This week we read the sad news that the feminist writer Shulamith Firestone had died. Her work is little read now, a neglect that ought to be rectified. Her book The Dialectics of Sex: the Case for Feminist Revolution (London: the Women’s Press, 1970) was one of the first works – certainly the most famous in its day – to combine Marxian and feminist analysis.
Just as we have assumed the biological division of the sexes for procreation to be the fundamental ‘natural’ duality from which grows all further division into classes, so we now assume the sex division to be the root of this basic cultural division as well. The interplay between these two cultural responses, the ‘male’ Technological Mode and the ‘female’ Aesthetic Mode, recreates at yet another level the dialectic of the sexes – as well as its superstructure, the class, and the economic-class dialectic.
(Quoted from Maggie Humm, Feminisms: A Reader (London: Harvester, 1988), p. 69)
We’ll be reading a little of her work, in tribute, in the EX302 Modern Literary Theory module later this year.
Eva Figes died last week at the age of 80. Her most noted work, Patriarchal Attitudes, also appeared in 1970 – a remarkable year for feminist writing. Figes was perhaps a more controversial and politically active writer than the reserved and private Firestone. However, few remember her work on behalf of authors and their rights, as Tim Jeal notes in The Guardian.