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Oppression

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Women’s oppression justified women working for their own liberation, but also necessitated a search for its origins.  The second issue of Women A Journal of Liberation (Winter 1970) clarified this theoretical perspective.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 “the word [liberation] means to set free and thus implies that we must know both the oppressed and the liberated state. …  ‘liberation’ … implies a deep consciousness of the significance of our struggle … Women are asking for nothing less than the transformation of the world (1).”

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 While the use of the word “consciousness” and goal of total “transformation of the world” would seem to point towards cultural exploration of women’s oppression, the editors  argue that liberation must also grapple with “material conditions” including “technology, scientific discoveries, industrialization, and the economic system.”   Historical materialism connects the two:

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 “the oppression of women began in primitive times when the biological nature of women severely limited their mobility.  Now that women have a choice about reproduction in advanced industrial countries, one of the crucial fetters to our liberation has been removed.”

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The reference to “primitive times” refers to the belief that women’s oppression pre-dated capitalism, a response to the idea that women’s oppression was secondary to capitalism and would thus disappear with Socialist revolution.  The emphasis on “biological nature” explains why women have been oppressed, with reproduction standing in for production in the Marxist explanation of economic oppression.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 However, more than material reality must be at stake, “we are not blaming women’s oppression only on material conditions.  Something more … must explain the kind of myths and attitudes which have devalued women.  ” “Myths and attitudes” implies a cultural, in the second usage of the word, understanding of (the perpetuation) of  women’s oppression.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Thus the editors basically refused to chose between strictly Marxist explanations for women’s oppression and strictly cultural analyses.  Instead they retain a reliance on the dialectic as the engine of history.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 “history has progressed because humans have acquired new knowledge and technology which contradicts earlier formulations and the struggle between the old and the new result in different understandings of the world.”

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 In this instance, technological advances in controlling women’s reproduction, via the birth control pill, mean that women are no longer fettered by their reproductive roles and can work towards “different understandings” of women’s role in “the world.”  First, however, women must be liberated from the old ideologies that reflected the past understandings of the world, a cultural revolution.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 “When applied to women’s oppression, liberation is the struggle against the limitations of our reproductive function which minimizes our personal potential … but the word also suggests that we want liberation in order to define new social relationships, in order to find meaningful work, in order to discover to new self concepts.” [2]

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 In order to achieve this cultural liberation, they relied on  a historical narrative of empowerment and agency that positioned women as “special.”  The uniqueness of women’s position meant they would have to work autonomously, not within the New Left, when men perpetuated women’s oppression, even as they worked for other forms of liberation.

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Source: https://politicsofwomensculture.michellemoravec.com/about-2/book-pre-fall-2016/consciousness/step-2-oppression/