From feminist theory, to history and contemporary politics, these are some of Pluto’s best books, old and new, that celebrate radical women.
Edited by Tithi Bhattacharya
‘The fundamental insight of Social Reproduction Theory is, simply put, that human labour is at the heart of creating or reproducing society as a whole.’ Aiming to deepen our understanding of everyday life under capitalism, this edited collection, featuring essays from leading writers such as Lise Vogel, Nancy Fraser, David McNally and Susan Ferguson, focuses on issues such as child care, health care, education, family life aiming to understand the relationship between economic exploitation and social oppression.
Presenting a more sophisticated alternative to intersectionality, this examination of the roles of gender, race and sexuality within reproductive life, provides ideas which have important strategic implications for anti-capitalists, anti-racists and feminists attempting to find a path through the seemingly ever more complex world we live in.
by Tansy Hoskins
Stitched Up delves into the alluring world of fashion to reveal what is behind the clothes we wear. Moving between Karl Lagerfeld and Karl Marx, the book explores consumerism, class and advertising to reveal the interests which benefit from exploitation.
Probing fashion’s dark underbelly, Tansy Hoskins asks such questions as is fashion racist? What is the impact of the fashion industry’s equation of beauty with thinness? Whether she’s critiquing beauty standards or consumer supply chains, Hoskins applies an intersectional feminist methodology to explore the global balance of power in the fashion industry.
by Sarah Irving
From hijacking planes, to her involvement in radical sects, Leila Khaled’s activism for the Palestinian cause made her as era-defining as Che Guevara.
In this intimate profile, based on interviews with Khaled and those who know her, Sarah Irving gives us the life-story behind the image. Key moments of Khaled’s turbulent life are explored, including the dramatic events of the hijackings, her involvement in the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a radical element within the PLO), her opposition to the Oslo peace process and her activism today.
By Nahla Abdo
Throughout the world, women have played a part in struggles against colonialism, imperialism and other forms of oppression, but their vital contributions to revolutions, national liberation and anti-colonial resistance are rarely chronicled.
Nahla Abdo’s Captive Revolution seeks to break the silence on Palestinian women political detainees. Based on stories of the women themselves, as well as her own experiences as a former political prisoner, Abdo draws on a wealth of oral history and primary research in order to analyse their anti-colonial struggle, their agency and their appalling treatment as political detainees. Through crucial comparisons between the experiences of female political detainees in other conflict; a history of female activism emerges.
By Sheila Rowbotham
In this classic study of women in Britain from the Puritan revolution of the mid-seventeenth century to the 1930s, Sheila Rowbotham shows how class and sex, work and the family, personal life and social pressures have shaped and hindered women’s struggles for equality.
Rowbotham pioneered socialist-feminism, employing a Marxist methodology to show that women’s oppression was caused by cultural and economic factors. Hidden From History explores the effects that changes in the process of production have on middle-class and working-class women; why birth control and the organisation of working women have been perceived as threatening to traditional male control of the family; how paid work and work in the home are intricately related and determine the social valuation of women – and why these and many other issues have continued to arise in different form throughout modern history.
Hidden From History does for British women, what Peter Fryer’s Staying Power did for black Britons: made the invisible visible, and in doing so reveal the inadequacies of much canonical history writing.
By bell hooks
‘At a time in American history when black women in every area of the country might have joined together to demand social equality for women and a recognition of the impact of sexism on our social status, we were by and large silent…It was the silence of the oppressed – that profound silence engendered by resignation and acceptance of one’s lots. Contemporary black women could not join together to fight for women’s rights because we did not see “womanhood” as an important aspect of our identity.’
So begins bell hooks’ Ain’t I a Woman, a study of the oppression cast upon black women by white men, black men and white women. hooks challenges the view that race and gender are two separate phenomena, insisting that the struggles to end racism and sexism are inextricably intertwined. Illustrating her analysis with moving personal accounts, hooks’s acknowledgement of the conflict of loyalty to race or sex is an early foray into intersectionality.
Featured on the Guardian’s list From The Second Sex to The Beauty Myth: 10 of the best feminist texts.
By Anbara Salam Khalidi
Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist is the first English translation of the memoirs of Anbara Salam Khalidi, the iconic Arab feminist. Humanitarian liberals and liberal feminists often lament the supposed lack of agency amongst Muslim women, Anbara Salam Khalidi’s memoirs dismantle this othering, telling the story of a woman at the vanguard of social reform in Beirut.
Born in 1897 to a notable Sunni Muslim family of Beirut, she was the author of a series of newspaper articles calling on women to fight for their rights within the Ottoman Empire and a translator of Homer and Virgil into Arabic. Her memoirs have long been acclaimed by Middle East historians as an essential resource for the social history of Beirut and the larger Arab world in the 19th and 20th centuries.
This edition of Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist includes a foreword written by Marina Warner.
By Paula Bartley
Born in October 1891 into a working-class textile family, Ellen Wilkinson became a key radical figure in the 20th century British socialist and feminist movement. As the Member of Parliament for Jarrow and the only woman present, Wilkinson joined the Jarrow marchers to parliament, demanding the re-establishment of industry in the town. From street agitator to government minister, Wilkinson played an imperative role in women’s suffrage, helped found the British Communist Party, led the Labour Party’s anti-fascist campaign, and was the first female Minister of Education.
by Katherine Connelly
From militant suffragette at the beginning of the twentieth century to campaigner against colonialism in Africa after the Second World War, Sylvia Pankhurst dedicated her life to fighting oppression and injustice.
In this vivid biography Katherine Connelly examines Pankhurst’s role at the forefront of significant developments in the history of radical politics. She guides us through Pankhurst’s construction of a suffragette militancy which put working-class women at the heart of the struggle, her championing of the Bolshevik Revolution and her clandestine attempts to sabotage the actions of the British state, as well as her early identification of the dangers of Fascism.
All books are available from the Pluto Press website.