MIA: Library of Feminist Writers

Marxists Internet Archive Library of Feminist Writers

Selected writings of feminists of each of the “three waves” of feminist political activity. Intellectual Property laws prevent the Marxists Internet Archive from reproducing the works of most of the major feminist writers of recent decades. However, key chapters and articles have been reproduced for educaitonal purposes only.

Mary Wollstonecraft George Sand

The First Feminists (Classical Liberalism)

The causes that have degraded woman,
whether they arise from a physical or accidental weakness of faculties, time alone can determine;
I only contend that the men who have been placed in similar situations
have acquired a similar character

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
English radical who was the first woman to systematically enquire into the causes of women's oppression.
[Full Biography]

Harriet Taylor (1856-1915)
Friend of John Stuart Mill, and her work was published under his name, one of the earliest arguments for the emancipation of women, in the tradition of classical liberalism.
[Full Biography]

Clara Zetkin Emmeline Pankhurst

Feminism and Social Democracy

The women’s question, however,is only present within those classes of society who are
themselves the products of the capitalist mode of production. We find no women’s question in peasant circles ...
There is a women’s question for the women of the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia and the Upper Ten Thousand. It assumes a different form according to the class situation of each one of these strata.

Clara Zetkin * (1857-1933)
Union leader in Germany at a time when membership of unions was illegal for women, a leader of the Second International and founding member of the German Communist Party.
[Full Biography]

Eleanor Marx (1855-1898)
Daughter of Karl Marx, took up the fight against the rampant sexism within Social Democracy.
[Full Biography]

Dora Montefiore (1851-1933)
British Marxist and feminist, Suffragette and founding member of British Communist Party.
[Full Biography]

Olive Schreiner (1855-1920)
South African-born, British socialist and novellist.
[Full Biography]
Lena Morrow Lewis (1862-1950)
American socialist and union organiser.
[Full Biography]

Vida Goldstein (1869-1949)
Australian suffragette, feminist and anti-militarist.
[Full Biography]

Mary Beard (1876-1958)
American socialist and historian.
[Full Biography]

Alexandra Kollontai (1873-1952)
Leading member of the Bolshevik Party who led the Russian Revolution, and a member of the Workers' Opposition.
[Full Biography]

Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960)
Daughter of Emmeline, along with her sister Adela fighter for women's suffrage and socialism. Sylvia was a Left Communist.
[Full Biography]

Simone de Beauvoir Evelyn Reed

when we abolish the slavery of half of humanity,
together with the whole system of hypocrisy that it implies,
then the ‘division’ of humanity will reveal its genuine significance
and the human couple will find its true form

Evelyn Reed (1905-1979) *
Member of the American Trotskyist movement, socialist feminist, was one of the first to challenge anthropological and other spurious justifications for patriarchy.
[Full Biography]

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) *
Author of The Second Sex, the most significant review of approaches to the critique of women's role in history and modern society. De Beauvoir was an Existentialist.
[Full Biography]

Juliet Mitchell Kate Millett

Modern Feminism (“Second Wave”)

Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
Psychologist, a student of Kurt Koffka, who criticised Freudian psychoanalysis for its rationalisation of sexist attitudes; exposed the deep crisis affecting American housewives, excluded from the workforce and confined to housework.
[Full Biography]

Clara Fraser (1923-1998)
Socialist-feminist, founder of Freedom Socialist Party in Seattle.

Kate Millett * (1934-)
Radical Feminist, who argued for the expansion of the conceptions of historical materialism to include the processes of domestic labour and reproduction. May have coined the word “sexism.”
[Full Biography]

Germaine Greer (1939-)
Australian Radical Feminist
[Full Biography]

Juliet Mitchell (1940-)
New Zealand-born, British feminist who endeavoured to reconcile feminism with psychoanalysis.
[Full Biography]

Barbara Ehrenreich (1941-)
American Socialist feminist and journalist.
[Full Biography]

Sheila Rowbotham (1943-)
British socialist feminist; wrote for the Trotskyist ‘Black Dwarf’ before publishing ‘Women’s Liberation and the New Politics’ arguing that women were oppressed in cultural as well as economic terms. A pioneer of women’s history.
[Full Biography]

Angela Davis (1944-)
A member of the CPUSA for some time, Davis is a supporter of Cuba and an active campaigner for radical alternatives to prison. Her criticisms of the exclusive focus of the modern women's movement on the concerns of middle-class white women was influential.
[Full Biography]

Laura Limpus ( )
Shulamith Firestone (1945-)
Radical feminist who argued that the concept of class should be expanded to encompass the notion of women as a sex-class, and thus utilise the ideas of Marxism and class struggle to understand the nature of women's oppression.
[Full Biography]

Marlene Dixon ( )
Socialist Feminist who argued both against the overreaction of feminists against socialism and the antipathy of socialists to feminism.

Spender, Dale (1943- )
Historian who has contributed to uncovering the role of women in history, and analysed the historical development of the women's movement itself.
[Full Biography]

Lynn Beaton (1947-)
Australian Marxist and feminist, worked at the Working Women's Centre at the ACTU and researched the socialisation of women's labour.

Gimenez, Martha ( )
Argentinian Marxist Feminist
[Marxist Feminism site]

Ebert, Teresa ( )
Argues for a feminism based on historical materialism, against the postmodern feminism of people like Judith Butler, which she calls “ludic feminism.”
[Terea Ebert home page]

Linda Nicholson ( )
Historian who has contributed to uncovering the role of women in history, and analysed the historical development of the women's movement itself.
[Full Biography]

Seyla Benhabib (1950- )
Turkish feminist, social philosopher and Critical Theorist.
[Home Page]

Cornell, Drucilla ( )
American “Ethical feminist,” professor of political science, women's studies, and comparative literature at Rutgers University.
[Feminist Theory Website]

Writers are listed by (birth-death) years. Large type indicates writers who are most often cited and * indicates particularly important writers. Not every feminist writer on the MIA is listed above, as there are more in the Women and Marxism Archive.

(The “waves” are not defined in the same way as we have chosen to periodise the women's movement. The conventional numbering does not recognise the educated women of the late 18th/early 19th century, part of classical liberalism, as a distinct movement from the later movements which were connected to social democracy. The “third wave” refers to feminists of the 1990s and after who recognised the way in which earlier feminism had been blind to the femininity of Blacks, working class and other women, and developed a much more general, reflexive analysis of status subordination.)