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Feminism

Black Women Will Not Be Intimidated

Invisible Exploitation

How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labor

An expanded Marxist understanding of capitalist exploitation is long overdue. There are many pathways of surplus extraction beyond the wage form, and understanding them is a task with profound implications for anticapitalist movements around the world. | more…

In the Name of Women’s Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism book cover

Patriarchies East and West

Sara Farris’s In the Name of Women’s Rights is a brave monograph that analyzes the way that the discourses of Europe’s right-wing nationalists, government agencies, and liberal feminists converge in their representations of Muslim and non-western immigrant women, relegating these communities to commodified spheres of social reproductive work. | more…

The Ten Hours Act of 1847 - Child Labor in England During the Industrial Revolution

Women, Nature, and Capital in the Industrial Revolution

Examining the historical specificity of women’s lives and labor in England during the Industrial Revolution allows us to better analyze the assumptions regarding gender, family, and work that informed the writings of Marx and Engels—and ultimately to understand how capital as a system threatens the social and ecological bases of human life. | more…

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…