On 17 January 2015 thousands of people demonstrated in Paris and other cities in France to commemorate the fortieth anniversay of the law legalising abortion in France for the first time, but also to denounce the inadequacies in its application, and to highlight other forms of women’s inequality. On this occasion the monthly journal of the NPA l’Anticapitaliste la Revue published this article retracing the struggle for the right to abortion in France.
The repression of women by the Irish state has been exposed yet again by the case of a clinically dead woman being kept alive in order to continue a pregnancy. The responsibility of the state for this woman’s situation was summed up in the claim by doctors that they were unable to accede to her family’s request that life support be switched off for “constitutional reasons”. In this case the legal imperative to preserve the life of the unborn raised the prospect of a woman’s body being maintained for up to twenty weeks despite there being no possibility of a live, never mind healthy birth.
The current debate about sex work among feminists generates more heat than light. Accusations of bad faith fly back and forth across the two sides, research findings are mobilized to undercut the other side even when the research itself is limited by its methods and scope, different sex worker voices are authorized by each side as either genuine or manipulated, depending on whose position those voices seem to support.
In recognition of the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, we present this article summarizing the history of U.S. policy around reproductive rights from 1973 to present, with a special focus on new developments from the past couple of years.
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
 See Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution, Penguin, London, 1991, 306–323.