Neo-liberalism promotes a delusion of meritocracy where individuals’ level of achievement is assumed to be based on their abilities rather than their social or economic status. In a capitalist society, this philosophy is merely a delusion since it does not reflect on the reality of women. Females’ success is hindered by barriers such as the gender pay gap, glass ceiling, unpaid caring roles, gender expectations, and other obstacles. Within a capitalist society with neoliberal values, men perpetuate gender inequality to maintain their privileges through the abuse of power.
In Bezanson’s (2016) article, neo-liberalism is defined as “an approach that elevates the free market and advocates individualism and individual rights over any collectivism or group rights,” promoting capitalism (p.190). Because neo-liberal philosophy limits interventions from the government, there are no restrictions to how capitals transfer and accumulate, creating social stratification between the successful and unsuccessful. Since the elites – mostly comprised of men – are protected by the state’s power, patriarchy becomes a dominating system in the society, which allows men’s power and privilege to be socially reproduced throughout generations. Under the direct influence of males’ decisions, females’ freedom is reduced since reproduction and nurturing of children are essential for capitalists to ensure that a sufficient supply of workers is available continuously (Camfield, 2017). Hence, elites lobby the state to advocate laws and promote ideas that limit women’s control over their bodies.
Females’ vulnerability becomes evident during times of political economy of insecurity. In such circumstances, capitalist governments react to recessions by “privatizing industries, cutting social spending, and changing labor laws,” and placing people in unstable work environments (Bezanson, 2016, p. 191). Consequently, oppression extends to women’s labor conditions because they are expected to take on unpaid caring work provided within the household along with their paid employee roles (Bezanson, 2016). Even after the dual-earner model became a norm in Canada, men continued to exercise their privilege to liberate themselves from these responsibilities. To do so, they put women in charge of the private sphere, forcing them to be ‘homemakers’ of the family (Bezanson, 2016).
To assess how gender inequality further manifests in people’s lives, one can look at systemic discrimination of females and their victimization issues. Gender-based diversity analysis is a diagnostic tool that is concerned with how gender influences individuals’ decisions, roles, power, and access to resources. For instance, throughout history, there has been a consistent concern with women’s experiences with sexual and physical assault. Despite the alarming statistics indicating high rates of female abuse, the Canadian federal government remains apathetic about the issue since the deeply rooted patriarchal influence in politics continues to oppress feminist movements (DeKeseredy & Dragiewicz, 2014). As a result, such a tendency contributes to gender gap problems. Gender expectations and hegemonic femininity also limit women’s success by defining desired traits through a patriarchal lens. Raby and Pomerantz’s (2018) article illustrates how female students struggle to engage with their academic identities, finding incompatibilities between smartness and girlhood. Because ‘smart girls’ are perceived to reject popular femininity, unattractive girls voiced their experiences of downplaying their own intelligence due to the fear of social isolation. Sexual objectification of women challenges female students to negotiate their social status with academic achievement, generating another barrier to future success.
Even after taking on multiple roles, such as being a caretaker and a co-breadwinner, women feel that their contribution is depreciated and criticized as being imperfect. Oppression is amplified when intersectionality is taken into account. To eliminate the entrenched system of patriarchy, there is a need for large protests, lobbying, and campaigns to raise awareness and initiate change in values, norms, and ideas that currently promote discrimination.