Who is Feminism For?

Instructor: Sophie Lewis
Wooden Shoe Books
704 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

The seemingly uncontroversial idea that feminism is synonymous with “the women’s movement”—i.e., that feminism is “for women”—has in fact never been widely accepted, least of all among feminists. From the beginning, comradely holes have been poked in feminism’s myriad attempts to define itself, not to mention the word “woman.” For centuries, feminists have debated: what does feminism encompass? Who is feminism for?

In this course, we’ll enter that debate, unpacking questions of feminism’s purpose, scope, and possible limits. Along the way, we will consider conflicting conceptions of feminism: that feminism is for working women (and children); that feminism is for “everyone”; that feminism is not for certain people (e.g. men, or trans women); and, finally, that it is for “no one” (i.e., feminism is for abolishing itself). We will read selections from First- and Second Wave feminist classics—for example, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique—as well as contemporaneous and current feminist criticisms and counterexamples. We will continue by investigating accounts of feminism that, while still placing its focus on “women,” define the constituency of feminist struggle as both more specific and much broader: for instance, ecological, anti-colonial, anti-the Family, anti-capitalist. Thirdly, we will engage with articulations of feminism as a struggle for “everybody”—as a movement against a structure of oppression that adversely affects everyone: able-bodied or disabled, migrant, indigene, citizen, or settler, straight or queer, white, black, trans or cis, etc. Finally, we will consider abolitionist texts that, in analyzing oppression, explicitly reject or seek to transcend binary gender, as well as white supremacy, capital, coloniality, and “womanhood” (and thus, in a sense, feminism!) altogether.

Readings will include texts by Flora Tristan, Sojourner Truth, Maria Mies, The Lavender Menace, Hermaphrodites with Attitude, The Combahee River Collective, Crip Feminism, Mary Daly, Chela Sandoval, Maria Lugones, bell hooks, Sylvia Rivera, Holly Lewis, Shulamith Firestone, Helen Hester, Tithi Bhattacharya, Jules Joanne Gleeson, Marquis Bey,  Maya Gonzalez, Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr, among others.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm
February 13 — March 12, 2020
4 sessions over 5 weeks
Class will not meet Thursday, March 5th.


Registration Open

SKU: NOV19-PHL-FEMINISM Categories: , Tags: ,