Current feminist theory in validating
Speaking a number of years later with more knowledge about the trajectory of the global credit crisis, I find it in turn remarkable that the state of disheartenment among left-wing feminists occurred at the very moment when global capitalism entered the initial stage of this crisis – as if these feminists had a sense of foreboding, or as if the dejected feelings and subsequent calls for vigorous media-politics in the feminist debates were an indication of the larger gulf of economic despair that was yet to come.
Today, I am more than ever convinced that there is an intimate relationship between the sentiments of feminist despair and its call for mediated activism, and the contemporary of violence under neoliberal capitalist expansion and crisis.
I will use Jean Baudrillard’s ideas on media technologies and capitalism to make sense of the debates between Butler and Braidotti.
I realise this is somewhat risky, as Baudrillard has been condemned as an anti-feminist philosopher [See Gallop (1987), Morris (1988), Kellner (1989), and Plant (1993).
I do however suggest that the feminist critiques on Baudrillard have thrown out the metaphorical baby with the bathwater.
His suggestions about politics, the media and seduction, could greatly help raising the versatility of feminist theory in light of techno-neo-liberalism.
On the other hand, calls from other feminists for a vigour even stronger than that of that second wave were raised in an effort to efface this nostalgia.
At that same Gender Conference, these calls to action pressed for a more abundant use of the new technologies for feminism.
As we can see from several gender-related conferences over the last years, this disheartenment has left-wing feminists segue into two seemingly opposite directions.
Braidotti’s and Butler’s quasi-oppositional politics – and they have been good friends and sparring partners for a few decades in the feminist arena – are therefore representative of how the subject in left-wing feminist theory has become tied in with neoliberal acceleration.
I propose that Braidotti’s nomadic and Butler’s Lacanian-poststructuralist subjects are today actually two sides of the same coin.
On the one hand, some of them become nostalgic for the lost energy and impact of the second wave and the nurturing arrangements of the old welfare states.
This nostalgia was particularly present at the 6th European Gender Research Conference in Poland a few years back, where several European academics profusely lamented the lost era of spirited second wave feminist activism.