Feminism & the Kinship Sphere
From Engels to Dworkin
Feminism can be described as an ideology for women’s liberation. There are many different forms of feminism, and it can focus on countless aspects of social relations. Bell hooks defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Hooks’s definition is general and acceptable for starters, but to further understand women’s liberation, we will need to look at social revolutions and feminist movements in history.
Compared to other social theories, feminism is unique in its focus on the “kinship sphere”—where humans develop social functions to meet their biological needs, including the need to procreate, raise children, sexually express, interpersonally communicate, have close relationships, and meet other human needs. Feminists have honed in on this sphere of social life, which is often (but not always) interpersonal, or “micro level” in its analysis; this contrasts to the predominately macro analyses in economic, cultural, and political theories. Delving in and understanding the development of feminist theory will be necessary to understand its social implications.
This pamphlet will attempt to cover feminist theories and their conflicts in practice. These conflicts are demonstrated in history through debate and, possibly more importantly, through experimental efforts in revolutionary social movements. Repeatedly, when looking at history, it is undeniable that feminism is important for revolutionaries, and no other theory—anarchism, Marxism, or cultural theories—can resolve all of the social contradictions that exist in the kinship sphere. The ways humans meet needs in the kinship sphere must fundamentally change—a feminist revolution is necessary—to overthrow patriarchy.
For starters, it’s important to note some cornerstone contributors to feminism historically. Mary Wollstonecraft is often marked as the first feminist in Western intellectual history. Author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft was known for her androgyny by often looking like a “man,” as well as debating men and challenging patriarchal norms of her time (late 18th century). Wollstonecraft certainly brought to light many potentials that had previously been seen as impossible for the female sex to accomplish.
Nearly a century later, Friedrich Engels wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), in which he laid out the first materialist thesis that revolutionized sociology and anthropology’s approach to studying gender. Engels contended that women were actually the first class that ever rose in society. Before agriculture, Engels argued, gender virtually did not exist, and there was merely a loose sexual division of labor. This division of labor resulted in the agriculturally producing group (males) to harness and siphon the surplus they began to produce, once they possessed the agrarian technological capabilities. This surplus, withheld from women, subordinated them and made them economically dependent upon men. It thus follows from Engels’s argument that gender is merely a social construct built upon its economic base.
While a revolutionary idea for its time—that women were only socially, not biologically incapable of accomplishing “manly” tasks—Engels did not follow his argument full circle, but stopped just short of where The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State actually began in its telling of human history. In The Dialectic of Sex (1970), Shumalith Firestone argued that Engels missed the starting point of history when drawing his conclusions in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State and its relation to historical materialism. Firestone pointed out that the pre-agrarian, loose sexual division of labor was based on biological distinctions. Childbearing and breastfeeding prevented some females from performing the labor tasks that produced the agricultural surplus. Thus, the material base for human history lies in the biological distinctions of humanity, which must be overcome in order to eliminate “sex class.” Until humanity meets these its biological needs equally through sexually just functions, sex class reproduces itself.
Thus, to Firestone, the biologically based loose sexual division of labor pre-dates and is the material base for any economic activity, which then appears superstructural to sex. This is a reversal of the economism found in most forms of orthodox Marxism. Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution became known as a manifesto of radical feminism, and on its own (without consulting Marxism, polyculturalism, or anarchism), it can serve as a feminist reductionism of human history. Throughout The Dialectic of Sex, Firestone examines human history under the lens of a sexually-centric dialectical and historical materialism, concluding the biological kinship structure is the motor force (or otherwise determining factor) of human history.
While equally dangerous theoretically as economism, Firestone’s argument is equally compelling, and clearly makes the case that feminism is well worth its theoretical weight for using the scientific process to understand human history. Radical feminism helps us understand how the kinship sphere works, as well as how the kinship sphere can effect other social spheres. Oftentimes, other theories try to subsume feminism or subordinate it to a minor component. As a result, these theories have often come to ridiculous conclusions about society.
Why Is Feminism Important to Analyze the Kinship Sphere?: When Marxist-Anarchism and Anarchist-Feminism Try to Replace Radical Feminism
Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman clashed in an informal feud at the end of the 19th century, distinguishing generational differences between the old labor anarchists and the new anarchists. Lucy Parsons saw monogamy, marriage, and the nuclear family as “natural,” and that any oppression inside of them was due to economic oppression. Goldman saw them as socially imposed with both, the economy and kinship, neither of which necessarily subordinate the other. Carolyn Ashbaugh has detailed their disagreements:
Lucy Parsons’ feminism, which analyzed women’s oppression as a function of capitalism, was founded on working class values.
Emma Goldman’s feminism took on an abstract character of freedom for women in all things, in all times, and in all places; her feminism became separate from its working class origins. Goldman represented the feminism being advocated in the anarchist movement of the 1890s [and after]. The intellectual anarchists questioned Lucy Parsons about her attitudes on the women’s question.
Goldman’s feminism clashed with Parsons’s economistic (economically reductionist) feminism. To Parsons, “economics is the first issue to be settled, that it is woman’s economical dependence which makes her enslavement to man possible…How many women do you think would submit to marriage slavery if it were not for wage slavery? …[I]t is for this reason I have never advocated [womanhood] as a distinct question.” To Parsons, women, gender, sexuality, and the family were only issues of struggle because of oppressive economic contradictions.
Goldman and other anarchists’ advocacy of “free love” grew within radical intellectual circles. Parsons became outraged, proclaiming the “purity of my sex” and smearing “varietists” (those, like Goldman, who wanted variety in sexual and love bonds). Before the new anarchists immigrated (“new immigrants” in history began to arrive during and after feminism and nihilism had philosophically developed in European anarchist circles), variety in sexual relations was not widely discussed in anarchist circles in the U.S. Whenever these new anarchists arrived and diffused their theoretical development, Lucy Parsons and other “old school anarchists” became alienated from the newly immigrated anarchists. This divide was most pronounced on the question of sexual liberation.
The first obvious clash and discourse between the two anarchisms on “the sex question” was in the International Working People’s Association (Bakuninist, “Black International”—the American parallel to the St. Imier International) paper, The Alarm. Even then, the debate appeared as a marginal concern to the Chicago IWPA and Alarm readers, because the varietists were still so small in numbers. Another mention was raised by Juliet H. Severance, making the case for women’s liberation through economic revolution:
In our present economic condition working men are enslaved to the money power and dance attendance on its sweet will, while the wives of these men are the slaves of these slaves, and from this doubly enslaved motherhood…
I believe some of these questions that lie at the very beginning of life have much to do with the great problem of instituting just among the people.
…It is upon this agitation of the questions that educate and develop the individual that I look for an evolution into a higher and more just condition, in which an injury to one will be the concern of all, and the spirit of liberty and fraternity be universally manifested.
Even this conception of women’s liberation is incredibly economistic, seeing women’s liberation as being brought solely through the economic “base”.
Finally, discourse arose and was maintained in The Alarm, but discussion was not consistent in the paper, until “Ego” (a pseudonym) published his “Relation of the Sexes,” series. In this article in the series, Ego argued against monogamy:
Monogamic relations have a most deplorable effect on the mind. They prevent the development of elasticity of thought and judgment, breeding narrow-mindedness, bigotry and intolerance and their resulting manifestations in persecutions and invasions of liberty.
This exemplified the new antagonism that appeared on the anarchist political scene at the beginning of the new wave of immigration. Ego condemned the old labor anarchists for their traditional lifestyle. Mary Louise, a New Yorker during the new anarchists’ early formation there, responded to Ego’s condemnation in “The Marriage Question.” In this article, Louise appeared extremely conservative, claiming, “A healthy, cultured and free-minded person will understand love in its loftiest aspirations. The mental capacities shall rule over the material ones. Such a being will be ‘monogamous,’ for the love of a refined soul cannot be divided.” She then went on to condemn nearly any sexual activity or identity that did not reflect the Victorian Judeo-Christian tradition, claiming, “Polygamy and polyandry are appendages of gross and vulgar minds.” One week later, Ego responded, claiming, “The brothel and its horrors will vanish when men concede to women their natural rights,” arguing that he did not endorse polygamy as a crutch to defend misogynist polygyny.
After another week, Ego wrote, “‘Ego’ to ‘Marie Louise,’” in which he revealed his unusually high level of education, with new philosophical concepts of struggle—implying Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner’s nihilism and other non-class struggles. At this time, though, more editorials were dedicated to refuting Ego’s articles, than defended variety in free love. New anarchism was rearing its head, and even though its followers may have outnumbered Lucy Parsons in New York in 1897, old labor anarchists far outnumbered new anarchists in Chicago in 1888. This was probably because New York was an earlier arrival spot for new immigrants, as well as the fresh and very alive tradition of labor anarchism in Chicago, due to the Haymarket Affair in 1886.
Continuing, Ego told Louise, in The Alarm, “Your correspondent, and my critic, I infer, is a ‘sentimentalist’ who brings the principle of love to ‘the attitude of her bright imagination.’ I am inherently, a materialist and sensualist, [so] bring it down to the level of my comprehension.” By sticking to materialist claims, Ego abstained from metaphysical, spiritual claims, appearing more intellectually assertive than the traditionalists who continually appealed to emotion and religious morals. “I assert that love is not necessarily the physical relations of marriage; that love outside of the ‘marriage question’ is far more beautiful than inside.”
On December 22, 1888, Marie Louise wrote, “Monogamy Defended,” claiming,
When men and women have become so conscious of their place in nature that they will govern themselves in accordance with the forces of the universe, then, and not until then, shall they be able to enjoy the most natural state of sexual relation. …Under our disordered system of society, well mated persons often live to see the wrecking of their happiness. All that which is pure has no room in our poisonous atmosphere. But when mankind is freed from ignorance, knowledge, truth and love shall lead them to happiness.
This is the same argument that Peter Kropotkin made to Goldman. It is reductionist, because it suggests that if economic relations between men and women were equalized, educational status would then be equal, thus resolving the premise for sexual oppression (unequal intellect); if only economic contradictions were resolved, humanity would be freed to discover happiness and bliss.
Shortly after the Haymarket Affair, The Alarm began to dwindle in popularity, and a new paper took center stage, The Firebrand (the newspaper of the newly founded anarchist organization, the Free Society).  By April 21, 1895 (before Haymarket), The Firebrand was advertising and reviewing books on free love; around this same time, Emma Goldman’s books were being heavily advertised in The Firebrand, stealing the spotlight of the Free Society. During this transitional phase in anarchism (from the IWPA and The Alarm, to the Free Society and The Firebrand; from class liberation, to class and sexual liberation) Goldman stuck to writing about labor issues. Within less than a year, the new wave of immigration led to an explosive diffusion of new anarchist ideology in America, which was demonstrated in numerous articles in The Firebrand and other anarchist papers in support of “sexual liberation”. Soon, The Firebrand had sections of the paper supporting “free love”— “Sex Ethics” (sexological editorials) and an organizational library section that grew exponentially. As the risqué flare of free love (which new anarchists tended to define as a nihilistic anarchist-feminism that rejected monogamy as reactionary) drew more attention, Marxist or labor-centric anarchism became peripheral to the anarchist aperture in America.
Turning to the next big anarchist newspaper, The Firebrand, Lucy Parsons wrote, “Mr. [Oscar] Rotter [a free love advocate] attempts to dig up the hideous ‘Variety’ grub and bind it to the beautiful unfolding blossom of labor’s emancipation from wage-slavery and call them one and the same. Variety in sex relations and economic freedom have nothing in common.” In the same issue of The Firebrand, E. Stienle wrote “Sex Ethics,” in support of what these anarchists understood as free love, and Henry Addis gave a responsive critique to a previous Parsons article.
Parsons’s disagreement with Goldman and the “varietists” climaxed at a September 1897 Firebrand editorial meeting in Chicago, where Parsons and Goldman voiced their distaste for each other. Parsons thought Goldman was leading anarchism down a sectarian path, running too far away from the working masses; Goldman thought Parsons’s desire to preserve the bourgeois nuclear family was reactionary. Goldman recounted her thoughts:
The success of the meeting was unfortunately weakened by Lucy Parsons who, instead of condemning the unjustified [Comstock attacks and arrest of anarchists]…took a stand against the editor of the Firebrand, [Henry] Addis, because he tolerated articles about free love… Apart from the fact that anarchism not only teaches freedom from the economic and political areas, but also in social and sexual life, L. Parsons has the least cause to object to treatises on free love… I spoke after Parsons and had a hard time changing the unpleasant mood that her remarks elicited, and I also succeeded in gaining the sympathy and the material support of the people present…
Goldman saw Parsons as uptight, when Parsons genuinely expressed concerns that “free love” would have harsh practical implications on America’s working class families, specifically women. She consistently argued that unprotected sex with a variety of partners would result in the rapid spread of venereal disease, as well as unwanted procreation.
On a more personal level, though, Parsons thought it was very easy for Goldman to live and make sexually “free” and radical demands for women’s liberation and kinship restructuralization, because Goldman did not have to worry about pregnancy; Goldman had an inverted womb. Because contraception was not readily accessible to the American working class at the time, encouraging sexual activity would increase pregnancy rates, driving families even further into poverty. Encouraging women to strike would gain wages and lessen hours, bringing women more economic power than simply encouraging sexual pleasure without having adequate access to contraception. Parsons claimed that class liberation was necessary and would alleviate the conditions that allow sexism to exist.
Strategically, Parsons saw free love as inept, but her opposition to free love and sexual politics also came out of a matter she made principle. Parsons’s responses were consistent with the “anti-personal” politics of her union activity. Later, Parsons wrote, “[I]t [makes] no difference to me what people did in their private lives,” but that it should not be at the forefront of liberatory struggles. This opposition to “personal politics” was consistent with a quote from her days in the IWW, claiming, “The line will be drawn sharply at personalities as we know these enlighten no one and do infinitely more harm than good.”
The conflict between Goldman and Parsons was a generational result of their exposure to new theories, as well as a result of their class upbringing. It ranged from the personal and the political, the marital and the “varietal”, and the strategic discussion of working class revolution. Theoretically, Parsons’s anarchism was class-based, and it lent itself to a libertarian brand of Marxism. As a result, her feminist analysis stopped short of economics. Goldman was a bit of a nihilist at times, seeming to always sound more theoretically radical than practically possible. Goldman’s feminism demanded lifestyles from women who lacked the ability to practice them, unless they wanted a lot of babies and diseases. She spoke in a tone that alienated most working class women, and her anarchism eventually got in the way of supporting women’s suffrage.
In each anarchists case— although, Goldman was less reductionist than Parsons—there are overt forms of theoretical predomination over the kinship sphere, relegating feminism to the wayside when it is most needed. There are drastic issues that emerge on principled questions—the rejection of marriage—while strategic issues became even larger. Goldman’s strategy became alienated from working women and their primary concerns. The same could be said about the focus of many feminists today in academia, who speak more about changing letters in language for symbolism, having a higher percentage of female CEOs, or offering lengthy neo-Freudian explanations for everything, instead of demanding socialized childcare, socialized contraception and abortion, paid pregnancy and infant-raising leave (for both parents), and making it easier to report domestic violence. Having a solid understanding of kinship dynamics and their theoretical disagreements is essential to understanding kinship principles, strategy, and vision.
Women’s Liberation in Social Movements: The Russian Revolution
Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, women in Russian were usually treated as subordinate and ornamental wives, prostitutes, or livestock (“baba”). In the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks made institutional changes that drastically improved the status of women in Russia.
As a result of the Family Codes of 1918 and 1926, the Bolsheviks attempted to socialize housework, mandate equal pay for equal work across sexual divides, allow women to more easily divorce, and gave women the vote. In 1919, Zhenotdel (Women’s Department) was created by the Soviet Union, with Alexandra Kollontai at its head (1919-1922). Kollontai was often seen as the most risqué of the Marxists on sexual questions, and her historic focus on women’s issues qualified her to hold her position in Zhenotdel. Most of the execution of kinship reforms in the Soviet Union were the result of Kollontai’s involvement in Zhenodtel. Afterward, she was replaced by the conservative Sofia Smidovich.
Kollontai’s feminism was as radically feminist as “Marxism-feminism” can be. (Marxism-feminism is a brand of feminism that uses strictly Marxism as its theoretical framework.) As a Marxist, she saw marriage as unnecessary, demanded the socialization of child-rearing and housework, and demanded equal economic opportunity for women in the workforce. Like Engels, she saw autonomous organizing for women’s groups as strategically necessary for women to effectively voice themselves within a larger organization. Unlike most Marxists, Kollontai contended that sexual desire was as natural as thirst—known as the “drop of water theory”.
The sexual act must be seen not as something shameful and sinful but as something which is as natural as the other needs of healthy organism, such as hunger and thirst.
Lenin misrepresented this in a letter to Klara Zetkin: “You must be aware of the famous theory that in communist society the satisfaction of sexual desire, of love, will be as simple and unimportant as drinking a glass of water. The glass of water theory has made our young people mad, quite mad…I think this glass of water theory is completely un-Marxist, and moreover, anti-social.” Kollontai merely saw sex as biologically driven, separating herself from some Marxists in the past who perceived all sexual interaction as socially driven. (Ideally, Kollontai saw sex as the result of an intimate relationship; she referred to this idealized version of sexual love as “sex love.”)
What is most interesting about Kollontai’s feminism in practice is that she exhibits the extents and shortcomings of using a Marxist analysis for resolving contradictions in the kinship sphere. Most obviously, we can look at her ideas in practice on the question of prostitution, which could be extended to other forms of sex work.
In “Prostitution and ways of fighting it,” Kollontai consistently insists that prostitutes are the (economic) equivalent of labor deserters, and should be treated thusly—thrown into forced labor camps.
The roots of prostitution are in economics…
We can therefore list as factors responsible for prostitution: low wages, social inequalities, the economic dependence of women upon men, and the unhealthy custom by which women expect to be supported in return for sexual favours instead of in return for their labour…
And what, after all, is the professional prostitute? She is a person whose energy is not used for the collective; a person who lives off others, by taking from the rations of others. Can this sort of thing be allowed in a workers’ republic? No, it cannot. It cannot be allowed, because it reduces the reserves of energy and the number of working hands that are creating the national wealth and the general welfare, from the point of view of the national economy the professional prostitute is a labour deserter…
We now call the “honest merchant” a speculator, and instead of awarding him honorary tides we drag him before a special committee and put him in a forced labour camp. Why do we do this?’ Because we know that we can only build a new communist economy if all adult citizens are involved in productive labour. The person who does not work and who lives off someone else or on an unearned wage harms the collective and the republic. We, therefore, hunt down the speculators, the traders and the hoarders who all live off unearned income. We must fight prostitution as another form of labour desertion. We do not, therefore, condemn prostitution and fight against it as a special category but as an aspect of labour desertion. To us in the workers’ republic it is not important whether a woman sells herself to one man or to many, whether she is classed as a professional prostitute selling her favours to a succession of clients or as a wife selling herself to her husband. All women who avoid work and do not take part in production or in caring for children are liable, on the same basis as prostitutes, to be forced to work.
Kollontai ignores the kinship roots of the question. Kollontai’s works completely ignore post-traumatic stress disorder, focuses on health questions (which are today largely moot, with the advent of condoms), focuses on pregnancy (again, moot with modern contraception), assumes all prostitutes will always be only women coerced into solicitation to only men. Her analysis, however, is very typical of reductionist approaches to social theory. Whenever Marxism, feminism, polyculturalism, or anarchism is used on its own to interpret all human totality, they obfuscate the areas of study that are not their respective expertise. Whenever one is left out, holes are left in our worldview. Each theory offers analytical tools, and we can use these tools to deconstruct and reconstruct society. Kollontai’s use of Marxism in the kinship sphere, though, is the equivalent of trying to screw nails into a piece of wood. It doesn’t work.
Nonetheless, Kollontai’s execution of ending prostitution and sex work is ruthless. Prostitutes are the equal of “labor deserters,” thus socially labeled as free riders. They must be forced to work necessary jobs, and if they fail to comply, they will be sent off to work camps. Anyone reading this today knows that this is an absurd punishment for victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, who are merely acting in consequence of their previous sexual abuse. However, under a strictly macro-level, Marxist analysis, Kollontai’s execution of kinship policy is spot-on target.
Ultimately, Kollontai saw the newly socialized economy as swallowing the family whole, socializing all kinship tasks. However, she ignored the positive aspects of family relationships (like closeness, intimacy, and trust), presuming they could be anything but patriarchal or nuclear in structure. Kollontai ignores the potential of creating a new kinship structure after getting rid of the family, besides having a large collective unity.
As mentioned, Kollontai was succeeded by Sofia Smidovich, who was much more conservative. Vladimir I. Lenin had died, replaced by Joseph Stalin, who was much less theoretically advanced or coherent. By 1929, Zhenodtel was abolished. In 1934, homosexuality was criminalized. Abortions criminalized in 1936. Eventually, divorce was made difficult, and in many ways illegal. Divorce and sexual indulgence were characterized as shamefully petty bourgeois, a bourgeois tradition, anti-Russian, or even reactionary and counter-revolutionary by the state. The Soviet Union learned to compromise any principled position for women’s liberation by allowing rampant violence against women for political and economic stability in territories of previous sexual backwardness. In 1944, the Soviet Union made provisions for upbringing children women’s sole responsibility. The Inheritance Law of 1945 undid previous property inheritance rights that benefited women more equally. Sheila Rowbotham contrasted the Soviet Union’s change in policy: “Pravda denounced ‘free love’ along with all ‘disorderly sex life’ as ‘bourgeois’, and claimed that the enemies of the people had introduced ‘the foul and poisonous idea’ of liquidating the family and disrupting marriage’.”
Along with the Stalinist zig-zags of most policy that riddled Soviet history, abortion was re-legalized in 1955. Divorce was, again, made easier in 1964, and eventually, condoms were made accessible for men. (The pill was never accessible for women as contraception in the Soviet Union.)
In conclusion, Russia reformed women’s position in the kinship sphere, but ultimately, did not overturn the foundational oppressive functions women filled in the kinship sphere. The pre-revolutionary “baba” role laid a premise of how women entered the workforce.
In 1970, for example, “98% of milkmaids, 74% of workers in livestock feeding, and 72% of orchard, vineyard, vegetable and melon workers were women,’ not to mention that ‘over 90% of trade and public catering workers (sales assistants, managers of sales stands and buffets, and cooks) are women and almost 85% of all postal workers.’ Yes, women were drafted into the labor force, but not in positions of power. ‘They were employed as supervisors, shop chiefs, and in comparable leadership positions only one-sixth to one-seventh as frequently as men.”
The fundamental functions in the kinship sphere were still met by the same agents in the kinship sphere.
In politics, the presence of women falls off as one progresses up the hierarchy until there are only 4% in the party central committee and none in the Politbureau.
As radicals like Kollontai disappeared, even radical Marxist-feminist ideas were lost. By January 1st, 1981
…new regulations came into effect banning women from 460 occupations, including exceptionally heavy or dangerous work in the construction, chemical and metals industries… A husband’s work week, including domestic and professional labor, comprises 50 hours, while a wife’s work week is 80 hours.
What household work still existed, women still did almost all of it. Batya Weinbaum (radical feminist) argued that Bolsheviks treated patriarchy the same way Nikolai Bukharin treated the capitalism. As leader of the Right Opposition (against Trotsky in the Left Opposition) Bukharin argued that the Soviet Union had to build a capitalist democracy in order to build socialism, and that this strategy should be used in regard to international politics.
This resulted in Bukharin arguing against planning, in favor of markets, and for the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union to collaborate with the capitalist class, all as part of a “stage” of development—known as “two-stage theory”. Beinbaum drew a parallel here, noting that the Bolsheviks, right from the start, had seen women’s liberation as a change that would come after workers controlled their own destiny.
As participatory socialists, we should oppose all unprincipled activity in every “stage”. If we advocate revolution, we must do it on every front—kinship, economic, cultural, and political.
Women’s Liberation in Social Movements: Chinese Revolution
Chinese women’s position was probably the worst of our examples, experiencing footbinding as a standard sexual preference for women’s feet, for men’s pleasure. Footbinding involved breaking girls’ toes as children, wrapping and binding them into a shoe size that would not change. As the feet would naturally try to grow, bones would further break, the natural figure would contort, and the woman would struggle to merely walk. Bound feet looked like tiny half-spiral shaped feet, and these awkward stubs were standard; needless to say, sex workers were expected to have them.
Women’s sexual work , like most pre-industrial societies, consisted of prostitution. Prostitution was rampant before the Chinese Revolution. In 1930, Hong Kong had over 200 legal brothels; these remained legal until 1932. When the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, prostitution was banned. On May 1, 1950, The Marriage Law and the Land Law mandated monogamy and equal rights. Policies were enforced by the newly created All-China Democratic Women’s Federation (ACDWF), although not without resistance. Until 1953, ACDWF members were being killed often in the countryside. Another major difficulty the ACDWF faced was convincing women to come forward, actively report problems, or attend any public meeting. On May 1, 1951, maternity leave on the job was increased to 56 days with full pay. In 1952, 744 women and child health centers had been set up and 156 children’s hospitals.
In the years of the New Economic Policy (1962-1964), women experienced a throw backward. Many of the old patriarchal roles were invoked with nationalist fervor to reinforce political stability in the countryside. These sexist stereotypes ground Chinese women’s momentum to a halt. These were soon overturned and momentum began again, under the years of the Cultural Revolution, which rejected motherhood, promoted a militant asceticism, was incredibly suspicious of sexuality, attempted to move women out of home, and attacked many social leaders by mobs of angry youth. The Communist Party clearly propagandized that women’s oppression was rooted in class relations, not biology. Jiang Qing (“Mme Mao”) held the most control over art and expression in China; however, she contends she was always the subject of Mao Zedong.
Throughout Maoist China, Mao and the Communist Party appeared militantly egalitarian on women’s issues. Although Mao was usually glorified as a “father” figure in the party, his sexual policies were far more egalitarian than anything China had previously seen. However, Mao was known for an awkward authoritarian approach to equalizing sexual relations—probably more bizarre than Kollontai in Russia. The Chinese Communist Party restricted bedroom activities to quantifying sexual activity, in an attempt to prevent habitual rape.
The Chinese Communist Party also condemned “hand lewdness” (masturbating) for causing “severe nervous disorder,” impotence, and detracting from work.
In regards to prostitution, the Chinese Communist Party engaged in numerous propaganda campaigns and established women’s collectives, unlike Kollontai’s treatment of prostitution as labor desertion. By the early 1960s, prostitution was virtually eradicated from mainland China.
A typical fashion outfit was popularized by the Chinese Communist Party disguised any physical sexual characteristics of people. This virtually forced members to be treated equally in congresses or large speaking arenas.
Unlike most Western feminism today, female orgasm was never really applauded in China (or in Russia). Generally, the Chinese Communist Party articulated an anti-sex position that discouraged sexual activity, because they came from a position of women wanting, first and foremost, to be able to say, “No!”
During the Maoist rule, vacuum suction abortions were the only technologically abortions accessible, but not usually in the countryside. Contraceptive were available only to married couples, even after the 1950s! Marriages were generally conducted at older ages than most societies, with men still being a couple years older than women. Divorce rates were statistically higher and more often initiated by women, than in Russia.
After Mao Zedong and other Left leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, like Lin Biao, China began to turn around in every way. Aside from markets being deregulated, reforms were instituted that legalized prostitution again in 1978. Patriarchal cultural traditions were revived. Abortions took on an increasingly patriarchal character—not being a matter of women’s choice and sovereignty of their bodies, but as a result of male dictated state policy, like the One-Child Movement.
Today, patriarchy takes on just as violent of a character as it did at the outset of the Communist Revolution. Most sexual issues are dealt with on the local level. In 2003, the People’s Republic of China declared gay male prostitution illegal!
Concluding an analysis of the Chinese Communist Revolution and its role on women’s liberation acknowledges that kinship roles may have changed fundamentally, but not permanently, as patriarchy is now more prevalent in China than in the 1950s. Prostitution is legal and popular again, in China, and while footbinding may not be reestablished as the norm, new Westernized forms of objectification have replaced it, like pornography. Problematic notes to be made would be that in 1975, only 10% of party members were women. Chinese society is still patrilocal (new families migrate to the location of the husband or father), leaving women highly dependent on male counterparts for their stability.
Sheila Rowbotham commented on the question of its “revolutionary” approach to women’s liberation:
…[A]lthough many of the traditional functions of the family were socialized there was no conscious intention of creating a new basis for the family, nor was there an effort to break down the distinction between male and female roles in relation to small children.
The fundamental ways in which men and women interrelated to each other never changed, and the ways in which they met their biological needs through kinship functions were still upheld similarly to the ways they did in the first half of the twentieth century. While we can say that the Chinese Communists challenged patriarchy and reformed it—and we may even be able to say that some Communists were on the brink of revolutionary changes—they did not institute revolutionary changes in the kinship sphere. Like the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution was betrayed in the economic sphere, which effected the potential and slowed the momentum of the respective feminist movements.
Women’s Liberation in Social Movements: Mujeres Libres
Probably the most organized revolutionary force in the Spanish Revolution in 1936 was the CNT (National Confederation of Workers)-FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation). In areas where the CNT-FAI established worker-run factories and free agrarian collectives, civil marriage was abolished. Agricultural collectives paid “collective” or “family wages,” which went to a head of household, which was almost always a man. Prostitution was fought with recruitment of prostitutes into the CNT union and offering them quality, revolutionary jobs, as well as propaganda, not criminalization. Mujeres Libres (Free Women) was an autonomous women’s organization that played the role of a libertarian Zhenotdel.
Mujeres Libres helped establish collectives that adopted traditionally “women’s” tasks, to free women from doing these tasks (childcare, nursing, cooking, etc.) and, instead, establish themselves as public participants in the new society. These collectives then sought to educate women and the rest of the public through classes on women’s liberation and the importance of women in the libertarian communist revolution.
Sadly, there is a scarcity of information about revolutionary Spanish history, because the fascists of Spain destroyed every remnant of revolutionary history they could, once in power. Because the Spanish anarchist experiment was so short-lived, it is sociologically impossible to prove much of anything from regressive correlations in data; also, data was not well collected, because the anarchists had more pertinent issues at hand, like fighting fascists. Recommended readings: George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia; “Sisters in Arms: Women in the Spanish Revolution,” collection of essays from the Websites of International Anarchism; Liz Willis’s “Women in the Spanish Revolution”; Murray Bookchin’s “To Remember Spain” and The Spanish Anarchists; Gaston Leval’s “Collectives in Spain,” Zabalaza Books.
Concluding Revolutionary Social Experiments
Commenting on past revolutionary efforts, feminist, Andrea Dworkin, wrote:
Women are systematically excluded from work of high status, concrete power, and high financial reward. Strangely, in China, where women allegedly hold up half the sky, the government is overwhelmingly male; so too is the Soviet Union, Hungary, Algeria. In all socialist countries, women do most of the low-skilled, poorly paid work, women are not to be found in significant numbers in the upper echelons (and there are upper echelons) of industry, agriculture, education, or culture. The typical situation of women in socialist countries was described by Magdalena Sokolowska, a Polish expert on women’s employment in that country: ‘As long as women worked in factories and in the fields it didn’t bother anyone very much. As soon as they started to learn skills and to ask for the same money for the same work, men began to worry about [women’s] health, their nerves, to claim that employment doesn’t agree with them, and that they are neglecting the family.’ Of course, capitalist males have identical worries and so, in capitalist countries, women are also denied access to high rank, authority, and power.
…Even when a profession is composed almost entirely of women, as are library science (librarians) in the United States and medicine (doctors) in the Soviet Union, the top positions in those professions are held by men.
Dworkin extended Sokolowska’s analysis to the radical feminist conclusion of understanding gender relations at work. Although the Soviet Union’s economy was changed, jobs that are typically executive and administrative are still held by patriarchs, while women do subordinate labor. While the Soviet Union could boast of a higher amount of female doctors than the West, this was largely due to the different divisions of labor within a hospital that are the result of medical development in the Soviet Union, instead of market development. As a result, patriarchy repeated old kinship relations in the new economy. Dworkin went on:
In the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, doctoring, that exalted profession of the West has become feminized. Women became doctors in these countries because the work was low paid compared to manual labor available to men Today in those countries female physicians are mundane service workers whose low pay is appropriate because women need not be well paid. Male medical professionals are high-status, highly paid research scientists and surgeons.
While the job of nurse may have been reduced to even less job training and education or eliminated altogether, in some cases, doctors in the Soviet Union coordinated much less in their workplace than they do in private practices, in the United States. Highly paid researchers and administrative boards pleading to the Central Planning Board (Vesenka) in the Soviet Union for resource allocation to these hospitals, however, were predominately male. Thus, patriarchy was reproduced in the new deformed workers’ state.
From our studies of other social movements in history, it is clear how essential feminism is for analysis. From a sound feminist analysis, we can better strategize for women’s liberation. Previously, we have advocated the need for feminism to understand social relations, especially in the kinship sphere. We have seen the failures and strengths of the Bolsheviks to address women at work, as well as those of the Maoists and the CNT-FAI. Using the United States, today, it is also evident that feminism is essential to understanding society.
The Left and Feminism in the United States Today
Feminist Assessment of the American Situation
The US is off pace with other Western patriarchies. “In the United States only five states [in 1983 had] entirely abrogated the so called marital rape exemption—the legal proviso that a man cannot be criminally charged for raping his wife because rape by definition cannot exist in the context of marriage, since marriage licenses the use of a woman’s body by her husband against her will.” North Carolina repealed the sanctioning of marital rape, only in 1993! LGBT people still do not have equal legal status as heterosexual couples. Sex education is inadequate in schools. The degree of patriarchal backwardness in the U.S. is astounding, and the degree of misogyny is overtly exhibited in American sexuality, specifically pornography.
As feminism began to splinter and fizzle in the 80s, academic post-feminism dominated intellectual crowds, and the Left went gaga over men’s right to sexual activity and staring at women’s bodies on demand. Oftentimes, libertarians will contend that Playboy CEO, Christie Hefner (daughter of Hugh Hefner), has used pornography to benefit her; likewise, many porn stars are the beneficiaries of such practices, no matter how degrading. Also, libertarians will often support the Free Speech Coalition, a front group for the Adult Film (and Video) Assocation of America, the pornography industry (ranging from CEO’s to porn stars), and lobbyists.
Yet, libertarianism is not the only hang-up the Left has when it comes to pornography. Even feminists are not unanimous on the question. Sex-positive feminism—which promotes positive body image and self-confidence—is at odds with many radical feminists historically, when it comes to practice. Eve Ensler may be able to empower people to be more comfortable with their sexual identities, but she has a very concentrated, specific goal in her writing. Not many sex-positive feminists have managed to strike such a harmonic practice of sexual articulation for women’s empowerment. Nina Hartley has become a key spokesperson for sex-positive feminism, against anti-pornography feminism.
Nina Hartley is a porn star and spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition. Known for portraying herself in “powerful” or “less objectifying” pornographic roles, she is often applauded by the radical Left—even though she has artificial “enhancements” to body to make her appear as a mainstream pornography phenotype, clobbered with makeup, thin, high heels, large breasts, and appearing in most of the same sexual positions. She has written hostile arguments against anti-pornography feminists, published by large Left-wing news networks, like CounterPunch. The defense of Hartley and other sex-positive, pro-pornographic feminists is fairly typical among “free speech” libertarians and libertines on the Left. While Engels thought monogamy was reactionary, and Mao discouraged all sexuality, the International Communist League manages to obsess with centralist libertine positions on porn, pedophilia, sex trafficking, prostitution, and other sexual behaviors they consider “victimless”.
Nina Hartley’s pornography was published by the International Communist League’s newspaper; the ICL claimed this was advocate for her free speech. As odd as it may seem for a Trotskyist sect to publish porn in its paper, that is among the pettiest of bizarre sexual statements from the ICL. The ICL maintains that sex trafficking is not a problem, because such laws are nationalistic.
As mentioned, the ICL also has a famous series of lines on “victimless crimes,” which they interpret to include pedophilia, some forms of coerced sex, dangerous drugs, etc. “We oppose all laws against crimes without victims, including those which criminalize homosexual or other consensual sexual activity, prostitution and drug use.”
The ICL supports the North American Man Boy Love Association:
We oppose the persecution of Mark Foley on the basis of his sex life, as well as the entire “pedophilia” hysteria. Thus we have defended against state persecution the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), an organization that defends the right of men and boys to engage in consensual sex.
The witchhunters want to equate looking at pornography with violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault and even murder, singling out child pornography as especially pernicious. Like all pornography, it is simply words and images designed for pleasure. But the U.S. imperialists—whose bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq included the acts of sadistic torture and sexual violence carried out on prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo—would like you to forget Abu Ghraib, and put ‘child pornographers’ away for life.
To pretend that pedophilia and child pornography are not problems today is offensive to victims of childhood sexual abuse. The ICL even voices these bizarre libertine perspectives in their Spartacus Youth Club “Ten Point Program,” in which they tell their young contacts and recruits: “Government out of the bedroom! Down with the anti-sex witchhunt! Down with all laws against consensual activities, called ‘crimes without victims,’ like pornography, gambling, drug use, prostitution and ‘statutory rape’!”
This debate on pornography has become a hot button issue among American feminists and at the heart of many popular feminist books today. Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (New York: Free Press, 2005) has become a famous response to the misuse of sex-positive feminism. In “Chapter Two: The Future that Never Happened,” Levy detailed the feminist movement’s difficulty to successfully strategize against pornography. With the fall of cornerstone feminists, like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, sex-positive feminism stole the show—in more ways than one. Levy details accounts of women offering the same sex-positive “feminist” arguments for participating in Girls Gone Wild and other overtly misogynistic exhibitions.
Levy offers a thorough but concise history of the cooptation of the women’s liberation movement by the media, the porn industry, academia, and sex-positive feminism. She covers everything from Hugh Hefner explaining his “liberating” ideas on sex repeatedly to the press, the demonization of anti-pornography feminists, and the foregoing of addressing other issues in an effort to deregulate the pornography industry—issues that would seem more pertinent to principled feminists (like the attack on abortion, equal pay for equal work, child care, etc.). Levy finds that her generation of women found feminism decreasingly visible, aside from the risqué or sexual aspects that sex-positive feminists offered. This risqué ideology provided no substance for women’s capability to achieve their social (let alone, “sexual”) liberation.
Levy’s conclusion harkens back to Andrea Dworkin’s Right Wing Women. Dworkin takes on Christian conservatives—“feminists” in their own right—like Phyllis Schlafly. Dworkin contended that Phyllis Schlafly was unprincipled, but not crazy. Compared to what the Left had proposed as a sexual alternative, many mainstream women felt more comfortable with Schlafly’s conservative view of marriage as protecting women (in exchange for their surrender to one man). The Weathermen and free love advocates on the Left were essentially proposing jumping straight into polyamory, accompanied by a general increase in sexual activity and promiscuity, without a clear strategy or vision of how they would break from patriarchy.
One of the differences between marriage and prostitution is that in marriage you only have to make a deal with one man. A lot of women prefer marriage to prostitution for that reason. It is safer, a better deal. That is one of the major reasons that right-wing women defend the sanctity and insularity of the home. They don’t want to be out on the streets selling their asses. Are you going to say they’re stupid or wrong? They’re not stupid. They’re smart. They understand the system that they live in, and they understand what it is they have to trade for shelter and decent health and a little security. And then, like all good gamblers, they take their chances. Like all women, they take their chances.
Dworkin’s criticism of the Left’s attempt at jumping into libertine sexuality, without ending patriarchy first, is at the root of the rest of her arguments against sexual work.
Briefly, about prostitution: it is very much in our interest as women to see that prostitution is decriminalized. The criminalization of prostitution leaves poor women open to the most extraordinary kind of abuse and exploitation—by pimps, by pornographers, by professional buyers and sellers of women. It is also very important to us as women that prostitution not be legalized. In other words, there should be no laws against prostitution and there should be no laws regulating prostitution. In countries where prostitution is legalized, women are frequently kept prisoners in brothels. I recommend that you read Kathy Barry’s Female Sexual Slavery, which is about forced prostitution on a global scale. I have lived in Amsterdam, Holland, where prostitution is de facto legalized, that is, regulated by the police rather openly. People there live to be a very old age, expect for the prostitutes, who die very young. There is virtually no junkie problem, except among the prostitutes. They use heroin, they use morphine, they smoke opium. Women who are prostitutes in systems where prostitution is legalized never escape prostitution, and one of the reasons that they never escape is that the police don’t let them. So it is against the interests of women to do anything that will put other women, some women, any women, in the position where they must be prostitutes for the rest of their lives.
Dworkin realized that until women were liberated from patriarchy, promiscuity merely equated to a loosening of the constraints put on men by reforms to patriarchy. After discussing the tradeoff women face between marriage and prostitution, and the need to end both forms of patriarchy, Dworkin moved into the similarities of the two most popular divisions of sex work—prostitution and pornography:
Pornography is very closely related to prostitution, certainly for the women who are in it. For the women who are in it, very often pornography is a step up. Anything indoors is a step up. It’s cold out there.
Pornography is many things. It is an industry. …It is larger than the conventional film and record industries combined. [For modern figures on this, see Robert Jensen’s Getting Off, Pornography—Choices, His and Hers: A Brief Overview of the Pornography Industry (pages 79-95).] Think of what that means about the consumption of pornography and how that consumption relates to the men, the vast numbers of men, who are committing the sexual assaults I am talking about. The content of pornography is almost always the same. It has a universal quality. Either the women wants to be raped and wants to be hurt and really likes it or she doesn’t, in which case all of these things are still done to her and she discovers, lo and behold, that she loved it all along, and really her life was so empty before al these things happened to her. Pornography is hate propaganda against women.
Dworkin was probably the most widely known anti-pornography feminist of the late 20th century. The divide between herself and most sex-positive feminists, as well as many libertarians was unbridgeable.
There are women calling themselves feminists though they have no particular commitment to women as a group and no credible interest in sexual politics as such. They are in the service of male ‘isms,’ and both they and the ‘isms’ are being manipulated to dissuade women from political, sexual, and social confrontation with men. So, we have women insisting that capitalism is the source of male supremacy, even though all history and contemporary reality demonstrate clearly that the hatred of women permeates all societies regardless of their economic organization. We have women defending the pornography pimps on the basis of the First Amendment—civil libertarianism—even though women have no viable protection derived from the First Amendment because women have no meaningful access to media; and even with access would not have the economic means to defend any claim we might make since lawyers who specialize in the field of First Amendment litigation cost $150 an hour and their fees are only a small part of the expense involved.
Dworkin opposed pornography on principle, but the knee-jerk response always offered to her by other radical Leftists was one of “free speech” rights. This debate was fairly extensive, but her response to this liberal interpretation of the First Amendment was an uncompromising one. She argued:
Pornography is how-to material. There are rapists who use it that way. There are batterers who use it that way. There are Daddy-rapists who use it that way. There are loving, battering husbands who use it that way, and it will be established beyond any doubt that it is used that way by masses of men.
It is a total non sequitur to me, but some people feel that we are left with questions about freedom of speech. Some people think that questions about freedom of speech are a logical political response to what I have just said about harm. They do not mean the freedom of speech of the victims; they mean the freedom of speech of the pornographers. …I say it [free speech] begins with the incest victim; I say that’s where it begins. It begins with that child who is captive in that home who cannot say no. Or freedom of speech might begin on a pool table in New Bedford: freedom of speech might begin with the women gang-raped on the pool table in public. Her freedom of speech: did she have any? About six weeks before that gang rape took place, Hustler had precisely, precisely, the same gang rape. It was in the January issue: on a pool table, in the same kind of bar, everything in that lay-out is what happened in that bar. Coincidence? A coy-cat rape? …People say that the fact that Linda Marchiano, who was known as Linda Lovelace, was beaten and raped and forced to make Deep Throat doesn’t matter. Deep Throat is more important. Deep Throat is speech. We need Deep Throat, right? The fact that someone was held in captivity and terrorized in order to make the film is not supposed to diminish the importance of the film to our freedom. Maybe free speech begins with Linda Marchiano.
In other words, the violent pornography gonzo, Deep Throat, must be retold—but not to make profit for white men. Instead, it must be retold to repeatedly force men and women to see what is wrong with their society; the stories of the women and other victims in sex work and abuse must be told to end them. The pornography, on its own, teaches silence and acceptance to women, of the current terms of patriarchy. Also, Dworkin commented how pornography had other negative implications for women’s free speech:
[Viewers of pornography] claim, for instance, that in being entertained by pornography they are exercising rights of theirs, especially rights of expression or speech. How is it possible that in watching rape—or frankly, in watching female genitals, women’s legs splayed—they are exercising rights of speech It must be that our pain is what they want to say. Perhaps our genitals are words they use. Incomprehensible as it may be to us, their enjoyment in our abuse is articulated as a civil liberty of theirs. The logic of the argument is that if their rights t pornography (to possession, exploitation, and abuse of us) are abrogated, they will be unable to say what they want to say. They must have “freedom of speech.”
Pointing out that the First Amendment was written by white, property holding, men, many of whom owned and sometimes probably raped slaves, Dworkin contended that the First Amendment has historically been a legal defense for white privilege, capitalism, and patriarchy. Dworkin consistently maintained, “Feminists do fight for freedom of speech when it is a real for real freedom of real speech.” The conventional libertarian stance on free speech, though, is a sexist free speech.
Now it protects a different kind of power, a more vulgar power. It is not an aristocratic power. It is the pure power of money. It is the pimp’s power. That is what it does now. It does not empower women. It does nothing for us when we write our books, when we sing our songs. It was never intended to, and if we’re concerned about freedom of speech, what we have to do is to find a way to get it.
Thus, to Dworkin, free speech that protects women’s rights begins with the rights of the oppressed. The stories of raped and battered women must be printed. The detailed descriptions—not glorified—of grotesque pornography must be printed and spoken. These must be taught with society’s resources.
And make no mistake: this movement against pornography is a movement against silence—the silence of the real victims. And this movement against pornography is a movement for speech—the speech of those who have been silence by sexual force the speech of women and young girls. And we will never, never be silenced again.
Once these stories and analyses are heard, gender roles must be redefined to end patriarchy, and then, in this vision of a future society of sexual equality, a discussion on free speech may be a different question. Instead, the Left’s typical response is one of promiscuity, risqué flares of deviance, and libertarianism. Feminist direct actions against pornography usually received (and still do) a “libertarian” condemnation, even from most on the Left, in defense of pornographic property owners. In defense of these direct actions, Dworkin argued:
[P]ornography actively promotes violent contempt for the integrity and rightful freedom of women. And despite male claims to the contrary, feminists, not pornographers, are being arrested and prosecuted by male law enforcers, all suddenly “civil libertarians” when male privilege is confronted on the streets b angry and uppity women. The concept of “civil liberties” in this country has not ever, and does not now, embody principles and behaviors that respect the sexual rights of women. Therefore, when pornographers are challenged by women, police, district attorneys, and judges punish the women, all the while ritualistically claiming to be the legal guardians of “free speech.” In fact, they are the legal guardians of male profit, male property, and phallic power.
Dworkin and other feminists tried to win over the American Civil Liberties Union to this feminist understanding of free speech, but the ACLU was not interested. Instead, the ACLU was concerned with protecting the rights of corporate media, the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and their right to march in Skokie, Illinois, as well as pornographers to distribute what they want. As a working class, Jewish woman, Dworkin correctly concluded that the ACLU’s interests were in direct conflict with hers, despite their earlier defense of women’s basic rights.
They do not defend your right or my right to be heard in those places. They defend the rights of the owners to decide what will or will not be said. We need a political approach to civil liberties in this country—not a liberal, sentimental, nonsensical approach. …The State controls those dispossessed people in other ways. I say to you as a writer and as a woman that literacy, writing a book, speaking here before you, are signs of tremendous privilege. These are not common rights we can all exercise.
There is one thing that is not practical, and it’s the thing I believe in most, and that is the importance of vision in the midst of what has t be done, never forgetting for one minute the world that you really want to live in and how you want to live in it and what it means to you and how much you care about it-what you want for yourselves and what you want for the people that you love. Everywhere in this country now people are told to be complacent because change is impossible. Change is not impossible. It is not impossible. Many things have to be changed in the world. It is now time to change the condition of women, finally and absolutely and for all time. That is my agenda, and thank you for listening.
This principled opposition to legalizing, criminalizing, and regulating pornography resulted in many on the Left distancing themselves from anti-pornography feminists, like Andrea Dworkin, Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and Catherine McKinnon. For principled feminists, strategizing for sexual liberation requires women’s liberation. Women’s liberation requires redefining gender and the ways in which humans meet needs in the kinship sphere. Without women’s liberation, though, sexual liberation is merely a patriarchal sexual liberation that only benefits men.
As many socialists ask to capitalism, “Whose free speech?” likewise, feminists must ask that same question. The freedom of pimps and the pornography industry, as well as their predominately male consumers; or do we want the freedom from silence for women and other victims of sexual violence and exploitation? If we envision a more just kinship system, we must opt for the latter, opposing Hugh and Christie Hefner.
With this paradigm, we could say that Levy and Dworkin are correct—sex-positive feminism generally set feminism in the United States back as movement, in the least with a counter-productive detour, at the worst, promoting the rights of our opposition to more violently enslave us. (Sometimes, taking Dworkin’s analysis in is difficult for men; she is known for blunt wording. For an identical analysis targeting men, see Robert Jensen’s Getting Off.)
Vision & Strategy
Overthrowing patriarchy and redefining gender and kinship are the priority for women’s liberation. Nobody should ever feel obligated to give their body for other people’s sexual use in economic exchange. Sex work should be left behind with the days of prostitution, marriage, stripping, and what we call pornography today. Nonetheless, criminalization does not resolve any of these problems. Criminalization merely drives this work underground and unmonitored, where less safe and more coercive methods are used to manage work.
In the case of the Russian Revolution, Kollontai’s categorizing of prostitution as labor desertion drove those women further underground, where these women would see no protection from their capitalist (pimp) or their clients. This meant a more rapid spread of venereal diseases, more abuse of women, and more insecure prostitutes. Respectively, criminalizing pornography would simply make it more criminal in character. Women may no longer have the right to require tests for sexual diseases or contraception for actors. Criminalization, as a reform, would put sex workers in a weaker position to overthrow their oppressor, thus, not worthwhile. As used by the CNT, recruitment, job training and placement, and education seem to be the only potential for ending sex work, in the long run.
Other institutional reforms are also important and worthwhile. Kollontai’s demands of remunerating housework, instituting equal pay for equal work, equal rights to education, creating jobs, and socializing traditionally “women’s” tasks can free up women so they can fight for more changes in the kinship sphere. Redefining jobs to encourage men and women to perform interpenetrating gendered tasks is also important; making sure that men do dishes and work with children as part of their lives is an example of this, and these can be done by education and propaganda campaigns that redefine “manhood” to the point of obliteration.
After all, a less macho man is not enough; kinship revolution means an end to “man,” “woman,” and “child”-hood. Children should be encouraged to take on intelligent, adult-like tasks as early as they have the capacity to perform them, without being separated on the basis of gender. Schools must socially rear children through constructivist learning methods that empower and teach self-activity.
 Bell hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000, 1. After this quote, hooks advises the reader to read Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center to further understand her definition (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1984; 2nd Edition, 2000).
 Carolyn Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons: American Revolutionary (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing, 1976), 202.
 Lucy Parsons, “Cause of Sex Slavery,” Firebrand January 27, 1895, appearing from August-November, 1896.
 Ibid., and Ashbaugh, 203.
 Lucy Parsons, used the term “old school anarchist” to describe herself and the Haymarket Martyrs. (Lucy Parsons, “A Wise Move,” The Demonstrator, November 6, 1907, 2.) Parsons found less and less “old comrades,” she complained, in a letter to Carl Nold, 25 September 1930, (Nold Papers, Correspondence with Lucy Parsons), Labadie Collections. She used this phrase to lead into her explanation for working with the Communist Party: “Are there many of the old comrades left? There are very few here in Chicago.” She then went on to explain that all of their old comrades had died, or were dying, and a reunion of the “old comrades” was needed. Also, she referred to this same reunion desire for the “Old Timers” in another letter to Carl Nold, 17 January 1933, (Nold Papers, Correspondence with Lucy Parsons), Labadie Collections, University of Michigan Library.
 “Marriage Under Socialism,” Saturday, May 30, 1885.
 Juliet H. Severance, M.D., “Woman?s Liberation,” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, March 10, 1888. Referring to women as “the slaves of slaves,” is often attributed to Lucy Parsons, who did not use it until her 1905 IWW Conventional Speech.
 Ego, a pseudonym, “Relation of the Sexes: Part IV,” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, October 27, 1888. At this time, Goldman would have been eighteen years old, having lived in New York for two years; she really did arrive at the most opportune time to make a reputation that appealed to, and divided, the left.
 Ibid. Ego concluded that, specifically, Christians abolish marriage and that “Christ preferred the ministry of women to the thralldom of marriage.” In a similar article in Alexander Berkman?s The Blast, Pauline Smith degraded monogamy Society?s “favorite myth” by attacking the use of churches by clergy as brothels to exploit “Society?s third-class „wife?.” (“Society?s Wives Go t Church,” Vol. II, No. 2, San Francisco, February 15, 1917, p. 7; Oakland: AK Press, 2005), 217.
 Marie Louise, “The Marriage Question,” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, November 17, 1888.
 Marie Louise, “The Marriage Question,” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, November 17, 1888.
 Ego, pseudonym, “Relation of the Sexes: Part V,” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, November 24, 1888.
 Ego, pseudonym, “„Ego? to „Marie Louise,?” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, December 1, 1888.
 Ibid. Ego, like Goldman and most anarchists and feminists that would come after her, opposed marriage as a matter principle. Marriage has historically bound women to men by law and arbitrarily brought the state into human interaction to complicate and coerce behavior. See Goldman?s “Marriage and Love,” Anarchism and other essays. For a radical feminist?s understanding of marriage, see Andrea Dworkin, Right-wing Women, (New York: Perigree, 1978), 85. The major difference that would later form, however, is that Goldman and Ego wanted to engage in sexual freedom without first redefining kinship, gender, and eroticism; Dworkin acknowledged that more sexualization under patriarchy would result in more misogynist sexual relations.
 Marie Louise, “Monogamy Defended,” The Alarm, Chicago: International Working People?s Association, December 22, 1888.
 Nelson, Table 5.2, Circulation of Chicago?s Anarchist Press, 1880-1886, 124. Nelson shows the dwindling circulation of The Alarm. He cites N.W. Ayer and Sons (firm), American Newspaper Annuals, 1880-1886 (Philadelphia, 1880-1886); George P. Rowell and Co., American Newspaper Directory, 1880-1886 (New York, 1880-1886); Michael Schaack, Anarchy and Anarchists, (Chicago: F.J. Schule, 1889), 358..
 See the Literature section, which advertised and reviewed E.F. Ruedebugh?s “Free Men in Love and Matrimony,” in The Firebrand 21 April 1895, Portland, Oregon: Free Society. Emma Goldman, in Correspondence, The Firebrand 21 July 1895, No. 24, Portland, Oregon, Free Society. It is also important to mention that Goldman began appearing in the Receipts section of the paper on this day, as well.
 As mentioned before, Goldman mingled with Kropotkin and other labor anarchists; see Kropotkin?s “Eight Hour Working Day,” (originally published in 1890) was published in The Firebrand 3 November 1895, No. 39, Portland, Oregon, Free Society.
 See the following articles advocating “free love”: B.A. “Free Love,” The Firebrand 8 March 1896, No. 24, Portland, Oregon, Free Society; Henry Addis, “Sex Ethics,” The Firebrand 30 August 1896, No. 30; E. Steinle, “Sex Ethics,” and Henry Addis?s critique of Parsons in The Firebrand September 27, 1896; P. Smith, “The Sexual Organs,” E. Steinle, “Sex Ethics,” and Henry Addis?s critique of Parsons in The Firebrand 18 October 1896; Oscar Rotter, in “A Criticism of Lucy E. Parsons? Objections to Variety in Love,” The Firebrand September 27, 1896; Henry Addis, “Sex Ethics,” and A.I., Literature on Emil F. Ruedebusch?s “The Old and New Ideal,” The Firebrand 6 December 1896, No. 44; Henry Addis, “Sex Ethics,” The Firebrand 13 December 1896; Henry Addis, Literature on Emil F. Ruedebusch?s “The Old and New Ideal,” The Firebrand 3 January 1896 [sic., 1897], No. 48; Henry Addis, “Industrial and Sex Emancipation,” The Firebrand 10 January 1897, No. 49; Henry Addis, in Notes and Comments The Firebrand 24 January 1897, No. 51; Henry Addis, Literature on L. Berrier?s pamphlet, “Sexuality and Its Functions,” The Firebrand 31 January 1897, No. 52; Henry Addis, “Should the Poor Marry?” The Firebrand 14 February 1897, No. 2; Bodendyke, “Marriage: Part III, Don?t Get Married, ,” The Firebrand 5 September 1897; Anton Niedermrier, “Marriage Versus Liberty,” The Firebrand 19 September 1897. The Firebrand newspaper was later renamed Free Society, which was just as supporting of free love as The Firebrand.
 See note 155 for “Sex Ethics” and “Literature” references. “Other Books on Sex Relation,” first appeared in The Firebrand 6 December 1896, No. 44. The free love library section was called “Other Books on Sexual Relation.” Soon, The Firebrand, as well as other anarchist publications, became dominated by discourse on sexual liberation. For a classic example of this, see The Firebrand 5 December 1897; page 2 is covered with discourse advocating free love.
 Lucy Parsons, “On Variety,” The Firebrand September 27, 1896, Free Society; also in Ashbaugh, 204.
 E. Steinle, “Sex Ethics,” and Henry Addis?s critique of Parsons in The Firebrand September 27, 1896, Free Society, Portland Oregon. Rotter later responded, in “A Criticism of Lucy E. Parsons? Objections to Variety in Love,” The Firebrand September 27, 1896.
 Candace Falk, “Introduction,” (Chamakome Ranch, Cazadero: University of California, Berkely, June 2002), Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years (Volume One: Made for America, 1890-1901), Candace Falk, ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 12.
 Emma Goldman in Emma Goldman: A Documentary…, 312-313; originally featured in Part IV, “Letters from A Tour,” Sturmvogel, November 15, 1897.
 Ashbaugh, 202.
 Ibid., 205.
 Lucy Parsons, “Salutation to the Friends of Liberty,” The Liberator Chicago, September 3, 1905; Lucy Parsons, Ahrens, ed., 88.
 Alexandra Kollontai, Marxists Internet Archive, “Theses on Communist Morality in the Sphere of Marital Relations,” < www.marxists.org/archive/kollonta/1921/theses-morality.htm>. Alexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings, Allison & Busby, 1977; 1921. Kommunistka, No.s 12-12, 1921.
 V.I. Lenin to Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin, p. 49.
 Alexanra Kollontai, “Prostitution and ways of fighting it,” Speech to the third all-Russian conference of heads of the Regional Women’s Departments, 1921, Marxists Internet Archive, <http://www.marxists.org/archive/kollonta/1921/prostitution.htm>. Selected Writings of Alexandra Kollontai, Allison & Busby, 1977.
 Sheila Rowbotham, Women, Resistance and Revolution New York: Vintage, 1972, 159.
 Ibid., 160.
 Albert and Hahnel, Socialism Today and Tomorrow, Woods Hole, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1981, 97.
 Rowbotham, 163.
 Ibid., 161-162.
 Ibid., 161.
 Ibid., 163.
 Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel, Sociaism Today and Tomorrow, 94-95.
 Ibid., 95.
 Ralph Boulton, Washington Post January 5, 1981.
 Yeeshan Yang, Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the men and women of Hong Kong's sex industry (2006), Blacksmith Books, 52.
 Rowbotham, 185. “Bigamy, concubinage, child-betrothal, interference with the remarriage of widows and the execution of money or gifts in connection with marriage shall be prohibited.”
 Ibid, 186.
 Albert and Hahnel, Socialism, Today and Tomorrow, 149.
 “I was Chairman Mao’s dog. Whoever Chairman Mao asked me to bite, I bit.” Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, 599.
 Ibid., 153. Remedies include “washing the feet with warm water before bedtime, staying away from tight fitting trousers and heavy blankets and, of course, ‘upholding responsibility for your country and the socialist system.’”
 Rowbotham, 190.
 Albert and Hahnel, 155.
 Of 21,433 divorce cases studied, 76.6% were initiated by women. Judith Stacy’s, “When Patriarchy Kowtows,” Socialist Patriarchy, Zillah Eisenstein, Monthly Review Press (1975).
 Xinhua, “China Court hears homosexual prostitution case,” China Daily, 2004, <http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-02/08/content_304163.htm>.
 Batya Weinbaum in Judith Stacy’s, “When Patriarchy Kowtows,” Socialist Patriarchy, Zillah Eisenstein, Monthly Review Press (1975), 300.
 Rowbotham, 192.
 Gaston Leval mentioned a family or collective wage in “Collectives in Spain,” Zabalaza Books, 9: < http://zinelibrary.info/collectives-spain>. This wage was typically offered to the (male) head of the household or collective, making it a de facto sexist policy.
 Andrea Dworkin, “Sexual Economics: The Terrible Truth,” Letters from A War Zone, (Brooklyn, New York: Lawrence Hill Books; originally published London: Secker & Warbug, 1988), 1993, 122-123. For Dworkin’s quote of Magdalena Sokolowska, she cites Scott, Does Socialism Liberate Women?, 5.
 Dworkin, “Sexual Economics: The Terrible Truth,” Letters…, 123.
 Andrea Dworkin, Right-wing Women, 77-78.
 “Spousal Rape Laws: 20 Years Later,” National Center for Victims of Crime, from Victim Policy Pipeline, Winter 1999/2000, <http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32701>.
 The FSC’s most famous case was Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 US 234, in which the Free Speech Coalition fought for the “right” of the pornography industry to produce and market virtual reality child pornography. The FSC lost, but the case exhibited the FSC’s most overt motives; if the FSC fought the cases it wanted, it would be fighting for the right of the porn industry to be making child porn and other socially damaging, profitable efforts. Their speech is not our speech, and it will not make us free.
 Nina Hartley, “Feminists for Porn,” CounterPunch, February 2, 2005, <http://www.counterpunch.org/hartley02022005>. Scott McLemee, “Sect Appeal,” Salon, February 1997, <http://www.salon.com/feb97/media/media970206.html>.
 See Appendix B, “The International Communist League — Bringin’ Back Sexy...Or Putting It to Rest,” <https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B2mDJ9vXSOqoYjVhYzkxNjQtODQzYy00YTU4LThiMzAtMzZjNmRjNzBiYjM2&sort=name&layout=list&num=50>.
 International Communist League, “Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program,” Fourth Internationalist, New York: Prometheus Research Library 1998; Marxists Internet Archive.
 “Vote No on „Sex Dragnet? Prop 83!: California Ballot,” Workers Vanguard, No. 880, November 10, 2006
 Workers Vanguard, No. 875, September 1, 2006.
 Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (New York: Free Press, 2005).
 Dworkin, “Feminism: An Agenda,” Letters…, 147.
 Dworkin, “Feminism: An Agenda,” Letters…, 148.
 Dworkin, Letters…, “Look, Dick, Look. See Jane Blow It.” 131.
 Dworkin, “Feminism: An Agenda,” Letters…, 149-150.
 Dworkin, “Violence Against Women,” Letters…, 182.
 Dworkin, Letters..., 27.
 Dworkin, “Feminism: An Agenda,” Letters…, 151.
 Dworkin, “The Lie,” Letters…, 11-12.
 Dworkin, Letters…, 202.
 Dworkin, “Feminism: An Agenda,” Letters…, 152.
 Robert Jensen, Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2007).