Foregrounding the body, this remarkable collective work explores the sexualization of women’s bodies, charting the complex interplay of social, political and cultural forces which produce a normative “femininity.” A series of projects which focus on concrete instances of sexualization (hair, legs, the slavegirl stereotype, women’s gymnastics) lead to a broader examination of the relationship between power and sexuality, the social and the psychological. Placing themselves at the crossroad where feminism and socialism meet, the contributors move seamlessly between the autobiographical and the analytical, questioning the diversion between personal and political, mapping the knot of memory and desire at the heart of the gendered body. Vitally, these accounts do not present sexualization as a passive inculcation of social norms: the individual is presented as taking an active role in the construction of gendered identities.
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.