A response to Nancy Fraser’s ‘How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden – and how to reclaim it’ and Brenna Bhandar and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s ‘White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome’ (Blog Assignment 1)

From NinjaCates and BattyMamzelle.


As a response to the two complimentary articles, Nancy Fraser’s ‘How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden – and how to reclaim it’, and Brenna Bhandar and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s ‘White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome’, it is noticeable in initial readings that, as complimentary as these articles are when read together, that the authors are in conflict with each other on a fundamental and moral level. While Fraser talks of the need for post-second-wave feminism as a response to problematic neoliberal regimes of the era, (Fraser, 2013, par. 7) she lacks the intersectional perspective that Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva critique for being deficient of in their response. Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva point out the irony in statements Fraser makes when she talks, for example, about how “the feminist turn to identity politics dovetailed all too neatly with a rising neoliberalism that wanted nothing more than to repress all memory of social equality” (par. 8) in that she speaks of from her own lived experiences as a middle class, heterosexual, white, cisgendered female privilege. This ignores the complex histories of oppression that are unique to marginalized people, people of colour, people with dis(abilities), people under the queer umbrella, people who are less socio-economically privileged, and more. As uncomfortable as it can be to call out a seemingly well intentioned person, Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva bring to light a form of erasure or ‘invisibilizing’ that happens every day, and that has been happening to generations of people in a patriarchal and colonial system.

Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva’s article shares stories of people who are silenced and ‘invisibilized’, which acts as a stand of resistance, as well as a powerful medium to connect with others, in that it recognizes the work that people of colour have done in social movements such as the women’s liberation movement shown in the documentary ‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’ (2014), although this documentary film also lacks an intersectional outlook. Their stand of resistance, advocacy, and unity pays homage to the importance and struggles that women of colour face, which are very different than the struggles that white women face, with regards to not only race and ethnicity, but with regards to class as well. (Example of those differences: Carla and Hayfa by Love Intersections) Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva’s lived experiences as women of colour mark the importance of lived experiences in talking about these issues of neoliberal regimes that Fraser’s article scrapes the surface of.

One of Fraser’s rounding general sentiments of change is to “break the spurious link between our critique of the family wage and flexible capitalism by militating for a form of life that de-centres waged work and valorizes unwaged activities, including – but not only – carework.” Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva’s article describes the work of trailblazers such as Audre Lorde, A.Y. Davis, and more as being able to build solidarity “across the colour line” (Bhandar et al., 2013, par. 3), playing upon the idea, for example, of the reproductive sphere and productive sphere being linked to the ideas of a “male breadwinner and female homemaker” (Fraser, 2013, par. 6) in third world or racialized countries. Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva call attention to the increasing relation of inequalities in relation to race, gender, sexuality, and other social hierarchies with “culturally embedded and structural forms of patriarchal violence” (Bhandar et al., 2013, par. 4), such as slavery, hypersexualization of black males, and other racialized imageries such as the derogatory term used for Indigenous women, “squaw” (par. 4-5). (Example: Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits by Love Intersections)

In talking about Fraser’s distaste for colonial and neoliberal establishments, she recognizes her own contributions to the oppression of women, all while asking women to “lean in” (Fraser, 2013, par. 2). Bhandar and Ferreira da Silva call out the seemingly indifferent stance that Fraser has regarding the need for Black feminism and the systems that suppress racialized groups from ‘leaning in’, and all other necessary marginalized people’s movements that would aid in the social re-structuring of the harmful and problematic neoliberal and colonial regimes we live under today. (Local example: Black Lives Matter Vancouver video by Love Intersections)


Word count: 663


Bhandar, B., & Ferreira da Silva, D. (2013). White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome. Critical Legal   Thinking.  Retreived from http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/10/21/white-feminist-fatigue-syndrome/

Fraser, N. (2013) How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden – and how to reclaim it. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/14/feminism-capitalist-handmaiden-neoliberal

Sung, J. & Ng, D. (2016) Black Lives Matter Vancouver. Love Intersections. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/qKaO_5R1Cs8

Sung, J. & Ng, D. (2016) Carla and Hayfa. Love Intersections. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/LkOBjQl9bnU

Sung, J. & Ng, D. (2015) Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits. Love Intersections. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/mfjHgG7IPCI






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