Present and Future

The Present Moment Hegel invented, and Marx made popular, a way of schematizing history in which there is an origin, a dialectic of necessary stages and a culmination — the ethical state, the classless society. It is tempting to schematize the history of gender relations the same way. Thus the story of primitive matriarchy, disrupted […]

Working-class Feminism

In plain language, both in law and in popular morality, the wife is still the inferior in the family to the husband. She is first without economic independence, and the law therefore gives the man, whether he be good or bad, a terrible power over her. Partly for this reason, and partly because all sorts […]

The Articulation of Interests

The crucial moment in the social dynamic of politics is the constitution of interests. In chapter 6 interests were defined in terms of the inequalities constructed by gender relations. At that level the interests are inert, and though they structure practice it is only as the external conditions of practices which are directed to other […]

Political Practice

The Scope of Sexual Politics In ordinary speech ‘politics’ is a narrow and faintly disreputable term, meaning elections, parliaments, presidents and party antag­onisms. ‘Politician’ can be a term of abuse,.‘political’ a label for distrust. Social science has found the negative overtones unneces­sary and the narrow definition untenable. In what follows ‘politics’ is assumed to be […]

Ideologists and Interests

If the strategic argument is even partly correct, it highlights the importance of the people who are engaged in remaking cultural forms. Discussions of sexual ideology have to a remarkable extent ignored the ideologists. The main exception is Viola Klein in The Feminine Character. Her approach from Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge led to a concern […]

Cultural Dynamics

The historicity of sexual ideology is seen not only in details like the content of heroism, but in its organization on the largest scale. In pre-capitalist and early modern Europe sexual ideology was organized as part of a religious world-view. The issues of sexual politics were framed as moral questions, to be decided by appeal […]

Ideological Processes

Gender relations involve the structuring of social practice around sex and sexuality. The commonest process in sexual ideology involves collapsing that structure, merging the elements into one by ‘naturalizing’ social practice. The interpretation of gender relations as natural facts is extraordinarily widespread. Sexual divisions of labour are con­stantly interpreted this way. Cockburn, for instance, notes […]

Sexual Ideology

Discourse and Practice When Mary Wollstonecraft wrote to vindicate the rights of women, it was mainly questions of ideology that she had in mind: morals, manners, education and religion. These topics have been constant friends in the literature of gender since, .and few authors have doubted the power of ideology. Even so vigorous a materialist […]