The Failings of Rainbow Capitalism Have Been Laid Bare

The Failings of Rainbow Capitalism Have Been Laid Bare

Each year in June, chaos reigns in America.

Kids wrapping up their school years, hockey and basketball playoffs winding down, the sun in Gemini – all time-honored traditions we've become accustomed to as we usher in the dog days of summer. Unfortunately for all of us, June now marks the apex of the American culture war.

Pride month brings out the worst of the bad faith actors in our late capitalist hellscape. Right-wing media outlets seize every opportunity in June (with a little calendar creep into May for the Daily Wire over the past two years) to turn their firehose of hate on the LGBTQ+ community. Alongside, our largest corporations – from whom this stage of capitalism can only ever demand more – turn to rainbow-themed marketing to drive some extra summer business.

It's hard for me to look back and remember when Pride month and all its trappings weren't so cynical, but this was always inevitable. American consumerism is woven into every aspect of the culture, and we would have been foolish to expect anything else. Corporations are now as inextricable from the culture war as everyone else who has ever logged on, wedged between mainstream liberal Americans and the shrieking lunatics of the far right. The rainbowfication of branding across storefronts and social media during Pride month hits right along with seasonal allergies.

The political moment in the US is extremely hostile to the LGBTQ+ community. Just this week, conservatives on the Supreme Court legalized discrimination against gay and queer Americans. Waves and waves of anti-trans legislation are being pushed through statehouses across the country. There is no denying that trans people are in the crosshairs of the right. From the endless bad faith arguments over drag queen story time (a personal least favorite of mine), to bomb threats called in to children's hospitals over gender affirming care, to hoaxes about litter boxes in schools making their way into the zeitgeist via far-right propagandist Joe Rogan, the right has been relentless in their bad faith attacks and misinformation campaigning.

It's a moral imperative that we all stand against it, and in that way it's hard to cast corporate allyship as a totally empty gesture. We should, however, be alarmed (not surprised) at their capitulation to fascists over the course of June.

The backlash against pride marketing from bad faith right-wingers has been vicious this year, and it's caused many companies to reevaluate their level of participation in rainbow capitalism. Target found itself under threat of boycott for their inclusion of tuckable swimsuits for transgender women. Starbucks stores across the country have been removing their pride marketing materials earlier than the traditional July 1 due to far-right backlash against stores in some locations. The NHL has banned the practice of wearing Pride-themed warmup jerseys at a measurable cost to the community as frothing, hate-filled right wingers rage about the jerseys online. Rainbow capitalism's fatal flaw has been laid bare by the right.

"I've definitely been critical of using corporate allyship as a measuring stick of progress (as so many do) because it's ultimately something built on sand," Chris Stedman, author and creator of the Unread podcast. "When the winds shift as they have, so does corporate allyship. It also feels so exploitative."

Apart from corporate allyship often being flimsy in terms of material benefit to the LGBTQ+ community, it makes companies extremely easy targets to the cretins on the right whose job is to farm aggrievement and engagement. Their concerns about material benefit are pretty simple, because they don’t believe anyone deserves anything. The engagement they’re looking for is rooted simply in hate and intolerance. The only difference in June is a high-profile opportunity to go after corporate allies instead of focusing on the marginalized communities exclusively.

Much as late capitalism can only ever demand more from the corporations who are now embroiled in this culture war, the Bad Faith Times faithful can only ever lower the threshold for what can be considered "woke." In a world where words often no longer actually mean anything, drastic measures have to be taken to wring every last drop of engagement out of so-called anti-wokeness. The more detailed aspects of what it means to march behind the banner of anti-wokeness are unimportant; all that matters is that the banner is flown high and that the heralds sing loudly.

Republicans Are Triggered by Woke Chicken

For the sin of hiring a diversity/equity/inclusion executive in 2020, Chick-Fil-A must now reckon with their own judgment day.

Some idiot named Morgonn from Turning Point USA took it upon herself to deliver the judgment to what I assume was a stunned and silent board of directors. “Chick-Fil-A, you are no longer the Lord’s chicken. You’re actually the woke chicken and I'm really upset about it as a Christian woman.”

While she was recording, a crack team of antifa super soldiers infiltrated the Cracker Barrel and infected them with the woke mind virus. “We take no pleasure in reporting that the Cracker Barrel has fallen,” the Texas Family Project solemnly tweeted.

I’m not a big believer in hypocrisy shaming because it relies on its target having some sense of shame. A waste of time in the case of bad faith actors such as these, as you can't shame the shameless. Their shamelessness is the hilt of their sword. It’s as necessary to their project as the air they breathe, and it’s proven to be unassailable. As a broken-brained poster, I do enjoy the whimsy of it all, but I don’t think I could muster a similar enthusiasm for a defense of Target’s swimwear selection. I don’t particularly care for Target or the water.

The idea of a woke corporation under late capitalism is a farce. They are profit-seeking megaliths first and always, and as they’ve demonstrated this month they’re perfectly willing to bend to fascists in the name of market share. It’s gross and unfortunate, but the framing used by the bad faith actors of the right is effective enough to keep their bigger project chugging along, as silly as it sometimes seems.

And so here I am, put in the position to defend rainbow capitalism in a long-format post. It feels strange and unnatural. Readers of the Bad Faith Times surely are not easily swayed to the side of corporations in any matter. I'm no exception. There are more useful applications of allyship by corporations that should be pointed out, however flawed and insufficient they are.

My dear friend Merisa, who is a trans woman, sums it up better than I ever could. "To the extent that it's a good thing, I do think that companies having policies protecting LGBTQ+ employees is good, as is coverage for trans related healthcare and while I understand it's cynical, I'd still rather it be covered than not, right?" Merisa said.

The practical issues of protecting transgender workers and providing for their health care are important, which also highlights the sad state of worker protection and health care provision at large in our very stupid system. It's another instance of capitalism being woven into every aspect of our culture, and yet another example of the importance of solidarity. Bad faith actors are backed by an entire apparatus that turns marginalized groups into wedge issues in society. To the Daily Wire and all those other branches of the greater right-wing project, the suffering of transgender Americans is merely a vessel to solidify their own power and control.

And to the dear reader looking for a way to be a better good faith ally to the LGBTQ+ community in general and trans people specifically, Merisa offers this advice. “As far as broader allyship I mostly think people just need to educate themselves. It's hard to be supportive when people don't know what they're supporting.” She cites the oceans of misinformation around transgender athletes as a prime example of where the disconnect between reality and the firehose of nonsense is the widest. It’s boring and not as colorful as making Tik-Toks about woke chicken, but knowing the reality of the issues facing marginalized communities is an always-on defense against bad faith actors.

As Pride month winds down, so too will the attacks on so-called woke corporations, a figment of the deranged imaginations of Q-pilled Republicans. By Monday, rainbow capitalism will be put back into the basement. Tuesday, we’ll be celebrating our independence as a nation and the woke corporations of June will become the patriotic, freedom-loving corporations of July and the cycle will begin anew. They’ll fly whichever flag they feel they must, and follow the wind in whichever direction it blows, as long as stockholders are happy.

My thanks to Chris and Merisa for their time and contribution to this article. If you enjoyed, please consider donating to Drop Deadlift Gorgeous in Chris' name. More information can be found at the link or via the tweet below!

Follow Nathan Wells on Twitter at @bleepstakes.