Revolutionary Feminism, Communist Interventions vol. 3

The third volume of the Communist Interventions reader series, on Revolutionary Feminism. A century of debates between communist, anarchist, and radical feminist militants on women's oppression and capitalism.

Submitted by CommunistResea… on April 14, 2016

Published by the Communist Research Cluster, and also available on their website at

This reader provided the basis for reading groups in 21 cities and four countries during the fall and winter of 2015.

From the preface:

The history of the communist movement, in the twentieth century, is also a history of women. Many women stood on the movement’s front lines. They struck in the factories, demonstrated in the streets, and died on the barricades. Revolutionary women fought under both the red flag and the black one. They partook of the movement’s few victories and suffered under its massive and in the end overwhelming defeats.

Yet women’s participation in the communist movement also raised certain questions. Or else, perhaps more accurately, their participation provided many different answers to a question that remained frustratingly undefined. This question was called, rather vaguely, the “woman question,” and it concerned the “role” of women in social life and in struggle. Revolutionary women—who were among the communist movement’s most prominent theorists, generating texts on every line of revolutionary inquiry—posed and answered this question in different ways. This reader examines revolutionary debates around the “woman question” (and we include both men and women in this history, since the former also played a role in these debates).

Towards that end, this volume is organized, loosely, into two parts. The first goes through the history of revolutionary feminism. It begins with a selection from Friedrich Engels’ text on the origins of the family. This text is included at the start, since it is both referenced and criticized by so many of the texts that follow. We then continue through the first half of the twentieth-century— looking at socialist, anarchist and communist perspectives—before moving on to the radical feminist critiques of the New Left. The second part of the reader then stops moving forward in time, to linger on some of the key debates of the 1960s and ’70s.

To return to these texts, today, is clearly of great importance. Many of the gains of 1960s and 70s mainstream feminism have stagnated. Visible feminism today is largely bifurcated between esoteric academic cultural critique and neoliberal corporate sloganeering. A certain form of feminism has become de rigueur among liberals, yet the lives of many women and queer people have seen little material improvement. This lack of improvement comes, moreover, during a time of massive transformations in social life.

Table of Contents:

1 The Origins of an Orthodoxy
1.1 Frederich Engels, Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884)

2 Second International
2.1 August Bebel, Woman and Socialism (1879/1910)
2.2 Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling, The Woman Question (1886)
2.3 Clara Zetkin, Only in Conjunction With the Proletarian Women Will Socialism Be Victorious (1896)
2.4 Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Suffrage and the Class Struggle (1912)
2.5 Rosa Luxemburg, The Proletarian Woman (1914)

3 Anarchism
3.1 Lucy Parsons, Woman: Her Evolutionary Development (1905)
3.2 Voltaire de Cleyre, The Woman Question (1897)
3.3 Emma Goldman, The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation (1906)
3.4 Emma Goldman, Woman Suffrage (1910)
3.5 Milly Witkop-Rocker, The Need for Women’s Unions (1925)

4 Russian Revolution
4.1 V.I. Lenin, Speech at the First All-Russia Congress of Working Women (1918)
4.2 V.I. Lenin, Soviet Power and the Status of Women (1919)
4.3 Clara Zetkin, Lenin on the Woman Question (1920)
4.4 Alexandra Kollontai, Communism and the Family (1920)
4.5 Leon Trotsky, Thermidor in the Family (1937)

5 American Communist Party
5.1 Margaret Cowl, Women and Equality (1935)
5.2 Mary Inman, In Woman’s Defense (1940)
5.3 Claudia Jones, We Seek Full Equality for Women (1949)
5.4 Claudia Jones, An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women (1949)

6 Women’s Liberation
6.1 Casey Hayden and Mary King, Sex and Caste (1965)
6.2 Shulamith Firestone and Anne Koedt, Redstockings Manifesto (1968)
6.3 Anne Koedt, The Politics of the Ego: A Manifesto for N.Y. Radical Feminists (1969)
6.4 Roxanne Dunbar, Female Liberation as the Basis for Social Revolution (1969)
6.5 Jo Freeman, The Tyranny of Structurelessness (1971)
6.6 Women of the Weather Underground, A Collective Letter to the Women’s Movement

7 Gay Liberation Front
7.1 Radicalesbians, The Woman Identified Woman Manifesto (1970)
7.2 Carl Wittman, A Gay Manifesto (1970)
7.3 Radicalqueens, Radicalqueens Manifestos (1973)
7.4 Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries, Street Transvestites for Gay Power Statement (1970)
7.5 Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, Transvestite-Transsexual Action Organization and Fems Against Sexism, Transvestite and Transsexual Liberation (1970)
7.6 Charlotte Bunch, Lesbians in Revolt (1972)

8 Socialist Feminism
8.1 Barbara Ehrenreich, What is Socialist Feminism? (1976)
8.2 Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, Socialist Feminism (1972)
8.3 Marlene Dixon, The Rise and Demise of Women’s Liberation (1977)

9 Sexual Violence
9.1 Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will (1975)
9.2 Alison Edwards, Rape, Racism, and the White Women’s Movement (1976)
9.3 Lilia Melani and Linda Fodaski, The Psychology of the Rapist and His Victim (1974)
9.4 Combahee River Collective, Why Did They Die? A Document of Black Feminism (1979)

10 Black Feminism
10.1 Mary Ann Weathers, An Argument for Black Women’s Liberation as a Revolutionary (1969)
10.2 Third World Women’s Alliance, Women in the Struggle (1971)
10.3 Frances Beal, Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female (1976)
10.4 Combahee River Collective, A Black Feminist Statement (1977)
10.5 Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class and Sex (1980)

11 Wages for Housework
11.1 Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Women and the Subversion of the Community (1972)
11.2 Selma James, Sex, Race and Class (1975)
11.3 Angela Davis, The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework (1981)

12 Materialist Feminism
12.1 Christine Delphy, The Main Enemy (1970)
12.2 Monique Witting, The Category of Sex (1976)
12.3 Monique Wittig, One is Not Born a Woman (1981)
12.4 Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex (1979)

13 Sexuality

13.1 Andrea Dworkin, Our Blood (1975)
13.2 Silvia Federici, Why Sexuality Is Work (1975)
13.3 Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic (1978)
13.4 Patrick Califia, Feminism and Sadomasochism (1981)

14 Dual Systems
14.1 Heidi Hartmann, The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism (1979)
14.2 Iris Marion Young, Beyond the Unhappy Marriage (1981)

15 Social Reproduction
15.1 Lise Vogel, Marxism and the Oppression of Women (1983)

Epilogue to the Second Edition