Review: Anarchism and sexuality

DD Johnston's review of Anarchism and Sexuality, a multi-authored book edited by Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson (Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2011).

I first encountered anarchism in my late teens (I had encountered sexuality a little earlier). Undoubtedly, anarchism made me a less bigoted, less dangerous person. I renounced explicit forms of homophobia and sexism that I had previously repeated uncritically. Simultaneously, however, I also developed new anxieties and confusions and sources of guilt.

Anarcho-feminism and Louise Michel - Marian Leighton

Marian Leighton on the beliefs and eventful life of the revolutionary Louise Michel.

Our Generation, 21, (Summer 1990) pp. 22-29

A collection of essays on feminism and sexism in the anarchist movement

Published by various authors on International Womens Day, 2011, to commemorate the international day of struggle for womens liberation.

Women and feminism - reading guide

Mujeres Libres

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

Key texts

Theorizing patriarchy - Silvia Walby

Theorizing Patriarchy - Silvia Walby

Silvia Walby's 1990 book sets out a dual-systems approach to theorizing capitalism and patriarchy, synthesising Marxist and radical feminist perspectives.

Sylvia Walby provides an overview of feminist theoretical debates – Marxism, radical and liberal feminism, post–structuralism and dual systems theory. She shows how each can be applied to six key social structures: wage labour, housework, culture, sexuality, violence and the state. Her arguments are backed by drawing on empirical findings.

The problem with work: feminism, marxism, antiwork politics and postwork imaginaries - Kathi Weeks

In The Problem with Work, Kathi Weeks boldly challenges the presupposition that work, or waged labor, is inherently a social and political good. While progressive political movements, including the Marxist and feminist movements, have fought for equal pay, better work conditions, and the recognition of unpaid work as a valued form of labor, even they have tended to accept work as a naturalized or inevitable activity. Weeks argues that in taking work as a given, we have “depoliticized” it, or removed it from the realm of political critique.

Employment is now largely privatized, and work-based activism in the United States has atrophied. We have accepted waged work as the primary mechanism for income distribution, as an ethical obligation, and as a means of defining ourselves and others as social and political subjects.

Wrong to work! Two perspectives on the abolition of work

Wrong to work! Two perspectives on the abolition of work

ALL MUST WORK! declares the cabinet of millionaires. 'Workers not shirkers!', they implore. 'Strivers not skivers!' The divide-and-rule rhetoric trying to pit those in work against those without is as relentless as it is transparent. But what's so good about work anyway?

Junge Linke's short piece nicely skewers how attempts to mobilise resentment of claimants and the unemployed undermine even those in work who aren't claiming benefits. What I'd like to focus on is two perspectives on what an explicitly anti-work politics might look like.


Some reflections on sexual violence and the struggles against it - Kavita Krishnan

The following article was written in April 2012, before the recent anti-rape protests of December 2012 in India. Though we may take issue with some of its political conclusions and general orientation, it nevertheless provides some useful analysis and context for gender relations and the function of rape in Indian society. It also gives an indication of the thinking of a section of the Indian feminist left.

Following a series of instances of rape in West Bengal, the Chief Minister first denied the rapes, cast aspersions on the morals and veracity of the complainants, and then announced restrictions on timings of bars, nightclubs etc.

Witches, midwives, and nurses: A history of women healers - Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

An interesting analysis of women's undervalued and often repressed role in health care throughout history Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English.


Women have always been healers. They were the unlicensed doctors and anatomists of western history. They were abortionists, nurses and counsellors. They were pharmacists, cultivating healing herbs and exchanging the secrets of their uses. They were midwives, travelling from home to home and village to village.

Women on the market - Luce Irigaray

Women on the market - Luce Irigaray

Luce Irigaray applies Marx's analysis of the commodity to the status of women - objects circulated by men to reproduce a male-dominated society.

The society we know, our own culture, is based upon the exchange of women. Without the exchange of women, we are told, we would fall back into the anarchy (?) of the natural world, the randomness (?) of the animal kingdom.