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In the latter half of this century while the New Right has managed to remain unified, organized and focused the Left’s major weakness has been that it has been anything but; in fact it is difficult to ascertain whether the Left hold any shared tenets. There seems to be the vague understanding that left-wing politics are associated with being pro-woman, pro-labor and anti-racist; however even these extremely general sentiments are often confused and mistakenly conflicted.1 Feminists in particular agree on very little; that we are pro-woman seems to be the only consensus, yet still writers often drop phrases such as “feminist politics” as if there actually existed some agreed upon feminist manifesto. This paper will examine one branch of feminist thought that has all but disappeared, the branch of radical feminism as articulated by Shulamith Firestone that placed the development of reproductive technology as the primary agent of true women’s liberation. Also explored will be the other end of the spectrum of feminist thought, feminists of the reproductive rights movement such as Robyn Rowland, who are highly suspicious of the development of reproductive technology and the potentially unethical and anti-woman ends to which it may be put to use.
Shulamith Firestone: A Case for Feminist Revolution
Firestone’s theory essentially combines the Marxist model of political economics with Freud’s theory of psychosexual development. Borrowing from Marx’s concept of the dialectic of class, she entitles her book “The Dialectic of Sex” because she believes that it is the division of roles based on sex and the ensuing struggle between sexual classes that is at the origins of all other class distinctions. Socialist analyses are insufficient she claims, because while Marx and Engels were ingenious in their analyses of class struggle and power, they were limited in the scope of their vision. Of Engels she says, “there is a whole sexual subs...
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