The feminist campaigns that get media attention are the ones which need that attention least. Yes, banknotes and creating a database of women experts are good ideas. But these projects’ impacts on women’s lives are minimal. The most vulnerable or stigmatized women (migrants, abuse victims, women of colour, queer women, disabled women and sex workers) are unlikely to benefit.
The Women’s Room started out with the idea that paper qualifications don’t define what makes an expert but now it seems more focused on middle class women with degrees proving that, er, they’ve got degrees. Putting a woman’s face on a banknote will not help a black woman not lose out on a promotion because she wears her natural hair to work instead of breaking it off with relaxers that burn her scalp. Not shaving will not help a schoolgirl concentrate on her studies without being bullied and slut shamed by classmates and the media just because she has a child. Boycotting The Sun doesn’t help a trans woman go to a job interview not worrying that she’ll be discriminated on sight. And a database of female experts doesn’t benefit working class women.
No attention is being drawn to the issues faced by the most vulnerable and stigmatized. Instead most popular feminist campaigns are vehicles for cis straight white middle class women to get attention while doing a symbolic activism that won’t really change anything. As for Lose the lads’ mags and No more page 3, they will not prevent violence and abuse. These campaigns only succeed in problematising models and sex workers, effectively blaming them and the modelling and adult industries for rape.
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