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Why Feminism And Capitalism Can Never Be Reconciled

The 'feminist free marketeer' is an oxymoron, when the free market is a bastion of the socioeconomic inequalities feminism opposes.

Pro life rally in Bogotá, Colombia on May 4, 2019
Pro life rally in Bogotá, Colombia on May 4, 2019
Laura Macias


BOGOTÁ — I squirm, I must confess, whenever I hear a woman blindly defending the free-market system and laissez-faire capitalism. While feminism was not created to tell women what or how to think, it's time to reflect on these impassioned defenses. I particularly want to consider why defending the unfettered free market and being a woman are simply not compatible.

One of the causes of the gaping power inequalities between men and women in modern societies is the latter's evident economic disempowerment. This is also caused by the inflexible division of labor that makes men the economic providers and assigns women the role of caregiver, that places men in charge of public life and women at home.

Evidently, maternity becomes the biggest load and punishment for any woman wanting to reverse the roles and work at becoming her own provider. One only need view reports on wage gaps that widen with every new son or daughter.

It is not about demonizing the market but considering the evidence.

The unregulated market runs with current cultural cannons and beliefs, merely serving to reinforce and widen gender inequalities. The market has flaws and generally fails those men and women finding themselves in positions of greater vulnerability. It is not about demonizing the market but considering the evidence and recognizing that the said "free-market economy" is not always the solution for a prosperous and inclusive society.

The market fails to provide services like child care and hospitals for all socio-economic sectors. It fails to provide decent, stable jobs with equal salaries for women. Figures show that countries with extensive public sectors have greater gender equality at work, because more women are hired to work in the public sector than the private.

Women are the last to be hired and first to be fired during financial crises, as research by Kristen Rogheh Ghodsee of the University of Pennsylvania has shown. And such crises are of course cyclical in the capitalist system. It is no secret women suffered more in the last crisis in Europe and continue to suffer a great deal from austerity policies that have cut public spending. The state's intervention is needed to level the field between men and women, while policies ensuring free and universal access to child care and healthcare are imperative for any country wanting to achieve gender equality.

When speaking of a country like Colombia where the situation of rural and poor women is even more complicated, state intervention, as Ghodsee has shown, is a great aid to heads of households (who are mostly women). It allows them to abandon abusive situations much more easily and gives them sexual freedom and control over their bodies.

None of this is populism or Venezuelan-style socialism. We need to stop demonizing policies of social intervention on the mythical premises of "meritocracy" or by lionizing personal determination. Let us stop romanticizing men and women who are forced to renounce their human rights and dignity amid economic difficulties, to progress in a system created by — and for the benefit of — just one half of the population.

Only once we've put aside all our prejudices and stereotypes can we then discuss whether or not a fully deregulated market is the right way.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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