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Broadside: Rage Against the Machine: Feminism and Capitalism
What is feminism under capitalism? What is feminism without it?
Tressie McMillan Cottom
'Art does become so very important – because it does help a community articulate a way of understanding the world that allows them to reimagine it, rather than reproducing it.'
Not all of us can afford to lean in, because some of us aren’t even in the room. We’re rightly galvanised by the fact that there are more CEOs at ASX200 companies in Australia named Andrew than there are women – but when did feminism become about earning power? Doesn’t it have to be anti-capitalist? Market ideas about success and failure seem like a shaky foundation for liberation for the 99% of women, so what does an uncommodified resistance look like?
In this conversation from Broadside 2019, hosted by Santilla Chingaipe, our panellists – Aminatou Sow, Fatima Bhutto, Jia Tolentino and Tressie McMillan Cottom – discuss she-EOs, 'ethical consumption', reimagining value and good ancestorship.
'Millions of women suffer but they also struggle, they resist and fight. Pakistan is a harsh country, an unfair country, but it also produces women with extraordinary spirit.'
Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and grew up in Syria and Pakistan. She is the author of six books of fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, was longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction. Songs of Blood and Sword, the memoir she wrote about the life and assassination of her father, Murtaza Bhutto, was published to great acclaim. Her most recent book is New Kings of The World, a lively look at the forces that are challenging America’s cultural dominance of the world.
‘Celebrities and corporations spew forth “smash the patriarchy” and benefit financially from that. You want to talk about boards? I want to talk about how some women can’t get a job.’
Santilla Chingaipe is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. Chingaipe created and hosted the Africa Talks series in partnership with the Wheeler Centre, which explored perceptions about African-Australian identity, representation and politics. She also curated Australia’s first all-day, anti-racism festival, Not Racist, But.... Her work explores contemporary migration, cultural identities and politics. She reports regularly for the Saturday Paper and is a member of the federal government’s advisory group on Australia-Africa relations.
‘Being too much of one thing and not enough of another had been a recurring theme in my life. I was, like many young women, expected to be small so that boys could expand and white girls could shine. When I would not or could not shrink, people made sure that I knew I had erred.’
Tressie McMillan Cottom is an award-winning Associate Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a faculty affiliate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Her work has been recognised nationally and internationally for the urgency and depth of her incisive critical analysis of technology, higher education, class, race and gender. Her most recent book, THICK: And Other Essays, is a critically acclaimed Amazon bestseller that situates Black women’s intellectual tradition at its centre. THICK won the 2019 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize and is a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award in nonfiction. Along with Roxane Gay, she is the co-host of Hear To Slay, providing listeners with incisive reads on politics and popular culture: a self-styled ‘black feminist podcast of your dreams’.
‘When you talk about a lack of “insert minority” into “insert any industry”, what you’re also saying is that you’re not willing to support the people who are actually there.’
Aminatou Sow is a writer and cultural commentator. She co-hosts with Ann Friedman the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, which tackles the intricacies of feminism, pop culture and politics. Together she and Friedman coined the term ‘Shine Theory’, a practice of mutual investment committed to collaborating with rather than competing against other people –especially other women. She is a member of the Sundance Institute Director's Advisory Group and previously led Social Impact Marketing at Google. Sow is also the founder of Tech LadyMafia, a group that increases opportunities for women in tech. She was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Tech.
‘The freedom I want is located in a world where we wouldn’t need to love women, or even monitor our feelings about women as meaningful – in which we wouldn’t need to parse the contours of female worth and liberation by paying meticulous personal attention to any of this at all.’
Jia Tolentino explores the intersections of feminism, the internet and pop culture in startlingly original ways. Her first book, Trick Mirror, a collection of essays, is a New York Times bestseller and has earned her comparisons to Joan Didion. She was recently described by Rebecca Solnit as ‘the best young essayist at work in the US’. A staff writer at the New Yorker, she was previously a contributing editor at The Hairpin and deputy editor at Jezebel. She also served in Kyrgyzstan in the Peace Corps.
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