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Gathering Rage

Gathering Rage: The Failure of 20th Century Revolutions to Develop a Feminist Agenda

As the smoke clears from the collapse of revolutionary societies from Eurasia to Central America, analysts are searching for the crucial points of weakness that led to the failure of these “socialist experiments.” In Gathering Rage, writer, poet, and activist Margaret Randall describes how two of these revolutions, in Nicaragua and in Cuba, addressed or failed to address a feminist agenda.

Writing as both observer and participant, Randall vividly describes how, in each case, to varying degrees, and in different ways, women’s issues were gradually pushed aside. Combining anecdotes with analysis, she shows how distorted visions of liberation and shortcomings in practice left a legacy that

And Still They Dance: Women, War, and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique

And Still They Dance: Women, War, and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique

Gaining Independence in 1975, Mozambique’s government proclaimed a progressive approach toward women’s liberation, seeing it as essential for the continued success of the revolution. Stephanie J. Urdang, who traveled often to Mozambique, examines women’s status there ten years later, talking with women in factories and fields, village co-operatives, and state farms. Urdang produces an inspiring yet sobering picture of how African women continued to struggle for their survival and their liberation. Drawing on scholarly research as well as first-hand investigation, And Still They Dance says much about the daily lives of women living in independent Mozambique after the revolution. | more…

Women songwriters' workshop participants

Singing for Women’s Lives in Chile

In an idyllic canyon near Santiago, a group of twelve women were electric with emotion from sharing personal stories and experiences, and, of course, from singing. Deep bonds were forged among participants, few of whom knew each other prior to the workshop. They were there to compose women-identified songs in a setting that alternated between individual and group composition. | more…

Fighting Two Colonialisms: Women in Guinea-Bissau

Fighting Two Colonialisms: Women in Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau, a small country on the West Coast of Africa, had been a colony of Portugal for 500 years, and with the 1926 rise of a Portuguese fascist dictatorship, colonization of the country became both brutal and complete. In 1956, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded by Amilcar Cabral and a few country people. At first, PAIGC's goal was to organize workers in the towns, hoping that through demonstrations and strikes they would convince the Portuguese to negotiate for independence. It soon became clear that this approach to independence would not work. Each demonstration was met with violence, until the 1959 massacre of fifty dockworkers holding a peaceful demonstration at Pidgiguiti. This was a turning point for PAIGC: they realized that independence could not be won without an armed struggle, one that had to be based on the mass participation of the people. This book focuses on the way in which PAIGC ideology integrated the emancipation of women into the total revolution: the way it emphasized the need for women to play an equal political, economic, and social role in both the armed struggle and the construction of a new society. | more…

Intersectionality and Primary Accumulation

Caste and Gender in India under the Sign of Monopoly-Finance Capital

The overarching goal of this article is to explain how the relations between capitalist imperialism, primary accumulation—often misleadingly called “primitive accumulation”—and intersectionality operate in contemporary global political economy. From many recent studies, it is clear that certain populations are more vulnerable to processes of primary accumulation than others, and that many people in the global South now experience the dispossession and displacement caused by primary accumulation without any subsequent incorporation into waged work. Understanding how ethnicity, gender, and class intersect within contemporary patterns of global accumulation is important in order to develop clear political strategies against ongoing dispossessions.… To do so, imperialism, primary accumulation, and intersectionality all need to be rethought, especially in relation to each other. | more…

Myths of Male Dominance: Collected Articles on Women Cross-Culturally

Myths of Male Dominance: Collected Articles on Women Cross-Culturally

This classic anthropological study debunks the many myths behind the idea of “natural” male superiority. Drawing on extensive historical and cross-cultural research, Eleanor Burke Leacock shows that claims of male superiority are based on carefully constructed myths with no factual historical basis. She also documents numerous historical examples of egalitarian gender relations. | more…

Marx the Feminist?

Heather A. Brown, Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study (Chicago: Haymarket, 2012), 323 pages, $28.00, paperback.
Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Oakland: PM Press, 2012), 189 pages, $15.95, paperback.

In the face of global economic crisis and the dismantling of social programs under austerity policies, many feminists are re-engaging Marx’s critique of capitalism. This return to Marx is necessary if we are effectively to overcome gender oppression, especially since the latest trends in feminism—or at least those “fit to print” and discussed in the popular press—place the onus of equal treatment squarely on women’s shoulders. Newfound feminists like Sheryl Sandberg advise women to “lean in” and adjust their behavior to suit the aggressively entrepreneurial norms rewarded in the real world that men lead. As Nancy Fraser aptly puts it, these tendencies within feminism serve as “capitalism’s handmaiden”: such identity-centered, cultural critiques have helped obscure capital’s dependency on gendered oppressions.… Fortunately, recent scholarship by Heather Brown as well as Federici herself provides useful insights for feminists on how to reconsider Marxist theory. | more…

An Anti-Imperialist Feminist’s Tale

Roberta Salper, Domestic Subversive: A Feminist Take on the Left, 1960–1976 (Tucson: Anaphora Literary Press, 2014), 236 pages, $20, paperback.

Since second wave feminism is the largest social movement in the history of the United States, it is surprising that there are fewer than a dozen autobiographies written by the activists of the late 1960s and early ’70s. Roberta Salper’s Domestic Subversive is a welcome addition, especially because it is well-written, often with humor, and promises an anti-imperialist feminist analysis.… Domestic Subversive is a feminist’s take on a range of organizations of the left from 1960 to 1976: the student movement in Spain, New Left movement in the United States, Marxist-Leninist Puerto Rican Socialist Party in the United States and Puerto Rico, and a prestigious liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., the Latin American Unit of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), where she worked as a Resident Fellow. | more…

Marx on Gender and the Family: A Summary

In recent years, there has been little discussion of Marx’s writings on gender and the family, but in the 1970s and ’80s, these writings were subject to a great deal of debate. In a number of cases, elements of Marx’s overall theory were merged with psychoanalytic or other forms of feminist theory….These scholars viewed Marx’s theory as primarily gender-blind and in need of an additional theory to understand gender-relations as well. However, they retained Marx’s historical materialism as a starting point for understanding production. Moreover, a number of Marxist feminists also made their own contributions in the late 1960s to ’80s, particularly in the area of political economy [when they] tried to revalue housework. [Others] attempted to move beyond dual systems towards a unitary understanding of political economy and social reproduction [or show] that Marx can be used to understand the historical development of women’s nature. | more…

Spain, Economic Crisis, and the New Enclosure of the Reproductive Commons

In the past few years numerous authors have examined how the current economic crisis in Spain has differential impacts on women and men. While this is important to show, this article’s goal is to make the leap from a mere description of the gendered effects of the crisis, to an analysis of some of the very gendered processes that shape it at its core. In other words, the intent is to understand how both the crisis itself and the ways the state manages it are structurally shaped by gender.… [This article will argue] that the primitive accumulation, or accumulation by dispossession, currently taking place in Spain is deeply shaped by gender in the sense that one of the main strategies capital develops, and the state implements, is to push the responsibilities that the state formerly had for public welfare back onto women and households. | more…