It is imperative that Protest is founded on feminist beliefs, we’ll need to practice the values of feminism as we grow in order for Protest Magazine to work. By “work” I mean existing as a company that empowers women who contribute to the production of the magazine, women working internally and those outside of the company. The creatives and the supporters. All. Of. Us. Feminist feels more like a buzz word lately and is being thrown around on a superficial basis, this might be the result of capitalism co-opting the feminist hype and using it as a source of revenue. Well meaning women and men declare themselves feminists and demand that we all work toward equality for women. They believe they are doing the right thing when they purchase feminist labeled or inspired merchandise and apparel, support the newest Hollywood-feminist-of-the-week and re-tweet the hashtags all while overlooking the ways mainstream feminism is exclusionary and capitalism is oppressive.
It’s hard for me to believe that we as a country can truly exist in favor of the overall well-being of women as a capitalist society. Capitalism is divisive and uses hierarchy and exploitative tactics to survive. Corporate mainstream feminism does nothing good for marginalized groups of women and intersectional feminists. This type of ‘feminism' works against women. We believe equality for women is a goal we should all work toward, but in order to reach equality we also have to gain social equity. Equality for black women doesn’t look the same as equality for white women. Equality for straight women doesn’t look the same as equality for femme members of the LGBTQ community. We need equality, but equality doesn't guarantee fairness. Giving women of color the tools needed for them to sustain a healthy and safe living is the foundation required in order for them to reap the rewards of equality.
The multiple communities women of color exist in share some struggles but also have unique issues that need to be tackled as well. Breaking down systemic barriers will begin the process of leveling the playing field for these women, but what exactly do we mean when we ask for women’s equality in a capitalist world? Do we, as women, want the same opportunity to financial wealth in the free market even if it can only be gained at the expense of others? Even if it means becoming the oppressor? I’m a millennial living on her own and navigating the crazy high prices of everything- rent, food, healthcare, transportation, leisure activities, etc. I have seen my mother and other family members struggle with money. I’m very aware of the importance of money. I’m very aware that money acts as fuel. I’m constantly trying to reconcile living under capitalism and wanting financial stability for myself and other women.
I read somewhere that today’s purchasing power comes from consumers who are inclined to spend their money at companies that align with their values. We are attempting to make ethical purchasing decisions in a free market. More focus is being placed on the women who help manufacture the beloved feminist tees, more people are asking if they are paying money for a shirt produced by a young woman in a sweatshop across the world. Businesses that claim to be for the empowerment of women are being questioned as well, how is it that a company can support women but decide livable wages and resources to boost the careers of their female employees are unnecessary? Unassuming women and some men are tricked into believing in fake social activism only to fall victim to becoming a pawn in corporate feminism. I can’t see a way capitalism and feminism could work together and even if they did I don’t feel it would evoke a positive social change.
Corporate feminism has erased the voices of marginalized women, again. I have to believe that women of color can acquire and sustain wealth, financial and conscious wealth, despite being silenced. The type of wealth that helps us gain independence. Wealth for femme/women of color requires we work through our emotional barriers so we can dismantle society’s structural ones. Society’s structural barriers block our progression. The emotional and psychological baggage resulting from the racism and sexism we face is very real and very damaging. Let's keep this in mind when we hear the word feminism coming from the media. Instead of getting sucked into the superficiality of mainstream feminism, let’s remember the struggles of marginalized groups. Remember the circumstances of black women, of indigenous women, immigrant and poor women. In feminist business we make space for empathy and a focus on the well-being of women in and out of a work setting. Capitalism doesn’t belong in feminism, but feminist practices are necessary in business.