6

GENDER AND REVOLUTIONS

Valentine M. Moghadam

The scholarship on revolution is prodigious and rich, but it is deficient in incorporating gender into the analysis. The study of revolution has not yet considered systematically the prominent position assumed by gender issues in the discourse of revolutionaries and the laws of revolutionary states. In the sociology of revolution, gender, unlike class or the state or the world-system, is not seen as a constitutive category.

In contrast, feminist scholarship has been attentive to the theme of women and revolution. Feminists have produced prolific research into the role and position of women in revolutionary France, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Algeria, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere. 1 This body of literature strongly suggests that gender relations constitute an important part of the culture, ideology, and politics of revolutionary societies. Some scholars of the French Revolution have examined how gender was constructed in the political discourse and discovered the legal disempowerment and exclusion of women based on the "natural fact" of sexual difference. Siân Reynolds makes the interesting point that the participation of women as mothers and food distributors has a profoundly legitimizing effect on a revolution-at least in its early stages. 2 Mary Ann Tétreault observes that all twentieth-century revolutionaries retain or recreate private space and family forms. 3 Hanna Papanek maintains that the construction of the "ideal society" entails a notion of the "ideal woman." 4 In a previous essay I have classified revolutions in terms of gender outcomes: one group of revolutions is modernizing and egalitarian, with women's emancipation an explicit goal; another group is patriarchal, tying women to the family and stressing gender differences rather than equality. 5 Certainly revolutionary states expend considerable effort legislating the social positions of women, revising family law, and defining the prerogatives of men.

In this chapter I hope to show not only that women-like men-have been active participants in revolutionary movements, but also that revolutions have a gender dimension that must be taken into account in analyses of their causes, courses, and outcomes. Gender is an integral part of the social structure, a basic element of production and reproduction, and a central

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Theorizing Revolutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Agknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - State-Centered Approaches to Social Revolutions 11
  • 2 - Structural Theories of Revolution 38
  • 3 - Agents of Revolution 73
  • 4 - Population Growth and Revolutionary Crises 102
  • 5 - Revolution in the Real World 123
  • 6 - Gender and Revolutions 137
  • 7 - Race and the Process of the American Revolutions 168
  • 8 - Discourses and Social Forces 203
  • 9 - The Comparative-Historical Sociology of Third World Social Revolutions 227
  • Bibliography 268
  • Index 289
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