Critical Feminism: Verso Student Reading
Below are some of the most influential feminist polemics of recent years; a mix of foundational texts in critical and left feminist traditions with contemporary books on sex work, technofeminism, race and identity, and patriarchy under capitalism.
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In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.
A pocket colour manifesto for a new futuristic feminism.
A bold, honest and unflinching look at the way we talk and think about rape.
The surrogacy industry is estimated to be worth over $1 billion a year, and many of its surrogates around the world work in terrible conditions—deception, wage-stealing and money skimming are rife; adequate medical care is horrifyingly absent; and informed consent is depressingly rare. In Full Surrogacy Now, Sophie Lewis brings a fresh and unique perspective to the topic. Often, we think of surrogacy as the problem, but, Full Surrogacy Now argues, we need more surrogacy, not less!
Taking as its inspiration the new wave of feminist militancy that has erupted globally, this manifesto makes a simple but powerful case: feminism shouldn’t start—or stop—with the drive to have women represented at the top of their professions. It must focus on those at the bottom, and fight for the world they deserve. And that means targeting capitalism. Feminism must be anticapitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist.
The Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting their day-to-day struggles, their experiences of education, work and health care, and the personal and political struggles they have waged to preserve a sense of identity and community. First published in 1985 and winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize that year, The Heart of the Race is a testimony to the collective experience of black women in Britain, and their relationship to the British state throughout its long history of slavery, empire and colonialism.
Nancy Fraser’s classic work traces the feminist movement’s evolution since the 1970s and anticipates a new—radical and egalitarian—phase of feminist thought and action. Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis. Feminism can be a force working in concert with other egalitarian movements in the struggle to bring the economy under democratic control, while building on the visionary potential of the earlier waves of women’s liberation. This powerful new account is set to become a landmark of feminist thought.
In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.
Drawing on a number of different theoretical frameworks, including feminist standpoint theory, socialist feminism, and poststructuralist thought, as well as theories of peformativity and self-valorization, Kathi Weeks proposes a nonessential feminist subject—a theory of constituting subjects.
Promise of a Dream is a moving, witty and poignant recollection of a time when young women were breaking all the rules. Sheila Rowbotham was, and remains, one of their most effective and endearing voices.
Eleanor Marx is one of the most tragically overlooked radical figures in history, usually overshadowed by her father, Karl. But not only did she edit, translate, transcribe and collaborate with her father, she also led an extraordinary life as a labour organiser, trade unionist, translator, actor, writer and feminist.
Yvonne Kapp’s biography was first published at the height of feminist organising in the 1970s. Kapp brilliantly succeeds in capturing Eleanor’s spirit, from a lively child opining on the world’s affairs, to the new woman, aspiring to the stage, earning her living as a free intellectual, and helping to lead England’s unskilled workers at the height of the new unionism.
In De Colores Means All of Us, Martínez presents a radical Latina perspective on race, liberation and identity. She describes the provocative ideas and new movements created by the rapidly expanding US Latina/o community as it confronts intensified exploitation and racism.
First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include recollections of her early life in Harlem; a look at the continued underrepresentation of black voices in politics, media, and culture; and the legacy of such figures as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison,and Alice Walker.
Leading historian takes on the lies told about Rigoberta Menchú’s bestselling memoir.
Originally published in 1978, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman caused a storm of controversy. With a foreword that examines the debate the book has sparked between intellectuals and political leaders, as well as what has—and, crucially, has not—changed over the last four decades, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman continues to be deeply relevant to current feminist debates and black theory today.
Is heterosexual sex inherently damaging to women? This is the central question of Straight Sex, Lynne Segal’s account of twentyfive years of feminist thinking on sexuality.
Sensitive but uncompromising socialist-feminist critique of the nuclear family.
Combining the energy of the early seventies feminist movement with the perceptive analyses of the trained theorist, Woman’s Estate is one of the most influential socialist feminist statements of its time. In this foundational text, Mitchell locates the areas of women’s oppression in four key areas: work, reproduction, sexuality and the socialization of children. Through a close study of the modern family and a re-evaluation of Freud’s work in this field, Mitchell paints a detailed picture of patriarchy in action.
Inside This Place, Not of It reveals some of the most egregious human rights violations within women’s prisons in the United States. Here, in their own words, thirteen narrators recount their lives leading up to incarceration and their harrowing struggle for survival once inside.
A brilliantly original exploration of the interface between feminism, psychoanalysis, semiotics and film theory.
Classic analysis of gender relations and patriarchy under capitalism.
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An international bestseller, originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics.
Exploring the sociohistorical roots of gender inequality.
Pioneering study of how ideas about white women have shaped the history of racism.
Women’s Oppression Today is a classic text in the debate about Marxism and feminism, exploring how gender, sexuality and the “family-household system” operate in relation to contemporary capitalism.