The futures of feminism

Author: Valerie Bryson

This book makes the case for an inclusive form of socialist feminism that will benefit both individuals and societies, and that puts multiply disadvantaged women at its heart. It argues that developing a feminist vocabulary is a key part of feminist politics, and it demystifies some key terms, including patriarchy and intersectionality. The book’s longest chapter engages with fierce disputes between some feminists and some trans women, and suggests possible compromises and ways forward. It argues throughout that the analysis of gender cannot be isolated from that of class or race, that patriarchy is inexorably entangled with capitalism, and that the needs of most women will not be met in an economy based on the pursuit of profit. In making these arguments, it explains why capitalism is not meeting human needs and it highlights the flaws in the ideologies that sustain it; it also shows how the assumptions of neoliberalism are incompatible with anything other than a narrow, elitist form of feminism that has little relevance for most women. Throughout, the book asserts the social, economic and human importance of the unpaid caring and domestic work that has been traditionally done by women, and the need to redistribute this and value it properly. It concludes that the combination of some policy trends, the increased presence of feminists in positions of influence and a rise in all kinds of grassroots activism give grounds for optimism about a future that could be both more feminist and more socialist.

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