Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression

Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression

Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression

Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression

Synopsis

Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppressionis a penetrating and comprehensive study of the development of feminism over the last thirty years. The first part of this major new textbook examines feminist theory and feminist political strategy. The second section examines how contradictions of class, race, subculture and sexuality divide women. The final part explores ways out of the impasse. This level-headed and challenging book is one of the most notable contributions to feminism in recent years.

Excerpt

This book is addressed to serious problems in the connections between feminist social theory and feminist political strategy. The enormous popularity of feminism in recent years has made improvements in the relations between men and women a real possibility, but has also provoked considerable opposition. Some are now arguing that feminism was an idealistic political movement born of the 1960s which has failed to measure up to the harsh realities of the 1980s. Yet the potential of feminism for the transformation of society has hardly been realized. Feminism is far from dead or dying, but feminists are often divided, confused and weary. The last twenty years or so have generated a diversity of feminist activity all over the world, but this activity, which started by asserting women’s common interests as women, has drawn increasing attention to the differences between women. It is only if these differences can be identified, clarified and dealt with that effective strategies for the liberation of divided women can be clearly worked out. This book is intended as a positive contribution to the process of clarification.

During the 1960s and 1970s, radical feminism made the person behind the book at least partly visible. The author was no longer an impartial conveyor of general truths, but a subjective woman or man with a particular social position in a particular society. In writing on feminism I cannot take a universal standpoint, I can only look out from my own position and try to see beyond the boundaries that this imposes. I have written as a white, western, middle-class sociologist, now into middle age, married late to a foreigner and with two young sons. I write, therefore, as a woman exhausted by combining paid work and motherhood in a patriarchal society, but also as one of the most privileged of women attracted to feminism, and from a class and race . . .

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