Women’s movements fighting for gender and sexual liberation

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We have a historical materialist conception of society and therefore of the oppression of women. "Being determines consciousness". It is the material conditions of social existence - and ultimately the relations of production - that are the basis of the ideas, the culture of the time. Including the place of women in society. It is not the brilliant idea of a few that will produce change. The oppression of women is based on the sexual division of labour; the contribution of each sex to the survival of the community.

The oppression of women and violence against them is structural, not occasional, episodic or exceptional. This is why some speak of a patriarchal system or patriarchy.

Male domination (patriarchy) predates the capitalist mode of production and has not disappeared in post-capitalist societies. It is not enough to abolish capitalism to eliminate the oppression of women.

Patriarchy is not monolithic, it does not exist as a separate entity; on the contrary, it varies according to historical periods, different class societies and modes of production. This is why some do not speak of patriarchy as a system, but of different forms of male domination.

Relations of domination (class, race, gender, ...) are interwoven, context-specific, co-substantial; not juxtaposed. Each of us is placed on an intersection of axes of oppression. There is no "main contradiction" that takes precedence over the others (Stalinist tradition). Marxist interpretation of intersectionality.

"The emancipation of the workers will be the work of the workers themselves. This applies to all oppressed layers. This requires an autonomous women's movement.

"Communism is the real movement that abolishes the existing state of affairs". It is mass movements that make history, not individual actions (dialectical relationship), nor avant-gardes. This also applies to women and LGBTQ struggles.

First wave Conquest of formal, legal rights and freedoms. In Europe and the EU - Suffragettes In "Third World" countries. Turkey, Egypt, Iran,...

Second wave The role of the family/ sexuality/ the body Self-awareness. "The personal is political Androcentrism "No socialism without feminism, no feminism without socialism Autonomous women's organisation. LGBTQ liberation

Third wave Innovations in theory from Marxist feminists; constructivist ecofeminists, postcolonial, social reproduction theorists,...Transfeminism Capital-Life Contradiction Gender relations are (also) relations of production The extraction of surplus value (exploitation) does not only take place in the workplace.


Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) - poet and radical feminist
Her first book on feminist issues was: Of Women born; Motherhood as Experience and Institution(1976)
This text is an extract from the essay Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence published as an essay in 1980
and republished in her book Blood, Bread and Poetry (1986).