Radical Feminisms

exco's picture

[[UPDATE: the class has already started, but you are welcome to join in at any time... Please see this blog for regular updates: http://excoradfeminisms.wordpress.com/ -- and email the facilitator at [email protected] if you'd like to join.]]

What is radical feminism today?  How can we incorporate radical feminist practices in our activism and everyday lives?

This class will approach these questions through reading and discussing contemporary feminist texts (reading 20-50 pages per week), and talking about these ideas in relation to our experiences and situations.  We will start with Nina Power's One Dimensional Woman, which critiques up-beat feminisms and offers a more anti-capitalist approach.  Nina is a rad philosopher and the author of a cool blog: infinite th0ught.  Here’s a blurb about the book:

Where have all the interesting women gone? If the contemporary portrayal of womankind were to be believed, contemporary female achievement would culminate in the ownership of expensive handbags, a vibrator, a job, a flat and a man. Of course, no one has to believe the TV shows, the magazines and adverts, and many don't. But how has it come to this? Did the desires of twentieth-century women's liberation achieve their fulfilment in the shopper's paradise of 'naughty' self-pampering, playboy bunny pendants and bikini waxes? That the height of supposed female emancipation coincides so perfectly with consumerism is a miserable index of a politically desolate time. Much contemporary feminism, particularly in its American formulation, doesn't seem too concerned about this coincidence. This short book is partly an attack on the apparent abdication of any systematic political thought on the part of today's positive, up-beat feminists. It suggests alternative ways of thinking about transformations in work, sexuality and culture that, while seemingly far-fetched in the current ideological climate, may provide more serious material for future feminism.

You can order the book (recommended through Arise books), or the facilitator (Eli) will provide you with a copy.  Here's a review of the book in the Guardian.

The second book we read will take a more historical view: Silvia Federici's Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation.  Here's a summary and a review:

Caliban and the Witch is a history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization.

"In the neoliberal era of postmodernism, the proletariat is whited-out from the pages of history. Silvia Federici recovers its historical substance by telling its story starting at the beginning, with the throes of its birth. This is a book of remembrance, of a trauma burned into the body of women, which left a scar on humanity's memory as deep and painful as those caused by famine, slaughter and enslavement.

Federici shows that the birth of the proletariat required a war against women, inaugurating a new sexual pact and a new patriarchal era: the patriarchy of the wage. Firmly rooted in the history of the persecution of the witches and the disciplining of the body, her arguments explain why the subjugation of women was as crucial for the formation of the world proletariat as the enclosures of the land, the conquest and colonization of the 'New World,' and the slave trade.

Documenting the horrors of state terror against women, Federici has written a book truly of our times. Neither compromising nor condescending, Caliban and the Witch expresses an unfailing generosity of spirit and the dignity of a planetary scholar. It is both a passionate work of memory recovered and a hammer of humanity's agenda." - Peter Linebaugh

We can continue the reading/discussion group with other books and articles. The class can collectively decide whether and how to continue.  There are many possible options, such as Hester Eisenstein's Feminism Seduced: How Global Elites Use Women's Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World, bell hooks' All About Love and The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, Emma Goldman's essays, among others. 


We will collectively figure out the class time/day.  Once you register for the class, help us determine the best time(s) for us to meet.  I made an online survey on which you can select the times/days that work for you.  We'll probably meet in two smaller groups at two different times/days.  After registering, please fill out this online survey:












Facilitator email(s): 
[email protected]
eliumn's picture

meeting times

According to our online poll (http://doodle.com/hqvapt7maa852i4y ), it's looking like the two best times for us to meet are:

Mondays, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturdays, 2:30pm-4:00pm

Everybody who has filled out the poll, so far, can make it to one of these times.  So, I think we'll split the class into these two smaller groups.  We'll start meeting the week of Feb. 22nd.

I'll get back to you soon with more info about the books.  I'm hoping that we can all get copies of the first book (_One Dimensional Woman_ by Nina Power) before the first class, so that we can read some of it and start discussing it in that meeting.  I put in a special order for eight copies of it at Arise, but I'm not sure if they have come in yet.  I'll call Arise tomorrow and let you know what's up.  Also, if you'd rather save money, I'm going to have e-copies of them available soon (and I can print copies for you).  If you'd like me to print you a copy of the first one, please let me know via email ([email protected]) and we'll arrange for how i can get it to you. 

Looking forward to meeting you all soon!



ohladyvagabond's picture


Any word on which day we will be meeting?


Arise Books
2441 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
United States
Facilitator's experience: 
I am a novice with feminist theory, which is why I am organizing this class: in order to learn, through discussion with others, how to infuse radical feminist practices into my organizing. My activism includes organizing with the U of M chapter of the Experimental College, conferences about university struggles (http://beneaththeu.org - http://reworkingtheu.org), and grad student-worker unionization. Also, at the U of M, I'm writing my dissertation in political science (a critical analysis of the American education system and an exploration of alternative forms of education, particularly through activist co-research with EXCO).
Facilitator phone number(s): 
Class minimum size: 
Class maximum size: 
Class times: 
Mon, 02/22/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 03/01/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 03/08/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 03/15/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 03/22/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 03/29/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 04/05/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 04/12/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 04/19/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 04/26/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 05/10/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Mon, 05/17/2010 - 18:00 - 20:00
Additional class time information: 
*** The class time is not set! - Participants will determine it collectively via an online survey before the first class. If more than 15 people sign-up, we'll split the class into two groups at two different times. ***
Arise Books
2441 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
United States
44° 57' 30.15" N, 93° 17' 16.7676" W
Additional class location information: 
if this location does not work for most participants, we can choose another location, such as the U of M campus, May Day Books, or a coffee shop.
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