April 30, 2015
Susie Orbach in conversation with Rachel Holmes
Join us for an evening marking the publication of a new edition of Shulamith Firestone’s groundbreaking work The Dialectic of Sex, (Verso, April 2015). This work by a then unknown 25 year old had an extraordinary impact on radical feminism when it first appeared in 1970.
Susie Orbach, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, writer and social critic, is joined in conversation by Rachel Holmes, academic and author of the acclaimed Eleanor Marx: A Life. Together with Lisa Appignanesi, they co-edited the hotly-discussed Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago).
Originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, and going on to become a bestseller, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics.
Beginning with a look at the radical and grassroots history of the first wave (with its foundation in the abolition movement of the time), Firestone documents its major victory, the granting of the vote to women in 1920, and the fifty years of ridicule that followed. She goes on to deftly synthesize the work of Freud, Marx, de Beauvoir, and Engels to create a cogent argument for feminist revolution. Identifying women as a caste, she declares that they must seize the means of reproduction—for as long as women (and only women) are required to bear and rear children, they will be singled out as inferior. Ultimately she presents feminism as the key radical ideology, the missing link between Marx and Freud, uniting their visions of the political and the personal.
“A must-have for those interested in feminist theory, both past and present. Its reappearance now, during yet another period of ‘ridicule’ towards women’s rights, is perhaps even more pertinent than its first publication.” – Kathleen Hanna, founding member of the riot grrrl movement
“Without so much as a single fanny joke or wacky dating anecdote, The Dialectic of Sex gripped and electrifed thousands of people, giving the so-called Second Wave of feminism much of its initial impetus and energy.” – New Statesman
“No one can understand how feminism has evolved without reading this radical, inflammatory second-wave landmark.” – Naomi Wolf