Marxist Feminism!! POH

NOHARAPA at cc.curtin.edu.au NOHARAPA at cc.curtin.edu.au
Fri Nov 4 04:40:52 MST 1994


Dear Marxists, Progressive Economists and=20
Post Keynesians:

=46rom: Phil O=92Hara

Long live Feminism! Long live grand=20
dialectical syntheses between men and women;=20
women and women; men and men; and down with=20
speciesm, ageist, sexism!

I am a child of the revolution! Unfortunately=20
I was born in the wrong era. I find modern=20
capitalism utterly boring and sexist,racist,=20
speciest, ageist, and monolithic. The=20
hegemonic structures bore me silly. And yet=20
the population accepts them, more or less.=20
And it was Veblen and the institutionalists=20
who taught me why they do that. Before that I=20
was a fundamentalist Marxist, but knew=20
nothing about institutions. That=92s why=20
Veblen, Marx, feminism etc are in continuity=20
on essentials, and can benefit from close=20
linkages.

I placed a series of notes on the Marxist,=20
Pen-l, and post keynesian networks, including=20
an ad about the new journal Feminist=20
Economics, purely because I promised Diana=20
Strassman the editor that I would. But I=20
didn=92t want it to sound too crudely=20
=93advertising orientated=94 so I included a=20
story with it. And I am glad to say that it=20
brought quite a response, including those by=20
Rebecca Hyman, Prue Hyman (related?), Carla=20
Feldpausch, Justin Schwartz, Jon Beasley-
Murray, Heather Grob, Barry Levitt, Doug Orr,=20
Jim Devine, Bill Mitchell, Tom Smith, Wes=20
Cecil?, and perhaps a few others. The number=20
of responses from the 3 networks are as=20
follows:

Pen-l network:     7
Marxist Network:   5
Post Keynesian Th: 0

So the post-keynesian economists get the=20
prize for the most chauvinist economists!!

This discussion on Feminist Thought seemed to=20
link theory and the personal in a way that I=20
liked. Remember: the personal is the=20
political! The message of Heather Grob=92s=20
response seemed to me to be that FEMECON (the=20
feminist network) is seperatist in the sense=20
that it is specialising in feminist issues.=20
Carla made a similar point, as did Barry and=20
Doug and Jim. Whereas if you read Bill=20
Mitchell=92s contribution one got the=20
impression that seperation and specialisation=20
is not necessarily good. I could imagine that=20
some of the sorts of things that Prue Hyman=20
might discuss would shock the post keynesian=20
economists out of their pants! Come on post=20
keynesians - gender is critical!

I am a member of FEMECON. I started full of=20
enthusiasm, but waned a little over time (as=20
with most of the networks): the honeymoon was=20
over? I certainly got the impression that, to=20
some degree, some women on the network=20
preferred to talk with like minded women. I=20
think femecon is a great thing. But I think=20
there is also a big role for discussing=20
feminist and socialist and progressive and=20
economic issues together between men and=20
women, as well as between women and women and=20
- probably more important of all - between=20
men and men!=20

Men are the hardest to change on these=20
issues: they tend to be more sexist,=20
chauvinist, and backward in their analysis of=20
gender. They also tend to be homophobic. It=20
is easier for women and men to discuss=20
emotional and sexual issues seriously with=20
women; men tend not to cope that well. To me=20
the real test of any left-orientated group is=20
the degree to which they are able to 1)=20
include a broadly similar number of each sex=20
(taking into account that many women will be=20
home doing the housework/child care!); 2)=20
include a number of people with non-orthodox=20
sexual preferences; 3) link theory and=20
personal issues; and 4) learn to love and=20
like other members of the group - especially=20
the differences; and 5) contribute to=20
socioeconomic analysis and change.

What I am suggesting is that unless these=20
networks develop in all five areas under my=20
criteria they will not succeed! Hence I think=20
that GENDER and FEMINISM - not to mention the=20
need for male liberation as well as female=20
liberation (as a long time men=92s group member=20
[and gender group member - less=20
successfully]) are critical. It is important=20
that such topics not simply develop in groups=20
like FEMECON or ECOFEMINISM; but become part=20
of the =93mainstream of heterodoxy=94. I agree=20
with Heather Grob that perhaps more linkages=20
of FEMECON with the discussions on feminism=20
etc on the other networks could help; but we=20
need to go further than this.

Vis-a-vis Prue Hyman=92s discussion of=20
=93heterosexism=94 (re feminist economics), I am=20
quite sure that the problem would be worse on=20
the other networks.

So let=92s try and link theory and personal and=20
discussions of sexuality. Like Tom Smith=92s=20
recognition of Thorstein Veblen=92s feminist=20
economics in The Theory of the Leisure Class;=20
Justin Schwartz=92 recognition that many=20
Marxists still treat women like secretries and=20
sex objects; and Jim Devine=92s analysis of the=20
relationship between capitalism and=20
patriarchy.

And what has this got to do with economics or=20
Marxism (depending on the network)? In a=20
holistic economics, according to Myrdal, the=20
principle of interdependency suggests that=20
everything is interrelated. So also does the=20
principles of overdetermination (re Work and=20
Resnick). And it is especially true on the=20
question of sexuality - sexual division of=20
labour, our own views of the world etc - that=20
this circular process holds the most=20
validity.=20

I think economics was essentially created in=20
order for men to assume that what women did=20
was unproductive: to justify the masculine.=20
Marx didn=92t change that much. Veblen=20
questioned it the most. Who was Cherlotte=20
Perkins anyway? (mother of feminist=20
economics?) Keynes - despite his bisexuality=20
- didn=92t help much. So we have a lot to learn=20
=66rom the feminists. Let=92s start, if we havn=92t=20
anyway: perhaps they can learn from others=20
too.

Long live feminism! Long live Marxist=20
Feminism! Long live liberation! Long live the=20
whole person! Long live equality and revolt=20
against injustice!

cheers,   Phil O=92Hara

P O=92Hara, Econ, Curtin Uni, GPO Box U1987=20
Perth. 6001 Australia.  email: =20
noharapa at cc.curtin.edu.au



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