In Memory of Shulamith Firestone, 1945-2012

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Feminist writer Shulamith Firestone, author of The Dialectic of Sex, died this month.  Here is an excerpt from her obituary published in the New York Times:

Shulamith Firestone…was found dead on Tuesday in her apartment in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. She was 67.

Ms. Firestone apparently died of natural causes, her sister Laya Firestone Seghi said.

Subtitled “The Case for Feminist Revolution,” “The Dialectic of Sex” was published by William Morrow & Company in 1970. In it, Ms. Firestone extended Marxist theories of class oppression to offer a radical analysis of the oppression of women, arguing that sexual inequity springs from the onus of childbearing, which devolves on women by pure biological happenstance.

“Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself,” Ms. Firestone wrote, “so the end goal of feminist revolution must be … not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”

In the utopian future Ms. Firestone envisioned, reproduction would be utterly divorced from sex: conception would be accomplished through artificial insemination, with gestation taking place outside the body in an artificial womb. While some critics found her proposals visionary, others deemed them quixotic at best.

The full obituary is available here.

May her memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

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