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Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation [Paperback]

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Item description for Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation by Sharon Smith...

Mainstream feminism has shifted steadily rightward since the 1970s - embracing Bush's war on Afghanistan in 2001, and even endorsing Democratic Party efforts to seek "common ground" with abortion opponents after John Kerry's defeat in 2004. This approach has proven disastrous for women, from the U.S. to Afghanistan.
This collection of essays examines these issues from a Marxist perspective - addressing the reasons why women are oppressed, the different nature of oppression between women of different social classes, and the basis for building a movement that can end women's oppression, along with all other forms of inequality.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   222
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 7"
Weight:   0.52 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2005
Publisher   Haymarket Books
ISBN  1931859116  
ISBN13  9781931859110  

Availability  0 units.

More About Sharon Smith

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Sharon Smith is the author of many articles on women's liberation and the U.S. working class. Her writings appear regularly in Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Ideologies > Communism & Socialism
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation?

Fantastic  Feb 24, 2006
Great arguments, really good writing - easy to understand. Interesting, topical, relevant. Totally readable. Highly recommended.
Reenergizing and uncompromising  Jun 12, 2005
"Women & Socialism" by Sharon Smith is an enlightening series of essays on the topic of women's struggle for liberation. In an engaging and accessible writing style, Ms. Smith analyzes the class basis of women's oppression and discusses how building a socialist society is critical to achieving equality between the sexes. The book is refreshing in its ability to wade through the current feminist intellectual impasse and presents a clear-cut vision of how to achieve meaningful change for men and women everywhere.

Ms. Smith centers her analysis in Frederick Engels' groundbreaking work on historical materialism. Engels understood that the burden of domestic production falls on women and provides capital with a cheap means of reproducing labor power and allowing men to dominate the production and distribution of surplus value and culture. This relegates women to a subordinate status within the nuclear family and is often characterized by sexual exploitation. But through socialism, women can achieve equality by lifting the burden of privatized production.

In fact, the positive example provided by Russia's experience in the early years of the 1917 revolution supports the theory that socialism can measurably improve women's lives. Ms. Smith provides evidence of how Lenin and others in the revolutionary government specifically sought to empower women through unprecedented legislation that was in accordance with Marx and Engels' theories; unfortunately, these substantial gains were lost when Stalin rolled back these particular laws during the counterrevolution.

After reminding us that many of Russia's bourgeois feminists supported Stalin's reimposition of classism, Ms. Smith goes on to critique the contemporary feminist movement as exemplified by Naomi Wolf, NOW and others for its elitism and predisposition to accomodating the needs of capital which have practically ground the movement down to irrelevance. Ms. Smith points out that the individual achievements of exceptional persons such as Hillary Clinton does little for working class households who are suffering from steadily declining wages and deteriorating public services. Ms. Smith helps to reenergize the debate by demanding an uncompromising brand of socialism that can help improve the lives of all women, including universal health care, child care, and abortion rights for all.

Ms. Smith exposes the extreme hypocrisy of the Religious Right and the Conservative movement's promotion of war as a solution to the plight of Islamic women. She asserts that religious ideology serves the interests of class society and she finds little difference between the church and the mosque in their repressive treatment of women. In fact, the Religious Right's agenda is principally political and its agenda is inherently hostile to women, as evidenced by the Bush administration's myriad assaults on abortion rights and public services.

I highly recommend this timely, original and insightful book to everyone.
Understand the roots of women's oppression and how to end it  May 10, 2005
Sharon Smith's Women and Socialism, a collection of essays on women's liberation, is an indispensable critique of the systemic roots of women's oppression, and the limitations of liberal feminism in combating it. The volume is all the more valuable because the war currently being waged against women's rights demands the response of a massive grassroots movement that understands the true nature of its enemy.

Countering ideas of patriarchy, that men are inherently predisposed toward dominating women, Smith convincingly argues that women's oppression is the inevitable product of class society. This is no academic argument; it has real implications for how people organize for a better world. As Smith writes, "It is not possible for working class women to simultaneously unite with working class men in the class struggle and to unite with ruling class women in the struggle against working class men, as part of the patriarchy."

To prove her point, Smith points to the numerous betrayals of middle class feminist organizations which, because of their class allegiances, all too often do more to hurt the vast majority of working class women than they do to help them. There is the case of NOW taking a stand in court *against* the right to maternity leave. There is the Feminist Majority thanking George W. Bush for his "liberation" of Afghani women, providing ideological cover for a "War on Terror" which has killed hundreds of thousands of women in Iraq and Afghanistan, while bleeding working class families in the U.S. And finally, there are NARAL and Planned Parenthood staking the defense of abortion rights on the Democratic Party, which by constantly ceding ground to the right wing, itself undermines abortion rights.

The real value of Women and Socialism is that by laying out a Marxist analysis of women's oppression, it offers direction for those seeking to end such oppression for good - to transcend reforms within the capitalist system, which are inevitably chiseled away by the ruling class as mass struggle ebbs. The social movements of the 50's, 60's, and 70's on the one hand offered a glimpse of what is possible - ending Jim Crow, ending the war in Vietnam, winning the right to an abortion, ending the death penalty - but also show the consequences of failing to overturn the apple-cart entirely, in that the American working class is now stuck fighting many of those very same battles once again. Women and Socialism is essential reading for anyone who takes seriously the possibility of radical social change in the U.S. and the world at large.

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