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Centre for Women’s and Gender Research
Open seminar

Women, Biology, Technology: Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex, then and now

We mark the Fifty year anniversary of the publication of Shulamith Firestone’s radical feminist manifesto, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.

The year 2020 marks the Fifty year anniversary of the publication of Shulamith Firestone’s radical feminist manifesto, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. Firestone argued that gender inequality was rooted in the biological fact that it was women and not men who became pregnant, gave birth and nursed small children – and that equality could only be achieved by transforming pregnancy and the nuclear family. With this book Firestone went down in history as both an influential and a controversial pioneer of the women’s liberation movement that swept the Western world during the 1970s. Yet while her manifesto caused a media sensation in 1970, she withdrew from the public eye and from the movement shortly after its publication. This might have contributed to the fact that she is now primarily remembered for her controversial call for the development of technologies – so-called “artificial wombs” – that can move the reproductive process outside the female body entirely. However, with abortion laws back on the political agenda, and given recent advances in reproductive technologies that suggest artificial wombs could soon be a reality, Firestone’s analysis of women’s reproductive labour has renewed relevance for our present time.

This evening, Victoria Margree – Principal Lecturer and member of the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton; and author of the book Neglected or Misunderstood: The Radical Feminism of Shulamith Firestone – joins Claus Halberg, postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, the University of Bergen, in a conversation about Shulamith Firestone’s legacy.