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What Is Socialist Feminism

A Seven-Part Class Series starting Saturday November 17, 2018, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Location: Art Share L.A., 801 E 4th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Free parking available. Art Share L.A. is near the Little Tokyo Metro Train Station (Gold Line)

Despite five decades of the existence of an active global women’s liberation movement, we are witnessing a growing authoritarianism attacking women’s hard-won rights on a global scale. In the U.S., its most glaring expressions have been the presidency of Donald Trump, a misogynist, and the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court judge. This authoritarianism also manifests itself in higher rates of incarceration of women of color, police brutality, physical and sexual abuse at home and at work, sex trafficking as well as war and militarism.

At the same time, the new Me Too Movement against sexual harassment/sexual assault is growing globally, and targeting the abuse of women in all spheres, whether government, academia or the arts, corporations or factories, service sector jobs or the family. The Me Too Movement also has the potential to go further and challenge capitalism’s commodification of women’s bodies and its reification/thingification of social relations.

These two contradictory developments—the global rise of authoritarianism and the global rise of the Me Too Movement – compel socialist feminists to reexamine/rethink their philosophical foundations and develop an alternative to capitalist-racist-homophobic patriarchy. What also compels such a reexamination is the need to articulate the distinctions between humanist, anti-authoritarian socialism and the totalitarian states that have called themselves socialist.

In a seven-part class series described below, we will critically examine four of the main socialist feminist theories of gender oppression: Social Reproduction, Alienation, Intersectionality, Gender Performativity. We will also examine efforts to conceptualize a socialist humanist alternative to capitalism-racism-sexism-homophobia. Through this process of examination and discovery, we will draw lessons for socialist feminist revolutionary organizing today.

Suggested readings for each class are listed below and can be obtained by contacting the address below. Presentations will be given by Frieda Afary, philosophy M.A., writer, and producer of Iranian Progressives in Translation , Julia Wallace, history graduate, Black anti-racist activist and writer, Lara Al-Kateb, Syrian Gender Studies student, Ndindi Kitonga, PhD. , Kenyan-American educator, scholar of critical pedagogy and activist, Silvia La Rote, political scientist graduate, education worker, artist, poet, and activist, Rocio Lopez, Latin American studies graduate and anti-war activist.

For more information & to obtain the readings, contact socialistfeminismclasses@gmail.com or call Frieda Afary at 310-210-3748. A $5 donation per class is requested but is not mandatory.

Saturday November 17, 2018 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Class 1: Women, Reproductive Labor and Capital Accumulation: Theories of Social Reproduction

Required Readings:

Lise Vogel, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory, Haymarket, 2014 [1983] Part IV (pp. 127-175). Also see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJfV9I_dHVI

Heather Brown, Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study. Haymarket, 2012. ( pp. 65-78)

Recommended Readings:

Silvia Federici. Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation. Autonomedia, 2004.

Frigga Haug. “Marx Within Feminism” in Marxism and Feminism. Zed Press, 2015. Pp. 76-102.

Tithi Bhattacharya, editor. Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression. 2017

Saturday January 26, 2019 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Class 2: Alienated Labor and Human Alienation Under Capitalism

Required Readings:

Karl Marx. Essay on Alienated Labor, 1844

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm

Heather Brown, Marx on Gender and the Family. Haymarket, 2012. ( pp. 28-39)

Frieda Afary and Farzaneh Raji. “The Rise, Decline and Return of Marxist Feminism.” March 2016

https://www.iranianprogressives.org/rise-decline-return-marxist-feminism/

Recommended Reading:

Anne Foreman, Femininity As Alienation. Pluto Press, 1977.

Saturday February 23, 2019, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Class 3: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective: Theories of Intersectionality

Required Readings:

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Recommended Articles

Keeanga Yamahta Taylor. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. Haymarket, 2017. Pp. 1-27.

Kimberle Williams Crenshaw. “The Structural and Political Dimensions of Intersectional Oppression” in Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers Reader. Ed. Patrick R. Grzanka Westview Press, 2014. Pp. 16-22.

Patricia Hill Collins. “Gender, Black Feminism and Black Political Economy.” Annals of the American Academy of Political Sciences. Volume 68, March 2000, pp.41-53

Recommended Readings:

Audre Lorde. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Crossing Press, 1984.

https://collectiveliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Lorde_The_Masters_Tools.pdf

Mitchell, Eve. “I Am A Woman and a Human: A Marxist Feminist Critique of Intersectionality Theory.” Libcom.org, September 12, 2013.

https://libcom.org/library/i-am-woman-human-marxist-feminist-critique-intersectionality-theory-eve-mitchell

Saturday March 23, 2019, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Class 4: Queer Identities: Theory of Gender Performativity

Required Reading:

Judith Butler. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge, 2006 pp. 1-45

Recommended Reading: Rosemary Hennessy. Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism. Routledge, 2000.

Saturday April 27, 2019, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Class 5: Socialist Feminist Transitions and Visions: Theorizing a Socialist Humanist Alternative to Private and State Capitalism

Required Readings:

Frieda Afary. “From the Transcendence of Capitalism to the Realization of Human Power as an End in Itself: Review of Peter Hudis’s Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism.” Radical Philosophy Review of Books, 2014.

Maria Mies. Patriarchy & Accumulation on a World Scale. Women in the International Division of Labor. Zed Press, 1998. Pp. 205-235 (Towards a Feminist Perspective of a New Society).

Recommended Reading:

Ann Ferguson. “Socialist Feminist Transitions and Visions.” Radical Philosophy Review of Books, Vol. 21, #1: 2018. Pp. 177-200.

Saturday June 29, 2019, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Class 6: Reconceptualizing the Self-Other Relationship: Overcoming Domination

Required Readings:

Allison Weir, Sacrificial Logics. Routledge, 1996. Pp. 14-42

Frantz Fanon. Black Skin, White Masks. Grove Press, 2008, pp. 191-208

Raya Dunayevskaya. Philosophy and Revolution: From Hegel to Sartre. 1989, pp.3-45

Recommended Reading:

Simone De Beauvoir. The Second Sex. 1949. Part VII: Toward Liberation

Saturday July 20, 2019, 2:30-5:30

Class 7: Drawing Conclusions for Socialist Feminist Revolutionary Organizing

Open discussion on lessons drawn from the class series as a whole.