Shulamith Firestone

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Shulamith Firestone (January 7, 1945 – August 28, 2012) was a Jewish American-Canadian feminist activist and writer.A central figure in the early development of radical feminism and second-wave feminism, Firestone was a founding member of three radical-feminist groups: New York Radical Women, Redstockings, and New York Radical Feminists. Firestone is typically identified as a member of the Radical Feminists along with Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon.

Quotes[edit]

The Dialectic of Sex (1970)[edit]

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Women throughout history before the advent of birth control were at the continual mercy of their biology - menstruation, menopause, and "female ills," constant painful childbirth, wetnursing and care of infants, all of which made them dependent on males (whether brother, father, husband, lover, or clan, government, community-at-large) for physical survival.
A Transfeminist-Symbol black-and-white.svg
right]Freudianism has become, with its confessionals and penance, its proselytes and converts, with the millions spent on its upkeep, our modern Church. We attack only uneasily, for you never know, on the day of final judgement, whether might be right.
  • Sex class is so deep as to be invisible. Or it may appear as a superficial inequality, one that can be solved by merely a few reforms, or perhaps by the full integration of women into the labour force. But the reaction of the common man, woman, and child - 'That? Why you can't change that! You must be out of your mind!' - is the closest to the truth. [1]]
  • The assumption that, beneath economics, reality is psychosexual is often rejected as ahistorical by those who accept a dialectical materialist view of history because it seems to land us back where Marx began: groping through a fog of utopian hypotheses, philosophical systems that might be right, that might be wrong (there is no way to tell); systems that explain concrete historical developments by a priori categories of thought; historical materialism, however, attempted to explain 'knowing' by 'being' and not vice versa.
  • There is some irony in the fact that children imagine that parents can do what they want, and parents imagine that children do. "When I grow up..." parallels "Oh to be a child again..." [2]
  • It is everywhere. The division yin and yang pervades all culture, history, economics, nature itself: modern Western versions of sex discrimination are only the most recent layer. To so heighten one's sensitivity to sexism presents problems far worse than the black militant's new awareness of racism: Feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organization of culture itself, and further, even the very organization of nature. Many women give up in despair: if that's how deep it goes they don't want to know. Others continue strengthening and enlarging the movement, their painful sensitivity to female oppression existing for a purpose: eventually to eliminate it.
  • Women throughout history before the advent of birth control were at the continual mercy of their biology - menstruation, menopause, and "female ills," constant painful childbirth, wetnursing and care of infants, all of which made them dependent on males (whether brother, father, husband, lover, or clan, government, community-at-large) for physical survival.
    • Chapter One
  • To grant that the sexual imbalance of power is biologically based is not to lose our case. We are no longer just animals. And the Kingdom of Nature does not reign absolute.
    • Chapter One
  • Though the sex class system may have originated in fundamental biological conditions, this does not guarantee once the biological basis of their oppression has been swept away that women and children will be freed.
    • Chapter One
  • In the radical feminist view, the new feminism is not just the revival of a serious political movement for social equality. It is the second wave of the most important revolution in history. It's aim: overthrow of the oldest most rigid class/caste system in existence, the class system based on sex - a system consolidated over thousands of years, lending the archetypal male and female roles an undeserved legitimacy and seeming permanence.
    • Chapter Two, "On American Feminism
  • If we had to name the one cultural current that most characterizes America in the twentieth century, it might be the work of Freud and the disciplines that grew out of it.
    • Chapter Three, Freudianism
  • Radical Feminism. The two positions we have described usually generate a third, the radical feminist position: The women in its ranks range from disillusioned moderate feminists from NOW to disillusioned leftists from the women's liberation movement. , and include others who had been waiting for just such an alternative, women for whom neither conservative bureaucratic feminism nor warmed-over leftist dogma had much appeal.
    • Chapter Three
  • Freudianism has become, with its confessionals and penance, its proselytes and converts, with the millions spent on its upkeep, our modern Church. We attack only uneasily, for you never know, on the day of final judgement, whether might be right. Who can be sure that he is as healthy as he can get? Who is functioning at his highest capacity? And who not scared out of his wis? WHo doesn't hate his mother andfather? Who doesn't compete with his brother? What girl at some time did not wish she were a boy? And for those hardy souls who persist in their skepticism, there is always that dreadful persist in their skepticism, there is always that dreadful word resistance. They are the one who are sickest: it's obvious, they fight it so much.
    • Chapter Three
  • Freudianism and Feminism grew from the same soil. It is no accident that Freud began his work at the height of the early feminist movement.
    • Chapter Three
  • Freud captured the imagination of a whole continent and civilzation for a good reason. Though on the surface inconsistent, illogical or "way out," his followers, with their cautious logic, their experiments and revisions have nothing comparable to say. Freudianism is so charted so impossible to repudiate because freud grasped the cruecail problem of moddern life: Sexuality.
  • If we had to name the one cultural current that most characterizes America in the twentieth century, it might be the work of Freud and the disciplines that grew out of it.
    • Chapter Three
  • In the Middle Ages there was no such thing as childhood. The medieval view of children was profoundly different from ours.
    • Chapter Four
  • Women and children are always mentioned in the same breath ("Women and children to the forts!"). The special tie women have with children is recognized by everyone. I submit, however, that the nature of this bond is no more than shared oppression. And that moreover this oppression i intertwined and mutually reinforcing in such complex ways that we will be an able to speak of the liberation of women without also discussing the liberation of children, and since versa. The heart of woman's oppressing is her childbearing and childrearing roles. And in turn children are defined in relation to this role and are psychologically formed by it; what they become as adults and the sorts of relationships they are able to form determine the society they will ultimately built.
    • Chapter Four, Down with Childhood
  • We can also see the class basis of the emerging concept of child hood in the system of child education that came in along with it. If childhood was only an abstract concept, then the modern school was the institution that built it into reality.
    • Chapter Four
  • The ideology of school was the ideology of childhood. It operated on the assumption that children needed"discipline," that they were special creatures who had to be handled in a special way (child psych., child ed., etc.) and that to facilitate this they should be corralled in a special place with tie own kind, and with an age group as restricted to their own as possible.
    • Chapter Four
  • The myth of childhood has an even greater parallel in the myth of Femininity. Both women and children were considered asexual and thus"purer" than man. Their inferior status was ill-concealed under an elaborate "respect." One didn't discuss serious matters nor did one curse in from of women and children; one didn't openly degrade them, one did it behind their backs.
    • Chapter Four
  • Contemporary slang reflects this animal state: children are "mice," "rabbits," "kittens," women are called "chicks," (in England( "birds," "hens," "dumb clucks," "silly geese," "old mares," "bitches." Similar terminology is used about males as a defamation of character, or more broadly only about pressed males males: stud, wold, cat, stag, jack - and then it is used much more rarely, and often with a specifically sexual connotation.
    • Chapter Four
  • Because class oppression of women and children couched in the phraseology of "cute" it is much harder to fight than open oppression
    • Chapter Four
  • A book on radical feminism that did not deal with love would be a political failure. For love, perhaps even more than childbearing, is the pivot of women's oppression today.
    • Chapter Six
  • Constant erotic stimulation of male sexuality coupled with its forbidden release through most normal channels are designed to encourage men to look at women as only things whose resistance to entrance must be overcome.
  • Women have been allowed to achieve individuality only though their appearance.
  • TO attack eroticism creates similar problems. Eroticism is exciting. No one wants to get rid of it. Life would be a drab and routine affair without at least that spark. That's just the point. Why has all joy and excitement been concentrated, drive n into one narrow, difficult-to =0-find alley of human experience, and all the rest laid waste? When we demand the elimination of eroticism, we mean not the elimination of sexual joy and excitement but its diffusion over - there's plenty to go around , it increases with use - the spectrum of our lives.
    • Chapter Seven

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