Saturday, September 19, 2015

Workers, Women, and Revolution: From Inequality to Solidarity

Today, I published a recap of Julie Matthaei's excellent talk at the New School for Social Research last Tuesday. You can read the whole thing at the New School Economic Review. Here's a sample:

In 1973, the URPE women founded a Marxist-feminist reading group which due to growing interest over the years blossomed into multiple reading groups. Some of the early selections were Women and Revolution by Lydia Sargent and Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism edited by Zillah R. Eisenstein. The groups investigated complex questions such as "What is the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy?" since on the one hand capitalism appeared to break down certain "traditional" gender roles but on the other hand led to the increasing proletarianization of women without providing much accommodation for their needs as women. Additionally, these reading groups discussed whether women's liberation could be left until after the revolution and whether a concern for women's liberation could stand to divide the working class as so many male socialists at the time asserted. The answer was a resounding no.

Simmering below the surface was the question of "womanhood" itself. It soon became clear that an approach that considered only capitalism and patriarchy was insufficient to explain the experience of women of color and queer women (much less queer women of color). After some internal struggle, complemented by changes in the wider feminist movement, URPE embraced an approach that analyzed the intersections of all sorts of oppression and exploitation. As Matthaei said, they concluded, "There is no universal experience of womanhood."

Read the full article at the New School Economic Review

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