The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution by Shulamith Firestone

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“No one can understand how feminism has evolved without reading this radical, inflammatory second-wave landmark.” Naomi Wolf

Originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, and going on to become a bestseller, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics.

Beginning with a look at the radical and grassroots history of the first wave (with its foundation in the abolition movement of the time), Firestone documents its major victory, the granting of the vote to women in 1920, and the fifty years of ridicule that followed. She goes on to deftly synthesize the work of Freud, Marx, de Beauvoir, and Engels to create a cogent argument for feminist revolution. Identifying women as a caste, she declares that they must seize the means of reproduction for as long as women (and only women) are required to bear and rear children, they will be singled out as inferior. Ultimately she presents feminism as the key radical ideology, the missing link between Marx and Freud, uniting their visions of the political and the personal.

In the wake of recent headlines bemoaning women’s squandered fertility and the ongoing debate over the appropriate role of genetics in the future of humanity, The Dialectic of Sex is revealed as remarkably relevant to today’s society, a testament to Shulamith Firestone’s startlingly prescient vision.

 

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Contemporary Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities – Debra A. Hope

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Whether one defines sexual orientation as sexual behavior, self-identification, or attraction, sexual orientation is primarily about motivation. The same-sex marriage debate is part of a broader discussion about sexual orientation that we are having as a society. Many of the issues have or should be addressed by psychology and related fields, yet this literature is not yet well-known. Thus, the goal of this volume is to provide a forum for leading scholars to share their work on a variety of topics including the “coming out” experience, same-sex families, hate crimes and bias, and psychobiological underpinning of sexual orientation. Because gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their families live with an evolving legal status for their civing rights and protections, this volume also examines the topic from a legal perspective.

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Butterfly Politics – Catharine A. MacKinnon

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The minuscule motion of a butterfly’s wings can trigger a tornado half a world away, according to chaos theory. Under the right conditions, small simple actions can produce large complex effects. In this timely and provocative book, Catharine A. MacKinnon argues that the right seemingly minor interventions in the legal realm can have a butterfly effect that generates major social and cultural transformations.

Butterfly Politics brings this incisive understanding of social causality to a wide-ranging exploration of gender relations. The pieces collected here many published for the first time provide a new perspective on MacKinnon’s career as a pioneer of legal theory and practice and an activist for women s rights. Its central concerns of gender inequality, sexual harassment, rape, pornography, and prostitution have defined MacKinnon’s intellectual, legal, and political pursuits for over forty years. Though differing in style and approach, the selections all share the same motivation: to end inequality, including abuse, in women s lives. Several mark the first time ideas that are now staples of legal and political discourse appeared in public for example, the analysis of substantive equality. Others urge changes that have yet to be realized.

The butterfly effect can animate political activism and advance equality socially and legally. Seemingly insignificant actions, through collective recursion, can intervene in unstable systems to produce systemic change. A powerful critique of the legal and institutional denial of reality that perpetuates practices of gender inequality, Butterfly Politics provides a model of what principled, effective, socially conscious engagement with law looks like.

 

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Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment – Patricia Hill Collins

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In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. The result is a superbly crafted book that provides the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought.

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