Radical roots of International Women’s Day


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As you may have heard, today is International Women’s Day. Amongst the cosy media friendly torrent of depoliticised declarations of womanhood you may be forgiven for not noting its radical history.

The original purpose of the day was the forging of solidarity with women around the globe and to demand an end to exploitation, inequality and oppression. First proposed by German communist leaders Clara Zetkin and Luise Zietz, it was inspired by the National Women’s Day celebrated by the Socialist Party of America in 1909. Following the russian revolution in 1917, the day was celebrated throughout the eastern bloc. In 1977 the UN declared its support for International Women’s Day, which spread the celebration to an international level. This manifestation would now celebrate Women’s rights and world peace.

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Have a look at the Pluto titles on Women’s movements and bypass the de-politicisation of the international Women’s Day! The the ongoing conflicts, struggles and problems fought for by the women’s movement are by no means over and cannot be dismissed by simplistic choice between femininity or radicalism. Even the focus on Women’s achievements, though important, does little to acknowledge the ongoing structural inequalities that remain unchanged and must be challenged with nuance and subtlety. bell hook’s groundbreaking work led the way in thinking about the women ignored by mainstream western-centric feminism such as female migrant workers, sex workers, transgendered people and black women. Other titles below show the shifting role of womanhood as the effects of war, the nation, and labour struggles make their impact and show how the co-option of feminism by mainstream liberal democracy can lead to a dissolution of its emancipatory potential. Happy IWD!

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Ain’t I a Woman

bell hooks

A Pluto Classic. A provocative and inspiring book on the culture and politics of black women’s rights.

“A fiery piece of polemic filled with merciless criticism of feminism and black activism alike for their neglect of black women’s rights … provocative and inspiring … visionary.” – New Statesman

“One of the twenty most influential women’s books of the last twenty years.” – Publishers Weekly

£21.99 only £19.50 on the Pluto site

Feminist Theory – New Edition

From Margin to Center

bell hooks

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.

£21.99 only £19.79 on the Pluto site

Shadow Lives

The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror

Victoria Brittain. Foreword by John Berger. Afterword by Marina Warner

Reveals the impact on the wives and families of men incarcerated in Guantanamo, or in prison in Britain and the US, during the ‘war on terror’.

“A searching, sensitive, and wrenching account of the ordeal of the women left behind, their torment, their endurance and courage, their triumphs over the cruel “extension of prison to home.” And not least, a revealing picture of what we have allowed ourselves to become.
– Noam Chomsky

“This is a window into an invisible world…a reminder that abandoning normal legal standards has serious consequences for the Rule of Law.” – Helena Kennedy, QC

£14.99 only £13.00 on the Pluto site

Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist

The Life and Activism of Anbara Salam Khalidi

Anbara Salam Khalidi. Foreword by Marina Warner. Translated by Tarif Khalidi

The first English translation of the memoirs of Anbara Salam Khalidi, the iconic Arab feminist.

“These memoirs are a fascinating record of experiences witnessed by a pioneer feminist in Beirut whose name is rightly synonymous with the feminist, social and literary renaissance of the Arab East. … From now on [neither] the history of Beirut in the modern period nor the history of the modern feminist movement in the Arab world [can] be written without reference to these very memoirs. “ – Kamal Salibi, prominent Lebanese historian and former Professor of History at the American University of Beirut

“Reading the memoir of Anbara Salam Khalidi is an inspiring and disturbing experience: here is a truly exceptional woman, who was moved throughout her life by those qualities that remain the highest ethical ideals: courage, love, generosity, independence of spirit–and modesty. But as well a poignant and forthright picture of an individual woman’s life, the book was immediately recognised as a major work of historical testimony when it appeared in 1978. Anbara stands witness to a momentous period [of history]; throughout, she was in the vanguard of reform, present and active at key turning points of the turbulent twentieth century. … These memoirs have rightly become a classic with the Arabic public, and now, in her son Tarif Khalidi’s translation, can at last reach Anglophone readers. The book offers us unparalleled insight into a rare human being, whose fascinating account of her life will make every reader wish to have known her; her story sharpens the sense that the freedoms that some of us are fortunate to enjoy were hard-won by forebears like Anbara.” – Marina Warner, from the foreword

£16.99 only £15.00 on the Pluto site

How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women

Lindsey German

Shows how conflict has changed women’s lives and how those changes have put women at the centre of peace campaigning.

“Lindsey German links two major forms of women’s involvement in war: as activists opposing conflict and as workers during it. Seen through the prism of women’s experience, German tells a fascinating and important story.” – Nina Power, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University and the author of One-Dimensional Woman (2009)

£16 only £14.00 on the Pluto site

Feminism Seduced

How Global Elites Use Women’s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World

Hester Eisenstein

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

£18.99 only £17.00 on the Pluto site

Hidden From History

300 Years of Women’s Oppression and the Fight Against It

Sheila Rowbotham

‘An important and valuable achievement.’ New York Times
‘Groundbreaking … One of the first books to make women’s history available to a wide audience.’ Guardian

£14.99 only £13.00 on the Pluto site

Making Peace with the Earth

Vandana Shiva

Demolishes the myths of corporate globalisation and shows its devastating environmental impact.

“One of the world’s most prominent radical scientists.” – The Guardian

£14.99 only £13.00 on the Pluto site

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