August 31, 2012

"Firestone wanted to eliminate the following things: sex roles, procreative sex, gender, childhood, monogamy, mothering, the family unit..."

"... capitalism, the government, and especially the physiological phenomena of pregnancy and childbirth. She wanted to mechanize reproduction — gestating fetuses in artificial wombs — and raise the offspring communally, treating them no differently from adults at the earliest possible age."

Shulamith Firestone, dead now, at the age of 67.
Why did Firestone want to eliminate gender? She argued - taking Marxism and skewing it -- that all forms of oppression were rooted in an antagonism between men and women.
Here's the book — have you read it? — "The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution," published in 1970.

72 comments:

J said...

Obviously we don't have enough abortion.

If we did, she would have been aborted.

EMD said...

td;dr

Richard Dolan said...

Read it? No. Pity those who did, though.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

From the article:

Here's the main reason. Firestone wanted to eliminate the following things: sex roles, procreative sex, gender, childhood, monogamy, mothering, the family unit, capitalism, the government, and especially the physiological phenomena of pregnancy and childbirth. She wanted to mechanize reproduction -- gestating fetuses in artificial wombs -- and raise the offspring communally, treating them no differently from adults at the earliest possible age. Sound crazy? It was certainly extreme. But it's surprising how many ideas that are now starting to gain currency can be found in kernel form in her 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex.

Staring to gain currency, eh? Is their a single one of her betes noires that is truly on its way out? Firestone, and Chertoff, are way beyond crazy.

chickelit said...

She'd been dead for a week when neighbors found her. But her reclusiveness isn't the only reason we don't remember her.

That revelation reminded me of the Miranda Hobbes character in SATC and her fear of being found dead like that with her face devoured by her pet cat.

Or something like that.

chickelit said...

Her sex life was nothing to celibate. I wonder if she was a virgin or if it grew shut.

wyo sis said...

I wonder if she's learned a few things during her week in the afterlife.

Eric said...

She wanted to mechanize reproduction -- gestating fetuses in artificial wombs -- and raise the offspring communally, treating them no differently from adults at the earliest possible age. Sound crazy?

Yes... yes, very much so.

Eric said...

In the end, we may be personally happier because cultural feminists -- and specifically Gurley Brown's sex-positive team of raunchy radicals -- won the fight within feminism.

That was destiny, since we don't have the technology for Brave New World style artificial wombs. Women who refuse to bear children are out of the gene pool unless they can convince another woman to do the job. Which would sort of defeat the point.

chickelit said...

Her name, Firestone, was probably an Anglicization of the German Feuerstein which means flint.

She certainly sounds like a flinty person.

john said...

From her last days:

“She was lucid, yes, at what price. She sometimes recognized on the faces of others joy and ambition and other emotions she could recall having had once, long ago. But her life was ruined, and she had no salvage plan.”

Those were her own words, her third-person observations of her descent into mental illness and eventual hospital incarceration. How sad.

Balfegor said...

She wanted to mechanize reproduction -- gestating fetuses in artificial wombs -- and raise the offspring communally, treating them no differently from adults at the earliest possible age. Sound crazy?

Yes... yes, very much so
.

No, no, you do not understand! This is progress! We must embrace that brave new world, in which children are decanted, not born. Only then can we discard the obsolete gender binary on the ash-heap of history! What are you, some kind of reactionary kulak?

Erika said...

Firestone...suffered from mental illness.

You don't say.

Big Mike said...

@Professor, are any of your feminist heroes completely sane?

Lem said...

Word is that mothers grow very attached to their children... the Susan Smiths not withstanding... so I would Imagine that in order to implement this regime, we would have to practically turn over all our sovereignty as persons.

I picture a self sufficient pig farm, using surpls methane for power... that's how the ultra left sees people.

Remember in The Matrix?

To them, humans are just long lasting energizer bunnies.

kentuckyliz said...

She wanted to eliminate all the best stuff in life?

Bitch!

Eric said...

I have to wonder if even she believed such a world was possible. Was she never a teenager? Did she have some kind of hormonal problem?

Lem said...

Its funny how this shit keeps popping up to the surface like a like a government approved, environmentally friendly, underpowered toilet.

n.n said...

Now it all makes sense. There are individuals who do not consider the natural order to be an objective order. They consider it subordinate to the conscious order, and specifically their egos. The ego of some fanatical humans perceives reality as malleable. They exhibit "divine" arrogance.

madAsHell said...

Soooooo.....she's bat-shit crazy.

Why am I surprised that she died alone, and no one cared?

yeah...I'm not.

Balfegor said...

I have to wonder if even she believed such a world was possible.

She might have thought it achievable in the near future. We were experimenting with in vitro fertilization in the 70's, and there were all those loony CIA experiments with mind altering drugs, and there were people like BF Skinner and all that.

Paddy O said...

So, except for getting rid of that which makes us human, she really wanted to help people.

edutcher said...

And the Lefties want people like her to be role models for women?

Balfegor said...

RE: n.n:

There are individuals who do not consider the natural order to be an objective order.

Well, I don't know what you mean by "objective order," but most people would prefer the life of man not be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Civilisation is a process of getting away from the nastiness and unpleasantness of the natural world. Putting on clothes, bathing regularly, shaving -- all the rituals which separate civilised man from barbarians. Or hippies. That something is "natural" does not give it any moral weight, or mean that it is immutable.

dreams said...

There are only 24 hours in a day, we can't read everything. So why would anyone but a flaming liberal waste their most valuable possession, time , by reading that book?

n.n said...

Lem:

They consider us expendable and interchangeable from conception to grave. It is an extreme perception of reality, which denies individual dignity, and strictly limits the value of human life. It is based on articles of faith which are incompatible with the most common perception of reality.

Balfegor said...

Paddy O:

So, except for getting rid of that which makes us human, she really wanted to help people.

Well, maybe she wanted to help people stop being people? New Soviet Man!

wyo sis said...

Makes you wonder what her mother was like.

furious_a said...

The ego of some fanatical humans perceives reality as malleable.

The Soviets considered human nature malleable, hence New Soviet Man. Hence intiatives like the Psykhuskhas to create him.

Palladian said...

Never read anything with both the word "dialectic" and a colon in the title.

mccullough said...

She was survived by the federal government. So ends the Life of Julia.

Dante said...

We are no longer just animals. And the kingdom of nature does not reign absolute. ... Thus the 'natural' is not necessarily a 'human' value. Humanity has begun to transcend Nature: we can no longer justify the maintenance of a discriminatory sex class system on grounds of its origins in nature.

It's good to get abstractions like this to examine them.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this person would want only one kind of person (and I bet that person is a lot like her).

Dante said...

We are no longer just animals. And the kingdom of nature does not reign absolute. ... Thus the 'natural' is not necessarily a 'human' value. Humanity has begun to transcend Nature: we can no longer justify the maintenance of a discriminatory sex class system on grounds of its origins in nature.

It's good to get abstractions like this to examine them.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this person would want only one kind of person (and I bet that person is a lot like her).

n.n said...

Balfegor:

It is an objective order in that it is a motivating order. It represents a causal force. Similar to human consciousness, but on a universal scale. It determines the characteristics of matter, energy, etc.

With respect to humans, specifically, it establishes evolutionary principles. For example: reproduction is a prerequisite for viability; human beings are conceived, develop, and ultimately die. These are inviolable truths or objective statements, and they are, in fact, immutable.

That said, there are two known motivating orders: natural and conscious. The latter is capable of tempering the former, and through self-moderating behavior and limited manipulation of our environment we are capable of improving the human condition.

Cedarford said...

Quite a few of the famous feminist writers of the late 60s, early 70s were radicalk progressive Jews like Freidan, Dworkin, Firestone, Steinham, etc., etc.
Some came from communist families, like Freidan, others from strict orthodox Jew families, like Firestone.

Some were real intellectuals, though of a deletorious impact on American society. Others were pretentious lightweights delighted to be taken seriously by other members of the tribe in academia and the NY TImes.

john said...

Never read anything with both the word "dialectic" and a colon in the title.

The colon is required for all serious manuscripts in the humanities. Seriouser papers often have two: Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian.

Gahrie said...

She wanted to mechanize reproduction -- gestating fetuses in artificial wombs -- and raise the offspring communally, treating them no differently from adults at the earliest possible age. Sound crazy?

Not so crazy to me.

Artifical wombs are coming, and as soon as they are medically viable they will be adopted widely in the developed world.

As to the bit about treating the young as adults at the earliest eage possible, that is merely the historical norm. Childhood is a modern invention of western civilization.

john said...

OTOH, I got nearly 60,000 miles on the Firestones on my old truck

n.n said...

furious_a:

Human consciousness is indeed malleable. We exert influence (i.e. freewill) over its expression. It is also subject to influence from external sources, most notably the conscious of other humans.

There are two known motivating (or causal) orders in our reality. The first is attributed to natural phenomenon (e.g. creation, destruction, transformation), and the second is attributed to human freewill.

BarryD said...

"She'd been dead for a week when neighbors found her."

Are you sure she hadn't been dead for a week before anybody noticed?

Important distinction...

Ambrose said...

But it looks like she would leave donuts alone, for the time being any way....

The Crack Emcee said...

THIS WAS ALL CREATED BY MEN

Balfegor said...

n.n:

That said, there are two known motivating orders: natural and conscious. The latter is capable of tempering the former, and through self-moderating behavior and limited manipulation of our environment we are capable of improving the human condition..

The question is what degree of manipulation is possible. I think quite a high degree may be possible in the future -- that people may breed or engineer humans with different traits, different sorts of wants, desires, motivations. Obviously that's far beyond our reach now, but who's to say what we'll be able to do in the glorious transhuman future?

(the answer is slaves.)

Saint Croix said...

She wanted to mechanize reproduction — gestating fetuses in artificial wombs — and raise the offspring communally, treating them no differently from adults at the earliest possible age.

One of the bizarre aspects of Roe v. Wade is how the baby is defined as a commodity while she's in mom's womb.

And she only has value when she could survive in a machine.

AprilApple said...

Brave New World.

wyo sis said...

Saint Croix
Wow. I just got one of those creepy shivery chills down my back.

William said...

Her book went through ten printings. She managed not only to politicize her neuroses and make them into some kind of grand cause but to actually make money off those slant thoughts. She didn't have the big success of Helen Gurley Brown, but look at the product she was pushing. I wonder if Naomi Wolf will come to a similar end.

Synova said...

"She wanted to eliminate all the best stuff in life?

Bitch!
"

Yeah.

This.

I wouldn't mind so much having an artificial womb and getting out of pregnancy (bio environmental issues with that but who knows, maybe someday). It's doing away with men and women (okay, we know she meant "men") and parent/child relationships that is uber creepy. The *good* stuff. Men are the *good* stuff or Romance wouldn't dominate the literature market... Men and babies.

Not every lady has to like men and not everyone has to have or want babies, but how can a supposedly thoughtful person not realize how other people function?

Ending gender (or getting rid of men) wouldn't stop tribalism and conflict, ambition or competition.

The Marxist/anarchist "bug" seems to be "Imagine" nothing to care about or fight over and then we'll be happy.

It's horrific.

Bitch.

john said...

The Marxist/anarchist "bug" seems to be "Imagine" nothing to care about or fight over and then we'll be happy.

You forgot "and no religion TOO".

AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhtearsoutremaininghairAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

rcocean said...

Maybe she was a Lesbian - which would explain a lot.

Oh, sorry, I take that back, that's unpossible.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Two unrelated thoughts:

> Someone asked, how could she think this was possible? Remember Pol Pot?

> She sounds like a character C.S. Lewis might have created for That Hideous Strength, but no one would have believe him.

Bender said...

That something is "natural" does not . . . mean that it is immutable

Ha, ha, ha, ha. Based on this oxymoron, it's clear that you don't know what is meant by "natural" and "nature" either.


Jim said...

As a Methodist, I would say that she got her wish because Jesus said, of the kingdom of heaven, 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God In heaven.

Synova said...

Dying and no one missing you for a week is still horrifically sad, though.

Particularly as, at that point, there's no more chance to turn it around.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Not every lady has to like men and not everyone has to have or want babies, but how can a supposedly thoughtful person not realize how other people function?

There was money in it, apparently.

Fen said...

Why should I feel pity for the people who want to enslave me?

Another Marxist is dead? Good riddance.

Nora said...

"it's surprising how many ideas that are now starting to gain currency can be found in kernel form in her 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex."

This ideas, the social ones ( I doubt anybody thought about artificial womb back then) were around 70 years old in 1970. There were attempts in Russia after the revolution to go away with family; communal child rearing was practiced in kibbitz until those children grew up and repealled it.

So this woman was in no way original, and was most probably quite mad.

veni vidi vici said...

For lack of anything else to say about this shrew,

"What a twat."

Carry on.

JAL said...

She wrote the book when she was 25.

That's all you need to know.

ANd I bet she was mentally ill when she was 25 also.

Back in 1967 it wasn't likely to be caught that early. And the 60s and 70s radical movement was chock full of smart crazy people.

furious_a said...

n.n.Human consciousness is indeed malleable.

OK, but human *nature* isn't. It's hard-coded into genes inherited from pack-hunter animal ancestors -- "territoriality, tribalism, conflict", like Synova said. Civilizing societies create outlets to channel those drives to where they'll do the least harm. Marxist/Leninist societies try to eliminate the drives themselves, which requires them to break lots of eggs.

What did the Marxist/Leninists do to Balfegor's "reactioniary kulak"? They engineered a famine that killed between three and five million of them over two years.

Eric said...

Her book went through ten printings. She managed not only to politicize her neuroses and make them into some kind of grand cause but to actually make money off those slant thoughts.

Academia. Of all the students who actually bought it, how many do you suppose actually wanted to versus the number who were impressed into a "gender studies" class on the way to studying something useful?

I'm so glad I graduated before they turned college into a reeducation camp.

Carnifex said...

Scratch a feminist, find a communist. Scratch a social studies professor, find a communist. Ahh just scratch one crazy chick.

I noticed there was no mention of eugenics in the blurb(no way was I going to waste time reading aobut this poor woman) but who would deny that was her ultimate goal?

And I say poor woman in that apparently she died unloved and unmissed by even her cat(s). No one, even crazy as bat shit people should have to die alone. But it sounds like this was self-inflicted.

That feminist would consider this woman to be a luminary is very telling, and not in a good way.

When I was a teenager I read a book called Hellstroms Hive about a community of people based on insect society. Everything was divided by specialization. There were worker drone people(males because they were stronger, but mute, and dumb). There were guard people, who infiltrated the surrounding "human" community to protect and act as advance warning, etc. There was even specialized sex people whose only purpose was to breed other drones etc. For some reason, I think this woman would have loved such a depersonalized community.

Gave me nightmares, literally, for a year.(I was precoscious, as most Althouse avicianados)

Carnifex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carnifex said...

Ps

No I didn't read Yadda Yadda Yadda: Yadda Yadda Yadda. If a teacher had tried to make me read such twaddle, I prolly would have just walked out of the classroom.(I did that to others. Of course that's why I got I's and F's)

dreams said...

"Dying and no one missing you for a week is still horrifically sad, though."

That is something that can happen to a lot of people even people who in younger lives may have been happily married. As more and more people age and out live loved ones and those people who were just less successful at establishing and or maintaining relationships.

jr565 said...

I'd rather have a thousand scientologists than one of her. And sadly, for many women in women studies stuff like this is writ.

jr565 said...

"Dying and no one missing you for a week is still horrifically sad, though."


At least she didn't become her doggies dinner.

Mary Provost did not look her best...

Unknown said...

I am trying very hard to remember the obligations of Christianity and not delight that the world is rid of this vile crazy woman who did so much damage. I guess I need to try harder.

EMD said...

td;dr = too dumb; didn't read.

Tina Trent said...

Wow, Shulamith Firestone is dead. I always confused her with Valerie Solanis, who wrote the S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) manifesto.

Now I will associate her with the shape of beer glasses, due to the placement of the article in Ann's blog.

Skipper said...

What's the underlying psychology of those who insist on projecting their personal troubles onto society and biology.

Michael said...

You can read bits of Firestone's book about her mental illness-- short stories, scenes really, in the life of the institutionalized-- at Amazon. They're artless but quite affecting in their helpless awfulness.

Tragically fitting that someone who wanted us all to be in institutions got her wish in the worst possible way.

Would it have been better to marry and have kids and live in suburbia than to age into that lonely hell? Hard not to think so, no matter how unhappily.