There will always be tensions in feminism, and in fact any movement for change, between those who think we should concentrate on change from within the system and those who think change should come from outside the system to dismantle the system. I definitely lean more towards the former of those options but then, hey, I’m an economist.
Here’s Jessica Valenti in the Washington Post also arguing for the former. In this case she is defending Sheryl Sandberg, COO for Facebook:
The detractors underestimate how radical Sandberg’s messages are for a mainstream audience. When was the last time you heard someone with a platform as big as hers argue that women should insist that their partners do an equal share of domestic work and child care?
The view that Sandberg is too rich and powerful to advise working women is shortsighted; it assumes that any sort of success is antithetical to feminism. The truth is, feminism could use a powerful ally. Here’s a nationally known woman calling herself a feminist, writing what will be a wildly popular book with feminist ideas, encouraging other women to be feminists. And we’re worried she has too much influence? That she’s too . . . ambitious?
For those interested, Jill Filopovic also has a piece in The Guardian in defence of Sandberg’s new book.
As pragmatic as I am, and I’m frequently accused of being too pragmatic, I am also quick to say when I think feminism has missed the mark.. and I try to be open to that same kind of criticism, myself. That criticism is important, let’s never be shy about self-reflection but I also want to acknowledge something here that I have been meaning to say for a while now. And that is that all women calling themselves feminists are taking some heat. By and large, if you care enough about feminism to publicly identify as feminist and spread the word on feminism then you are contributing something valuable to the movement, and I want to properly recognise that. I’ve criticised a couple of Australian feminists recently, most notably, Jane Caro, Mia Freedman and Lauren Rosewarne, and for reasons I stand by, but I also want to note that each of these women are public feminists. They all clearly care about and promote the movement – that’s hard work at times, and that’s something to support.