Second Session: Shulamith Firestone, Feminist Revolution and Cybernetic Communism

Firestone Selections from The Dialectic of Sex

Weeks The Vanishing Dialectic Firestone and Future

Davis Selection from Women, Race and Class

Our text for April is Shulamith Firestone’s ‘The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution’ (pp. 192-202, 205-209, 226-242). I have included a pdf of the relevant sections above. I have also posted two other texts. Kathi Week’s ‘The Vanishing Dialectic: Shulamith Firestone and the Future of the Feminist 1970s’ examines Firestone text as a ‘utopian manifesto’.  Angela Davis, in short section from ‘Women, Race and Class’, criticises Firestone (amongst others) for her perspective on racism and rape. The best section of the Firestone book is pp.192-202. Feel read as much or as little as you like of the secondary literature (it is really there for reference).

Shulamith Firestone’s 1971 book ‘The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution’ represents, in many respects, the best and the worst of second-wave feminism. On the one hand, it is difficult to judge Firestone’s text, from a contemporary feminist perspective, as anything other than problematic. For example, her attempt to reduce racism to sexism is enough to raise serious questions of her perspective. On the other hand, Firestone’s text does, in a self-conscious manner, posit a radically different future. For Firestone, the task is nothing less than the abolition of sex difference. This will be accomplished through the combined impact of new reproductive technologies and the abolition of the distinction between work and life (thus echoing some of the themes of the ‘#Accelerate Manifesto’). In such a ‘cybernetic communist’ society, Firestone believed that humans would be able to achieve their full potential. We critically examine Firestone’s text to see what value her vision of future has for us today.




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