Back when I was attending all girls private school in midtown Toronto, the female CFO from TD bank came and spoke to the entire school in our morning assembly. During her presentation, she insisted that she “worked incredibly hard” to achieve her current position, glossing over the details. She failed to provide a single anecdote of perseverance or adversity to actualize her message. I remember she concluded her “motivational” speech by assuring us, “The glass ceiling does not exist.” While warm in intention, this ignorant statement denied the reality and seriousness of white male dominance in patriarchal society.
I have no doubts this women had to work to get to the top of the financial food chain. However, I was stunned that she felt her own personal successes were significant enough to dissolve the entirety of the glass ceiling. As Nancy Fraser explains, this mainstream feminist ideology supports the capitalist economic system that is founded on the inequality and exaggerated differences between male and female as well as other “subordinate” groups.
Teaching women that emancipation comes from climbing corporate ladders does not forward the required process of transformation, nor does it acknowledge all the various ways our Western capitalist society selectively oppresses groups.
I think both Fraser and I would agree that striving to be a rich, powerful business women is not unethical or antifeminist. Rather, this image as the face of modern feminism is justifying “new forms of inequality” and bringing us farther away from a constructive understanding of feminism.
Gutting, Gary, and Nancy Fraser. “A Feminism Where ‘Lean In’ Means; Leaning On Others.” Opinionator. The New York Times, 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.