Here's how the editors and I describe the rationale for the project:
The Curve’s editors—Betsy Reed, Sarah Leonard, and Emily Douglas—began this project with Kathy because we have long been frustrated by two phenomena.
One is the way in which women’s voices are so frequently sidelined in economic debates. Our voices are few and far between in the economics blogosphere. It’s striking that almost none of the reviewers of Thomas Piketty’s groundbreaking Capital in the Twenty-First Century were women. And as Media Matters recently showed, women are rarely invited to discuss the economy on cable news.
The flipside of this problem is that, even amongst ourselves, feminists don’t talk enough about economics. Too often, discussions about so-called culture problems like abortion access and domestic violence lack the economic context necessary to appreciate their true causes and repercussions. When topics such as the pay gap or workplace discrimination come up, coverage is often superficial and focused on the experiences of a tiny elite. Meanwhile, the economic pressures on women are mounting: as inequality soars, women make up a growing proportion of the long-term unemployed, low-income women lead a growing majority of single-mother households, middle-income women struggle with few social supports, and even the progress being made by high-income women into the executive suites remains glacially slow.
Hence The Curve—where feminists will hash out economic issues and intervene in feminist debates from an economic perspective. We will draw on the many fine economists, labor journalists, bloggers and academics already producing tremendous work.
For our first forum, we take on a provocative topic: "Does Feminism Have a Class Problem?". In more detail, here's the question we're exploring:
Later, we will get more granular, but for the first round of discussion we are asking our contributors to think big. Given arguments among feminists over Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and debate about the firing of Jill Abramson at The New York Times, and in the context of ongoing movements to gain rights for low-wage care workers, we’d like to begin by exploring the very nature of feminist success. How much does it matter for women that gender discrimination persists at the top? Does feminist success mean an equal number of corner office suites and stock photos, or something more? Is there an inherent class conflict within feminism—indeed, has feminism lost sight of class? Is there the potential for a cross-class feminist movement that transforms the economy for the benefit of all women?You can read my contribution to the forum here. My fantastic co-contributors are Demos president Heather McGhee, Center for American Progress senior fellow Judith Warner, and the eminent feminist economist Nancy Folbre (whose book on the economics of care, The Invisible Heart, is a feminist classic).
I am thrilled to pieces to be part of this project. The economic side of feminism is so important and it is one that is perennially undercovered in the media -- even feminist media. As recent debates on everything from sex work to Lean In to feminist twitter wars have shown, feminists disagree with each other -- a lot. But the 140 characters that twitter provides is hardly the ideal format to discuss complex ideas and productively air our differences. Hopefully, this format will provide a better way.
I hope you enjoy this week's forum. In future weeks, we'll be exploring issues ranging from the Democrats' economic policy agenda for women to what feminists have to say about Thomas Piketty. Stay tuned!