NEOLIBERALISM AND PATRIARCHY

Neo-capitalism has changed the face of patriarchy. The new strategies and principles of management of neo-liberalism have infused into the patriarchal system. Whether it's individualism, privatization/transfer of men’s financial responsibilities to the State, deregulation, short term contracts, competitive pressure, lean management/streamlining, globalization/making domestic labour competitive with global labour, fast technological changes, most of these neo-capitalist approaches have been transposed into the age-old system of the exploitation of women by men. Neo-liberalism (which started in the 80s) has been an attempt by capitalism to curb the power of labour and neutralize all the progressive reforms and culture of the 60s and 70s; likewise, neo-patriarchy has adopted neo-liberalism's strategies to regain the ground lost to feminism. This exposé will analyse the changes that took place in different patriarchal institutions--prostitution, heterosexual relationships, marriage and motherhood--as they have mutated by integrating neo-liberal schemes.

SPEAKERS: SHAHIDA JANJUA / FRANCINE SPORENDA / INGE KLEINE / HEATHER BRUNSKELL-EVANS


SHAPING THE FUTURE
SHAHIDA JANJUA

Shahidah’s talk will explore how dominance over women has not always existed. There is evidence from the hidden histories of some societies which show that women have been powerful, fair and equal citizens. Patriarchy has nevertheless existed for millennia, based on the sexual and economic dominance of men over women.

She will talk about history teaching us important lessons about the nature of Patriarchy. How it ensures its own continuity by means of fear and terror, through violence against women in the home and on the streets, and how it’s laws legitimise the violence, keeping women in a state of constant fear.

Feminist researchers have told us about women’s challenges to Patriarchy, what we have won and what we have lost through our struggles for freedom and equality. We will look at how Patriarchy changes its face continually in response to our challenges, and how these changes frame our thinking and our actions.

What are the challenges facing us as feminists today, how do we analyse the historical and current workings of patriarchy and develop strategies that will break male dominance, break its continuity, and put an end to women’s subjugation, exploitation and oppression?


NEOLIBERALISM AND THE SEX INDUSTRY
FRANCINE SPORENDA

This paper will analyse how traditional areas of patriarchal power over women--pornography, prostitution, sex, control and exploitation of women's reproductive power, etc.--are being reinvented along the lines of neo-capitalist strategies (outsourcing, short term contracts, escape from national regulations and taxes etc) supported by an accelerated rate of technological innovations. The goal is to streamline male domination to make it more efficient and profitable. In the course of this process, the very biology of sex and reproduction are being altered, within a general trend towards increased commodification of women as biological resources, and the dream of their ultimate replacement by non-biologic "females" (transgenders) and sex robots.



NEOLIBERALISM AND PATRIARCHY – AND WOMEN. AS A CLASS
INGE KLEINE

In theory, liberalism with its alleged focus on individual rights appears to be a philosophy that counters a collective system like patriarchy.  This is why it sounds so good.

But we know that patriarchy is resilient, adaptive, and that its profiteers, predominantly rich white men, know how to keep it up and running.

What we currently see is a conservative, even reactionary backlash across many countries and societies against us and against women's hard-won rights with a simultaneous reorientation of gender relations under neo-liberal auspices. What we see is another round in the re-enactment of men's dramas of the exclusion and appropriation of women, of femaleness and of femininity. Women's rights and demands as well as those of other targeted and oppressed human beings are reframed so that their affirmation can be used to push women again to the margins and beyond under the societal and economic conditions of the Global West and the Global North of the early 21st century.

An aggressively conceived form of liberalism with its matching individualisation needs a specific superstructure regarding gender relations. One that will co-opt and tether women both ideologically as well as factually, so that men's emotional demands are met, so that this “civilization”, i.e. patriarchy continues to function and so that its members accept the corresponding labour and economic system which protects male privileges.

How can patriarchy accommodate both reactionary attacks on women and “post-modern”, neoliberal ones? How are these linked and where does this leave us in our struggle for women's, for our freedom?  How can we fight in the face of this relentless reframing and appropriation? Let us discuss where to place our chisels and hammers to smash the structure that is patriarchy.



THE FEMALE BODY: REFLECTIONS ON ‘GENDER IDENTITY’ AND SEX EQUALITY
HEATHER BRUNSKELL-EVANS

Neo-liberalism is a political philosophy which has several problems:
1) It regards the individual as an autonomous agent;
2) It tells us the unregulated free-market economy alleviates social inequalities;
3) It describes freedom in terms of individual ‘choice’.

What is wrong with this economistic view of the human being? It takes no account of any other power relation. The case of the female body illustrates this problem perfectly:

On the one hand women’s bodies are seen as material objects to be sold through pornography and prostitution. On the other hand, female bodies are seen as immaterial because any individual can allegedly ‘become’ a woman – not in Simone De Beauvoir’s sense (the struggle for female bodied people to become socially accepted as ‘feminine’) – but through simply identifying as ‘feminine’.

This paper will explore the political consequences for girls and women when the term ‘gender identity’ replaces the term sex-inequality and demonstrates how this purportedly progressive term performs the reverse function – it actually re-invigorates reactionary, traditional ideas of girlhood and womanhood which it is important to resist.

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