Neoliberal Feminism and the Future of Human Capital
In this paper Catherine Rottenberg will examine the contemporary embrace of feminism by the mainstream media and among high-powered women. Not only is a neoliberal variant of feminism on the rise but this feminism is producing a new form of neoliberal governmentality for middle-class women, one based on careful sequencing and smart self-investments in the present to ensure enhanced returns in the future. Providing two representative examples–the glorification of college hook-up culture and the new technology of egg-freezing being offered as part of corporations’ benefits package—Rottenberg discusses how upwardly mobile middle-class women are currently being encouraged to invest in their professions first and to postpone maternity until some later point. By encouraging these women to build their own portfolio and to self-invest in the years once thought of as the most “fertile” Rottenberg further suggests that neoliberal feminism is increasingly interpellating middle-class aspirational women as "human capital." Yet, given that reproduction continues to present a stumbling block in this conversion process, reproduction and care-work are increasingly being outsourced to other women deemed “disposable” because not properly “responsiblized.” Hence, the emergent neoliberal feminism not only forsakes the majority of women by splitting female subjecthood into the few worthy capital enhancing female subjects and the disavowed rest, but it also facilitates the creation of new and intensified forms of racialized and class-stratified gender exploitation.
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