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New Left Review I/66, March-April 1971

Branka Magaš

Sex Politics: Class Politics

In the course of the last year three books were written by women on women’s oppression and liberation. [1] Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch, London 1970; Eva Figes, Patriarchal Attitudes, London 1970; Kate Millett, Sexual Politics, New York 1970 (to be published in Britain in 1971).The Female Eunuch and Patriarchal Attitudes, although not written from within the women’s liberation movement, are nevertheless valuable contributions to it. They try to grapple with a number of problems related to the current growth of consciousness among women and, in their treatment of the present as well as their suggestions for the future, reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the present stage. The author of Sexual Politics is an active member of the American women’s liberation movement, and this book is the most recent attempt to articulate the components of sexual politics and put them into a social and historical context. In this sense it is a continuation of the project started by Simone de Beauvoir in 1949. The three books illustrate the range of problems as well as the scope of the effort necessary to construct a theory of women’s position in society. They all suffer from one fundamental weakness: a failure to link sexual with class politics. But if one thing is clear about the women’s liberation movement as it has developed in the last few years, it is its organic relationship with the other forms which the class struggle has taken (above all in the United States): militant opposition to the imperialist war in Vietnam, the upsurge of revolutionary activity among the black population, radicalization of large sections of youth and students.

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Branka Magas, ‘Sex Politics: Class Politics’, NLR I/66: £3

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