Pioneers of Women's Liberation
Women and Class: Toward a Socialist Feminism (Book Review)

Holmstrom, Nancy (Reviewer); Draper, Hal (Author)
Date Written:  2015-07-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2015
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21238

Hal Draper (1914-1990) was both a master polemicist and an erudite scholar of Marxism and of socialist history, often combining these talents in withering critiques of alternative analyses. These qualities are fully manifested in Women and Class: Towards a Socialist Feminism, now released by the Center for Socialist History, a collection of essays some of which were written in connection with his multivolume Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution.



Most shocking was the chapter on Proudhon. Proudhon's name is associated with the famous statement that "(private) property is theft." He also opposed state ownership, preferring workers' associations. Known as the father of anarchism, he seems basically a libertarian kind of socialist, even if his anarchism was mistaken.

But it turns out that Proudhon's attitude towards the female half of the human race was anything but libertarian. Indeed he was an extreme patriarch in his view of women's nature and their proper role in the family and society at large.

In his Carnets (Notebooks), unpublished until the 1960s, Proudhon maintained that a woman's choice was to be "courtesan or housekeeper..." To a woman, a man is "a father, a chief, a master: above all, a master."

His "justification" for patriarchy is men's (alleged) greater strength; i.e. might makes right. And he recommended that men use this greater strength to keep women in their place. "A woman does not at all hate being used with violence, indeed even being violated."

Subject Headings

Insert T_CxShareButtonsHorizontal.html here