In fact, there was a long history of efforts to link socialism and feminism. Indeed, in many instances, nonsocialist feminism grew out of women's work to aid impoverished and abused women. Trade union women, fearing loss of employment, often opposed it, and division appeared in socialist and nonsocialist women's groups alike. Disdain for feminism reached Asia as well. In China, Bebel was translated in the early s, and the Chinese Communist Party adopted the advancement of women as a basic tenet.
These examples serve to show that, as the editors of a collection of globally ranging essays on women and socialism state, The enduring power of these early debates should be underlined. They have resonated through every socialist movement in the twentieth century without exception … From China to Nicaragua, this nineteenth-century model has been consciously adopted, even when its appropriateness was, at the least, open to question. While other aspects of the Marxist-Leninist program … have been adapted to national conditions, this element has remained remarkably unchanged, whether the country deploying the theory was Asian, Southeast Asian, African, European, or Latin American.
In an era when level of skill and control over production served to define male workers' identity, and in turn profoundly affected the ideology and language of class, women were assumed to have no work-derived identity. Class ascription also reflected a gendered double standard. This practice did not go unnoticed. Studies of the class backgrounds of socialist women and of nonsocialist feminists drawn from British, Bulgarian, Dutch, German, Spanish, and Swedish history of the early twentieth century suggest further confusion.
Many British feminists came from working-class origins, but typically worked in service occupations, especially as teachers. In the British suffrage movement, those who held dual commitments to labor movements and to feminism tended to be undercounted. In the Netherlands, few feminists were wealthy women. In any case, Marxist class definitions and categories offer little insight.
R hetoric masked the reality that party allegiance did not parallel class differences among women. Nor was there as absolute a class divide between women's groups as socialist leaders and some of their historians asserted. This allegation allowed a strategic shift in socialist perspectives on the woman question to take place, from the more collaborative views of August Bebel and others to Clara Zetkin and her followers, who portrayed feminism as if it were the complaint of a special interest group.
The concept spread around the globe, and it persisted for a century as a means to discredit nonsocialist women activists. Feminism fell into a double bind. The dichotomizing concept also owes its long life to the scholars, myself included, who employed the term, and failed to challenge its validity. Today, however, received ideas and inherited dichotomies elicit criticism.
Historiography has also exaggerated the rift between the two wings of the women's movement for political reasons. Feminism is one of the most misunderstood movements of modern times, and historians have contributed to the misjudgment. The history of the European Left's relationships with women and feminism is an important part of political history that needs reassessment. Historians today might begin by opening previously closed categories and replacing organizational approaches with thematic, women-centered frameworks. This revision would recognize the importance of feminism's history to the history of the left and to modern history as a whole, with new appreciation for how categorical class thinking and political commitments affected both its history and historians.
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An earlier version of this essay was presented at the conference of the International Federation for Research in Women's History during the 20th International Congress of Historical Sciences in Sydney in July Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. For a portion of Zetkin's speech, translated by Susan G.
Offen, eds. Stanford, Calif. Philip S. Foner New York, , 45— September Berlin, , —, quotation on For other examples of the persistence of this idea, see Francisca de Haan, Krassimira Daskalova, and Anna Loufti, eds. John R. For new approaches to labor history particularly salient to understanding women and class, see Lenard R. Berlanstein, ed. William H. Sewell, Jr.
Frader and Sonya O. Becker, Jos. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling ; repr. Kugelmann New York, , Florence Kelley Wischnewetsky ; repr.
A fter W orld W ar II, claims for women's rights on the left reemerged with the founding by French communists in of the Women's International Democratic Federation, to pursue the fight against fascism and to represent working-class women. Dialogues and Addresses , John J. Texas Studies in Literature and Language Vol. Book Review sexual revolutions in Cuba: passion, politics and memory. Her mother, Monica Casper , is her inspiration and teaches her daily what it means to be a strong, independent woman in a society that can be cruel and demeaning. Weiss, Exam copies are also available through the University of Chicago Press's website.
August Bebel, Woman under Socialism , trans. Joris de Bres ; repr. See also the citation by Alfred G. Alfred G. Meyer Bloomington, Ind. Boxer and Jean H. Quataert, eds. For Pelletier, see Richard J. Joeres and Mary Jo Maynes, eds. On bourgeois women's values, see Bonnie G. Dick Howard New York, , —, quotation on Zetkin's adamant refusal to entertain collaboration with nonsocialist women and the rivalry for leadership are major themes of a study of feminism and German socialism that predates the resurgence of women's history.
For Zetkin's rivalry with Braun, see Jean H. Thus the split was less strong in Britain than in Germany. I thank Professor Eley for sharing this paper with me. For the controversy within German socialism over contraception, including strong statements against it by Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg, see R. For a detailed description of the congress, see Linda Harriet Edmondson, Feminism in Russia, — London, , 86— Boston, , Alix Holt New York, , For the full text of the appeal and repeat notices, see Marilyn J.
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Agreeing to Remember, Translating, and Carefully Co-laboring. The problem, he wrote, was that too many women want to assume the role of victims. When she was 12, a boy she thought was her boyfriend started pressuring her to have sex. One day they were riding their bikes in the woods. The boy pushed her to the ground and took her clothes off.
She was raped by the group, who kept her there for hours. A few days after the liberal columnist said women should be more like his year-old daughter, hundreds of Swedish women, all actors, came together under the hashtag SilenceAction, publishing a long series of detailed accounts of brutal sexual assault. Here is one of the many testimonies. In a hotel, after a party, a woman is on her way into her room.
A man — a world-famous actor — follows her. He pushes her to the floor and throws himself on top of her. I wanted to ask the liberal columnist: how would your thick-skinned year-old daughter deal with that?
Before MeToo, I had not really understood the connection between power and sexual abuse. I had seen it, of course. But again, only really in theory, as an abstraction. In Men Explain Things to Me, Solnit writes that she surprised herself once when she began an essay by recounting what was, ostensibly, a funny incident — a man refusing to be interrupted while explaining, in great detail, the content of a book she had actually authored.
That same essay ended in her writing about rape and murder. How could the Inquisitors torture and burn women as witches? How could men idealise the bound feet of crippled women? How and why?
There were books on my list that were not quite as brutal; books less concerned with rape and sexual oppression than with the cultural pressure on women and how to be a woman. By , Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, was writing from a business perspective about the need for more women in leadership roles.
I nodded my way through these books, recalling the discussions that started at my university about a year ago when, emboldened by what seemed like a revolutionary moment, we discussed a range of radical ideas to facilitate the career possibilities for women, from offering significant research time to women to recruiting women to senior academic positions. One year later, these initiatives have boiled down to a not-so-radical mentoring programme. If these books were familiar, written from a predominantly white, privileged perspective, the next titles were not.
Davis begins Women , Race and Class by describing the life of the female slave. The black woman, like working-class women, worked until they could work no more. They could only dream of the life of the white housewives. As I finished the last book, I was thinking about all the men — and many women — who refuse to call themselves feminists.
The writer bell hooks says that whenever she introduces herself as a feminist, people respond that feminists are lesbians who hate men and want to make life miserable for white men. Sure, MeToo is many things, and some feminists, including Greer, have openly criticised the movement.