Women Who Work: The limits of the neoliberal feminist paradigm

Catherine Rottenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines Ivanka Trump's Women Who Work, arguing that it represents the newest permutation of the neoliberal feminist subject. After providing an overview of the recent emergence of neoliberal feminism, I explain why the book should be considered part of the wider cultural landscape in which this variant of feminism has increasingly become commonsensical. I then turn to demonstrate how Women Who Work construes the ideal female subject not only as generic human capital but also incites her to invest in herself constantly, where activities ranging from professional workshops through hobbies to friendships are understood as practices that appreciate the value of the self. The conversion of women into generic rather than gendered human capital remains, however, incomplete, since the ideal of a happy work–family balance continues to serve as a push back to the wholesale erasure of traditional notions of sexual difference. Finally, I highlight that neoliberal feminism is erasing other long-standing divisions and political differences. Not only does the private–public divide collapse, but so, too, does the distinction between one's private self and one's public enterprise as the self itself becomes an enterprise. This dual process of collapse and reconfiguration shapes the newest neoliberal feminist subject, the main protagonist of Trump's Women Who Work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1082
Number of pages10
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Volume26
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ivanka Trump
  • Women Who Work
  • human capital
  • neoliberal feminism
  • neoliberal rationality
  • work-family balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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