She wants feminism to work for everyone
Against the backdrop of an increasingly commercialised kind of pop feminism (set in motion in part by Beyonce’s 2014 MTV VMAs performance), she wants everyone to understand the importance of feminism being truly intersectional.
Intersectionality was one of her top priorities at Jezebel and, as she explained during the panel ‘The Future of Feminism’ for the Center for Brooklyn History in 2018, she wanted Jezebel writers to incorporate the perspectives of LGBTQI women, immigrant women and women with disabilities into their everyday work.
She gets the complexities (and frequent failures) of mainstream feminist dialogue and she’s a bold critic of white feminism, which she describes as an individualistic ideology that fails to challenge the patriarchal or capitalist structures that most women struggle beneath.
Off the back of her Joan Shorenstein Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2019, Beck published the influential essay ‘Self-Optimisation in the Face of Patriarchy’ that describes how mainstream media has propelled white feminism.
In the essay, she broke down white feminism as a cynical movement defined by capitalist ideals like work success and the promise of ‘self-empowerment’.
In particular, she pointed to the ideals promoted by Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 cultish hit book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and expertly crushed their self-centred focus.
She outlined historical examples of white feminists basically just trying to emulate the success of the men around them in the same capitalist framework and said by doing that, they were clearly leaving women of colour behind.
She pulls no punches when she talks about these issues and said that white feminism fails to “disrupt structures or systems” and that women who ascribe to this ideology are “succeeding in existing structures, eclipsing the need for a collective feminism or for a feminism that recognises that most women lack the inherent advantages that helped these women to succeed”.