Feminism and the Left

The relationship between feminism and the socialist left has not rarely been described as an “unhappy marriage”, the re-occurring question being whether it is class or gender that should be given political precedence. In no 25-26 of Fronesis, glances in a historical retrospective are paired with analyses of contemporary tensions – both political and theoretical – between the two.

In the issue, several aspects of this tension is discussed. For instance, the left’s tendency during the last turn of the century to give priority to the labour question over women’s issues; the opposition towards abortion rights within Social Democracy during the 1930’s; the relation between the early feminist group “Group 8” and the left; and, the significance of class and socialism for today’s multifaceted feminism and queer theory. What is the centre of attention for the left after the identity politics of the 90’s, and the calls for intersectional analysis in the 00’s? Is it class or gender?

The political theorist Wendy Brown analyses feminism’s and socialism’s lost faith in emancipation, and discusses what possible future a feminism without or beyond revolution can have. In an interview with sociologist Beverley Skeggs, theories of intersectionality are criticised for their tendency to indiscriminately combine categories that stand in different and complex relationships to capital. In a text by Lynne Segal, the importance of memoirs for the prominent figures of second wave feminism are analyzed, departing from the work of, among others, Doris Lessing and Simone de Beauvoir.

Gayatri Spivak discusses the effect of the global spread of capital for women in developing countries. In a text concerning prostitution, Elizabeth Bernstein argues that the purchase of sex should be related to the developments of capitalism, in order to avoid a moral disciplination of working class men’s sexuality that ignores the sexuality of middle class men. In a conversation with Swedish feminists, the political party Feministiskt initiativ is discussed together with the turbulence of Swedish socialist left and feminism during the recent years.

Fronesis no 25-26 also includes texts by Sara Ahmed, Geoff Eley, Cathrin Wasshede, Eva Schmitz, Robyn Wiegman, Sara Edenheim, Svenska Akademien and others.

Published 2 April 2008
Original in Swedish

© Fronesis / Eurozine

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