The Dialectic of Sex – Shulamith Firestone (1970)


The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution is a 1970 book by Shulamith Firestone. It has been called the clearest and boldest presentation of radical feminism, but has also been criticized on numerous grounds. Firestone’s theories have been described by philosophy professor Mary Anne Warren as follows: Firestone argues that the biological sexual dichotomy, particularly the biological division of labor in reproduction, is the root cause of male domination, economic class exploitation, racism, imperialism and ecological irresponsibility. Sexual inequality is ‘an oppression that goes back beyond recorded history to the animal kingdom itself’: in this sense, it has been universal and inevitable, but the cultural and technological preconditions now exist that make its elimination possible and perhaps necessary for human survival. Firestone describes her approach as a dialectical materialism more radical than that of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. She believes that in their preoccupation with economic processes, Marx and Engels failed to perceive ‘the sexual substratum of the historical dialectic.’ Unlike Engels, she maintains that male domination is biologically based and as such existed long before the institution of private property and the monogamous patriarchal family which private property produced. Male domination is the result of the ‘biological family’, whether matrilineal or patrilineal, and the inevitable dependence of women and children within the family upon men, for protection if not subsistence. There were no ancient matriarchies (societies ruled by women), and the apparently superior status of women in matrilineal cultures is due only to the relative weakness of men. Whatever the lineage system, women’s vulnerability during pregnancy and the long period of human infancy necessitate the protective and hence dominant role of the male. …”
Wikipedia
frieze: Re-reading Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex
Revisiting radical feminism
The Dialectic of Sex – Just the first Chapter reproduced here.
[PDF] The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
Verso

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