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It's Not as Sexy, Sure - But We Need a Feminism That Helps the Masses Not the Few

04/04/2016 20:22 | Updated 05 April 2016

Specialist services that help BME women survivors of violence are crying out that they're in crisis. Slashes to benefits have been found to hit females hardest. Sure Start centres dealt with £430M of cuts in the first two years of the coalition. On a zero hour contract? Huge wow - you're less likely to be a man.

All of the above are feminist issues. Big style. But it feels to me like the dominant conversation around women's rights at the minute is centered on the big players. On more women sitting at boardroom tables, more CEOs who are mothers, on getting Hillary Clinton into the White House.

Don't get me wrong - I totally believe to to be a trueism that you can't be what you can't see. Representation and role models in the corridors of power are seriously significant in kickstarting ambitions and fuelling the imaginations of future female movers and shakers.

But.

This doesn't do much for women who aren't looking at a future in city professions, media, or law. As Guardian journalist Dawn Foster says in her new book Lean Out - a response to and critique of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's 2013 Lean In - as is the case with economics, trickle down feminism doesn't work. (Case in point: Margaret Thatcher's time running the country. The Iron Lady's own cabinet only ever saw eight female appointments, with only one of those ever making it past a junior ministerial role).

Sure, Sandberg is one of the world's youngest female billionaires, who didn't inherit her wealth. But I can't see any one individual owning such a ridiculous proportion of the world's cash when millions desperately scratch by as something to celebrate, no matter their gender. And putting on our party hats about more, more, more money accumulation by immensely privileged people feels to me, well, a bit shitty, to be frank.

One per cent feminism, as Foster dubs it, takes a radical, political movement and twists it into lifeblood for existing power structures, which, yes, stamp all over (most) women. It moves conversation away from dealing with the implications of rampant, worsening wealth inequality and focuses on the elite.

While we need to get to a place where women in leadership, leading states and with an equal share of air time is unremarkable, we've also got a big fight on our hands to champion the masses and their struggle in a time of austerity that affects women more than men.

But we're really not. Not enough. And for the maligned, that's a total bloody travesty.

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