Frigga Haug, one of Germany’s best-known feminist and Marxist critics, develops here a profound challenge both to women’s oppression and to what she sees as women’s ‘collusion’ in that oppression. Rejecting the essentialism of much feminist writing today, along with the denial of subjectivity that still permeates Marxism, Haug explores the connections between Marxist theory and the emancipation of women, a project which necessarily involves, as she explains, “diverting a powerful and long-standing anger into detective work.”
Under the headings of Socialization, Work and Politics, she combines the fruits of these investigations with the influential “memory-work” she has pioneered with women’s collectives, to throw startling new light on a wide range of themes and issues: personal ethics and public morality; daydreams, domesticity and consumerism; privatization, new technologies and the restructuring of the workplace; the evolution of women’s politics in Germany; the future of socialist feminism in the wake of Communism’s collapse.
Above all, this is a book which strives to find new links between the micro-politics of daily life and the evolving structures of capitalism. “If we could find out why and when our hopes for life were buried,” Haug argues, “then we could try to take our history in our own hands.” Beyond Female Masochism provides the materials, and inspiration, to do just that.