Women and feminism: reading guide

Marina Ginesta, a revolutionary during the Spanish Civil War

Libcom.org's reading guide on feminism, women and women's struggles against patriarchy and capital.

Key texts

Key people and groups

  • Mujeres Libres - Anarcho-syndicalist women's organisation within the Spanish CNT union in the 1930s, active in the Spanish Revolution.
  • GDDD - I gruppi di difesa della donna, largest of the women's groups in the Italian resistance to fascism, numbering 70,000 at their height, who organised strikes and took part in armed struggle.
  • Mariarosa Dalla Costa - Marxist feminist famous for arguing that women's unwaged labour is an essential part of capitalist reproduction, rather than merely an oppression imposed on women by men.
  • Silvia Federici - Italian Marxist feminist writer drawing the links between capitalism's need for women's unpaid labour and the subjugation of women under patriarchy.
  • Selma James - American feminist and libertarian socialist, widow of CLR James and founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign.
  • Emma Goldman - Anarchist, feminist and birth control advocate, described as "one of the most dangerous women in America"

Other recommended texts

Women's struggles

Other media

  • Union maids (video) - Three women union activists tell their fascinating stories of organising in 1930s America, recounting their conflicts with bosses, police as well as their struggles against racism and sexism.
  • Mothers strike (video) - A documentary that portrays the living conditions of the striking women in Walbrzych, Poland in 2010, their struggle against local authorities, conflicts with welfare institutions and their attempts at self-organizing.


Joseph Kay
Jan 10 2013 08:44

Bump. This went live yesterday and has 220+ facebook likes already. We're working on some more reading guides for various things, as much as possible linking to stuff that's available online/on libcom so you can click-through.

Jan 10 2013 18:56
Joseph Kay wrote:
Bump. This went live yesterday and has 220+ facebook likes already. We're working on some more reading guides for various things, as much as possible linking to stuff that's available online/on libcom so you can click-through.

now 646!

Red Marriott
Jan 10 2013 21:01

As you have the Grunwick's article in there you could also add this; http://libcom.org/library/tailoring-needs-garment-worker-struggles-bangl...
Dunno if videos are allowed in a reading guide, but; http://libcom.org/history/video-machinists-against-machine-bangladeshi-g...

Jan 11 2013 04:51

Two book suggestions.

Rosalynd Baxandall and Linda Gordon, Dear Sisters - collection of documents from the much maligned 1960s women's liberation movement in the U.S.

The Feminist Memoir Project, first person accounts of activity in that same movement.

Jan 11 2013 20:51

Here's some historical readings for a section on

E.P.Thompson, 'The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century' and 'The Moral Economy Reviewed' in Customs in Common.

Barbara Clark Smith, 'Food Rioters and the American Revolution', William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 51, No1.

Olwen Hufton, Women and the Limits of Citizenship in the French Revolution.

Harriet Applewhite and Darlene Levy, Women and Politics in the Age of Democratic Revolution.

Harriet Applewhite and Darlene Levy, 'Women and Political Revolution in Paris' in Renate Bridenthal, Becoming Visible, Women in European History (1987 Edition).

Temma Kaplan, 'Women and communal strikes in the crisis of 1917-1922' in Women Becoming Visible, Women in European History (1987 Edition).

Ute Daniel, The War from Within: German Women in the First World War.

Keith Allen, 'Food and the German Home-Front' and Simonetta Ortaggi, 'Italian Women During the Great War' in Gail Braybon, Evidence, History and the Great War.

Temma Kaplan, 'Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona, 1910-1918', Signs, Vol.7.

Beverley Engel, 'Subsistence Riots in Russia during World War One', Journal of Modern History, Vol.69.

Choi Chatterjee, Celebrating Women; Gender, Festival, Culture and Bolshevik Ideology.

Lynne Viola, 'Babi Bunty and Peasant Women's Protests during Collectivisation', Russian Review, Vol.45.

M.Bahati Kuumba, Gender and Social Movements (on women's crucial role in the US Civil Rights and the anti-apartheid movement).

As well as women's leading role in the above uprisings and revolutions, it has also been argued that women led the uprisings that created the first human culture, in the form of hunter-gatherer egalitarianism. Such theories are controversial. However the Radical Anthropology Group has collated a large range of evidence from anthropology, primatology, mythic narratives, evolutionary biology and archaeology supporting this theory, e.g:

Chris Knight, 'Solidarity and Sex', 'Sex and the Human Revolution'.
Chris Knight, Camilla Power, Ian Watts, 'The Human Symbolic Revolution', The Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Vol.5, p75ff.

Jan 12 2013 11:39

Postrevolutionary pioneer: Anarchist María Luisa Marín and the Veracruz renters' movement - A history of the Mexican anarchist María Luisa Marín and the 1922 Veracruz Renters' Movement by Andrew Grant Wood.