“To some a book on the origins of sexual inequality is absurd. Male dominance seems to them a universal, if not inevitable, phenomenon that has been with us since the dawn of our species. The essays in this volume offer differing perspectives on the development of sex-role differentiation and sexual inequality, but share a belief that these phenomena did have social origins, origins that must be sought in sociohistorical events and processes.”
In this way Stephanie Coontz and Peta Henderson introduce a book which fills a yawning gap in Marxist and feminist theory of recent years.
Women’s Work, Men’s Property brings together specialist historical and anthropological skills of a group of American and French feminists to examine the origins of the sexual division of labor, the nature of pre-state kinship societies, the position of women in slave-based societies, and the specific forms taken by the oppression of women in archaic Greece.
Men’s Work, Women’s Property will be welcomed by teachers and students of women’s studies and anyone with an interest in the biological, psychological and historical roots of sexual inequality.
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: