Black Friday Feminism
Now, before anyone thinks that I am pro-recession, pro-depression, or
anti-prosperity, let me squash those thoughts right now. As an American
citizen and feminist, I recognize that the economy is run by consumers
and the face of the global market largely depends on the flourishing of
the US economy.
That being said, I offer this: Maybe this is an
excellent time for US Americans to experience a financial crisis. Maybe
there are some gains to be made in this difficult time which cannot be
measured in the Dow Jones or home buying rates.
Black Friday is
called Black Friday because it signifies when business companies are
supposed to go into the black, showing surplus and profit. Notoriously,
this is the day when US citizens open their wallet and begin the costly
splurge of commercial gift-giving.
The less news I watch and the
more observant I become of the people around me, the more I am
convinced that this time of crisis can be an opportunity for many to
deepen their lives and rethink the function of material goods in their
homes. Perhaps a bit simplistic, but the concept of Americans
re-evaluating what is necessary and what is superfluous in their homes
sounds fabulous to me. It is common knowledge that US Americans are
some of the most wasteful citizens on the planet, nonchalantly eating
more than our share of the world's pie and throwing out any leftovers
that weren't ours to begin with. We are all guilty of this. Our society
thrives on convenience, comfort, and "if it's there, use it up"
What does this - consumerism, wastefulness, and intentionality - have to do with Feminism?
Jessica Hoffman wrote an excellent article that envisioned what a feminist liberation looks like
and how systematic powers (racism, economic hierarchy, ableism, sexism)
- particularly capitalism - function as a multi-systematic team of
oppression. She writes that it is not enough to recognize
"intersectionality," as a lens to view feminists themselves, but also
how to analyze the existing oppressive forces around us. She argues, "I
do think that resisting capitalism, globally, is integral to
antiracist, progressive, social-justice feminisms — that is, the only
kinds of feminism I think have a chance of liberating anyone/everyone,
and the only kinds of feminism I want to have anything to do with."
(I'm not going to rehash her points, you really should just go and read yourself.)
not going to go on a rant about capitalism, but I do want to apply a
similar analysis to our daily lives, questionable (at best) practices
of spending, and the connection to clear(er) feminist practices.Recently, I viewed a short clip on Momversation
which covered how to talk to your children about the financial crisis
with your children. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a commendable act to
to take the proverbial teachable moment to educate your child about
good spending habits and helping them understand the power of a dollar.
if what it takes for the middle class US mothers to understand that
borrowing a book from the local library fares better than purchasing
one is a national crisis, then we are in more of a mental crisis than
This crushing tragedy has devastated millions,
leaving no redeeming hope in the gross squandering of millions of
dollars that vanished the retirement and life-long savings of so many.
And there is no delight in watching the belt tighten around those who
are already economically anorexic either. However, for those of us who
are in positions of power, for those of us who stand to gain by losing
our laissez-faire attitudes, these times are an opportunity to sift out
the unnecessary in our lives.
We need to seize the clarity that comes
with living deliberately by choosing what we most desire
and transform ourselves into a YES culture. More specifically, we
develop a culture that says YES when we truly desire something, not
just to lukewarm likings.
There is an art to being selective. It
requires forethought, work, and self-knowledge. Living simply is not
about living bare. It is not about turning on money or frowning in the
face of material goods. If US Americans took a radical moment to choose
what they most want from their lives, and this holiday season, this
Black Friday, they took this day to go into the surplus of life instead
of adding to the profit of companies, our financial constraints would
not be so newsworthy. What would we look like if, just for today,
instead of Americans dining out, we'd have a few more meals in our
homes. Instead of pacing the aisles of Best Buy to upgrade our gadgets,
we stroll down our sideswalks and breathe. The "restraints" of a
financial crisis can be easily opened into a national pause in our
senseless habits of spending. That moment could offer infinite
It is not enough for feminists to recognize
inequality and racism in consumer marketing. It is not enough for
feminists to go to libraries instead of popular bookstores. It is not
even enough to limit our spending. This is not just about frugality,
but about being more vociferous. Being or becoming a thoughtful
feminist means growing into somewhat of a prophet.
are and should be the ones to innately sense where we are going when
our practices do not match our future goals. A thoughtful feminist is a
selective consumer, one who understands the complicated relationship
between availability and accessibility, personal fulfillment and
superficial enrichment. S/he is the one who most fiercely advocates for
a spiritual retreat from the crowds and allows a discriminatory
practice of her monied and life investments.
She knows when enough is enough.
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