Helen Clark has talked warmly of Hillary Clinton.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark insists that Jacinda Ardern has helped crack 'the glass ceiling'.

I RATHER SUSPECTED THAT it would not take long before some Labour supporters would be trying to make political capital out the birth of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's child. I wasn't wrong. Former Prime Minister Helen Clark got in one of the first shots having already prepared a column for The Guardian. It duly appeared on the newspaper's website barely minutes after the birth had been announced, complete with the 'official' photo of Jacinda, Clarke and baby.

According to Clark, Ardern's pregnancy has proved "that women can break through all barriers and do it in their own way as Ardern has done.' If you haven't got the message, the article is helpfully headlined 'Jacinda Ardern shows that no doors are closed to women." Of course it helps if you are a woman who comes from a privileged social position and has spent a decade in Parliament on a six figure salary.

This is the same Helen Clark who has celebrated the achievements of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and has cheered on Christine Lagarde at the International Monetary Fund. She has also spoken warmly of corporate Democrat Hillary Clinton, a notorious warmonger and the woman who enthusiastically supported hubby Bill's welfare 'reforms' which plunged tens of thousands of American women into poverty. When she became the Democratic Party's presidential candidate she declared that “I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet."

Clark, who steadfastly defended neoliberal capitalism throughout her time as Prime Minister is, unsurprisingly, peddling the feminism of the one percent. She wants us to believe that propelling women like Ardern to the top will benefit all women. It is trickle down feminism, the kind of feminism that neoliberalism can embrace

Laurie Penny: Women have been conned by a neoliberal brand of feminism.
When Clark speaks of glass ceilings to be smashed and that Ardern is leading the charge, it should be remembered that Ardern leads a government as loyal to 'the market' as Helen Clark's Labour government ever was. If Jacinda Ardern is skipping through 'open doors' she is leaving behind her the majority of women who are still struggling on low wages in insecure jobs and are still being sanctioned by Work and Income. And, of course, Jacinda Ardern's child will never be one of the some 280,000 children who are presently living in poverty.

While Helen Clark obsesses about smashing the glass ceiling and holds up Jacinda Ardern as an example of what can be 'achieved' most women are up against the wall. The answer does not lie in being 'inspired' by Jacinda Ardern but being organised in collective solidarity and fighting to overturn the very political establishment that both Jacinda Ardern and Helen Clark are a part of.

As journalist and activist  Laurie Penny observes: 

'Women, like everyone else, have been duped. We have been persuaded over the past fifty years to settle for a bland, neoliberal vision of what liberation should be. Life may have become a little easier in that time for white women who can afford to hire a nanny, but the rest of us have settled for a cheap, knock-off version of gender revolution."

Feminism ceases to be feminism when privileged white women hijack a movement that should be about liberation but instead becomes the handmaiden of capital.


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