At the point at which we wrote these stories, we had not yet turned our attention to the way in which sexuality itself is constructed. Writing and discussing stories of this kind left us with a feeling of helplessness; how were we to identify means of defending ourselves against the forms of oppression they described? No matter how far back they went, these stories always depicted the results of an already existing repression of sexuality. Examining the notion of sexuality more closely, we found it to be represented and lived as oppression at the very moment of its emergence; thus its suppression could not be assumed, as we had hitherto believed, to consist solely in a prohibition of the sexual. But then, what is “the sexual”? In the first instance it seems clear that it is something that happens with our bodies. In an attempt then to discover the origins of our deficiencies and our discontents in the domain of the sexual, we decided at an early point in our research to focus our study on our relationships to our bodies and to their development.
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.
"In short, Freudian theory, regroomed for its new function of ‘social adjustment’, was used to wipe up the feminist revolt. Patching up with band-aids the casualties of the aborted feminist revolution, it succeeded in quieting the immense social unrest and role confusion that followed in the wake of the first attack on the rigid patriarchal family.
"Freudianism gained the ground that feminism lost: it flourished at the expense of feminism, to the extent that it acted as a container of its shattering force."
This edited extract from Shulamith Firestone's classic The Dialectic of Sex explores how approaches to mental health are always structured by relations of power. Firestone argues that feminism's absorption into institutionalised neo-Freudian cod-psychology deflected its initial assault on patriarchy—and that only political organization and struggle is capable of breaking through women's oppression.
This article is part of a series for World Mental Health Day 2015.