There are many issues with contemporary Western feminism but one of the biggest flaws it has today is the abandonment of the dialectical method of understanding historical materialism and how capital ties itself with identity and difference. So, many western feminists (liberal white, black, brown, etc) will turn oppression into issues of discourse and ideology and representation while completely ignoring the fact that the means of production form the basis of oppression for the majority of women around the world. Take the example of the United States of America where 63% of the 18+ demographic is poor and female and usually non-white. A socialist feminist will propose a revolutionary demand that this gap be eliminated and that the question of class should be raised once and for all to destroy a social production like class. This is for one simple reason: The most dangerous life one can live is as a poor woman; her body becomes a marketplace. This is why you will not find socialist feminists congratulating young female students for taking up prostitution and pornography to pay their bills. What cultural or post-Marxist feminists or postmodern intellectuals will tell you is that the issue here is not the accumulation of profit/surplus value through the unrewarded labor of this young woman but more likely an issue of representation. Which is why liberal feminists fail; they focus on the cosmetic and cultural level of misogyny and forget class analysis. While cultural analysis of patriarchy is indeed important, class analysis will point out the root of a woman’s precarity in society. Representation will allow you a moment of respite in terms of lending you temporary political visibility and legitimacy but when it comes to social mobility and economic empowerment, representation will get you nowhere because representation simply makes an appeal to the state that created the difference to begin with. State will not bend over to give you more than representation. For the state, capital is more important which is why you will see that when a person from a marginalized community (racial or sexual or combination of several factors) is represented in culture industry, not much changes for the people on ground-level. There is a reason for that. This is why socialist feminists do not care if we as non-white women are represented in a capitalist entertainment industry. It does not mean better wages for us and it does not mean decreased violence from the state against our communities and it does not address our core problems. Back to Western feminists. Western feminists have abandoned what we call praxis and have turned feminism into middle-class academia integrated banter. This is why you see students angry with how inaccessible the language of feminism has become; it’s because it is now simply an issue of an academic panel to sit down and talk about it for 30 minutes and not do anything outside for the public. The dominant discourse of Western feminism is cultural feminism and that is the most dangerous thing you can do when it comes to the liberation of women: constricting yourself to an analysis of patriarchy that omits the reality of class and only focuses on culture. By reducing social life to representation, Western feminists ignore the fact that social life as a totality has a lot more to do with class *especially* for poor women. It ignores the racialized division of labor and assumes that black and brown women will be empowered if there is some celebrity representing them on the TV screen. It forgets the material basis of women’s oppression. The most ignorant step that cultural feminists take is forgetting that underpaid and/or unpaid labor is necessary for the accumulation of capital and the majority of it comes from women.
When you take class out of the analysis, you do a huge disservice to feminism and become, what is now a pejorative among socialist feminists, a rabid postmodernist.