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Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation Paperback – May 1, 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Sharon Smith’s work, spanning decades of events affecting women, provides a valuable and uncommon perspective on the oppression and liberation of women. The book covers both theory of women’s oppression and the history and politics of women’s movements. Her understanding of the grounding of women’s oppression in class society, her vision of solidarity among women and men, and her critique of ideologies of sexism and the rollback of the gains of the women’s movement are tremendously important contributions to women’s studies. More than that, the accessible writing and incisive assessment of the movements gains and losses are indispensable for activists for women’s liberation today.”
—Dana Cloud, Associate Professor, University of Texas, Austin
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism, also published by Haymarket books, as well as many articles on women's liberation and the U.S. working class. Her writings appear regularly in Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931859116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931859110
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #656,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Malvin VINE VOICE on June 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Women & Socialism" by Sharon Smith is an enlightening series of essays on the topic of women's struggle for liberation. In an engaging and accessible writing style, Ms. Smith analyzes the class basis of women's oppression and discusses how building a socialist society is critical to achieving equality between the sexes. The book is refreshing in its ability to wade through the current feminist intellectual impasse and presents a clear-cut vision of how to achieve meaningful change for men and women everywhere.

Ms. Smith centers her analysis in Frederick Engels' groundbreaking work on historical materialism. Engels understood that the burden of domestic production falls on women and provides capital with a cheap means of reproducing labor power and allowing men to dominate the production and distribution of surplus value and culture. This relegates women to a subordinate status within the nuclear family and is often characterized by sexual exploitation. But through socialism, women can achieve equality by lifting the burden of privatized production.

In fact, the positive example provided by Russia's experience in the early years of the 1917 revolution supports the theory that socialism can measurably improve women's lives. Ms. Smith provides evidence of how Lenin and others in the revolutionary government specifically sought to empower women through unprecedented legislation that was in accordance with Marx and Engels' theories; unfortunately, these substantial gains were lost when Stalin rolled back these particular laws during the counterrevolution.

After reminding us that many of Russia's bourgeois feminists supported Stalin's reimposition of classism, Ms.
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Format: Paperback
Sharon Smith's Women and Socialism, a collection of essays on women's liberation, is an indispensable critique of the systemic roots of women's oppression, and the limitations of liberal feminism in combating it. The volume is all the more valuable because the war currently being waged against women's rights demands the response of a massive grassroots movement that understands the true nature of its enemy.

Countering ideas of patriarchy, that men are inherently predisposed toward dominating women, Smith convincingly argues that women's oppression is the inevitable product of class society. This is no academic argument; it has real implications for how people organize for a better world. As Smith writes, "It is not possible for working class women to simultaneously unite with working class men in the class struggle and to unite with ruling class women in the struggle against working class men, as part of the patriarchy."

To prove her point, Smith points to the numerous betrayals of middle class feminist organizations which, because of their class allegiances, all too often do more to hurt the vast majority of working class women than they do to help them. There is the case of NOW taking a stand in court *against* the right to maternity leave. There is the Feminist Majority thanking George W. Bush for his "liberation" of Afghani women, providing ideological cover for a "War on Terror" which has killed hundreds of thousands of women in Iraq and Afghanistan, while bleeding working class families in the U.S. And finally, there are NARAL and Planned Parenthood staking the defense of abortion rights on the Democratic Party, which by constantly ceding ground to the right wing, itself undermines abortion rights.
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Any Haymarket Books text suffers from the biases of the ISO, but this is still one of the best introductions to the subject out there. Read it with an awareness that it is intended to steer you into an authoritarian conclusion and you'll get what you need out of it.
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From and Feminist Economist, this book was just okay. I did not enjoy how they tried to portray Marx and Engels as heroes of Women's Liberation. I've studied Marx, and that couldn't be more of a lie. I don't subscribe to the radical feminist idea that women's oppression originated in "sex" either, though. But Islam and Women was a good section. I did enjoy the footnotes and empiricism. It was good for the price I got it -- free.
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This book is written in series of essays that is based on extreme points of view, that I don't have any agreement. here is why: many people nowadays try to change this nation into communist or socialism ( same role, just different name) not really knowing the truth, just based on some political ideology that human history had repeatedly proved to be failed. In fact communism is the worst political system that ever presented on earth. Because of its brutality, I escaped from that regime. And I am happy to be in this country where human freedom is mostly respected, and protected. Communist lies saying every one shares equally: In fact only, those few comrades who caused the shift of power enjoy the wealth and power, but the rest of the general citizens have no equality nor basic human right. Any one speak against government---disappear next day to "concentration camp" w/o fair trials nor justice. Communist shut down all religious freedom, or freedom of speech ( all medias are government controlled) Communists deny any form of gods but instead, they set the status of Stalin or Ma chiding, or Kimjung ill, and have to sing songs and salute for them, worship them. From elementary children to elders... Anyone dares to go against the government, ---labor camp! Several millions who stand for their freedom were killed brutally in early 20th century, during the communism overturn. 1989, Tinamen square, a million chines college students marched to protest against their communist government of oppression: it was broadcasted all over the world, they were asking communist government to give them ;freedom for speech, media, business, religion, true-democracy( not like few communist party people controlling) by election.Read more ›
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