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.
The Unfulfilled Possibilities of a Difficult Relationship
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.
Alice A. Jardine
“What Feminism?” is an extended reflection upon several generations of readers of Simone de Beauvoir, including those readers the author herself has been, from the early 1960s to the present. Of particular interest are the serious readers of Beauvoir since her death in 1986, as opposed to the many detractors who have worked hard to tarnish Beauvoir's productive influence. Among the many groups of such serious readers there are, for example, the social theorist feminists such as Susan Buck Morss; the postcolonial/transnational feminist philosophers such as Chandra Mohanty; the poststructuralist-inspired feminist writers such as Teresa Brennan; and the queer/trans readers such as Judith Butler. What we learn from them is that, going forward, the important thing is to keep excavating the deep structures of Beauvoir's thought so as to forge new pathways for new generations to address the obviously gendered and more than sobering global crises of the twenty-first century.
Reflections of a
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.
The Moral Economy Underlying Russian Feminist Advocacy
This article traces the conceptual emergence and development of feminist-oriented abortion politics in urban Russia between 2011 and 2015. Examined as an example of local adaptions of global reproductive rights movements, Russians’ advocacy for abortion access reflects commitments and tensions characterising post-Soviet feminism. Specifically, I show how calls to preserve women’s access to legal abortion have drawn on both socialist-inspired ideals of state support for families and liberal-oriented ideas of individual autonomy. Attention to the logics underlying abortion activists’ rhetoric reveals the specific historical sensibilities and shifting cultural values at stake in the ways progressive Russian activists construe justice. The analytic concept of ‘moral economy’ brings into relief how their advocacy evokes ideal visions of reciprocal obligations and uncertainties in both state-citizen relations and intimate relations. I argue that contextualised analyses of local feminist abortion politics may enrich global debates for reproductive rights and justice.
Teenage Girls’ Forays into Digital and School-Based Feminisms
Crystal Kim and Jessica Ringrose
In this article, we discuss a case study of a feminist society in a girls’ secondary school in England, highlighting how teenage girls use social media to combat sexism. Considering the recent growth of feminist societies in UK schools, there is still a lack of research documenting how young feminists use social media’s feminist content and connections. Addressing this gap, we draw on interviews and social media analyses to examine how girls navigate feminisms online and in school. Despite their multifaceted use of social media, the girls in our research undervalued digital feminism as valid or valued, in large part because of dismissive teacher and peer responses. We conclude by suggesting that schools need to cultivate social media as a legitimate pedagogical space by developing informed adult support for youth engagement with social justice-oriented online content.
Notes on the Greek Case
If we want to situate the Greek case in a wider discussion as to whether the notion of a ‘Communist Feminism’ constitutes a contradiction in terms, it would be productive, in my view, to shift the question to focus on those aspects which might help us clarify the features specific to Greek history. As is widely known, communism in Greece has not been part of the political establishment and has been subject to harsh and systematic persecutions throughout the twentieth century. Consequently, the question is whether we can characterise the Greek version of communist theory and praxis, as it was expressed by the main source of communist ideas in Greece, the Greek Communist Party (KKE), as ‘feminist’ in any way. To answer this question, however, we should first define exactly what we mean by the term feminist, or whether feminism also includes a communist constituent.
Building the Discipline or Politicising It?
Although initial contributions of Women's Studies to the field of Development Studies were to question existing concepts and assumptions and to offer new models and inclusive approaches, it appears that contemporary scholarship has shifted entirely (and even unapologetically) into political advocacy with little further in the way of social science or fresh critique and modelling. In Development Studies, Applied Anthropology and possibly in other subfields where gender concerns are presented in 'single-variable' or 'interest-group' perspectives, it may now be time to return to earlier goals through a depoliticisation of 'Feminist' and 'Women's' Studies, appropriately integrating 'Gender Studies' and concerns into subfields in ways that promote holistic advance of those fields. The essay uses two recent books with alternative examinations of feminism in developing societies – one on the area of 'development' and one on relations of two 'developed' countries, the U.S. and Russia – as springboards for a discussion of what has gone wrong and what can be changed in the sub-field of gender and Development Studies.
History Writing and Feminist Politics in Romania
Stefania Mihailescu, Din istoria feminismului românesc. Antologie de texte (1838–1929) (From the history of Romanian feminism. Collection of documents [1838–1929]), Iasi: Polirom, 2002, 376 pp., 18.90 RON (pb). ISBN 973-681-012-7
Stefania Mihailescu, Emanciparea femeii române. Antologie de texte. Vol. I (1815–1928) (Romanian women’s emancipation. Collection of documents. Vol. I [1815–1928]), Bucuresti: Editura Ecumenica, 2001, 605 pp., (pb). ISBN 973-99782-1-5
Maria Bucur, Mihaela Miroiu eds., Patriarhat si emancipare în istoria gîndirii politice românesti (Patriarchy and emancipation in the history of Romanian political thought), Iasi: Polirom, 2002, 270 pp., (pb). ISBN 973-681-130-1
Mihaela Miroiu, Drumul catre autonomie. Teorii politice feministe (The road to autonomy. Feminist political theories), Iasi: Polirom, 2004, 307 pp. 17.90 RON (pb). ISBN 973-681-646-X
Ghizela Cosma, Femeile si politica în România. Evolutia dreptului de vot în perioada interbelica (Women and politics in Romania. The evolution of the right to vote in the interwar period), Cluj-Napoca: Presa Universitara Clujeana, 2002, 174 pp. (pb). ISBN 973-610-069-3
Ghizela Cosma, Virgiliu ̨ârau eds., Conditia femeii în România în secolul XX. Studii de caz (Woman’s condition in Romania in the twentieth century. Case studies), Cluj-Napoca: Presa Universitara ̈ Clujeana, 2002, 213 pp. (pb). ISBN 973-610-127-4
Alin Ciupala, Femeia în societatea româneasca a secolului al XIX-lea (Woman in Romanian Society of the nineteenth century), Bucuresti: Editura Meridiane, 2003, 174 pp. (pb). ISBN 973-33-0481-6
Simona Stiger, ‘Miscarea feminista româneasca din Transilvania (1850–1914)’ (The Romanian feminist movement in Transylvania [1850–1914]), in Prezenòe feminine. Studii despre femei în România (Feminine presences. Studies about women in Romania), eds., Ghizela Cosma, Eniko... Magyari-Vincze and Oviciu Pecican, Cluj-Napoca: Editura Fundaòiei Desire, 2002, 237–266, 488 pp. (pb.). ISBN 973-85512-4-2
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’.