This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.
Feminist theory exercises

Feminism and Equality
Anne Phillips, ed.
(NY,NY: New York University Press, 1987)

Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought
by Elizabeth Spelman
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1988)

reviewed by MC5 October 30, 1998

To come to grips with imperialist country feminism, MIM recommends its own magazines, the work of Catharine MacKinnon, the Redstockings and some others. These are two more books that can be helpful in one's theoretical studies, perhaps more accurately one's "theoretical practice."

All the people MIM has ever met require going through the question of the intertwining of gender, class and nation several times to achieve clarity and independence of bearings. In fact, it may not be possible to understand what all the fuss is about until one has practiced one's theory several times. So until the day we are all like Spock or Data in Star Trek--with great logical and mental retention abilities--we may require going over the same subjects hundreds of times.

We can say right off the bat that these are not the kinds of wimmin's studies books that are completely useless discourses on individual subjective experience that usually fill the bookshelves. These books attempt to connect feminist issues up to theory and they succeed. So if a persyn has read MIM's standard repertoire on gender, then these books can be additional exercises if taken with a proletarian grain of salt.

No Marxism

Although there are 11 well-educated wimmin claiming to be feminists writing in these two books, there is no Marxism in these books. Spelman does not claim to address Marxism in her book, just race, class and gender.

Of course, Marx cannot help being an influence including on authors that these 11 authors have read. Moreover, in Feminism and Equality, we have Michele Barrett's essay titled, "Marxist-Feminism and the Work of Karl Marx."

Unfortunately, this essay is typical of those written by Western pseudo-feminists serious enough to even address Marx. Although the article addresses Marx, it never engages him.

In the first place, most of the references are to works from his mid-20s, works that Marx hardly mentioned again in his later life. As a bourgeois teaching strategy, many teachers prefer to have students read Marx's early works with the idea that they are easier to understand than Marx's later works and that perhaps students will have an easier time digesting his work if they proceed through it the way Marx lived it. This bourgeois teaching strategy in the West has backfired in the sense that we obtain articles like this one. Certainly the article would be an "A+" for a bourgeois high school paper or as a training paper in a socialist school, but it does not deserve publication on the serious subject of "Marxist-feminism," because it is so incomplete as to be misleading.

Secondly, the article mentions the labor theory of value in a schematic way. The treatment of the labor theory of value by Barrett had the potential of going into Marx's work Das Kapital, but instead we learn the labor theory of value as it was already understood by bourgeois economists before Marx.

As a consequence of the failure to study Marx thoroughly, Barrett misses what is perhaps the most important thing that Western feminists need to learn from Marx--the difference between a system and a lifestyle. Systems determine the probabilities or propensities in the population to follow various lifestyles. Individuals may shift in and out of various lifestyles, but the basic percentages and qualitative nature of lifestyles do not change within a system. Systems reproduce themselves in ways in which individuals cannot escape them, which is not to say every individual has a predetermined lifestyle. If we toss a hundred quarters, MIM does not care which ones land heads up (the question of the individual), but we do want to know if 50 came up (the nature of quarters as a group). The next time we throw the 100 quarters in the air, different ones will come up heads, but by analogy, pseudo-feminists and other individualists are liable to say that their efforts made the quarter that used to be tails come up heads, so we better have more prisons, drug rehab and psychiatric therapy aimed at individual behavior.

Economic systems are modes of production. Much of MIM's struggle with Western pseudo-feminism is to get it to look at wimmin as a group and patriarchy as a system and not a choice of lifestyle.

After making some apologies for appearing to denigrate Marx's work because of his persynal life, Barrett nonetheless informs us that Marx fathered a son via the wife of Engels. "The feminist critique of such hypocrisy is not the normal moralistic one: it simply demands that revolutionaries practise what they preach. These questions are relevant to an understanding of Marx because they help us to identify how and why his critique of the family is so flawed and contradictory."(p. 59)

First of all Barrett didn't show us what Marx specifically preached about fathering children by wives of friends in communist circles, so there cannot be any hypocrisy. There is no reason to assume that Marx and Engels shared Barrett's Christian values. MIM has read more than one anarchist tract claiming that Marx and Engels were practicing communist free love that we should all practice now. We can be sure Engels would have held Marx to task if there was anything as reactionary about it as Barrett implies. For all we know, Marx himself might have regarded it as reactionary to father the child if he did.

Secondly, her statement is really proof that she never understood Marx's work and got stuck in the parts that do not talk about systems. Marx never claimed that he could change his lifestyle as an individual. In fact, he said no one could change anything without changing things at the group level first, by overthrowing the existing systems. For Barrett to miss this basic point about Marx and revolutionary men generally makes us wonder how much she ever listens to them.

True, Liberal ideology does judge the difference between an individual's ideology and the individual's behavior. Perhaps more relevantly, Western Liberalism is simply rooted in ancient Judeo-Christian ethics which raise the issue of hypocrisy and focus on lifestyle. However, Marxism is not Liberalism or Christianity and what we have here is really a profound failure to leave a very narrow Western worldview even for a second. C. Duchen in her book on France and Ferree and Hess in their standard text on Amerikan feminism also use this criticism of "practice what they preach" against revolutionary men and we believe that Barrett's view is representative of pseudo-feminism generally. It seems that these moralistic pre-political females can only see communists as some variety of ultra-Christian, tough to deal with and understand but still ultimately just Christians to be judged by Christian standards.

The only other real intersection of Marxism with feminism that Barrett raises is that Marx viewed feminists as people seeking to exploit wimmin in the workplace. For Barrett, Marx's view was "flawed and contradictory," but she was never able to follow what Marx's concerns were because she never digested his work. She raises all kinds of out-of-context concerns about Marx's complaints that capitalists use wimmin and children in the factories.

Those who understand Marx's view of how crisis comes about in capitalism understand that the notion of surplus-value is basic to it. Barrett does not attempt to rebut that wimmin and children received lower pay than men or that they effectively more than double the work-force. She read Marx's early papers, but did not understand all the ironic passages about how the harder people work, the more powerful the alien force that opposes them-namely their finished labor (dead labor) embodied in products turned into capital, the basis of a whole class's power over them. While that is an unfortunate irony for workers, there are also such ironies for capitalists even more powerful than the ones facing workers.

Since Barrett never understood Marx's theory of surplus-value and instead talked about the labor theory of value the way bourgeois economists had before Marx, she is not able to link the labor of wimmin and children and how it fits into the economy, namely by raising the rate of surplus value. Reading the passage about the "family wage" that should have opened her eyes scientifically, she instead complains moralistically that Marx left out some things wimmin do that can't be bought in stores.(p. 55) Yet, that was the whole point, to break down the analysis to the economy and the profit rate. Carole Pateman is even worse and ignorantly claims that Marx never mentioned housewives.(p. 118) Marx was trying to explain how capitalists bailed themselves out of economic crisis and built themselves a cushion of surplus-value, but Barrett did not attempt to follow that or any other train of Marx's thought. Barrett was uninterested in how economic crises come about and the related political possibilities for upheaval. Rather she criticized things without context much the way post-modernists do today, because for them there is no truth anyway.


Barrett has the worst of both worlds, because she adopts her sense of justice from Christianity and her method from post-modernism. At least post-modernists usually have some concept of systems that cannot be escaped, if only to justify their attitude that since Western academia has been a prop of race, class and gender oppression in the past, certainly no one else stands any chance of doing any better. MIM agrees with Spelman self-critically speaking as an imperialist country academician: "Because we have produced theories reeking with our own privilege, then anybody's theories must be similarly and fatally redolent."(p. x)

Surprisingly in the 1987 collection of essays, bell hooks has the most progressive one. While the predominant attitude of the book is to "accept diversity," bell hooks attacks Liberalism and post-modernism head-on. That is surprising only because she wrote a book a decade later trying to out post-modern the post- modernists.(See MIM Theory 12: Environment, Society, Revolution, p. 81)

At least in 1987, her attitude was correct. She criticizes the idea that there should be as many feminisms as there are wimmin. She doesn't think it was funny the way that "do your own thing" had taken over the movement.(p. 62)

Then she says equality for wimmin is a bogus idea because she asks equality with "which men?" Lower- class wimmin and oppressed nationality wimmin don't want equality with their men. That's not progress!

Indeed, we should recall statistically especially amongst Blacks that there is an even larger disparity of life expectancies in favor of wimmin; there is an even wider gap in imprisonment; Black wimmin even have better unemployment and income statistics. Being equal with Black men--what good would that do Black females? That whole dynamic is determined by the fact that white people view Black females as less threatening than Black males. To be equal with Black men would make a substantial portion of Black females even more gender oppressed, because a large portion of Black males are harshly sexually oppressed in prison.

Bell hooks tries to add that at least in her community there was an overwhelming rejection of the idea of lesbian separatism that led to attacks on feminism as a whole.(p. 71) Her attack was dressed in psychological language, but as the facts go, MIM believes bell hooks is correct that it is a mistake to act as if all wimmin are lesbians and just don't know it. It's akin to thinking 90 percent of the people in the imperialist countries are proletariat and just don't know it.

bell hooks hit everything wrong about pseudo-feminism right in the chin: "The willingness to see feminism as a lifestyle choice rather than a political commitment reflects the class nature of the movement. . . . Feminist movement to end sexist oppression actively engages participants in revolutionary struggle. Struggle is rarely safe or pleasurable."(pp. 72-3) The petty-bourgeoisie can afford to "drop-out" with an alternative life-style, but there will still be a disciplined proletariat that cannot.

As bell hooks says, the political commitment to change should not be mistaken for the change itself. At the individual level, we should try to affect politics and its extension of military affairs. We cannot individually resist the profit-system, patriarchy or neo-colonialism and create results. Even if we manage to improve our individual results, the results of others will degenerate, often directly because ours improved or just because a different quarter came up heads this time.

Especially in the imperialist countries, we are a sick people. All we can do is realize we are sick, wish to live, wish to be healthy and garner the strength for arduous surgery and medication. When enough of us make this commitment because of the development of our underlying disease, a cure will arise from the furnace of class, nation and gender struggle.

Since it is true that we all start from diverse positions, unified action to end a group oppression always requires struggle within the oppressed group. Concretely that usually means unifying behind a leader as a concrete way of reducing the paralysis of diversity.

On the question of unity, struggle and leadership, pseudo-feminism has been a miserable failure. It has adopted the worst aspects of Liberalism and post-modernism to avoid the concept of uncomfortable struggle. Hester Eisenstein admitted it in her book Gender Shock when she said that MacKinnon's theory is not integrated with her legal tactics. Zillah Eisenstein also pointed this out about Elizabeth Cady Stanton in her whitewash of Stanton. Stanton's theory was revolutionary in some regards, but it too focussed on the law.(p. 86)

Thus the great would-be feminist theorists start in the clouds at the level of the group--wimmin--which is good, but they always end up at the individual level. Unlike the lifestyle feminists who have no theory, the theorists we review confront wimmin's diversity and fall apart.

There are two consequences for the pseudo-feminist theorists. One is that they take up the view of "celebrating wimmin" in all their "diversity." When they realize that means political paralysis and a wide range of views they backtrack to saying that there must be some inherent difference between men and wimmin, because wimmin can celebrate their paralysis of diversity and men can't. With this stupidity, the pseudo-feminists are forcing themselves into seeing struggle-oriented feminists as male-identified and thus undermining their view of celebrating diversity.

The second consequence is de-politicization. Where action demands that an oppressed group unite, pseudo- feminism realizes that uniting wimmin would require struggle, so they give up the goal of unity and political transformation. To MIM, this is obvious capitulation to patriarchy, because patriarchy dominates now, not feminism.

One white boy or a billion Chinese, which is "practice"?

Our pseudo-feminists are keenly aware of Frederick Demuth, rumored to be Marx's son via Engels' wife. Yet when they ask about "practice," do they say anything about the practice of the more than one billion Chinese who lived under Mao (1949-1976)?

This problem of what to count when evaluating the success or failure of theory we call a question of "praxis"--a choice or concept of how to relate theory to practice. For pre-political moralists, Trotskyists and other idealists, there is no connection. Often the moral "Principles" with a capital "P" are written in stone and handed down from heaven regardless of their effect in the real world. We Marxist materialists are not like that. We believe theory tells us about cause and effect and therefore how the social world works. We apply theory toward ideological goals and we judge it, not minute to minute like the pragmatists and empiricists who change theory to fit facts from minute to minute, but also not like the idealists who don't really have theory at all, just warmed over religion of one kind or another.

There is considerable discussion of androgyny in the book including a whole chapter, but no where does a discussion of China under Mao appear. The only mention of Mao is where he is paired with Gramsci, apparently as some kind of unorthodox Marxist in the words of Sally Alexander.(p. 169)

MIM found it nearly unbearable to read long-winded discussion of androgyny as if it hadn't ever been tried anywhere: "What would a world in which sex distinctions were ignored or denied look like?"(p. 151) The provincially ignorant nature of pseudo-feminism does make it boring.

Julia Kristeva and a whole host of female China specialists did look into androgyny in reality, not just idle conjecture. The pseudo-feminists could at least do us the favor of reading these works before generalizing about gender. They seem to be interested in ancient tribal history to know if wimmin were always subordinate to men; now they need to realize that only a minority of wimmin is white. Maybe if they spent less time trying to generalize about individual men's sexual practices, they would have time to look at the world's majority of wimmin and draw some conclusions. Less Monica Lewinsky and more Jiang Qing.

The "personal is political" is a slogan of great drawbacks despite its original radical origins in that it has been taken to mean that obsessing about one's own narrow little personal world is somehow equal or superior to struggling to understand the billions of wimmin in the world.

Anti-suffragists used to argue that wimmin will never pay any attention to politics and the world outside the home raising children because of their nature, so they should not be given the vote or any chance in political office. The pseudo-feminists seem hell-bent to prove the anti-suffragists accurate.

Child-rearing: one Western theorist or a billion Chinese?

What is true of the concept of androgyny is also true of the question of child-rearing. Much ink is spilt on sex differentiation and the psychology of infants and whether patriarchy can be traced to child-rearing practices.

Nancy Chodorow wrote a theory that says the child-rearing pattern in which fathers do not play much of a role is responsible for the reactionary nature of men when they grow up. Spelman dedicates a whole chapter and scattered references to this question, but despite the fact that the largest experiments in collective child-care took place in China in the Great Leap and Cultural Revolution, there is not a single reference to China, Mao or communism in the index. Her book is subtitled "Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought."

Spelman correctly points out the limits of Chodorow's theory. It cannot account for why white females feel superior to oppressed nationality men. The same goes for issues of class hierarchy amongst white females. How can we then account for the flaws of fascist females?

Chodorow's work also comes with Freudian baggage, but our main objection to a theory that might well be true in the main is that along with a few dozen other academic works, it receives a kind of totemic reverence while the actual experience of adult wimmin and children in China with collective child-care receives no mention. How are these pseudo-feminists relating theory to practice? Why do they think they can ignore China and talk about child-care? We call it a question of "praxis."


Another major complaint about Spelman is that she always uses U.S. Blacks as a stand-in for all race and nationality problems. She is always speaking of whites versus Blacks. We object because it is always the practice of the oppressor to offer "special deals" to certain groups at the expense of others. Speaking of Black all the time as if whites did not oppress anyone else has that neo-colonialist effect of recognizing that Blacks and only Blacks need a better deal from the white man. Such is always the precursor to establishing some new puppet or another. Mao called it "sugar-coated bullets."

Despite this complaint, if we substituted "oppressed nations" wherever we saw "Black" in her book and if we put in "neo-colonialism" for "racism, " we would be doing fairly well. Spelman has tried to think through the intersection of the three strands of oppression (class, gender and nation) systematically.

Gender oppression and class and nation

Spelman succeeds in putting forward a systematic view on the intersection of nation, class and gender. This was her overall objective in her work, and although we do not agree with it completely, we recognize that she is talking about what MIM also wants people to do theoretical exercise on.

Although her book does not venture outside Europe, the United $tates and their internal semi-colonies, at least Spelman goes back to Ancient Greece. From studying Plato, she learns that already back then there were those who distinguished female biology from a concept of gender. A persyn with a manly soul but a female body might nonetheless be a philosopher-ruler(p. 32)--Plato's idea of a member of the ruling-class.

We would deem Spelman's understanding of Aristotle to exemplify her critique of chauvinist pseudo-feminism in the imperialist countries. In Aristotle's day, there were citizens and there were slaves. Female citizens were considered inferior to male citizens, but slaves were vastly inferior to both. In fact, Aristotle did not consider female slaves to be wimmin at all. According to him, slaves were slaves, male or female. Thus being a slave or not had a much bigger impact on one's life than being a womyn or not. At several points in the book, Spelman confronts this type of reality which would seem to leave feminism always to be dealing with relatively trivial subjects and she acknowledges that there is some kind of problem, but what she does is expand her idea of feminism to count more things. We communists find this vexing, because instead of just opposing all power of groups of people over people as communists including communist anarchists do, Spelman has to go back and work through one thing at a time about what is wrong with white middle-class feminism. She should chuck her idea of feminism which she knows is in a straight-jacket and take up communism, whether anarchist or Maoist at first. Becoming communist would save her a lot of ink.

MIM does not believe it is necessary to resuscitate feminism by giving it the subject-matter of other oppressions. Instead of artificially bloating feminism by giving it the subject matter of more important subjects, she should just confront what she thinks and say that gender was not the principal contradiction in Ancient Greece. Gender has always been one of the "Big Three" along with nation and class, but when she looks at Ancient Greece and other situations, she should just spell out that she's thinking gender oppression is not principal. Many moralistic people won't like to hear that, but we are scientists seeking to reduce the pain and suffering involved with oppression as fast as we can. If we have to prescribe castor oil and liver, we will do it. MIM has consciously relegated feminism to secondary position in the overall strategy to reduce oppression at this time and we believe real gender oppression shows up most in reproduction and leisure-time dynamics, both of which can have life-and-death consequences as in the many deaths each year connected to the leisure time activity called the "romance culture" in imperialist countries. The reason we have consciously decided that feminist struggle is not principal is that what Spelman found about Ancient Greece is not atypical even for our current day when we look at the Big Three strands of oppression.

What is missing completely in Spelman's work is the notion of principal contradiction and principal aspect of contradiction; even though she confronts exactly the same subject matter that causes us proletarian scientists to use the concept of principal contradiction that Mao described so well in his essays on philosophy. As Spelman herself seems to realize, there are contexts in which life-and-death gender oppressions may be more linked up with other oppressions than with gender itself. Certainly the class and national position of "mail-order brides" or prostitutes in Africa or Thailand infected with HIV or female slaves in Ancient Greece has more to do with their predicament than anything that can be deduced about gender. Today oppression can generally best be attacked with anti-imperialism. That's the nature of dialectics, the way oppressions are intermeshed. Solving imperialism does the most to solve severe gender oppression.

In Aristotle's day, citizen wimmin were deemed worthy of giving birth to citizen children,(p. 42) while slaves were considered incapable of following the deliberations of the citizen-man.(p. 45) Hence to know someone's biology was always possible, but to know a persyn's gender required knowledge of "race" (captured foreigner or not) and class in Ancient Greece. For this reason, Spelman criticizes the whole approach of looking at gender oppression where class and nation oppression are not present--i.e. with white middle-class adult wimmin.

While the U.$. Trotskyists compared millionaire baseball players to slaves, Spelman criticizes the pseudo-feminists for Aristotle type thinking: "She talks of scholars who considered the life of an Athenian woman little better than that of a 'harem slave' without noting that the 'harem slave' is also presumably a woman; she speaks of how protective Athenians were of 'their women,' even though in the context of her chapter she makes it quite clear that 'their women' could not possibly include slave women."(p. 49)

MIM refers to the problem Spelman put her finger on as the question of linear reasoning versus dialectics. For example can vicious national oppression fail to rub off on the oppressor nation itself? While the imprisonment rate of Blacks in the U$A can only be statistically compared with Stalin's prison system in war-time against Nazis, the U$ rate of imprisonment of Euro-Amerikans while much lower is still the highest in the world outside of Russia during recent states of emergency.

Linear reasoning is useful to cut things up and look at one thing when another does not exist. Dialectical materialism stresses that life is always interconnected in many various cause and effect ways. Spelman says it herself: "A troubling characteristic of much contemporary feminist theory is its failure to take seriously the intertwining of sexism with other forms of oppression."(p. 58) Thus we cannot rule out that once white people get used to imprisoning Blacks at such a rate, they won't get used to having other chauvinisms to imprison people for, including white people. Where there is racism and national chauvinism, religious chauvinism, regional chauvinism, anti-gay/lesbian chauvinism, education chauvinism, anti-long-hair chauvinism and all the other chauvinisms conscious and unconscious cannot be far behind.

Spelman gives us some more examples of "intermeshing." Even people philosophizing about how to oppose racism such as Spelman still face the fact that "Black people have to a disproportionate extent supplied the labor which has made possible the cultivation of philosophical inquiry."(p. 122) That is an example of how Spelman has connected "race" and a glimmering of the concept of "productive labor."

Most people know now that Black men have been lynched historically even just for looking at white adult females. Thus the drive of male racism is seen as partly sexual. Even more subversive to pseudo-feminism, Spelman points to the work of Jacqueline Jones on slavery: "White women performed acts of violence against Black slave women with whom their husbands had sexual relations. Often these racist acts were shaped by feelings of sexual jealousy rooted in and sustained by sexism: for such jealousy is a function of the sexism that makes the 'proper' attention of her husband a condition of a woman's sense of self-worth."(p. 106) There could hardly be better proof of the existence of a middle gender. Literally seeing its sexual privilege threatened, it lashed out in violence against the most oppressed. It reminds MIM very much of the labor aristocracy, which also seeks exclusive/monogamous relations with its imperialist master inclined to running around the planet for its labor and "free trade."

From her insight about Ancient Greece and other insights, Spelman realizes it is possible to ridicule most imperialist country feminism. Spelman shows us the exactly correct attitude to take toward this problem. She says there is no reason to take comfort in the "sexual status quo."(p. 5) At the same time she plunges ahead, with what Maoists call "materialist fearlessness." The truth is not going to hurt the oppressed, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem at first.

Spelman concludes that existing problems of feminism stem from speaking of wimmin outside of race and class context. "Thus the phrase 'as a woman' is the Trojan horse of feminist ethnocentrism."(p. 13) She seeks feminism that always speaks of wimmin in concrete context and concludes as does MIM that there must be many genders.(p. 175) For MIM, oppressor genders include the traditional patriarchs and also the gender bureaucracy and gender aristocracy. The oppressed gender we call "wimmin" except when we say "wimmin" as a concession to popular usage in reference to adult female biology.

Readers will have to pardon us theorists, because we have so many problems to take care of and a language that does not necessarily come pre-used for revolution. We have two problems. One is to distinguish biology from gender. Just as Plato had the concept of masculine soul, the imperialist country masses also have this concept when they talk of "tom-boys." Secondly, even within biology we have to distinguish between developed bodies and child bodies. Even saying "female" or "female biology" hides the central problem of gender oppression in the imperialist countries, because it is children both male and female that really have the most oppressive sexual conditions. The adult female is not the same thing as the child female at all. The very concept of consent with children is in dispute; although MIM names it as adult consent at age 13.

Because of the burden of history, the oppressed gender is called "wimmin," but in the imperialist countries the majority of gender oppressed people are boys and girls. Even if our readers recall that they too talk about "tom-boys," it is not likely most will forgive us both for distinguishing biology from social role and adult biology and child biology. It may seem too frustrating, especially when MIM says there are really at least three genders including a kind of "middle-class" of gender. This is where we must insist on theoretical practice. Our readers need to check themselves and decide whether it is true these distinctions have to be made. Then they will have to put up with the frustration of integrating those views into their everyday language and "practice." The burden of change does fall on us, the revolutionaries.

On the question of the self-esteem of the imperialist country adult females, it seems that MIM and Spelman have some bad news. It seems that the imperialist country adult females are also oppressors, even in a gender context. For those who took up feminism just for self-esteem, this will be a difficult blow to accept.

Yet, as far as the purely subjective factor is concerned, we have this to say to imperialist country adult females--that the middle-classes and middle genders often provide leadership to revolutionary movements. People in the middle classes and genders have skills and resources they can bring to bear against the system of oppression. Engels was an outright capitalist. Lenin was a lawyer. Mao was a teacher of peasant background. Jiang Qing was a female actor, very famous in China.


On the whole we are favorably impressed especially by Spelman's book as an exercise in dealing with nation, class and gender. We also believe that the collection edited by Anne Phillips accurately relates feminism to Liberalism and the social-democracy they call socialism.

Understanding Liberalism--and we do not mean Walter Mondale type Democratic Party reformist liberalism which is just one variety of Liberalism--is key to understanding Western thought. Although we disagree with these books, we believe it is possible to use them as study exercises. Spelman in particular is barking up the right tree. Of the books reviewed in this issue of MT, we can turn to the Ferree and Hess book to learn how pseudo-feminism views itself factually and we have Spelman's book at the other end of theory to examine the knottiest issues related to dialectics and the problem we call "the three strands of oppression."

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