it took to reply to it! I definitely agree with your suggestion of keeping conversation open, and asking questions! I wonder if an initial step in a constructive direction could be the terminology to use (clearly defining our terms), as I tend to agree with the assertion that the ‘disruptive’ [feminist] has been the very thing commodified within the neoliberal frame. Maybe what we want to do is something other than ‘disrupt’ in traditional sense of the term, so that the power frame does most of the work of breaking itself down (this notion is described a little bit more in previous comments here). I dunno, and I am most certainly going to give it a lot more thought (and see what else is out there in the discourse), but I think this MIGHT be a beneficial place to start.

  3. Pingback: My Weekly Frustration: That Time I Was Able to Express a Little Rage in a Classroom Setting. | What is the Word

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