Why does the world have the pattern of patriarchy it currently possesses? Why have patriarchal practices and institutions evolved and changed in the ways they have tended to over time in human societies? This paper explores these general questions by integrating a feminist analysis of patriarchy with the central insights of the functionalist interpretation of historical materialism advanced by G. A. Cohen. The paper has two central aspirations: first, to help narrow the divide between analytical Marxism and feminism by redressing (...) the former's neglect of the important role female labor has played, and continues to play, in shaping human history. Second, by developing the functionalist account of historical materialism in order to take patriarchy seriously, we can derive useful insights for diagnosing the emancipatory challenges that women face in the world today. The degree and form of patriarchy present in any particular society is determined by the productive forces it has had at its disposal. According to historical materialism, technological, material, and medical advances that ease the pressures on high fertility rates (such as the sanitation revolution, vaccinations, birth control, and so on) are the real driving forces behind the positive modulations to patriarchy witnessed in the twentieth century. (shrink)
Identity politics deployed by lesbian feminists of color challenges the philosophy of the subject and white feminisms based on sisterhood, and in so doing opens a space where feminist coalition building is possible. I articulate connections between Gloria Anzaldúa's epistemological-political action tools of complex identity narration and mestiza form of intersubject, Nancy Hartsock's feminist materialist standpoint, and Seyla Benhabib's standpoint of intersubjectivity in relation to using feminist identity politics for feminist coalition politics.
This article is a critical examination of Nancy Fraser's contrast of early second-wave feminism and contemporary global feminism in “Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History,” (Fraser ). Fraser contrasts emancipatory early second-wave feminism, strongly critical of capitalism, with feminism in the age of neoliberalism as being in a “dangerous liaison” with neoliberalism. I argue that Fraser's historical account of 1970s mainstream second-wave feminism is inaccurate, that it was not generally anti-capitalist, critical of the welfare system, or challenging the priority (...) of paid labor. I claim Fraser mistakenly takes a minority feminist position as mainstream. I further argue that Fraser's account of feminism today echoes arguments from James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer (2001) to Hester Eisenstein (), but such arguments ignore contemporary feminist minority positions. I challenge Fraser's arguments that feminism legitimates neoliberalism to women, that women's NGOs are simply service-providers enabling the state to withdraw services, and that criticisms of microcredit lending programs can be generalized into criticisms of women's feminism and women's NGOs today. I argue that these claims are vast over-generalizations and ignore countertrends. I give empirical evidence to support my objections by considering women's activities in post-communist European countries, which Fraser discusses. (shrink)
Rosemary Hennessy confronts some of the impasses in materialist feminist work on rethinking `woman' as a discursively constructed subject. She argues for a theory of discourse as ideology taking into account the work of Kristeva, Foucault and Laclau.
This paper reconsiders Marcuse's Eros and Civilization from the perspective of Gayle Rubin's classic article "The Traffic in Women." The primary goals of this comparison are to investigate the social and psychological mechanisms that perpetuate the archaic sex/gender system Rubin describes under current conditions of post-industrial capitalism; to open possible new avenues of analysis and liberatory praxis based on these authors' applications of Marxist insights to cultural interpretations of Freud's writings; and to make clearer the role sexual repression continues to (...) play in all forms of oppression, even in a public world seemingly saturated with sex. (shrink)
: This paper addresses the question of whether Derrida's "hauntology," as developed in Specters of Marx and related texts, can be anything more than yet another repetition of a specifically male preoccupation with the Father inscribed on the bodies of women, in this case the always absent daughter. A careful reading suggests that Derrida, and playwright fathers of daughters such as Shakespeare and August Wilson, may be aware of the paradoxes of their situation.
Between Feminism and Materialism is a bold attempt to make sense of the relationship between feminist theory and capitalism. Addressing a number of philosophical problems that have engaged feminists over the last few decades--universals and reason, nature and essentialism, identity and non-identity, sex and gender, power and patriarchy, local and global--this innovative book breaks through feminist waves and explains the paradoxes of feminist theory by demonstrating the on-going relevance of dialectics and the concepts of exploitation, ideology, and reification. Drawing on (...) first, second, and third "waves" of feminist theory, this exciting combination of existentialism, phenomenology, and critical theory delivers a proactive feminism ready to respond to the challenges presented by our thoroughly modern times. (shrink)
The relationship between feminist theory and traditionally feminine activities like mothering and caring is complex, especially because of the current diversity of feminist scholarship. There are many different kinds of feminist theory, and each approaches the issue of women's oppression from its own angle. The statement, "feminist ethics is about mothering and caring," can be critically evaluated by outlining specific feminist approaches to ethics and showing what role mothering and caring play in each particular view. In this paper, feminine and (...) feminist perspectives are delineated, and the four classic feminist approaches (liberal, Marxist, radical, and socialist) are summarized. I argue that to some extent all of the examples of feminist ethics are "about" mothering and caring. In some cases this is because the particular view describes mothering and caring as features of the roots of women's oppression, or as a positive force in changing the prevailing social order to do away with oppression. I include a discussion of an additional role mothering might play in the socialist feminist framework. (shrink)
In “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System” (Lugones 2007), I proposed to read the relation between the colonizer and the colonized in terms of gender, race, and sexuality. By this I did not mean to add a gendered reading and a racial reading to the already understood colonial relations. Rather I proposed a rereading of modern capitalist colonial modernity itself. This is because the colonial imposition of gender cuts across questions of ecology, economics, government, relations with the spirit world, and (...) knowledge, as well as across everyday practices that either habituate us to take care of the world or to destroy it. I propose this framework not as an abstraction from lived experience, but as a lens that enables us to see what is hidden from our understandings of both race and gender and the relation of each to normative heterosexuality. (shrink)
: This paper assesses arguments that paying for housework compromises the moral integrity of either the buyer or seller or both. I find that none provides adequate justification for avoiding paying for housework. Instead, I argue that the vigorous pursuit of justice for women workers will best remedy injustice in service sector occupations, including paid housework.
This article discusses the fortuitous genesis of the book of my conversations with Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy (Seven Stories, 2005) and traces some of the intellectual and philosophical sources that informed the specific questions and approaches that inform the dialogue. Davis’ relationships to Georg Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer, as well as to Foucault, are discussed. Similarly, Davis’ place within a critical black American political-philosophical tradition is analyzed. The essay focuses mainly, however, on the way in which Davis’ work on (...) the prison industrial complex profiles an unsuspected contribution to political philosophy that links up the disciplinary origins of American democracy with its racial contract to give rise to the prison contract. In the tradition of Charles Mills, Davis’ radical theory of penality unmasks and denounces the over-determined relationship between surplus punishment and the racial character of the US polity in terms of theproductivity of the prison system. (shrink)
Have we entered a historical moment of 'post-feminism'? This volume presents a timely and convincing 'no'. These essays demonstrate that there is a new generation of French women who take up questions of equality and difference from a position distinct from either first or second wave feminism, a position that often attempts to move beyond the binary of equality and/or difference to a new form of the individual.
Both feminists and Marxists have realized that it is necessary to avoid reductionism and recognize the intersections between gender, race, and class. But we donot have a methodology sufficient to develop this idea. I argue that Bertell Ollman’s book Dance of the Dialectic provides a way to think about intersectionality usingMarx’s methodology of abstraction and his theory of internal relations. As a relational abstraction, gender is intersectional. We may legitimately focus on it, as longas we treat it dialectically. We can (...) recognize that it is not homogeneous but stands in relations of identity and/or contradiction with other social relations. (shrink)
Since 1972, the journal Radical Philosophy has provided a forum for the discussion of radical and critical ideas in philosophy. This anthology reprints some of the best articles to have appeared in the journal during the past five years. It covers topics in social and moral philosophy which are central to current controversies on the left, focusing on theoretical issues raised by socialist, feminist, and environmental movements. The articles engage with contemporary issues in critical terms, and represent the best of (...) recent philosophical work on the left. (shrink)
This paper explores a contrast between the Marxist and feminist traditions of emancipatory social theory: whereas in the Marxist tradition theorists have spent considerable time and energy discussing the problem of the viability of classlessness as an emancipatory project, feminists have spent relatively little time defending the viability of a society without male domination. The paper argues that this difference in preoccupations reflects, at least to some extent, differences in the relationship between prefigurative egalitarian micro experiences and macro institutional change (...) with respect to gender oppression and class oppression. The paper also explores the implications of this contrast for the kinds of explanatory theory developed within the two traditions. Marxists' greater tendency than feminists to seek relatively deterministic accounts of the demise of the form of oppression on which they focus is viewed as at least partially a way of contending with the difficulty in establishing the viability of the emancipatory project of classlessness. (shrink)