It was 100 years ago, in 1911, that International Women’s Day (IWD) was honoured for the first time, with more than 1 million men and women attending rallies across Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It was the start of an energised and vibrant campaign for women’s rights to work; vote; be trained; hold public office; and, ultimately, to end discrimination.
It is of course no great revelation that such discrimination has not been historically overcome, though we should retain some perspective –things are much better now than they were when IWD was first launched. But inevitably revolution begets reaction, and in the wake of significant legislative advances, and the economic advancement of women across our societies, opposition has persisted, with often violent consequences.
The more insidious of these reactionary tendencies are manifested, in the West, at least, in the chimera of ‘post-feminism’ –a dangerous and untimely pseudo-philosophy that attempts to write the obituary for what is still a very much adolescent movement.
The need for feminism has not gone away, even if the women’s movement’s breadth and vibrancy ebbs down the generations. It is not within the nature human society to reach a stage of post-history: feminism will always need to exist, because of the very fact that counter-revolutionary tendencies and conflict will also always persist.
In 2011, the creep of beauty pageants into our Universities; the rampant misogyny in our streets and workplaces is the malign, attitudinal counterpart of a more structural inequity and discrimination. And, of course, this discrimination is manifested in different ways in different cultures. News of the violent disruption of today’s Women’s March in Tahir Square, Cairo, by groups of men is enough to disquiet the most complacent soul.
But for the same reason that we must reject any entertainment of notions of static, post-historical utopias –wherein gender and class inequality will be magically, permanently resolved- we must equally not despair at the need, 100 years later, for an International Women’s Day.
In the UK alone there are over 460 individual actions listed, including marches, forums, discussions, and direct actions, to mark this most vital and celebrated of international events. We should supplement our natural anger at the extent of discrimination and violence against women with celebration –for millions of people all around the world are uniting together to do something about it.
In order to mark International Women’s Day, Pluto Press has put together a shortlist of our favourite titles to do with women; gender; and feminism. Every title is discounted by at least 25% (with free UK P&P) for this week only!
Small Guides to Big Issues
A guide to womens’ rights the world over — part of our new Small Guides to Big Issues series published in asssocation with Oxfam
“This small guide to women’s rights is a hard-hitting exposé of one of the most important issues facing the world today.” – Polly Toynbee for the Guardian
How Global Elites Use Women’s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World
A reinterpretation of mainstream feminism, showing how elites in developed countries utilise women’s labour and ideas to maintain their power.
“One of the leading intellectuals of contemporary feminism builds a troubling analysis of where mainstream American feminism has gone—celebrating gains for middle-class women, but also converging with ruthless corporate interests that exploit or marginalize most of the world’s women. … Her remedy, need to be heard by everyone concerned with women’s interests and with social justice.” – Raewyn Connell, author of Southern Theory
“In this impressive book, Hester Eisenstein provides a provocative update of the classic argument of the relationship between Marxism and feminism. … What sets her analysis apart is her unflinching critique of hegemonic feminism’s complicity in abandoning issues of class and race even as it pays lip service to them. “ – Manisha Desai, Director Women’s Studies Program, University of Connecticut
Rosa Luxemburg, edited by Paul Le Blanc and Helen C. Scott
The best introduction to the range of Rosa Luxemburg’s thought, including a number of writings never before anthologised.
“‘Rosa Luxemburg has never been more relevant! Here, at last, in a single volume is an accessible introduction to one of the most important radical political thinkers of the 20th century with analysis and insight for a new generation of activist.'” – Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
Women and Sex Work
Day explores how individual sex workers live, in public and in private.
“see reader’s report: ‘I would give this proposal my strongest recommendation for publication’” – Reader’s Report
“Academic interest in the sex industry is proliferating in a range of disciplines, and Sophie Day’s book is a noteworthy addition” – Gender and Development
Mothers Speak About War and Terror
A remarkable portrait of what it means to be a mother in a time of war.
“Susan Galleymore has given us an indispensable perspective on the wars that have laid waste to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the surrounding countries. Thanks to Long Time Passing, we can now see past the abstract policies and patriotic rhetoric into the lives of those for whom none of this is either abstract or rhetorical. Out of the enormous damage come the voices of mothers whose children have been lost or damaged showing us the wastage from their front row seat and sharing their endless loss. Their need to speak is compelling and none of us can afford not to listen.” – David Harris, Journalist and author of Our War: What We Did in Vietnam and What It Did to Us, Random House
“Long Time Passing is a heartfelt and gut-wrenching account – and a must reading for anyone wanting to understand the effects of modern war.” – Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
Spanning the last twenty years, this is a photographic diary of women in war affected countries throughout the world.
A History of the British Labour Movement
A revised, updated and expanded edition of this classic feminist account of British labour history.
“The book stands comparison with A.L.Morton’s ‘People’s History’ and G.D.H. Cole’s ‘Common People’. But it is more than just this. It is in a real sense a history for our own times” – John Foster, Emeritus Professor, University of the West of Scotland
“This book is ideal for its purpose. I only wish it had been available in the decades when I was teaching trade union courses.” – Jim Fryth, Labour History Review
Citizenship, Activism and Sexual Diversity
Explores changing sex roles, transgender, intersex, bisexuality and related activist movements.
Feminist Presses and Publishing Politics
The first book-length study of the feminist press movement.
From Margin to Center
A new edition of a classic work – a sweeping examination of the core issues of sexual politics by one of feminism’s most important and critical voices.