Feminism, Marxism: Marriage or Divorce?
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/03/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20926
A book review of Dangerous Liaisons: The marriages and divorces of Marxism and Feminism
By Cinzia Arruzza.
Cinzia Arruzza's Dangerous Liaisons is an ambitious attempt to give a brief history of the interrelation between the 18th to 20th century women's, labor and left anti-capitalist movements in the UK and Europe, and the theoretical debates in that same period about the interconnection between male and class domination and exploitation.
For those of us who have been left feminist activists from the 1960s forward, it is also a trip down memory lane to see the debates outlined between Marxist-feminist vs. socialist-feminist positions in the materialist feminist camp (as well as those of liberal and radical feminists).
While it makes sense from an activist point of view to try to understand theory in the light of historical political praxis, the book is far better at giving us an insightful history of the turbulent relation between self-defined feminist movements and anti-capitalist labor movements than in providing plausible Marxist-feminist theoretical answers to the question of how to understand power relations between gender and class. A serious shortcoming is the short shrift given to the historical and theoretical importance of institutional racism as a power relation between women, as well as one that cannot be reduced to class in most countries, particularly in the United States with its history of slavery.