Neoliberalism and Patriarchy – and WOMEN. As a class.

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.

About Inge: Feminist who took up activism in 2011 thanks to Nafissatou Diallo – the courageous woman who reported Strauss-Kahn for rape. Teacher in my “civil life” and Girls' Commissioner (Advocate) at my school. Campaigning against sexual and “domestic” violence and against prostitution, against the “fathers' rights” movement and against surrogacy, and taking part in Lesbian activism in Germany. Working from and with KOFRA in Munich (Communication Centre for Women Regarding Their Work and Life Situation), a feminist organisation and place for women to meet, organize, learn and discuss feminist demands and action. Working with other women, networking and bringing women together to shared action, launching and implementing campaigns, co-organizing conferences. Co-founder of Abolition 2014 and Initiative Stop Sexkauf which concentrate on abolishing prostitution. At an earlier period in my life doing literature and gender studies at Munich University and analysing feminity, semantics, female language and spaces in the English Gothic Novel at the end of the 18th century.

Find out more: 
Twitter: @IngeReed
Articles on German rape laws, rape awareness actions, prostitution, surrogacy, in the Kofra Magazine. (In German). Articles in English on banishea and Abolition 2014.