By David Michael Newstead.
The NoNonsense Guide to Feminism by Nikki van der Gaag covers everything from sex workers to LGBTQ rights, advances in girls’ education to the history of feminism. And among its criticisms of patriarchy and capitalism, here are two highlights that stuck out to me.
- Even from a neoliberal point of view, there are few arguments for not pushing a feminist agenda. In monetary terms alone, the International Labour Organization points out that the barriers which hold back women ‘also hold back economic growth and development in countries with large gender gaps.’ A McKinsey Global Institute report puts a figure on this – it finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. In India, ‘gender equality would have a larger economic impact than in any other region in the world – $700 billion of added GDP in 2025,’ but for this to happen, comprehensive change is needed, including ‘raising women’s participation in India’s labor force by 10 percentage points between now and 2025, bringing 68 million more women into the labor force. This will require bridging both economic and social gender gaps.’
- Feminism seems to provoke particular fury online. Perhaps this is because it now has such a public profile; women who stand up or speak out somehow become the focus of men’s (and other women’s) rage. As British writer Laurie Penny has pointed out, ‘the people sending these messages are often perfectly ordinary men holding down perfectly ordinary jobs.’ She cites a particularly vile and violent comment that was written by a Richard White, ‘who lived in Sidcup, outside London, with a wife and kids, and just happened to run a hate website directed at women and minorities’.