Feminism as a socioeconomic movement - if that what it is – has a short history. In fact, in its more recent form, Feminism postdates the emergence of the Middleclass as the dominant social class and the birth of Capitalism, the socioeconomic philosophy of the Middleclass. In this paper, I would argue that Feminism as a movement has the same socioeconomic relevance to the countries in which it operates as the emancipation of slaves in the US, the freeing of serfs in the Imperial Russia, the Land Enclosure Movement of the Great Britain, and the abolishment of the Rajakariya System in Sri Lanka by the British to their respective economies.
With the rise of the Middleclass, the birth of Capitalism, and the launching of the Industrial Revolution marching hand in hand, the newly minted 19th century economies across Europe needed massive amounts of cheap labour. With slaves, serfs, farmers, and shepherds being already dealt with and absorbed into the system, females who made up roughly half of the population in most of these countries were the obvious answer to the problem of labour shortage. However, prior to the launching of the war cry for the emancipation of women from their bondage by the Feminist Movement across Europe, with some exceptions in urban areas, the economic activities of the majority of women were mostly restricted to the domestic sphere with cottage industry bringing in extra 'cash' when and where it was necessary. As their newly laid claim as the top dogs of the pile depended largely on their wealth, women being homebound put a few spokes in the wheels of the Middleclass socioeconomic bandwagon. The Middleclass then had had no choice but to break the time-honoured close ties that existed between the woman and her home in order to ensure their own survival as a distinct and powerful socioeconomic class; hence, a new rallying call in the form of Feminism – something that operated symbiotically with the other Middleclass calls to arms such as neoliberalism, humanism, individualism, democracy, and modernism – was minted by the intelligentsias that did the culture works for the Capitalistic Middleclass. These “-isms”, of course, were of course mere chisels that chipped away at the established powerhouses and their wielders represented themselves as the self-appointed mouthpieces of the subaltern.
Terms such as neoliberalism, humanism, individualism, democracy, modernism, as well as feminism are not apolitical or altruistic. In my view, these terms are but fronts for larger socioeconomic aspirations of men and women of the Middleclass in their guerilla warfare against the so-called established patriarchal/feudal institutions. Hence, one of the main functions of the Middleclass Feminism and her siblings is vilifying notions of communalism, feudalism, and patriarchy. Curiously, once the so-called Feminists had arrived socioeconomically almost all of these so-called agitators conform with the norms and values endorsed by the elite stratum of their society that strongly echo the operations of the feudal order. This strange predilection the Middleclass have towards aping the very institutions of the stratum of society they had virtually guillotined validates Derrida’s onion skin theory of structures – according to Derrida one can never be independent of structures; one fall out of a structure only to fall into another structure. Interestingly, the so-called New World countries exhibit characteristics that are quite similar to those of the Middleclass in the so-called Old World countries. The only reasonable explanation I could arrive at for this remarkable phenomenon is that these countries having bypassed several Ages which the Old World had laboured through had jumpstarted into existence with a population with their eyes collectively trained on a particular point of social arrival. And for the modus operandi for the accomplishment of this feat, these countries are indebted to the puritanical Middleclass thinkers across Europe.
In the end the Middleclass has established itself socioeconomically at the expense of the Working Class and the Lower Middleclass women who bought into the dream of a Herland. even today Working Class and Lower Middleclass women are being used to further their aspirations by men and women of the upper classes. In order to make it, men and women of the aspiring Middleclass parcel off their mundane domestic tasks to the hired-help from the newly liberated feminine gender of the Working Class and the Lower Middleclass leaving men women of the Middleclass-proper time and space to operate outside the domestic sphere and constantly threaten that metaphorical Glass Ceiling[y1] with breakage.
In most countries men and women are paid unequal wages for the same work. So encouraging women to take up jobs formerly performed by more demanding and competitive male employees is good for the Middleclass Capitalism as women are less prone to take trade union action against unfair treatment than men. Consequently, the newly liberated women are routinely overworked and underpaid by their employers. In addition, there is the added benefit of having women that are of not their class readily available for the sexual gratification of the employer. While earning for the upkeep of the family, almost all Lower Middleclass and Working Class women perform their traditional domestic chores as unpaid labour. Consequently, most women today age far rapidly once they are past their twenties. Of course, the Middleclass entrepreneur, being several steps ahead of those of the rest of the world, cash in on the feeling of insecurity in aging women in the form of mass produced cosmetics, an industry that is a running a close second to pharmaceuticals .
Lately, women with Working Class roots seemed to have become aware of them being used leading to a new kind of feminist movement called – Radical Feminism. Yet, how much of Radical feminism is just another topic for a PhD, or something to get a foot in at an established institution with mouth-watering fringe benefits is a question I would leave you to ponder on.
[y1]They say that in the 2016 US presidential election Hillary Clinton had chosen the venue in which she expected to be announced as the next President of the US because it had a glass ceiling which they were going to literally shatter!