Materialist Feminism and Theatre
The term ‘materialist feminism’ is used here as an umbrella to cover the common elements of several positions, but primarily those of Marxist feminism and socialist feminism. Though there are important differences among these positions, for the purpose of this book their common base in historical materialism will serve to distinguish them from other feminisms. The perspective of historical materialism directly contradicts the essentialism and universalism of radical feminism. Rather than assuming that the experiences of women are induced by gender oppression from men or that liberation can be brought about by virtue of women’s unique gender strengths, that patriarchy is everywhere and always the same and that all women are ‘sisters’, the materialist position underscores the role of class and history in creating the oppression of women. From a materialist perspective, women’s experiences cannot be understood outside of their specific historical context, which includes a specific type of economic organisation and specific developments in national history and political organisation. Contemporary women’s experiences are influenced by high capitalism, national politics and workers’ organisations such as unions and collectives.
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