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New Left Review I/127, May-June 1981


Maurice Godelier

The Origins of Male Domination

The social inequalities between men and women are increasingly questioned by women from quite diverse milieux and waging their fight in various ways. Theoretical positions and forms of struggle which a short time ago still had some credibility, and indeed some importance, have began to be transformed by the breadth of the movement, the resulting debates and analyses, and the active encounter with the labour movement and the parties of the Left. For some people, male domination in the life of our society is the sole important form of oppression and must therefore be an exclusive target of struggle. This position, adopted by some ‘radical feminist’ currents, can even attract bourgeois and petty bourgeois favour, at least when ‘the war of the sexes’ is held up as the only social battle to be waged. For others, by contrast, male domination is the least important form of social oppression, coming a long way behind class exploitation, imperialist domination, and racial segregation. At the extreme—and this was at times the view of some militants and left-wing circles—such domination could wait its time, fated to disappear together with class exploitation, imperialism and racism.

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