Distorted voices

Feminism Seduced: how global elites use women's labour and ideas to exploit the world Hester Eisenstein Paradigm Publishers

May 24, 2010 · 2 min read

Since the start of the modern women’s liberation movement there have always been cautious voices from Marxist feminists, warning us of the risks of being ‘co-opted’ by capitalism. Hester Eisenstein was not one of those repressing voices.

So when she finds that mainstream feminism has become managerial feminism and now imperial feminism, we need to take notice. ‘Red alert! The globalisers are using our ideas to further their goals and to frustrate ours,’ she writes.

Eisenstein tracks a US women’s movement overtaken by corporate counter-revolution against unions and the poor, leading to a rock-bottom ‘feminisation of labour’ that campaigners never envisaged. Worse, warmongers of the right – who always opposed women’s equality – now smoothly use feminist voices to claim they are liberating women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

None of this is uncontested. Many thousands of women have joined ‘new social movement unionism’ in the US, and ideas of women’s freedom have penetrated deeply into every plan of international development and resistance. But Eisenstein avoids the usual celebratory tone of insider histories, taking a sharp look at where real power lies.

I disagree with her more as she draws towards the present, when her analysis sometimes moves backwards to praise more traditional forms of state-socialist ‘experiment’. Living in a world where corporations and even entertainers have greater net worth than whole state economies, I can never see ‘civil society’ simply as a global con or a substitute for economic sovereignty. To me the term carries heroic dissident connotations, as does the heritage of radical-feminist stroppy individualism.

But by keeping the personal and political together, this book opens up an exemplary conversation – and we can always talk back.

Amanda Sebestyen



The Harland and Wolff workers want to make renewable energy. A Labour government would help them

In the 1970s, Lucas Aerospace workers had a plan to make socially useful products and went to minister for industry Tony Benn for help. Do the workers occupying their shipyard in Belfast have a similar ally in John McDonnell? By Hilary Wainwright

Lowkey: Soundtrack to the struggle

Ashish Ghadiali interviews British-Iraqi rapper Kareem Dennis, aka Lowkey, about viral videos, power in the community, the Grenfell fire and writing lyrics at the cutting edge of political debate

Out of the gloom

By Hilary Wainwright


Hungary: Europe’s creeping fascism

Luke Cooper reports on his recent visit to Hungary, an EU member state where democratic freedoms are no longer taken for granted

The reactionary rebellion

Neo-fascism is on the rise across Europe. It may have taken on a different form but its essence is the same, writes Walter Baier

They shall not pass: feminists on the front line

Across the world, feminists are fighting the far right and fascism. We hear from activists in seven countries.