Women, Resistance and Revolution and all books on our Russian Revolution reading list are 50% off until May 28 at midnight UTC. Click here to activate your discount.
Detail from c. 1920s Soviet poster for International Women's Day.
First published in 1973, and reissued as part of Verso's Radical Thinkers series, Women, Resistance and Revolution: A History of Women and Revolution in the Modern World — Sheila Rowbotham's first book-length study, a landmark in feminist history — reconstructs the often neglected feminist currents in the English, American, French, Russian, Chinese, Algerian, Cuban, Vietnamese revolutions, and within European socialist movements. "This is not a proper history of feminism and revolution," Rowbotham writes, "Such a story necessarily belongs to the future and will anyway be a collective creation. Instead I have tried to trace the fortunes of an idea. It is a very simple idea, but one with which we have lost touch, that the liberation of women necessitates the liberation of all human beings."
One hundred years on from the Russian Revolution we look back at the events that turned the world upside down and how they resonate today.
All the books on our Russian Revolution reading list are 50% off until May 28 at midnight UTC. Click here to activate your discount.
International Women's Day, Petrograd, 1917.
In the year of the pussy, and also coincidentally the centennial of the Russian Revolution, perhaps it was inevitable that someone would characterize the revolution as primarily about pussies. In the New York Times, Professor Yuri Slezkine recently wrote — in one of the few articles that esteemed publication has featured about the Russian Revolution — that: “Most of the revolutionary leaders were young men who identified the revolution with womanhood.” But really, according to Professor Slezkine, it’s all about male revolutionaries’ lust for and hot sex with female revolutionaries. Male is the norm. Men are the actors; women the acted upon.
To accept this characterization is to ignore the ways in which the revolution was about not some imaginary ideal of womanhood, but about many real women demanding their rights and in the process changing history.
Continued from Part I.
Alexandra Kollontai became notorious as one of the defenders of sexual freedom. In fact her ideas were quite different from the "glass of water" theories described in novels like Without a Bird-Cherry Tree by P. Romanov, and The Dog’s Lane by Lev Gumilevsky. Instead she followed the tradition of the young Marx and Engels in The Origin of the Family in imagining that love would develop rather than disappear under communism:
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May 1st marks International Workers' Day, a festival of working-class self-organization stretching back over 130 years. It was originally inaugurated to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago, where a bomb thrown during a worker's strike kicked off a period of anti-labor hysteria.
To mark this significant date, we have 50% off a selection of books looking at policing, riots, Rosa Luxemburg, neoliberalism, revolution and rebellion. Click here to activate your discount.
Plus, see all our May Day Reading from the Verso Archive covering care work, sex work, black liberation & more; from Angela Davis, Gail Lewis, Melissa Gira Grant, Isabell Lorey, and Kristin Ross. Read all the essays here.
Women in more than 50 countries will go on strike from paid and unpaid labour today while millions more will be taking part in direct action on what is set to be one of the most political International Women’s Days in history.
In this article, published in 1920 in Pravda, Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai describes the origins of the day when "the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights."
>> see also: all our International Women's Day reading, 40% off until March 9th
Women’s Day or Working Women’s Day is a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organization of proletarian women.