Revolutionary struggles against capitalism have raised, time and again, the issue of sexual liberation. Right at the start of capitalism, the English revolution of the 1640s and 1650s involved what historian Christopher Hill has called a “sexual revolution” against the old order. The more radical forces included “ranters” such as Lawrence Clarkson, who argued that “What act soever is done by thee in light and love is light and lovely, though it be that act called adultery.” 1 The “utopian socialists” of the early nineteenth century also challenged accepted ideas about sexuality.
The 21st century has witnessed the rapid growth of the LGBT movement in mainland China. A bigger and more diversified LGBT community has emerged along with a more tolerant attitude from both government and society. This article aims to delineate this complicated development.
It is standard to find references to “patriarchy” and “patriarchal relations” in feminist texts, tracts, or documents. Patriarchy is often used to show how gender oppression and inequality are not sporadic or exceptional occurrences. On the contrary, these are issues which traverse all of society, and are fundamentally reproduced through mechanisms that cannot be explained at the individual level.
Looking back, we can see how the fate of socialist-feminism is closely tied to the fate of the broader institutions of working-class struggle. Socialist-feminists have always engaged in a two-sided effort: to bring an anti-racist, class-based feminist perspective into social movements and left political parties and a socialist perspective into feminist politics and women’s movements. Social-welfare feminism, social-democratic feminism, revolutionary socialist feminism, revolutionary women of color feminism, indigenous feminism, are some of the different currents within socialist-feminist politics. We can think of socialist feminism very broadly— to include all feminists (whether they would identify with the label or not) who see class as central but would not reduce relations of power and privilege organized around particular identities (e.g., gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, nationality) to class oppression. Revolutionary socialist feminism is distinguished from social welfare or social-democratic feminism in that, whether implicitly or explicitly, revolutionary socialist feminists are unwilling to allow capitalism to set the horizon for what can be envisioned or struggled for.
Looking back to the heady days of feminism’s “second wave” in the United States, it is distressing to acknowledge that the movement’s revolutionary moment is a dim memory, while key aspects of liberal feminism have been incorporated into the ruling class agenda. Liberal feminist ideas have been mobilized to support a range of neo-liberal initiatives including austerity, imperial war, and structural adjustment.
“If women’s liberation is unthinkable without communism, then communism is unthinkable without women’s liberation.”
—Russian revolutionary Inessa Armand
Shomi Yoon gave this talk as part of Marxism 2014 in Melbourne.
It is no longer possible to ignore that voice, to dismiss the desperation of so many American women. This is not what being a woman means, no matter what the experts say. For human suffering there is a reason; perhaps the reason has not been found because the right questions have not been asked, or pressed far enough. . . . The women who suffer this problem have a hunger that food cannot fill. . . . We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.”
—Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 1963 
In the past few years numerous authors have examined how the current economic crisis in Spain has differential impacts on women and men