The following review of the book REBEL WOMEN in Australian working class history, eds Sandra Bloodworth and Tom O’Lincoln, appeared in issue #14 (Xmas 2000-March 2001) of the Christchurch-based magazine revolution, one of the predecessors of this blog.
by Linda Kearns
Women’s oppression, its relation to capitalism, and how to fight it have been matters of controversy both on the far left and between the far left and feminists.
Feminists have long criticised the far left for trying to subsume women’s oppression into class. But a cursory glance at feminist studies and recent feminist theory tends to indicate that the vast majority of women – working class women – receive short shrift from the ‘sisterhood’.
In fact, there has also been a certain amount of nicking going on, as feminist historians have joined the fad for disaggregating the working class. So where working class women are dealt with, it is gender rather than class which have been of interest. Moreover, gender has been seen as counterposed to, even oppressed by, men of the working class.
Even socialist women, women who consciously chose to identify as, and fight as, socialist women – and not as feminists – have been appropriated – or expropriated by feminists: Rosa Luxemburg and Alexandra Kollontai are two Marxists who spring to mind as victims of this fad.
Sandra Bloodworth notes, for instance, the way the (more…)