"This is not a feminist community center, it’s a for-profit company"
November 25, 2019 6:07 AM   Subscribe

Neoliberal Feminism Has a New Private Club: "Feminism is a movement for the coordination of women for their emancipation as women. If feminism is just women doing stuff with other women vaguely involved, this life-saving capacity is lost. Even if The Wing gave out entirely free memberships, it would still be fundamentally bad for women."

Amelia Horgan at Jacobin writes about The Wing's false promise of liberation:
This is a “resistance” without any idea of how power works. It is a resistance that assumes America was fine until 2016. A common idea is that of the online harassment of public women as central to the mechanics of misogyny and male power. This view finds its theoretical elaboration in philosopher Kate Manne’s recent Down Girl. The animosity that a successful, wealthy woman receives is often sexist and troubling, that much is beyond doubt. It often becomes targeted and serious.

[...]

It is not enough to say that The Wing is only helping some women and this is bad. It is not a remedy to say that we must also focus on other women. We cannot resolve The Wing’s problems by doing better work elsewhere, or encouraging its nice ladies to do the same. This is because the problem with neoliberal feminism is not one of omission. It is that it stabilizes the status quo and justifies exploitation. Women doing their business under pink banners declaring “the future is female” might make someone somewhere a few extra quid. But it should make any serious feminist sick.
Two months after The Wing responded to a racist incident at their West Hollywood location by apologizing for not resolving the conflict "in a way that made either side feel supported", Char Adams at Zora writes about the importance of black women workplaces:
Of the roughly 4,000 co-working spaces that exist across the country, only about 56 of them are Black-owned, Vice reported. The number of those spaces designed specifically for Black women is likely much smaller, forcing us into largely White spaces that fail to cater to our needs. This is only exacerbated by the implicit bias that often moves White and non-Black people in these spaces to view Black women as inherently dangerous and threatening. In recent decades, we’ve had meaningful discussions about White feminism, anti-Blackness, and the overall disregard for Black women’s lives. Even notable White feminists are able to quote bell hooks as they declare themselves allies and flaunt their knowledge of Black women’s issues. But that doesn’t always translate to their everyday encounters with Black women.

The hope is that these conversations would lead to intentional intersectionality and spark change. Instead, Black women’s language and aesthetics are often co-opted by capitalism, with $20 T-shirts that read “Protect Black Women” and “Black Girl Magic” throw pillows that fail to credit the phrase’s creator, CaShawn Thompson. In short, Black women often fall victim to White feminism that spouts intersectional rhetoric from a large platform, only to ignore the needs of Black women on an interpersonal, day-to-day basis. Even the most seemingly inclusive co-working space isn’t immune to this. Like in any non-Black space, Black women are often on high alert, working to avoid being unfairly viewed as an “angry Black woman.”
Meanwhile, Harron Walker at Jezebel has One Weird Trick that Exclusive Coworking Spaces Hate:
I agree that the spaces are lovely—or at least the one I visited in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood is. I also agree that not hanging out with men is great, but you don’t have to spend nearly $3,000 to do it. It’s easy. Just stop. Women—like the cultural inheritors of the vintage lesbians you’ll find aestheticized all over the Wing’s Instagram—do it all the time.

...But hanging out with other women is priceless—something the Wing knows all too well, or else it wouldn’t try to sell you the no boys allowed experience for up to $250 a month.
posted by Ouverture (113 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Wing is irredeemable. Boss-bitch feminism is not bad because not all women are bosses. It’s bad because it legitimizes exploitation.

This. Among other things. Thank you for the thoughtful post, Ouverture.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:40 AM on November 25, 2019 [24 favorites]


but you don’t have to spend nearly $3,000 to do it. It’s easy. Just stop.

I mean, okay, but the thing is, I'm a remote tech worker right now. The company's going to have a local office soon so I'm not bothering with it, but if I relocate to a city where they don't have an office, I'm going to be getting a coworking space. I'm not considering signing up for a coworking space just for the hell of it. The amount they're charging seems to be actually roughly in line with what coworking spaces cost. This is a problem, in general, that group working spaces aren't more accessible to people who don't have tech jobs. But some people don't need to spend nearly $3k a year just to be around women--they just need to spend that to have a place that isn't their home to go work. The other alternative at this price point is a space that is definitely, reliably going to be full of cishet white male tech dudes and is set up with a similar set of "friendly perks" that are aimed at cishet white male tech dudes.

I would feel really weird signing up for one of these because all of them present a version of "woman" that is not at all compatible with my identity. But particularly if I were still the younger version of me that was the subject of a lot more unwanted attention from men, I would still pay for it in a heartbeat, because unlike a regular workplace, those coworking spaces don't have even the thinnest reassurance of an HR department.

There's a lot of stuff to go after here in terms of how they position and market themselves, I think, and whether they're really presenting spaces that are intersectionally inclusive. But a lot of this presents it like The Wing is a thing you sign up for just to go hang out. I agree this would be terrible. I also don't actually think anybody's signing up for it to just go hang out. They're signing up for a coworking space with incidental social activities.
posted by Sequence at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2019 [36 favorites]


But a lot of this presents it like The Wing is a thing you sign up for just to go hang out. I agree this would be terrible. I also don't actually think anybody's signing up for it to just go hang out. They're signing up for a coworking space with incidental social activities.

There are actually women's clubs that are really just places to hang out, too. They're the equivalent of old boy men's clubs. They often wrap themselves in the language of feminism, as well, but it's very definitely a kind of lean-in feminism, the kind that thinks the only thing wrong with the patriarchy is that it's mostly run by men, but that all the other toxic capitalist, white supremacist, ablist, heterocentric stuff is basically fine, that if only women could become CEOs and VCs and Senators at the same rate as men that would solve things.

It's hard not to find that very narrow view of feminism attractive if you're a white woman -- "success" seems so close, like you could just reach out a little further and grab it. And if you get to spend your time in a beautiful room full of other women who are happy to tell you that you are doing all the right things so long as you tell them they are doing all the right things, then so much the better.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:27 AM on November 25, 2019 [22 favorites]


But a lot of this presents it like The Wing is a thing you sign up for just to go hang out. I agree this would be terrible. I also don't actually think anybody's signing up for it to just go hang out. They're signing up for a coworking space with incidental social activities.

The Jacobin piece specifically calls out the "incidental social activities" and the commodification and co-optation of feminism as the issue here, not that The Wing is a place just go hang out.

Will Bangladeshi garment workers, who are women of color facing immense exploitation, feel much better if the boss at the top is a woman? Will precarious gig workers, who are often women of color and generating billions of dollars of value while seeing almost none of it, be thankful the boss at the top stealing their tips is a woman instead of a cishet white male tech dude?

The issue, from a leftist feminist perspective, is not that power at the top isn't diverse enough. The issue is power at the top.
posted by Ouverture at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2019 [30 favorites]


I stopped reading this article because it is just dripping with misogyny. It's premise is that when women do stupid capitalist things it's double super extra bad because women are supposed to lead the revolution. But it's fine when men do stupid capitalist things, they are immune from criticism. Expensive exclusive men's clubs - well, boys will be boys. If they lack solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers, well what did you expect? Women, however, need to be pure and perfect. They can't be flawed people with muddled motivations.
posted by medusa at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2019 [74 favorites]


Just how much of our media economy revolves around finding reasons to performatively shit on the efforts of others, and how much we demand consumption of these performances, is pretty astonishing when you step back and look at it. These folks seem to have found a need among female workers with tech-style salaries who lack a lot of basic workplace protections in coworking spaces, and seem to be creatively filling that need. That kind of effort certainly needs to be intersectional to a degree, addressing ableism with ready ADA compliance, heterocentrism with appropriate GSSM policies, and white supremacy with better responses than the one they seem to still be struggling to put together to the linked incident - but we can't possibly expect efforts to fully address everything in order to address anything.

If women could become CEOs and VCs and Senators at the same rate as men, or if women with these fundamentally new kind of careers could go to work without fearing harassment, or if even one narrow subset of women get to have supportive spaces like their male colleagues have always had then that would actually solve something - even if its just one piece of a very large puzzle. This is maybe a lot more than yet another 5 minutes of hate for the work of others couched in accelerationist rhetoric like in the linked piece above the fold could possibly hope for.
In reality, the rehabilitation of Hillary Clinton as a feminist figure by virtue of little more than her being a woman, and in the face of her complicity in American imperialism and the prison industrial complex, is harmful to the emancipatory possibilities of feminism.
What an especially misogynistic and ignorant thing to say in the context of a deeply misogynistic article. As much as there might be problematic elements to Clinton's legacy, this could only be written by someone too young to have any damn clue what it meant for the First Lady to wear a pantsuit and actively engage in governance, or what it meant to say "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights" in Beijing in 1995, or how really fucking important CHIP is.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2019 [67 favorites]


"By and large, the family has not been replaced by transformative and exciting relationship patterns. It has been postponed as a reality, but remains as a disciplining principle. Capital, however, abhors a vacuum. New units of consumption proliferate in the place of the mid-twentieth-century family. Foremost among these is the “girl gang.”

D&G Called it in '72:
“Capitalism tends toward a threshold of decoding that will destroy the socius in order to make it a body without organs and unleash the flows of desire on this body as a deterritorialized field[... I]t continually seeks to avoid reaching its limit while simultaneously tending toward that limit.

Capitalism institutes or restores all sorts of residual and artificial, imaginary, or symbolic territorialities[... E]verything returns or recurs: States, nations, families. That is what makes the ideology of capitalism 'a motley painting of everything that has ever been believed[...]' the twofold movement of decoding or deterritorializing flows on the one hand, and their violent and artificial reterritorialization on the other.”
- AO (pdf) pp34-35
posted by Richard Saunders at 8:09 AM on November 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


medusa: "But it's fine when men do stupid capitalist things, they are immune from criticism. Expensive exclusive men's clubs - well, boys will be boys."

I'm pretty sure Jacobin hates men's clubs too. For example, they criticize Burning Man on gender grounds:
To these young tech workers — mostly white, mostly men — who flock to the festival, Burning Man reinforces and fosters the idea that they can remake the world without anyone else’s input. It’s a rabid libertarian fantasy. It fluffs their egos and tells them that they have the power and right to make society for all of us, to determine how things should be.
posted by crazy with stars at 8:29 AM on November 25, 2019 [14 favorites]


The one thing that links all aspects and expressions of feminism is that someone will be there immediately to tell women that they are doing it wrong.
posted by Etrigan at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2019 [47 favorites]


I guess I just don't take Wing's claims for feminist action seriously, and I'm not sure how much anyone would? No, I don't actually expect my office landlord to be a socialist feminist, but that doesn't preclude people's current need for an office landlord, and an office landlord with some basic protections seems like it's better than nothing. Or, to use the metaphor that the article was far too fond of, in the 2016 election we ended up with two choices, we had to elect one of them, and Hillary Clinton was the much better choice.

I'm more worried/irritated about the issues with racism. Because I would, actually, like my office landlord to be a not racist office landlord, and that seems like a problem that's easier to solve in the right now.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


If women could become CEOs and VCs and Senators at the same rate as men, or if women with these fundamentally new kind of careers could go to work without fearing harassment, or if even one narrow subset of women get to have supportive spaces like their male colleagues have always had then that would actually solve something

I work for a (non-US) very large organization (~1/4 million employees) that employs about 60% women. This number has been stable for the last decade. About 50% are in middle management, and 40% of senior management is not women, with both those numbers climbing every year as the older generation retires.

In the nearly two decades I've worked for this organization, I've had roughly the same number of women and men as supervisors and up the chain to VP equivalents, in the twenty or so range. Currently it's two men and two women in the direct command chain above me. I know and work with all of them regularly.

In my experience, there are terrible women bosses just about as frequently as there are terrible men bosses. There are fantastic and supportive men bosses about the same as there are women.

The style of bullying and mismanagement is different between men and women, but I don't know that I'd even go so far as to generalize much based on gender: all terrible bosses find different ways of being terrible. However, all of my great bosses have been great in substantially similar ways. There's definitely a right way to be a leader but an almost infinite number of ways to be a bad one, apparently.

The only conclusion I have is that people behave like people. It is obviously good to have women have equal opportunities and outcomes in terms of access to power and career advancement. But, for me, this is simply because everyone should have that right. It is not the case that women are "better" as a group in any meaningful way (or worse) when given those chances.

People's success and failure depends on their own personalities, ethics and abilities. It's a dangerous fallacy to accept the argument that the world would be better if only "we" ran the place. I don't think that's ethically consistent with the basic idea that everyone should be treated as equal.
posted by bonehead at 8:49 AM on November 25, 2019 [23 favorites]


Will Bangladeshi garment workers, who are women of color facing immense exploitation, feel much better if the boss at the top is a woman?

Seriously, what? Of course not. But that doesn't obviate my need for a coworking space if I move and want to ever leave my apartment during the day.

The incidental socializing at coworking spaces is intended to replace the kind of stuff you'd do with coworkers, normally, to do some bonding and make it less like you're spending all day every day in a room with a bunch of strangers. I have a job. I am not an executive. I am not attempting to ever become an executive, because I am a queer gender-nonconforming person with an anxiety disorder and I don't have those spoons. I am just concerned about having safe places that I can work. There is absolutely nothing about the plight of Bangladeshi garment workers that is going to be changed by my choice in coworking spaces.

Their marketing is, like anywhere, marketing. The actual customers of this place are there because it has coffee and outlets and they prefer it to a WeWork. If they can do better than WeWork for underrepresented people in tech and related industries, at a roughly equivalent price point, then it's a net positive. Of course it's not going to fix capitalism, but in the meantime, remote people still need places to work. Coworking spaces do not exist for the wealthy and powerful. They already have office space.
posted by Sequence at 10:06 AM on November 25, 2019 [30 favorites]


I work for a (non-US) very large organization (~1/4 million employees) that employs about 60% women. This number has been stable for the last decade. About 50% are in middle management, and 40% of senior management is not women, with both those numbers climbing every year as the older generation retires.

Okay, but the sort of people working in coworking spaces are also the sort of people who tend to be in male-dominated fields (most notably tech). It's entirely possible that your experience with relative gender parity at the workplace isn't universal, and I'm all for underrepresented people having their own space. I've had shitty female bosses, too - and women can perpetuate sexism, sure. But in general, I'm less wary about female bosses being misogynistic than male ones.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:17 AM on November 25, 2019 [8 favorites]


The Wing is totally different from WeWork, though. For one, it's highly competitive to get in - involving essays, social media reviews, referrals, etc.
posted by mosst at 10:17 AM on November 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


Coworking spaces do not exist for the wealthy and powerful

If you're spending $3k a month on a second space I think we have different ideas of wealth.
posted by Uncle at 10:28 AM on November 25, 2019 [11 favorites]


Also, in general, there's a difference between criticizing Wing (how dare you be a landlord) and criticizing the people who would want to use Wing (how dare you have a landlord). A lot of the work in the Jacobin and Jezebel pieces seems to be doing the latter while pretending to do the former.

Again, Wing should be less racist. That's a low bar, and I'm not trying to excuse that part. There should be more minority owned coworking spaces, and coworking spaces that are a lot less exclusive than Wing. But going after a landlord for not being anticapitalist enough - like, what did you expect?

If you're spending $3k a month on a second space I think we have different ideas of wealth.

It's $3,000 a year. Two hundred and fifty a month isn't a small expense, but it's in the range of middle class, especially since it's business based expenses.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:33 AM on November 25, 2019 [24 favorites]


It's $3,000 a year.

Ah sorry for missunderstanding
posted by Uncle at 10:38 AM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


I stopped reading this article because it is just dripping with misogyny. It's premise is that when women do stupid capitalist things it's double super extra bad because women are supposed to lead the revolution. But it's fine when men do stupid capitalist things, they are immune from criticism. Expensive exclusive men's clubs - well, boys will be boys. If they lack solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers, well what did you expect? Women, however, need to be pure and perfect. They can't be flawed people with muddled motivations.

This identity-driven line of reasoning seems to be such a blessing for those in power hoping to evade criticism. Is it also racist to criticize Saudi Arabia's terrible actions because it is a country of people of color (which, funnily enough, also funds The Wing via WeWork)?

Jacobin criticizes exploitation wherever it happens, much to the annoyance and chagrin of those who benefit from such exploitation (or those who have tragically been deluded into thinking the status quo just needs to be reformed).
posted by Ouverture at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2019 [15 favorites]


For one, it's highly competitive to get in - involving essays, social media reviews, referrals, etc.

If the specific membership standards aren't actually inclusive, that's absolutely a thing to critique, but a huge part of what I'm saying is the potential value is the idea of there being a space where the only criteria isn't just the ability to pay for a coworking space, because that can and does result in making coworking spaces that are actively uncomfortable for gender minorities. Criticizing them for implementation details is completely fair game as far as I'm concerned; I don't think they're beyond critique, especially on the racism end of things. I'm just objecting to how much of it boils down to "how dare this concept even be a thing" instead of "here's what they're screwing up about implementing this thing".

Like, I could really go for the idea of it being a much-less-pink co-op arrangement instead, but they've already had legal trouble about the gender thing, and I'm not really sure it'd be feasible for a co-op to take that kind of thing on. I am not at all into the boss babe nonsense, but I exist in this system and I get the idea of not wanting to spend all your time in spaces that feel either hostile or isolated.
posted by Sequence at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


It's entirely possible that your experience with relative gender parity at the workplace isn't universal

I would not pretend that it was. Indeed, I work in a very particular environment that isn't typical of a most workplaces. We're strongly unionized for one thing.

What I am trying to say is that the end of the road, at least from the point at which I can see it, isn't a Utopia. There are very real benefits to equality in terms of dignity and recognition at work, in talent pools available and in terms of a diversity of viewpoints in the workplace. However, I do not expect gender parity to solve the problems of bad workplace culture, of harassment or mismanagement. There's no special magic.
posted by bonehead at 11:14 AM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


I stopped reading this article because it is just dripping with misogyny. It's premise is that when women do stupid capitalist things it's double super extra bad because women are supposed to lead the revolution. But it's fine when men do stupid capitalist things, they are immune from criticism. Expensive exclusive men's clubs - well, boys will be boys. If they lack solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers, well what did you expect? Women, however, need to be pure and perfect. They can't be flawed people with muddled motivations.

I have a lot of beef with Jacobin (mainly that it reads like a magazine of NYU dissertation chapters, I'm much more of a Current Affairs reader) but as a socialist feminist, I think this misses the mark of their editorial line. Jacobin writers aim their fire at virtually every iteration of late-stage capitalism (including and especially male-dominated spaces as noted above). It's not exactly unusual in socialist feminist circles to critique women who are reproducing capitalist infrastructure under the foil of empowerment.

Socialist feminists inherently link feminism to the abolition of capitalism. Therefore, anyone seen to be coopting the language or techniques of feminism in order to further the goals of capitalism is pretty much a legitimate target of criticism. From Barbara Ehrenreich's 1976 essay (reprinted in Jacobin a few years ago, no less):

"It follows that there is a fundamental interconnection between women’s struggle and what is traditionally conceived as class struggle. Not all women’s struggles have an inherently anticapitalist thrust (particularly not those which seek only to advance the power and wealth of special groups of women), but all those which build collectivity and collective confidence among women are vitally important to the building of class consciousness. Conversely, not all class struggles have an inherently anti-sexist thrust (especially not those that cling to pre-industrial patriarchal values), but all those which seek to build the social and cultural autonomy of the working class are necessarily linked to the struggle for women’s liberation."
posted by mostly vowels at 11:18 AM on November 25, 2019 [18 favorites]


This identity-driven line of reasoning seems to be such a blessing for those in power hoping to evade criticism.

Chevron and Blackwater are not headquartered at a coworking space. The women who use reasonably-priced coworking spaces are not point-one-percenters with a grip around the throat of the working class. They're sole proprietors and small businesses, often with a socially beneficial mission.

Jacobin criticizes exploitation wherever it happens

Jacobin is class reductionist propaganda that treats feminism with the same disdain as right wingers. Half of this article could have come from a right wing site - "Hillary Clinton as a feminist figure by virtue of little more than her being a woman" or "many of liberal America’s more well-off women jumped into an alternate reality, one in which Clinton only lost because men couldn’t tolerate a powerful woman" or "the idea that men keeping professional women down is the most important or fundamental part of misogyny leaves us without a sense of political understanding." What, because Jacobin uses the buzzword "neoliberal", it's somehow not misogynist crap?

But the piece de resistance has to be: "It ... overstates the impact of Hillary’s loss on working women — who would likely have benefitted little from her policies" takes the cake - the entire federal judiciary, including the supreme court, are being remade with the explicit intent of taking away women's rights to bodily autonomy.

In terms of dopey Jacobin articles that get play on Metafilter, this one isn't as bad as "the Great British Bake Off Depicts a Socialist Utopia", but it's not far off.
posted by factory123 at 11:22 AM on November 25, 2019 [53 favorites]


Jacobin criticizes exploitation wherever it happens

Ha! Good one!
...
Oh wait you’re serious?
YIKES.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:38 AM on November 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


"social media reviews" - I am curious about how that works. What their criteria are.
posted by doctornemo at 11:38 AM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


it's highly competitive to get in - involving essays, social media reviews, referrals, etc

Social media reviews and essays, seriously?
posted by ryanrs at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


Good for all you cynics that would never be taken in by a bit of pinkwashing, but you being a savvy consumer doesn't make it ok for these people to profit off of revolutionary aesthetics while upholding and reinforcing the power structures they're allegedly opposed to.

"But no-one should have actually fallen for it" doesn't come across to me as a great justification.
posted by Acid Communist at 11:51 AM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


In terms of undermining their argument, both the Jezebel and Jacobin articles starting off talking about annual rent instead of monthly rent - you know, how a normal person thinks about rent - really soured me on the rest of the articles. Framing necessities (I need a space to work, kids/dogs/roommates make it impossible at home) like frivolities (you can hang out with women for free) and then misrepresenting the costs seems very disingenuous and not very feminist of them - and ends up sounding like 'can you BELIEVE that she spent so much on her HAIR in a year!?'

Again! Lots to criticize about Wing. Racism! Social Media reviews are creepy! Plagarizing work! Not sure that people are paying market rate to not work with dudes and Hillary Clinton not being perfect are some of them. Especially if you're not really going into the extreme bullshit is it that a lot of the people who work in those spaces work for companies that have the money to pay for offices, but have eliminated line items in their budget by having all of their employees work remotely. Seriously. There is so much to criticize without going after people who need a space to work and. . . didn't have a perfect candidate to vote for in 2016, so chose the lesser evil (really not sure where they were going with the Hillary Clinton thing, to be honest).
posted by dinty_moore at 12:09 PM on November 25, 2019 [28 favorites]


Seriously, this entire article and train of thought shown here (particularly about Hillary Clinton) is making me as a woman super super angry (and for FWIW I'm not a white woman). I want to be for socialist principles and socialist ideals, but this kind of crap makes it really really hard.
posted by peacheater at 12:10 PM on November 25, 2019 [34 favorites]


What are the socialist principles and ideals that could go hand in hand with supporting an avowedly capitalist and unashamedly imperialist member of the ruling class?
posted by Acid Communist at 12:20 PM on November 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


Whatever, I'm not a real socialist anyway. Keep drawing those boundaries tighter and tighter.
posted by peacheater at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2019 [26 favorites]


What are the socialist principles and ideals that could go hand in hand.... A more progressive tax system, higher minimum wage, increased social welfare spending, protecting abortion rights, and not filling the courts with unqualified right wing ideologues who will reflexively destroy any & all progressive government programs.

For a start.
posted by factory123 at 12:37 PM on November 25, 2019 [23 favorites]


What are the socialist principles and ideals that could go hand in hand with supporting an avowedly capitalist and unashamedly imperialist member of the ruling class?


Well bless my heart! I hope the socialists still wanted me to participate in civics in the United States in (checks notes) 1776 to present! Otherwise I've been doing it all wrong. Let me reread these pamphlets...
posted by avalonian at 12:43 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


Of course you can make a harm reduction argument.

But we're not rehashing the 2016 election here, are we?
We're asking whether it's reasonable for Jacobin to continue being highly critical of someone who represents, at least symbolically, the apotheosis of the political movements that Jacobin readers feel have failed them, or whether that necessarily just constitutes rank misogyny.
posted by Acid Communist at 12:43 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think some people were discussing how the article and the comments sound in the context of, you know, all of Hillary Clinton's public life.

Statements like "the rehabilitation of Hillary Clinton as a feminist figure by virtue of little more than her being a woman" are absurd and betray any assertion of objectivity, and, as mentioned above, sound just like what I heard during said 2016 election we're suppose to not be rehashing.
posted by avalonian at 1:00 PM on November 25, 2019 [27 favorites]


the apotheosis of the political movements that Jacobin readers feel have failed them.

Right, Jacobin hates democrats first and foremost, especially that woman.
posted by factory123 at 1:05 PM on November 25, 2019 [15 favorites]


the wing etc. will almost certainly never be relevant to my life even as a white woman who works remotely, but/and the existence of spaces like it makes me nervous as hell anyways for basically all the reasons talked about in the jacobin article.
posted by gaybobbie at 1:17 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


So tiresome! Culture moves in a thousand ways at once, on a thousand axes. Is the wing anti-capitalist? Hell no. Is it an expression of a growing cultural respect for women, built on the knowledge that when women get together on their own terms good things can happen? Hell yes. It absolutely expresses a feminist consciousness.

Critique is always relevant but throwing something out bc it is insufficiently radical is bad politics and it's bad organizing. Not bad for clicks I guess 🤷🏼‍♂️

Here's one for you: black/white thinking about good guys and bad guys is counter-revolutionary. It's a fantasy that allows folks to feel in control in a world with no certainties, and keeps them from engaging holistically and productivity with the people and institutions we have now. Our world is far too complex for such simple thinking.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:24 PM on November 25, 2019 [32 favorites]


Also, bonehead, apologies if I'm misgendering you here but it looks from your profile you're a man. The gender balance at your job sounds great -- I'd love to hear from a woman there on her experience with male v female bosses. I seriously doubt her experience would be as even as yours.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:29 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


We're asking whether it's reasonable for Jacobin to continue being highly critical of someone who represents, at least symbolically, the apotheosis of the political movements that Jacobin readers feel have failed them, or whether that necessarily just constitutes rank misogyny.

As always, it's striking just how quickly and effortlessly the oppression of hundreds of millions of poor women of color (and poor people of color in general), is minimized and dismissed by Western liberals and disconnected from this conversation.

So often this community focuses on systems of oppression and how they are related. So often are people dismissed as "good guys" and "bad guys" in discussions here. It is frustrating to see all of this understanding fall apart when the person and ideology being rightly and accurately criticized for enabling horrifying exploitation is one many users like.
posted by Ouverture at 1:31 PM on November 25, 2019 [12 favorites]


It's not about "liking" a person, or "not liking" a person. It's about understanding nuance and shades of grey.
posted by peacheater at 1:39 PM on November 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


As always, it's striking just how quickly and effortlessly the oppression of hundreds of millions of poor women of color (and poor people of color in general), is minimized and dismissed by Western liberals and disconnected from this conversation.

It is striking. It's also striking how criticism of the very powerful tend to coalesce around and target precisely those leaders who occupy marginalized roles, while allowing other leaders who are equally culpable in the same dynamics of oppression to escape with comparatively little comment.

Intersectionality does mean that the very powerful are not interchangeable. That does not mean that their power is or should be exempt from critique, but neither should our comparative efforts to criticize them. I see an awful lot of attempts to dismiss folks saying "hold on, I see some misogyny in this critique" by insisting that the critique itself is valid... despite many users drawing attention to that misogyny also pointing out that aspects of the critique are indeed valid, explicitly agreeing on these points, but also discussing the ways that misogyny can infiltrate the critique itself.
posted by sciatrix at 1:44 PM on November 25, 2019 [31 favorites]


Will Bangladeshi garment workers, who are women of color facing immense exploitation, feel much better if the boss at the top is a woman?

Depends? Maybe? If it's a choice between "immense exploitation" and "immense exploitation and sexual harassment and assault" which is better?

This article is one example of how theoretical Leftism really may not help women at all. A woman says "Next month I need a place to work where I won't be harassed." The response is "The real problem is Capitalism and the unjust social class system thats been in place since, forever." Which is great. Just great. Which doesn't help with getting the damn work done and sent out.

Im cynical enough to think that all these statements of "the REAL problem is Capitalism" are at best ways to put aside practical practical problems and actions that may discomfit men, in favor of nice safe theoretical issues. "Lets talk Revolution instead of harrassment lawsuit, OK? At worst it's active defense of harrassment and misogyny. "The problem isnt my buddy Weinstein, its Capitalism. It isnt that my friends are massively misogynistic (not me, lets leave me out of this), but systemic imbalance of power. Nice safe, non vulnerable to harrassment suits imbalance of power."


The women who use reasonably-priced coworking spaces are not point-one-percenters with a grip around the throat of the working class. They're sole proprietors and small businesses, often with a socially beneficial mission.

Bearing in mind when the Revolution comes, its these people who will be executed and/or sent off to be reeducated. History shows that time and time again in revolutions the truly elite escape, while these people? They have enough resources to be worth stealing, and theyre too weak to escape or fight back.
posted by happyroach at 2:01 PM on November 25, 2019 [36 favorites]


"As always, it's striking just how quickly and effortlessly the oppression of hundreds of millions of poor women of color (and poor people of color in general), is minimized and dismissed by Western liberals and disconnected from this conversation."
This isn't a conversation about women in the developing world, its a conversation about coworking spaces doing a neat thing by making these women-only spaces but which seem to have tripped up on important racial issues. It kind of seems like you and the Jacobin article are blaming these women for complex issues with the global economy, not because they are responsible for them in any specific way given that they aren't at all, but because they are women who have the temerity to believe they are doing something neat.

This all kind of feels like how no one ever throws red paint on businessmen wearing leather belts and shoes, or on bikers wearing leather jackets, only on women wearing furs. I guess I can see how this might feel like 'punching up' given how focused you are on attacking the abstract concept of capitalism, but really all you are doing is punching women for being women.
"Jacobin criticizes exploitation wherever it happens"
Oh bless your heart you sweet summer tankie.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2019 [36 favorites]


This isn't a conversation about women in the developing world, its a conversation about coworking spaces doing a neat thing by making these women-only spaces but which seem to have tripped up on important racial issues. It kind of seems like you and the Jacobin article are blaming these women for complex issues with the global economy, not because they are responsible for them in any specific way given that they aren't at all, but because they are women who have the temerity to believe they are doing something neat.

The issue with The Wing, just like the pink fracking drill bit isn't the neat pink color, but that it is co-opting the language of liberation to launder and legitimize exploitation.

I am less interested in blaming individual consumers for their choices, and far more interested in the hyper-wealthy profiting off of those choices.

This all kind of feels like how no one ever throws red paint on businessmen wearing leather belts and shoes, or on bikers wearing leather jackets, only on women wearing furs. I guess I can see how this might feel like 'punching up' given how focused you are on attacking the abstract concept of capitalism, but really all you are doing is punching women for being women.

Feel free to look at my posts and let me know if you think I haven't done enough criticism of men who also exploit others.

Oh bless your heart you sweet summer tankie.
If being a tankie is means not being a liberal who dismisses the white supremacist effects of imperialism, then I guess I'm a tankie?
posted by Ouverture at 2:34 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


Oh bless your heart you sweet summer tankie.

Can we please not do this?
posted by mostly vowels at 2:41 PM on November 25, 2019 [11 favorites]


[I don't know if there is a way to make this thread go better, given the firmly-established and inflexible viewpoints espoused by the source material, but it would be super nice if folks spent some time trying to think of how to persuade people rather than merely sneering at them for not agreeing.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:46 PM on November 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


The TL;DR of the Jacobin article appears to be:

- Profit is inherently evil, therefore The Wing is evil
- We hate Hillary Clinton, and The Wing is Clinton-adjacent, therefore we hate The Wing
- If you can't be all things to all people, don't be anything at all
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:47 PM on November 25, 2019 [20 favorites]


The gender balance at your job sounds great -- I'd love to hear from a woman there on her experience with male v female bosses. I seriously doubt her experience would be as even as yours.

I present as female, and my experiences is that bosses don't differs substantially by gender - just like I don't find that my friends differ so much by gender. As bonehead says, people are people - shaped by their gender roles, but not defined by them. (And, maybe it's because I'm genderqueer, but I find working in an all female space quite stressful - just like a majority male space. The best spaces for me have been mixed.)
posted by jb at 2:47 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


That said, for-profit coworking spaces are inherently classist by virtue of their fee structure. Applications for membership where you have to justify why they should admit you are common - even WeWork tried to be exclusionary at the start, until they realized it was more profitable to just rent to anyone who could afford it. I got a cab ride from a woman once who had a business idea but needed an office that was open overnight because there was no room (or peace) in her home and lacked funds. It occurred to me that subsidized or free coworking spaces would be a boon for would-be entrepreneurs, but of course there would be limited space and how do you decide who should get to use the space and who gets denied? There is no such thing as a non-exclusionary space in that respect.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:52 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


The issue with The Wing, just like the pink fracking drill bit isn't the neat pink color, but that it is co-opting the language of liberation to launder and legitimize exploitation.

I am less interested in blaming individual consumers for their choices, and far more interested in the hyper-wealthy profiting off of those choices.


Well, okay, except... this isn't very like the pink fracking drill bit because the intended consumers of those products/services are very different. Right? The pink fracking drill bit is intended to be used by people of any gender; the pinkness isn't aimed at women, but at people who theoretically care about breast cancer or charity. The entire intention of the drill bit is not only to make profit but also specifically to virtue signal.

By contrast, the Wing exists, at least in theory, as a service aimed at the needs of women wanting a co-working space. This service is for profit, but it is designed to cater specifically to women. When we attack this service for existing without simultaneously attacking other co-working spaces that are not designed to cater to women, implicitly the entire business model (appealing to the needs of working women) comes under fire. That's not exactly feminist just because it is attacking a corporate business endeavor.

Now, the question of racism and exclusivity in these spaces--for example, is the $3,000/year noticeably different from comparable communal working spaces; is Wing putting sufficient effort into solving its racism problem--that's a totally different vein of criticism. But attacking businesses, even large corporations, for attempting to meet the needs of women and serve those needs is not exactly something I'd call feminist. I'm not sure I think businesses targeting the needs of marginalized communities are necessarily purely virtue signaling. We don't live in a socialist utopia yet, after all, and folks gotta eat.
posted by sciatrix at 2:56 PM on November 25, 2019 [18 favorites]


Framing necessities (I need a space to work, kids/dogs/roommates make it impossible at home) like frivolities (you can hang out with women for free) and then misrepresenting the costs seems very disingenuous and not very feminist of them

It absolutely expresses a feminist consciousness.

That's not exactly feminist just because it is attacking a corporate business endeavor.

I keep seeing a sort of undefined version of feminism being deployed by those critiquing the Jacobin article. Obviously there are many strands of feminism, but I think it's worth repeating that this article is written from an explicitly socialist feminist POV that assumes the continuance of capitalism is a threat to the achievement of a socialist feminist set of politics.

If you ask socialist feminists how they'd define what that vision looks like, you'll get a million answers. But I think a common thread would be against a form of trickle-down feminism that assumes a rising tide of female CEOs will lift the boats of women who would never be able to attain membership at the Wing. My impression is that the Wing is more of a place for female entrepreneurs putting together a start-up than say, female public school teachers organizing a union campaign.

I think most socialist feminists do not believe that exclusive spaces requiring a membership fee can ever create an economy that meets the needs of the women at the bottom of capitalist hierarchies. This is why socialist feminists get their hackles up when the rhetoric of feminism is used to obscure the larger idea that the Wing is very much serving the interests of capitalism.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:21 PM on November 25, 2019 [14 favorites]


For a coworking space in London this seems absurdly cheap? I mean, I get if you are looking at this as a second space for someone who can work elsewhere it would be burdensome and exclusive, and I get that there may be other ways in which they exclude access, but not everyone using a coworking space has another space available to work, and it may be a very tiny slice of the whole, but some people who are homeless use coworking spaces too.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:29 PM on November 25, 2019


Mostly Vowels, I think the part you're missing is the fact that these pieces are not attacking rich CEOs or Hillary Clinton, but people who would use an all woman co-working space or voted for Hillary. Attacking workers for engaging in capitalism is not good praxis, even if they like pastel pinks. Attacking women for paying a possible pink tax using a tired misogynistic framing (women's necessities are frivolous) is not good feminism.

I'm also curious as to where people think that Wing was using socialist language, because it certainly isn't in the design or architecture. If their spaces were covered in red roses, I would sort of get it. But they're not portraying themselves as any sort of radicals.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2019 [17 favorites]


Yeesh, requiring “essays, social media reviews, referrals” sounds like a setup to do plausibly deniable racism. Are they seriously paying someone to score essays attached to applications for cubicle space? lmao
posted by Vulgar Euphemism at 4:02 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


They may no longer be women-only.
...the New York City Commission on Human Rights opened a “commission-initiated investigation,” which is still ongoing, according to The Wing. Then a man by the name of James Pietrangelo filed a $12 million lawsuit against The Wing alleging its “illegal discrimination against men … was/is egregious: brazen, flagrant, intentional, willful, wanton, actually malicious, motivated by evil and ill-will, deliberately oppressive, outrageous, and willfully and callus disregardful of the rights of men.”
The Wing's website says that membership plans start at $185/month, which is indeed very reasonable for access to a usable workspace in high-rent urban areas.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


But they're not portraying themselves as any sort of radicals.

Grauniad:
The Wing is a one-stop shop for the performance of contemporary mainstream feminism, a meticulously curated space where women can blow-dry their hair or “stage a small coup”, depending on the day.

[...]

One of its press representatives described it to me as an “accelerator” for the coming revolution, a place where women are preparing to “leap year” into a more egalitarian future. In the US, it has become an almost compulsory campaign stop for women, trans and non-binary political candidates. Three of the women running for president have visited in the past year, and a Wing spokesperson told me that the other two – front-runner Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar – are actively discussing doing so. The company’s corporate ranks are stacked with former Democratic political operatives who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns or in the Obama administration.
^ A lot more detail about the whole thing. More to it than just co-working.

Another bit, re: the ZORA piece in the FPP
The company’s success is partly due to the fact that, over the past five years, the identity-based members club has emerged as a powerful trend. In the US, The Wing already has too many competitors and imitators to list, which have names such as The Lola (Atlanta), The Broad (Richmond), The Assembly (San Francisco), The Riveter (Seattle) and The Hivery (Mill Valley). In London, women’s clubs such as The AllBright and The Trouble Club already occupy part of The Wing’s target audience. In November, Ethel’s Club, “the first private social and wellness club designed with people of colour in mind”, will open its doors in Brooklyn. “The Wing was created for a certain type of woman, which, from my point of view, is not for me,” Ethel’s Club founder, Najla Austin, told me. “I’m looking for my people. It’s not unlike religion. If you write down the similarities of Catholicism and a social club, they’re not that different.”
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 4:46 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, no. Having read the entry requirements and recognizing the ideological problems of the organization, I prefer the old boys network.
posted by dmh at 5:40 PM on November 25, 2019


This article is one example of how theoretical Leftism really may not help women at all. A woman says "Next month I need a place to work where I won't be harassed." The response is "The real problem is Capitalism and the unjust social class system thats been in place since, forever." Which is great. Just great. Which doesn't help with getting the damn work done and sent out.

It would absolutely be ridiculous to pretend that this hasn't happened, doesn't happen, isn't happening right now somewhere.

But it all depends on what your experience with the non-theoretical side of things is, doesn't it? Because feminism helped dragged me into socialism, because all the organisers and activists were socialists, who feel that feminist organising was a perfectly reasonable way to engage in anti-capitalist struggle, real material improvements in people's safety, pay, community, consciousness-raising, a range of things which I count as building dual power and so on.

Socialist feminism and liberal feminism exist in the same world and overlapping spaces, draw on some of the same resource pools, including just people's attention and engagement.

And they're in conflict, at least where I am. While socialist feminists are trying to do something about harassment and assault, liberal feminists want to use those same resources to do networking and host entrepreneurship talks.

Rather than support the campaign against sexual assault on campus, they prefer to align with the fraternities, who they claim we unfairly target, like there hasn't been multiple exposes of the nefarious shit that goes on there. Apparently donor's rights or some shit to eternal attendance and accommodation for the failsons of the rich shouldn't be jeopardised by thuggish, man-hating commie inner city feminists just because of all their past behaviour.

Socialist feminists aren't waiting for the revolution to solve their problems. Loosely speaking, that's why they're socialist feminists, not just socialists. Most are trying to improve women's lives today, and liberal feminists who refuse to value any interest but their own make that harder.

While the who and how of profit and merchandise should be discussed, I can't criticise them for having some material, because every thread like this I think of the currently most ubiquitous feminist organisers shirt I know:

Our feminism will be intersectional and anti-capitalist or it will be bullshit.


- Also I don't think it was in here but I read somewhere the London branch is going to voluntarily pay a living wage! That's good, but only because not to is reprehensible. Still, it's not common, so credit where due I guess
posted by Acid Communist at 5:43 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


[I cock my head in puzzlement at the description of Kate Manne's Down Girl in the pull quote]
[Did this person read the same book I read? Maybe I should read the article.]
[I read the article]
[This person does not seem to have read the same book I read.]

If this is the first time you're hearing of Down Girl, don't let this article dissuade you from a fantastic book.
posted by jocelmeow at 6:39 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


Acid Communist, really glad you have figured out the only two feminisms. I'll hit you up anytime I need to figure out which one I'm dealing with, liberal or socialist. So much easier this way! The rubric of "liberal feminist = only values their own interest" helps a lot. Removes so much pesky nuance. Ta!
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:49 PM on November 25, 2019 [20 favorites]


Now, the question of racism and exclusivity in these spaces--for example, is the $3,000/year noticeably different from comparable communal working spaces; is Wing putting sufficient effort into solving its racism problem--that's a totally different vein of criticism.

What if racism and capitalism are tied together? What if the vehicle for the material oppression people of color face is through the predations of racial capitalism?

But attacking businesses, even large corporations, for attempting to meet the needs of women and serve those needs is not exactly something I'd call feminist. I'm not sure I think businesses targeting the needs of marginalized communities are necessarily purely virtue signaling. We don't live in a socialist utopia yet, after all, and folks gotta eat.

Do you think Masayoshi Son or the Saudi petrocapitalists that have invested in his Vision Fund are having trouble eating?
posted by Ouverture at 7:17 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think people's hackles are rightfully raised by the Wing's rhetoric, which I myself find nauseating. However, it is indeed hard to get on board with a supposedly socialist feminist critique that doesn't recognize, e.g., the huge difference abortion rights make both economically and personally to the lives of people with uteruses, and hence the difference electing Trump over Clinton makes, and will make for the next forty years, for working women.

To what degree do we hold women who happen to have memberships there responsible for the foolish marketing language of the club, as opposed to their own words and conduct? Is it actually worse somehow to use the Wing than WeWork? If working there isn't ethically worse, then why don't we hear more about the horrors of WeWork membership?
posted by praemunire at 7:31 PM on November 25, 2019 [19 favorites]


Acid Communist, really glad you have figured out the only two feminisms.

Yeah that's an unfair reduction. Although, since we have an opposition party that is at least nominally representative of labour here, and the young are known to be flighty and reckless in their politics, identification as socialist as opposed to liberal is not uncommon, in my experience, in my context.

There are places not a kilometre distant where the environment is very different, but it's not some binary where liberal feminists are doing real work and socialist feminists are dreaming of pie in the sky everywhere, and it's unreasonable for socialists to ever make criticisms. The author of the Jacobin article appears to be doing GOTV right now, given she's in the UK.
posted by Acid Communist at 7:56 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


I just want to point out that a couple of their locations offer reasonably priced, onsite child care. It's just for occasional use, but still—do you know how hard it is to find anything like that? Forget stupid arguments about whether it's okay to like Hillary or whatever. Work space with child care is liberating in a basic, material way, for many women. It's a goddamn game changer.
posted by the_blizz at 9:08 PM on November 25, 2019 [33 favorites]


Or how about this: they have lactation rooms. Not all coworking spaces have that. Reminds me of when I was a new mom with a freelance tech job. I couldn't work anywhere for more than a few hours because anywhere I could work outside the house, there was nowhere to pump. And forget trying to schedule in-person meetings with colleagues. I was limited to locations in my neighborhood, because I would've lost too much of my limited time window to transit.
posted by the_blizz at 9:25 PM on November 25, 2019 [26 favorites]


And they're in conflict, at least where I am. While socialist feminists are trying to do something about harassment and assault, liberal feminists want to use those same resources to do networking and host entrepreneurship talks.

Rather than support the campaign against sexual assault on campus, they prefer to align with the fraternities, who they claim we unfairly target, like there hasn't been multiple exposes of the nefarious shit that goes on there.


What? This is a reduction which either makes no sense, or makes a sense so specific it's nearly meaningless. It's like if you don't have a socialist (according to how YOU define it) world view, then you are clearly liberal and evil. How is that helpful?

Empowering women financially is a bulwark against assault-- consider domestic violence and the price of divorce. Networking is not the lightweight useless asset you seem to be painting here and there are precious few resources for female entrepreneurs who might be trying to break away from a harassing job or a violent marriage.

The Wing's conditions look annoying and racism is never acceptable.

I also am sympathetic to why they exist and I also find this article dripping in misogyny.

As noted, do you know how visually impossible it would be to find a coworking space for the amount of money they are discussing which includes lactation space and childcare? Or an office at all, ffs? I have a friend back in the Netherlands who operates her small interior design business in a similar space. Her tiny apartment with her children doesn't give her any room to run her own business, but since she has access to coworking she's able to have the physical and emotional space to build her income and her independence.

Lately I've been being asked to speak at a number of these different women's business organisations. Some are more naive than others. Some are more annoying than others. Some are more corporate than others. All of them are there to give other women a leg up, whether it is in the corporate or small business space. I fail to see how that is evil. Women should be paid for their work.
posted by frumiousb at 11:24 PM on November 25, 2019 [18 favorites]


The issue with The Wing, just like the pink fracking drill bit isn't the neat pink color, but that it is co-opting the language of liberation to launder and legitimize exploitation.
You keep repeating this idea that these women are somehow exploiting others as if writing it enough times will make it true in some meaningful way. However, you aren't making any claims that are any more specific about this than a broad accusation of them being part of some kind of new class of digital Kulaks right? It is painfully obvious that these specific self-employed workers are being assigned responsibility for complex problems with the global economy in this brocialist attack only because they are women daring to be openly ambitious. However, even if we were to pretend together that this isn't what you are doing, maybe blindly persecuting successfully self-employed people isn't the path to your imagined socialist paradise any more than dekulakization was?
posted by Blasdelb at 12:49 AM on November 26, 2019 [14 favorites]


Personally I'm very glad that the Wing exists. I disagree with its politics and the co-opting of feminist rhetoric to amplify a kind of pro-startup capitalist mindset..... but at least it exists.

However, I do have at least one friend working in the non-profit world who dropped a paying membership at the Wing because she felt the atmosphere was hostile and joined a community workspace instead. In my circles in NYC, the feminist women who are working in social justice / social innovation / non-profits have heavy critiques of The Wing, and instead are at spaces like CSI. So anecdotally, the article is pretty accurate to what I know.
posted by suedehead at 1:10 AM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


I thought this would have come up inthread already, but looks like not - the US has its own version of this, launched this year, called Chief.
posted by Miko at 5:02 AM on November 26, 2019


> when the Revolution comes, its these people who will be executed

> Tankie

> Kulak

> Brocialist

Well that's bingo, turn in your cards, everyone.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:31 AM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


We're asking whether it's reasonable for Jacobin to continue being highly critical of someone who represents, at least symbolically, the apotheosis of the political movements that Jacobin readers feel have failed them, or whether that necessarily just constitutes rank misogyny.

And I am answering that it is not reasonable for a woman who currently holds no office and is not running for office to continue to be, symbolically, the apotheosis of all the political movements that have failed Jacobin readers. It is, in fact, absurd to continue to be this fixated on flogging Hillary Clinton when *waves hands at literally everything else.* Maybe find someone who currently holds office to perseverate about. Maybe find a man who has failed feminists and socialists to be your symbol of failure. There are so so so many of them, and yet, here we are again. Hillary.
posted by Mavri at 5:51 AM on November 26, 2019 [33 favorites]


Well that's bingo, turn in your cards, everyone.

You missed "neoliberal."
posted by factory123 at 6:20 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Y'all, if you're trying to convince me that there's nothing at all misogynist about the specific takes in this Jacobin article, kvetching about anti-leftist bingo ain't the way to do it. I get the orientation of specifically socialist feminism with respect to this space, but socialist feminism doesn't get to insist that it is the only feminism any more than liberal feminism, radical feminism, ecofeminism, or any of the other disparate ideologies that live under "feminism" do. My feminist orientation is essentially intersectional in that I think that many competing axes of marginalization affect all of its and interact in complicated and unexpected ways, and that no single axis of marginalization outweighs any other when understanding how marginalization works. That means that I don't think misogyny trumps classism or vice versa. I don't think I ought to have to spell that shit out in this space, but here we fucking are.

This is not a cage match between socialist feminism and radical feminism. I am seeing an argument between people taking an intersectional approach and people who think that taking a socialist and anti-capitalist approach is necessarily more important than interrogating misogyny in anti-capitalist spaces. If you think I'm characterizing you poorly, folks in the latter camp, please convince me otherwise: I am listening and open to being convinced! But the repeated appeals to socialism when critiques of misogyny come your way, regardless of reminders that class oppression is not the only marginalization that matters, are not remotely accomplishing that.
posted by sciatrix at 6:33 AM on November 26, 2019 [26 favorites]


It's misogynist to criticize the inadequacy of the life rafts on the Titanic since they allowed women, who could access them, to avoid freezing and drowning in the North Atlantic.
posted by Reyturner at 7:36 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Actually, the Titanic was an outlier: in most maritime disasters, passenger women and children have had less likelihood of surviving than passenger men, whether or not lifeboats are inadequate. But there's good news, too. As relative social status between men and women improves--that is, when we address misogyny as an oppression on its own terms, not simply a subset of classism--disparity in survival between men and women erodes.

But do go on.
posted by sciatrix at 7:45 AM on November 26, 2019 [20 favorites]


I thought this would have come up inthread already, but looks like not - the US has its own version of this, launched this year, called Chief.

Wing was a US company first, it's only opening in London now. There are a lot of Wing-alikes, too, though some of them are going after a different audience. I was actually looking to see if there were any coworking spaces that marketed themselves as 'none of this community/cult nonsense, just the desk and the coffee'*, and the first thing that came up for me was The Coven. And, honestly, I find this to be a very interesting contrast to the Wing, because it's a different, more lefty aesthetic, presenting themselves as a different sort of women and nonbinary people space**. But the service that they're offering is essentially the same.

So, let's run down the arguments that the Jacobin makes against Wing and see how the Coven fares.

1. Price: Wing is the equivalent to $218.62 in London; The Coven is $225 a month in the Twin Cities/$140 a month for a 3 day-a-week membership. Considering the differences in real estate prices between Minneapolis and London ($1,300 vs. $2,222 to rent a 2 bedroom), the Wing's prices are looking even better. Both the Wing and the Coven offer free memberships, though the Wing is based more on actions and The Coven gives preference to historically marginalized backgrounds - the Coven is doing a better job here, but I think it's also a note that their application process is currently closed.

2. Relation to Hillary Clinton: Unknown for the Coven, though the Coven's founders have their foundation in a combination of Public Relations, Advertising and Design, with a nonprofit bent that I feel like they're maybe overemphasizing in their profiles. Kind of bullshit thing to judge on for both, let's move on.

3. The Wing is a business. The Coven is a business. Samesies. There are a lot of things that are businesses out there, and people gotta eat until the revolution comes.

4. Sponsorship Deals: The Wing has deals with Chanel and Sure. The Coven has partnerships with The Wedge Co-op's catering (not a co-op membership, mind you), a fitness studio, and a Selfie company. Different markets, but also maybe smaller local businesses might matter more to you.

(we break for five paragraphs attacking Hillary Clinton and the people who voted for her)

5. Girl Power: The Wing markets 'on the frankly condescending idea that women's friendship is magic'. The Coven made it the central conceit to their identity (they sell witch stickers). The Coven is definitely pushing into this idea harder than The Wing is; YMMV as to how horrible that conceit might be.

6. (sort of mentioned, mostly in the picture) The Wing has lectures on how to be a better boss lady with powerful female celebrities and political figures. The Coven has a seminar on how to be your own hype human, no celebrities. I mean, this is Minneapolis, Lizzo moved away, I don't know what you expect from us in terms of celebrities; but they're both marketing seminars in the same sort of capitalist/be successful mindset, just to different people.

In terms of co-opting leftist language for a capitalist enterprise, I could see people be more taken in by The Coven than thinking that Wing is going to be anticapitalist, just because they're trying to serve a more lefty sort of people. And I want to be clear - I totally understand the appeal of the Coven as a coworking space. It's not for me personally because I have a lot of feelings about offering reiki to people who are underinsured and could not control my face around astrology, but I know so many people that would literally pay to work in a queer woman and nonbinary friendly environment. They're both spaces that are trying to empower women, though The Coven is doing a better job of encouraging diversity and being intersectional***. Neither of them are anticapitalist, but, again, I don't think they have to be anticapitalist to be worth having around.

*Answer: Not that I can find. This seems like a good marketing opportunity, though. In general, coworking spaces advertise themselves as community centers because they have to tell people how they're better than the coffee shop or staying in pajamas all day, and offering these perks do seem to work.
** They sometimes use trans and sometimes don't, and it's really unclear as to whether or not trans men would be welcome, both on paper or in practice.
*** The Jacobin also doesn't mention 'hella racist' as a reason to not like The Wing's customer selection process. It also doesn't mention how welcoming they are of trans women, which is the sort of thing I wonder about when the Guardian starts calling a place the pinnacle of mainstream feminism and having heard of the Guardian's 'feminist' thinkpieces before. C'mon, there are so many good arguments against Wing they're just leaving on the table!
posted by dinty_moore at 7:58 AM on November 26, 2019 [11 favorites]


Our feminism will be intersectional and anti-capitalist or it will be bullshit.

And just regarding this quote, while we're on the subject--the original quote was in fact simply "my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit." Your anti-capitalist addition came much later. The rallying cry came from a blog post by Flavia Dzodan discussing failures of mainstream feminism to address a multitude of intersectional concerns, mostly focused on racism rather than classism.

By the way, those popular t-shirts have generated a bunch of profit for someone which has gone totally unseen by Flavia Dzodan. She has widely criticized those shirts as being an appropriation of her original writing and work. I remember when Dzodan's post hit the internet--I was following Tiger Beatdown myself at the time and read it the day it was published--and I remember that those fucking words, they didn't come from nowhere. They came from a specific voice who had concerns about intersectionality that did not boil down to a single axis of oppression, and that was Dzodan's entire fucking point. So don't lecture me about my failure to really grok feminism because I don't think this article passes my own personal sniff test.
posted by sciatrix at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2019 [25 favorites]


The more I think about this the more ridiculous criticizing coworking spaces for being business is on its face. Coworking spaces are spaces for people to work, i.e. do capitalism, so even if they were free they would still be tools of the capitalist state. So Jacobin by definition hates coworking, which means what this article is really about is how a bunch of women are womening wrong.

I do agree that profit chasing distorts and neuters the ideals of even the most pure-hearted enterprises, but calling The Wing explicitly antifeminist is a bunch of malarkey.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


an argument between people taking an intersectional approach and people who think that taking a socialist and anti-capitalist approach is necessarily more important than interrogating misogyny in anti-capitalist spaces.

I don't think there's a conflict between these positions. They're the one and same. An intersectional approach is necessarily anti-capitalist, and a socialist must be intersectional in practice. It doesn't boil down to a single axis of oppression is a statement I fully agree with.

It was good to read Dzodan's blog post, thanks. I think the anti-capitalist was added to avoid whatever mechanism by which we get such different readings from that piece. The Wing seems like the sort of feminism being decried, and an approach which centres the effects of colonialism and race is being demanded. Across the world, most are going down with the ship right now.

From that Vox link about the merchandise:
One of the themes of Dzodan’s original essay was the way in which many feminists ignore the implications of racialized abuse under capitalism. Intersectionality is generally naturally opposed to the glorification of capitalism, because production for profit often stands in the way of equality for the marginalized people and cultures whose labor often produces that profit.

I personally really like when Jacobin publishes paired articles with different criticisms or opposing viewpoints, and it might have been better here. Given the multiple points made in-thread about some of the conveniences provided, perhaps a good angle might have been looking at efforts to provide the same more widely and how rare they really are. Letting ourselves fall into criticising women for doing things in general is a well-known pitfall, and it is really important to bring it up in discussions of topics like this. We do have to continually check ourselves on that, but that means we improve our critiques, not drop them, right?
posted by Acid Communist at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is not a cage match between socialist feminism and radical feminism. I am seeing an argument between people taking an intersectional approach and people who think that taking a socialist and anti-capitalist approach is necessarily more important than interrogating misogyny in anti-capitalist spaces. If you think I'm characterizing you poorly, folks in the latter camp, please convince me otherwise: I am listening and open to being convinced! But the repeated appeals to socialism when critiques of misogyny come your way, regardless of reminders that class oppression is not the only marginalization that matters, are not remotely accomplishing that.

An internationalist, socialist feminism is inherently intersectional, especially considering it is led by people of color fighting for material conditions that poor women of color in their communities are disproportionately harmed by. It requires understanding not just how gender, race, and other forms of identity operate to exploit people, but also how they are connected to capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism. There seems to be this very bizarre and ahistorical idea often posted here that leftists are white and it makes me, a queer person of color, feel like shit to see the sacrifices of so many leftist people of color, especially women of color, erased by a largely white, well-off, liberal community that talks so much about the importance of intersectionality.

I think the larger dynamic is internationalist radical feminism vs domestic liberal feminism. It is understandable if liberals don't know about why the Jacobin piece mentions Clinton's imperialism because it is a horrendously ugly legacy dripping with the kind of material misogyny and white supremacy that has killed lots of people (and continuing to kill people). It contains the kind of cognitive dissonance and contradictions that collapse the entire liberal feminist project.

Why do internationalist leftists of color keep talking about this even though she is no longer in power? It's for the same reason why we keep talking about her close friend, Henry Kissinger and George Bush: none of these people, who have done awful things to millions of poor people of color, have been held accountable. Clinton is not unique in her war crimes, but she is unique in that so many liberals still see her as a feminist icon who might, at worst, have "problematic elements to [her] legacy".

I appreciate you listening. At a personal level, my experience on Metafilter is one of immense frustration, sadness, and horror at what I see posted here. There is something surreal about Western liberals calling me a tankie who wants to send kulaks or whatever to camps. My family survived a genocide at the hands of Henry Kissinger, someone Clinton called a friend. Clinton then went on to do the same thing in Libya and Yemen. And to bring it full circle, the kind of feminism that she helped popularize in an immensely popular presidential campaign is now leveraged by this business to line the pockets of Saudi Arabia.

If someone committed a genocide against your people and got away with it, how would you feel to see them praised all the time, especially in a community that generally sees itself as a moral and progressive place? Because that is my experience all the time on here. Again, thanks for listening because for me, it often feels like no one here is.
posted by Ouverture at 9:03 AM on November 26, 2019 [16 favorites]


I just want to point out that a couple of their locations offer reasonably priced, onsite child care. It's just for occasional use, but still—do you know how hard it is to find anything like that? Forget stupid arguments about whether it's okay to like Hillary or whatever. Work space with child care is liberating in a basic, material way, for many women. It's a goddamn game changer.

On this topic, I was fascinated to learn about elemeno, which offers parent-focused coworking in DC. I'm not a parent, but I can imagine just how helpful that would be - I used to babysit for several families needing similar services, and the combination of paying for babysitting+coworking was both expensive and logistically difficult, I'm sure. Is that a thing at all elsewhere?
posted by mosst at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Answered my own question - similar places do exist in a few other US cities, but only a few. Not sure elsewhere.
posted by mosst at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's just for occasional use, but still

That's not really a "but still" entirely. If you need child care on a really regular, predictable basis, I've at least heard stories that it's easier to acquire than if you only need it every now and then? Or rather, that you can wind up paying on an ongoing basis to keep a spot even when the kid isn't going to be there. Something that'd work for every day would be even better, but there's potentially a big thing for specifically the sort of person who needs a coworking space a few times a month but mostly works from home.
posted by Sequence at 9:24 AM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Coworking spaces are spaces for people to work, i.e. do capitalism,

Being a capitalist is literally the opposite of doing work.
posted by Reyturner at 9:29 AM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


It was good to read Dzodan's blog post, thanks. I think the anti-capitalist was added to avoid whatever mechanism by which we get such different readings from that piece.

I suspect that's not entirely the case--I think it was added by people for whom anti-capitalism and feminism is a particularly important intersection, and the article mentions other modifications for intersections like ableism. Given Dzodan's own original context, I personally think that especially for white activists, eliding race in favor of anti-capitalism is a really problematic choice, since the needs of people of color are frequently elided in just this way. Particularly in the US (which is my context), but also internationally, both immigrants and people of color have historically often been left out of solidarity initiatives or had their contributions minimized. If we are going to dilute the meaning of "intersectional" and emphasize a specific axis, I think racism does need to be mentioned.

I personally really like when Jacobin publishes paired articles with different criticisms or opposing viewpoints, and it might have been better here. Given the multiple points made in-thread about some of the conveniences provided, perhaps a good angle might have been looking at efforts to provide the same more widely and how rare they really are. Letting ourselves fall into criticising women for doing things in general is a well-known pitfall, and it is really important to bring it up in discussions of topics like this. We do have to continually check ourselves on that, but that means we improve our critiques, not drop them, right?

Absolutely, 100%! If that had been Jacobin's take on the article, I think that they would have received a lot less pushback than they have here, because that would be acknowledging and nodding to the reasons that someone might discuss a business initiative like this as feminist in the first place--even though that's participation in a fundamentally capitalist framework that is falling down along other, critical intersectional axes. What has been frustrating me about this discussion has been seeing people repeat themselves because they don't feel heard, and that has been happening a lot--both in this thread and elsewhere.

I would like to gently push back on your characterization of some of these amenities as conveniences, though: if you're a primary caregiver of a child, on-site childcare (even temporary, short-term childcare) can be lifesaving and job-saving in the event of sudden instability at a critical time. The kinds of peripatetic professionals who use communal working spaces like this, especially women, are the most likely to need to rely on services like this. Similarly, breastfeeding access is incredibly fraught for many working women, and a dedicated and private space for breastfeeding is an accessibility issue, not a convenience.

I think the larger dynamic is internationalist radical feminism vs domestic liberal feminism. It is understandable if liberals don't know about why the Jacobin piece mentions Clinton's imperialism because it is a horrendously ugly legacy dripping with the kind of material misogyny and white supremacy that has killed lots of people (and continuing to kill people). It contains the kind of cognitive dissonance and contradictions that collapse the entire liberal feminist project.

I think you're right: this is a dynamic at play! However, I think the usual domestic response is to point out that Clinton receives far, far more and more persistent vilification for this international history than prominent men involved in the same conflicts, including George W. Bush and Kissinger, but also including her own husband Bill Clinton. Speaking very personally, I do not see Bush, Kissinger, and Bill Clinton focused on to nearly the same extent or with the same level of vitriol.

Moreover, I see persistent dynamics wherein female leaders are held to be far more responsible than male leaders for equivalent harms, and those dynamics are reflected within the personal workplaces of many women. Those dynamics cause tension and frustration when they aren't acknowledged just as Clinton's war crimes cause tension and frustration when they are not acknowledged for you. I believe emphatically that in order to make light rather than heat, we need to nod to the concerns of people who are often marginalized during these discussions, even if no one is thinking about marginalizing them again here. I think that inarguably, Jacobin did not do this work in this piece. Audiences need to trust speakers not to recapitulate their marginalization, and leftist spaces and liberal spaces are both perfectly capable of doing exactly that: there can be no trust until it can be earned with a note to avoid sore spaces chafed raw.

And to bring it full circle, the kind of feminism that she helped popularize in an immensely popular presidential campaign is now leveraged by this business to line the pockets of Saudi Arabia.

I would argue strenuously that Clinton did not help to popularize this strain of capitalist feminism because I would argue that it is the default strain of feminism championed by largely privileged women. It seems odd to lay this fault specifically at Clinton's feet when we have similar types of behavior gleefully perpetuated throughout the entire largely white and largely wealthy history of feminism. That does not mean that there isn't and wasn't a baby in that bathwater, but it is weird to hold Clinton responsible for this sin and not, say, Stanton or Anthony or Sanger.
posted by sciatrix at 9:36 AM on November 26, 2019 [12 favorites]


Being a capitalist is literally the opposite of doing work.

So I am clearly not a socialist, and maybe this is Socialism 101, but would, say, the owner of a sandwich food truck, who makes & sells sandwiches for profit, and who does the vast majority of the work, not be engaging in capitalism?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


As usual I get to the bottom of a post like this and find that most of what I think has been said better. It seems to me that it is good if a group of women who with common careers, socioeconomic class and challenges come together in a supportive space. Having private and exclusive spaces in your life doesn’t prevent you from having meaningful connections with and supporting women elsewhere.
posted by interogative mood at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Socialist feminists aren't waiting for the revolution to solve their problems. Loosely speaking, that's why they're socialist feminists, not just socialists. Most are trying to improve women's lives today, and liberal feminists

how charming to reduce feminism to the hopeful handmaiden of real ideologies, such as liberalism or socialism, such as. nothing in itself; good or wicked depending purely upon the virtues or vices of its proper stewards.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2019 [14 favorites]


You know what bugs me about prioritizing a capitalist critique over a more broadly conceived feminism … and then calling it feminism? It's that patriarchy is, idk, 20 times older than capitalism. 100 times? Patriarchy has been the dominant mode in so many cultures since before Adam Smith's deep ancestors were breathing and yet you have folks today who claim that somehow a culture with equal rights, access and respect to all genders isn't radical. It's maybe the most radical, maybe the original radical, that women have been fighting against and struggling under for forEVER.

I don't want a matriarchal capitalism, or a gender-equal capitalism. It would be deeply insufficient and dangerous. But to claim that such an outcome wouldn't be "feminist" is imo pretty blinkered.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:33 AM on November 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


So I am clearly not a socialist, and maybe this is Socialism 101, but would, say, the owner of a sandwich food truck, who makes & sells sandwiches for profit, and who does the vast majority of the work, not be engaging in capitalism?

The short answer is no. Making a living by selling goods produced by your own hands, or in a workshop you manage, is an idea that existed millennia before capitalism. When (most) socialists/Marxists refer to capital, they're generally referring to stores of wealth used to direct the labor of others from a great distance and with the sole purpose of creating more wealth for their owners, possibly without them even knowing what the money is doing or why. Those owners, who earn money without performing any labor (e.g. Bill Gates being wealthier in 2019 than he was before he retired), are capitalists, and the economic system that we all now live in where most economic activity is directed by capitalists, is capitalism. It's not something you can engage in on any meaningful level without being wealthy enough that you can live solely on investment income.
posted by Copronymus at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


Being a capitalist is literally the opposite of doing work.

So I am clearly not a socialist, and maybe this is Socialism 101, but would, say, the owner of a sandwich food truck, who makes & sells sandwiches for profit, and who does the vast majority of the work, not be engaging in capitalism?
posted by grumpybear69 36 minutes ago


No, well, not by the technical understanding that I have (as someone who studied socio-economic history and the transition to capitalism).

What you are describing is an owner-operator (in farming, I would describe it as a owner-occupier) who is engaged in producing goods/services for a MARKET ECONOMY, but who is not a classic capitalist. (If they also employ labour, then they are shading into capitalism, but are they a capitalist if they also labour? Fuzzyness abounds).

A market economy (or "market exchange economy") is one in which goods and services are exchanged in a market and most people trade for what they need (whether for cash or barter doesn't matter). They aren't subsistence producers (people growing all their own food, producing their own tools, clothes, etc., from natural resources). They are generally specialized producers - a farmer growing wheat trades some of his wheat to a shepherd for wool or to a carpenter for roof repairs - and they produce surpluses to be traded (even internationally). In a feudal system, this is complicated a bit by the ways in which surplus (of both goods and labour) were appropriated by the elites. But generally feudal systems and market economies worked together - they aren't distinct (and medieval peasants produced for markets as well as for their lords - very few were ever subsistence). Same with slave economies - they are a variation, but very few economies were ever 100% slaves.

The difference between a market economy and a capitalist economy (which is a subset of market economies, really) is about the relation of capital (aka the means of production) to labour. If you own your sandwich truck and you buy the ingredients and make the sandwiches and then sell them for a profit, you are a marketer, but not a capitalist, though you may live in a majority capitalist society - but what you're doing is the same as has happened for 1000s of years. Market economies are ancient and predate more capitalist economies by thousands of years. The Roman empire, for example, was run on the basis of markets, and a Roman-era sandwich seller had the same economic relationship to his work as the modern one.

Capitalism is when you have separation of capital (means of production) and labour. If somone else owns the sandwich truck, buys the ingredients, pays you just for your labour to make and sell the sandwiches, and then they keep any profit - they are a capitalist.

Frankly, even though I would not describe the medieval and earlier periods as "capitalist", we've always had some capitalism in our civilization. Once societies were large enough to build cities and temples, there have been labourers who traded only their labour and had no direct access to the means of production. Maybe even before cities: I can imagine that as early agricultural villages began to socially stratify, some people had land and other people did not - and those without may have had only their labour to trade, especially if there weren't natural resources (e.g. forests to hunt in) that they could exploit instead.

But we talk about the post-medieval period as being the period of transition to capitalism because that's the period in which labourers went from being a minority of most populations into being the majority. I know the European context best (which is, of course, the context that informed all of the theoretical thinking of Marx and other socialists) - over the 16th to 19th centuries, the majority of people in Europe stopped having direct access to the means of production (as tenant farmers and/or independent producers) and increasingly traded their labour as the means of their livelihoods.

And in our current economy, even relatively high income and high status people - e.g. professionals - trade their skills and labour for their livelihoods. But the highest income people still make that income through capital (largely with investments).

Sorry for the Socialism 101 tone - this is actually how I think about pretty complex stuff. Other people may have other definitions, but for me the essential bit is the relation of labour and capital.

also, what Copronymus said.
posted by jb at 10:54 AM on November 26, 2019 [12 favorites]


And, in case you are interested (and too bad if you aren't?) - here is the difference between a feudal and capitalist economy (with a narrow focus on the southern English countryside):

In a feudal economy, elites owned the most important means of production - land. But they didn't just extract cash from it: they extracted labour. They also didn't directly access the profit on that labour.

What this meant on the ground: landlords had an incentive to have a larger number of smaller tenants - because they could get more labour for their own (demesne) lands. As well, unless the rents were set like sharecropping, if the tenants could produce more from their land, they kept the difference (the profit). Their income would go up in a good year (and down in a bad).

In a capitalist system, the landowner either rents out the land to large farmers who then hire labourers to work that land or hires the labourers directly. In the first case, the landowner is a rentier, but the farmer is the capitalist - any extra profit produced above costs (including rent) accumulate to the farmer - as well as any risks (lower income in a bad year). The labourers' wages don't go up in a good year, though they might go down in a bad year (by not being hired). If the landowner hires the labour directly, same deal, they are now the capitalist and take the risks and the profits.

The big impact on people from capitalism is that there is no incentive for a landowner to have many small tenants - if they are getting their rent in cash, then a few, larger and more stable tenants are better than many smaller ones who may not be able to pay. With fewer tenants, more rural people were landless labourers, and had no option but to trade their labour - including to their former neighbours who were a bit luckier than them.

Thus, in the history of English agriculture - which, of course, informed Marx's thinking, even though he really misread the causes of the mid-17th century civil wars, we have the process of ENGROSSMENT which predated the famous enclosures. Engrossment was the process by which farm sizes increased, families with direct access to land decreased and those who relied on labour for their survival increased. Feudalism had, perhaps, delayed what may be an emergent property of markets, because it had this strong incentive for elites to keep up their ability to command larger groups of people. But once this was gone, engrossment proceeded. Later, enclosures of common lands followed - but recent research has suggested that the labouring classes had already lost their use-rights on commons before they were formally enclosed.
posted by jb at 11:12 AM on November 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


anyways: back to the subject of the post - users of co-working space are very unlikely to be capitalists. Actually, some of them won't even be the labour in a capitalist system: if they are trading their skills but own the means of production (e.g. the design technology), are they rather an owner-operator? If they get to keep the surplus from what they produce, that doesn't put them in a capitalist relationship.

One big confusion is that in criticism of capitalism, there is a lot of mixing of definitions. Some of the criticisms are of capitalism itself - but others are really about market economies or maybe just human use of resources. If we talk about the environmental impacts of "capitalism" - that's not caused by capitalism (relation of labour to means of production and/or profit) or even market economies (mechanism of exchange). Feudal or socialist systems can also have massive impacts on the environment - and have. What matters when it comes to environmental issues is what kind of future-orientation the decision-makers have. For example, English aristocractic owners of land in the 17th and 18th centuries often had very conservative environmental policies for their own estates - because they pictured themselves and their families owning and relying on that land for centuries. Any capitalist owner or group of owners (aka a corporation) who are similarly oriented to the future would have a similarly conservative policy - though only about what aspects of nature that they cared about, not anything "external" to their interests.

What has shifted is the future orientation of groups of owners. With the focus not on the centuries level, but on the yearly or (more often) quarterly, there is no need for preservation, whether that is of resources or even of your own potential customers.
posted by jb at 11:24 AM on November 26, 2019 [9 favorites]


I am simultaneously grateful someone that someone picked up that ball and apologetic for derailing the thread so completely.
posted by Reyturner at 11:29 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


also, now I'm hungry for sandwiches and I just had lunch (not a sandwich).
posted by jb at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2019


I think you're right: this is a dynamic at play! However, I think the usual domestic response is to point out that Clinton receives far, far more and more persistent vilification for this international history than prominent men involved in the same conflicts, including George W. Bush and Kissinger, but also including her own husband Bill Clinton. Speaking very personally, I do not see Bush, Kissinger, and Bill Clinton focused on to nearly the same extent or with the same level of vitriol.

I would be very surprised if you traveled in the same internationalist leftist circles I did and didn't see that persistent vilification of Kissinger/Cheney/Bush.

Beyond that, there are a couple things at play here. Both Kissinger and Bush have largely been rehabilitated by liberals and centrists (like the Clintons, Obamas, and the larger liberal/centrist establishment) and are now either seen as eldritch/elder statesmen or lovable goofy painters.

And ironically enough, Bill Clinton's role in the American bipartisan foreign policy legacy of horror was much less than Hillary Clinton's role as Secretary of State under Obama. I don't ascribe this to any amount of extra virtue of Bill vs. malice on Hillary, but simply more the geopolitical cards they were dealt.

What's more, she just ran an incredibly popular campaign 3 years ago. Bush and Cheney was last in power a decade ago. Bill Clinton? Nearly two decades ago. And while Kissinger's influence has never let up, he last held office a half century ago. I talk about their war crimes all the time, but I also recognize Westerners are more interested in the present than the time my parents lived in refugee camps five decades ago.

Moreover, Clinton (and Obama and liberals in general) receive this specific kind of criticism from leftists because Western liberals explicitly position themselves as dramatically better than conservatives in everything. And practically speaking, I have more of a chance convincing liberals to change their minds than conservatives.

I would argue strenuously that Clinton did not help to popularize this strain of capitalist feminism because I would argue that it is the default strain of feminism championed by largely privileged women. It seems odd to lay this fault specifically at Clinton's feet when we have similar types of behavior gleefully perpetuated throughout the entire largely white and largely wealthy history of feminism. That does not mean that there isn't and wasn't a baby in that bathwater, but it is weird to hold Clinton responsible for this sin and not, say, Stanton or Anthony or Sanger.

For me, the difference is that Stanton, Anthony, and Sanger weren't close friends with Kissinger and didn't sell cluster bombs and fighter-bombers to the Saudis. And Clinton is still held up by plenty of Western feminists and liberals right now as a symbol of liberation and hope (including at The Wing).
posted by Ouverture at 11:51 AM on November 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


Having private and exclusive spaces in your life doesn’t prevent you from having meaningful connections with and supporting women elsewhere.

What has been interesting whenever I'm on a "women who cover tech" or "women who worked in tech" panel is the hostility I encountered when I mention that one of my best career assets is the group chat I have with other women at my professional level; we check in on career moves and strategize together, and generally make each other better at our jobs. I initially thought the hostility was toward the notion of an all-woman chat. I learned via one Q&A that some people reacted to that advice because they wouldn't be able to follow it and they were angry at the possibility that they'd be competing for jobs against people who had access to a resource they did not .

Perhaps the Wing might leave an unpleasant taste in some people's mouths because it's implicitly promising pay-to-play access to elite opportunities via an exclusive network. Being reminded of what you can or cannot afford to access -- or what you are barred from accessing because you're not [something] enough is another way of reminding people that in the U.S., "work hard and get ahead" has hard limits on "ahead" and any given value of "ahead" may or may not jibe with how much hard work was put in.
posted by sobell at 11:59 AM on November 26, 2019 [12 favorites]


I apologize for the thoughtful answers, and don't really consider it a derail since a lot of the points of argument in the Jacobin piece presume a certain amount of literacy re: socialist theory. So I feel better-equipped to parse it now. Thank you, jb, Reyturner and Copronymus!
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:28 PM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


how charming to reduce feminism to the hopeful handmaiden of real ideologies

I'm confused. I'm arguing there that contrary to accusations that liberal feminists are the true wardens of feminism and socialist feminists are all class-reductionists waiting for the revolution, many are feminists first and foremost, just anti-capitalist feminists.
posted by Acid Communist at 12:32 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Wow, uh, I mean I am grateful for the thoughtful answers. I don't know how I mis-typed that, maybe anticipatory tryptophan analog release syndrome?
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised by the lack of discussion on what these co-working spaces and the obscene influx of venture capital is doing to housing affordability and gentrification. The damage caused reaches far beyond those that simply can't afford to access these spaces.

Much like private insurers to healthcare, or Uber to transportation, it seems like places like The Wing are offering a stopgap market solution to the deliberate deinvestment and political disinterest in creating a civil society which accommodates the fundamental needs of ALL human beings. Where any such system exists the inevitable result is the perpetuation of a significant and excluded underclass.
posted by smithsmith at 2:53 PM on November 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


Yes. If people had homes with office space, they wouldn't need The Wing. If people had neighbors they could trust, all it would take is one house on the block with an converted garage space that was office-ified for half a dozen households to use.

We get organizations like The Wing because all of the organic space-and-community features of the past have been deliberately eroded.

The article doesn't seem to acknowledge the existence of hackerspaces and makerspaces, including women-and-nonbinary-only ones like Double Union. Jacobin spends a lot of time sneering at Hillary and her supporters' projects, without mentioning that there are collectives with the same goals without the commercial focus. This makes me think they don't know about those, and therefore are clueless to the social and business contexts that inspired places like The Wing.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:36 PM on November 26, 2019 [9 favorites]


Coworking spaces exist because the internet has enabled remote work to the extent that there are enough remote workers to fill many office buildings. Working from home sucks if it is your only option - you are isolated and sedentary. So: coworking. A net social benefit, IMO, though the facilities themselves often lack an understanding of how to foster connections between strangers. (Hint: ping pong works wonders.) Mostly they have evening events featuring free food and booze, which is great if you have nothing better to do and/or no obligations, like a family, that preclude attendance. So they exclude older peope and parents by design.

It is unsurprising, then, that places like The Wing sprout up to focus the networking beam. Inasmuch as it is literally bringing (some) people together, I can hardly fault it. That's more than can be said for Seamless or Uber or Taskr. Maintaining the social fabric in a post-localized economy is important and should not be undervalued. Also I promise you they are not making money; subleasing office space is a seriously low-margin affair.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:07 PM on November 26, 2019 [11 favorites]


In addition to what grumpybear69 said, coworking spaces also exist because a) there are a lot of people freelancing in fields like journalism, where twenty years ago they might have worked for a specific publication; b) remote work looks nice for workers (I say the day before we're supposed to get a foot of snow on a busy travel day, not to mention you don't have to worry about lactation rooms in your own place), and it looks even better for companies that don't have to pay for the lease/heating on a space. Remote work is moving costs that used to be paid by the corporation to the worker. And the workers do get some benefits (and you'd be paying to heat your apartment during the day anyway), but the loss of the second space can feel real and isolating.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:28 PM on November 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


> The article doesn't seem to acknowledge the existence of hackerspaces and makerspaces

I think about what I'd want from a coworking space, and I think about the makerspaces I've been in, there's not a lot of overlap other than "lots of electrical outlets."
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


Maintaining the social fabric in a post-localized economy is important and should not be undervalued. Also I promise you they are not making money; subleasing office space is a seriously low-margin affair.

That's a laughably unsophisticated understanding of how start-ups work. I can assure you that Netflix, Uber or Tesla aren't making any money either. That doesn't mean they are doing so for altruistic reasons, nor do entities like the Saudi government invest in such enterprises out of the goodness of their heart.

Private, for-profit corporations - The Wing included - are not beholden to the benevolent principles of their founders but to the dictates of the venture capitalists who invest in them. The entire business model is premised on the idea of running at a loss long enough to achieve sufficient market share to then raise prices and cut costs (and you can bet your bottom dollar that pingpong and lactation rooms will be the first victims of these inevitable rounds of "efficiency" reviews when investors demand a return on their investment). Anyone who thinks that private co-working corporations, including The Wing, will ultimately operate any differently is being remarkably and wilfully naive.
posted by smithsmith at 4:59 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


You don’t like this option. Great. What would you suggest women who have to work remotely do? Is there an option for them that would be acceptable?
posted by hydropsyche at 5:06 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Where did I say I didn't like it? My concern is with its exclusionary nature and long term sustainability. I mean, for god's sake, the following can all be true:

Point A: Lactation rooms and workplace childcare are fundamental to the dignity of women in the workplace; and
Point B: It's a good thing that places like The Wing exist to offer a stopgap solution to a minority of women with sufficient financial means to access them; and
Point C: It's morally abhorrent that such spaces are structurally denied to the majority of women for economic and political reasons.

It's a total failure of imagination to dismiss Point C or pretend like there is absolutely no policy solution available that might address it.
posted by smithsmith at 5:12 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


The article seemed to be saying this is so morally abhorrent it should not exist. I agree with you that C is awesome. Thank you for calling for C.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:30 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


That's a laughably unsophisticated understanding of how start-ups work

[initial reaction redacted for civility]

It is an educated understanding of the reality of coworking space economics. Regus, the next biggest provider after WeWork, almost went belly-up after the dot-com bust and only survived by pivoting to ancillary services as a revenue stream. Hell, WeWork is unprofitable even after ditching WeWank etc. because of the margins I mentioned above. And VC cash or no, coworking spaces are not losing money on purpose to drive out competition like Uber or Amazon. There is no industry to disrupt. They are just in a business with very little profit potential. Period. The Wing (and its backers) may be attempting to disrupt something, but it is not desk rental.

Private, for-profit corporations - The Wing included - are not beholden to the benevolent principles of their founders

LOLOLOLOLOL have you not heard of Adam Neumann, Harvard Biz Legend
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


[One deleted. Paraphrased, "at least commenters here haven't said [Offensive Stupid Thing] but for how long" isn't the way to go here. Let's please try to discuss reasonably and generally avoid sounding like the worst of comment sections anywhere. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:30 AM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think that a thing about Jacobin is that they're mostly writing for people who already agree with them, which is great, but it means that their articles don't always translate to a more-general audience. If you don't agree with certain premises, then you're probably not going to get a ton out of the article. And that's a fine and totally legitimate thing to do, but I think it can make for a frustrating discussion, because we tend to get hung up on first principles and have trouble getting to the point of the article. It's annoying for people who enjoyed the article, as well as for those of us with whom it doesn't really resonate.

Anyway, the Wing is definitely not in any way my thing. I don't need a co-working space; I couldn't afford it if I did; I don't live in a place that could sustain a fancy women's co-working space; I think it would not be my style even if I needed it and lived in the right place and could afford it. But I don't think it *offends* me, in part I guess because I'm comfortable with there being lots of different kinds of feminists in the world, including some with whom I don't have a ton in common. Also, if you're a not-rich, middle-aged, Midwestern woman, I think you get used to there being a whole lot of things that get media coverage and that aren't for you. If I got hung up about every thing that isn't for me, I would spend a lot of time being upset. I think I would prefer to build the kind of movement that I want to be part of, and leave other people to their millennial pink hair dryers if that's what floats their boats. Which I realize would not make for a very rousing Jacobin article.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:37 AM on November 27, 2019 [14 favorites]


"Metafilter: would not make for a very rousing Jacobin article."

and that's why I like it.
posted by jb at 2:24 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


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