Editorials

Feminists Should Thank God For Capitalism

When it comes to feminism, “it’s the economy, stupid.” Pantsuits didn’t liberate women; washing machines did — and we have American capitalism to thank for that. So, why are so many self-styled feminists trying to tear down capitalism?

Take, for example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), popularly known as AOC. She calls herself a feminist, even fronting as a suffragette at national events. But her socialist Green New Deal won’t make American women more independent. As a feminist myself, I know it will create a whole new category of “kept” women — this time dependent upon government instead of a man.

Big government is a sugar daddy by another name. Expanding it will set women back 100 years.

AOC’s “new deal” would stifle the very thing that got us this far. We’ll never achieve equal opportunity and prosperity for women until we finally accept that women have what it takes to make it in the free market — where jobs aren’t guaranteed. Instead we need to guarantee that all women are free to utilize their skills and talents to help each other, and themselves, without government interference.

Over the past 200 years, the free market has driven unprecedented technological advances that benefited women — a fact highlighted in the famous “kitchen debate” between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

In 1959, the United States opened an exhibit in Moscow to display the innovations our country was producing. It featured labor-saving devices for the home that more than 450 American companies built explicitly for women, and which — as Nixon crowed to Khrushchev — nearly any American could afford.

That exchange was about more than one-upping the Russians. Those appliances were transformative, enabling our grandmothers and mothers to leave behind scrub boards, hand wringers and coal ovens and enter the labor force en masse. Now, U.S. women are free to outwork men in the business world.

Professor Ann E. Cudd, a founding member of the Society for Analytical Feminism and the provost and senior vice chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh, adds women’s education to the laundry list of capitalism’s benefits. “By providing an opportunity for an income independent of their male relatives, [capitalism] provides women with the ability to advocate for their education or to directly invest in their own and their daughters’ education,” she writes in her book, “Capitalism, For and Against: A Feminist Debate.”

If you look at female accomplishments — from high school and college graduation rates to income growth — we are crushing it. Automation, information technology and other outgrowths of capitalism are allowing women to compete and win in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Clearly, America’s free-market system is a beacon to the world showing how to empower women in technology, business, education and other sectors. AOC’s plans would change all that, but why?

In socialist countries where government regulation and ownership dominate the economy, we don’t see women with opportunities for career success. There, many women struggle to survive under the thumb of a bureaucracy that might as well be the patriarchy reincarnate.

Socialism breeds corruption, not female empowerment. Travel to socialist Venezuela, where the United Nations reports less than 1 percent of the 70,000+ violent crimes against women resulted in criminal trials. You can’t pull even with men when you are fighting for your life.

Socialism empowers that system, not the women in it. In contrast, the free market goes hand and hand with a free, just and civil society.

For years, misogynists have claimed women are helpless — that we can’t think or provide for ourselves. The capitalist system has allowed women to rack up accomplishments that proved them all wrong.

Now, AOC and other progressive lawmakers embracing socialism want to take it all away by having us become “kept” women, dependent on and under the thumb of an overreaching government.

We don’t need it. It’s time for the socialists to get out of our way and keep government out of our business.

Jennifer Stefano is a vice president at the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank. She previously held leadership roles at Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and is a former Emmy-nominated television reporter and anchor. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferStefano.