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Rachel Mesch

This article considers the role of men in a form of feminist expression promoted in women's magazines and novels during the Belle Epoque. “Belle Epoque literary feminism,“ as I have termed it, was characterized by a desire to reconcile gender equality with traditional gender roles, outside of political channels; it was also, I argue, defined by male participation. Focusing on a widespread effort to modernize marriage, the article examines both men and women's discussions of marital equality in the influential women's magazines Femina and La Vie Heureuse; it then considers the role assigned to men in realizing feminist marriage in two popular women's novels, Marcelle Tinayre's La Rebelle and Louise Marie Compain's L'Un vers l'autre.

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Anna Lopes

This article provides a reassessment of the Berlin socialist women's movement of the mid-1890s as a historically significant attempt to establish a new kind of gender politics. The article shows how the movement provides an entry point to a broader, richer, more complicated feminist resistance than previously recognized. The historiographical processes that have narrowed interpretations of the movement are explored through a feminist-Foucauldian lens, which reveals the more collaborative activities and fluid alliances both among the women's groups and between them and a wider circle of social democratic men. A feminist-Foucauldian approach shifts attention to the movement's formation as an effect of power, highlighting its innovative organizational style, leadership, theorists, ideas, and resistance activities.

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Harriet Evans

From many perspectives, the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to gender equality and feminism offers a shining example of communism’s ideological limitations, and its historical failure to serve women’s interests. From its earliest days, Chinese communism upheld a platform of ‘sexual equality’ (nannü pingdeng), and implemented numerous policies to protect women’s equal rights. Yet its attacks on the epistemological foundations of Western feminism and its denunciation of the latter as little more than ‘bourgeois individualism’ give clear evidence of Miheala Miroiu’s ‘contradictio in terminis’.

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Marilyn J. Boxer

Today, to a historian of the relationship of European socialism to feminism, Mihaela Miroiu’s assertion that, despite the existence of ‘islands of feminism’ in communist regimes, there was no ‘communist feminism’ comes as no surprise. But in the heyday of the 1970s women’s liberation movement, very many feminists would have argued otherwise! Although the term ‘communist feminism’ itself was (and is) rarely heard, ‘socialist feminism’ exercised a powerful, formative influence in ‘the West’, as evidenced by the widespread admiration of testimony drawn from Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, and the USSR of Lenin and his successors.

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Reclaiming Feminism

A Qualitative Investigation of Language Usage by Girls in a High School Women's Studies Course

Jennifer L. Martin

This article examines the impact of women's studies on at-risk high school girls. This analysis was conducted within a larger intervention study examining the effect of women's studies on levels of sexual harassment within the school. As a teacher researcher, I observed that students were embracing terms traditionally degrading to women so I then began to study the language usage of the students in the course as a separate study. I assessed changes in the language usage of students and observed the evolution of their language. It became, as the course progressed, more egalitarian and em powered as they embraced feminist principles.

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On the Interrelation of Production and Reproduction

The Analytical Contribution of Marxist-feminism

Matthew J. Smetona

Contemporary social and political theorists generally recognise that Marx and Engels’ critical analysis of capitalist society centres on the production of value through the production of things. However, what is often unrecognised in considerations of Marx and Engels is how their analysis is based on the interrelation of production and reproduction. Nevertheless, the implications of this interrelation for feminist critique are explored in the writings of Marx and Engels only tangentially. These implications are developed from Marx’s analysis by Leopoldina Fortunati and Silvia Federici into a singular synthesis of the Marxist and feminist modes of critique. This development deserves greater recognition, and this essay will seek to articulate how the social implications of this interrelation (1) are expressed to a limited extent in the classical texts of Marxism and (2) are developed by Fortunati and Federici into the analytic framework of social reproduction as the core of Marxist-feminist revolutionary struggle.

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Ten Years After

Communism and Feminism Revisited

Francisca de Haan, Kristen Ghodsee, Krassimira Daskalova, Magdalena Grabowska, Jasmina Lukić, Chiara Bonfiglioli, Raluca Maria Popa and Alexandra Ghit

Introduction - Francisca de Haan

State-Socialist Women’s Organizations in Cold War Perspective: Revisiting the Work of Maxine Molyneux - Kristen Ghodsee

Audiatur et altera pars: In Response to Nanette Funk - Krassimira Daskalova

From Revolutionary Agents to Reactive Actors: The Transformation of Socialist Women’s Organizing in Poland from the 1940s through the 1980s - Magdalena Grabowska

One Socialist Story, or How I Became a Feminist - Jasmina Lukić

On Vida Tomšic, Marxist Feminism, and Agency - Chiara Bonfiglioli

“We Opposed It”: The National Council of Women and the Ban on Abortion in Romania (1966) - Raluca Maria Popa

Partisan Potential: Researching Communist Women’s Organizations in Eastern Europe - Alexandra Ghit

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Communist Feminism

The Unfulfilled Possibilities of a Difficult Relationship

Jane Slaughter

Recent pronouncements of the swift and painful death of Marxism, and repeated debates over the demise of feminism, or the meaning of neo-feminism or post-feminism, make the discussion of the relationship between communism and feminism an important one. Given the events of 1989 and the twists and turns of more recent global politics, understanding the history of the past relationships between these two ideologies and movements might help us to determine whether there is still life in these two movements, and whether they can overcome their differences to create a synthesis that is more than the sum of its parts. As an historian I would like to consider these issues by looking at the past and listening to what others have had to say about them. As a feminist I will occasionally insert some of my own ideas and judgements into the discussion.

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Mihaela Miroiu

I shall appeal to a concept I consider regulative for political, moral, and cultural feminism: women’s autonomy. When autonomy is undermined by patriarchy, there is no gender-fair competition, nor a real gender partnership. It means that feminism can only attain its goals when women have the capacity to rule over their own welfare, freed from oppressive patriarchal, androcratic, and andromorphic cultural, moral, and political constraints.

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Making an Appearance

The Formation of Women's Groups in Hungary

Katalin Fábián

This essay presents a historical analysis of Hungarian women's movements from the late eighteenth century until recent years. As women's organising in Hungary responded to both internal and international economic and political forces, it also revealed four sets of connections across the diverse historical landscape. First, these groups have framed their political aims to achieve greater legitimacy by selectively emphasising their international connections. The second parallel is the particularly harsh treatment women's groups have received when the dominant ideology changed. Third, in response to this treatment and for sheer self-preservation, women activists re-framed contemporary events and re-interpreted history in general and women's history in particular to strengthen their sense of identity and self-justification. The fourth common feature is the often difficult relationship between women's groups and the state. These four features potentially counterbalanced the many disagreements among women's groups over what they perceive to be women's appropriate roles and the definition of feminism, and persistently led to women's mobilisation and actions. Controversies around feminism ignite and fundamentally influence how and why women's groups become implicated in politics. Looking at the case of Eastern Europe, and especially focusing on Hungary, this essay argues that feminism has helped to establish much common ground among activists.