Shulamith Firestone, 1945-2012

FIRESTONE-obit-popupMargalit Fox's (slightly thin) obit in the NYT:

Shulamith Firestone, a widely quoted feminist writer who published her arresting first book, “The Dialectic of Sex,” at 25, only to withdraw from public life soon afterward, was found dead on Tuesday in her apartment in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. She was 67.

Ms. Firestone apparently died of natural causes, her sister Laya Firestone Seghi said.

Subtitled “The Case for Feminist Revolution,” “The Dialectic of Sex” was published by William Morrow & Company in 1970. In it, Ms. Firestone extended Marxist theories of class oppression to offer a radical analysis of the oppression of women, arguing that sexual inequity springs from the onus of childbearing, which devolves on women by pure biological happenstance.

“Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself,” Ms. Firestone wrote, “so the end goal of feminist revolution must be … not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”

In the utopian future Ms. Firestone envisioned, reproduction would be utterly divorced from sex: conception would be accomplished through artificial insemination, with gestation taking place outside the body in an artificial womb. While some critics found her proposals visionary, others deemed them quixotic at best.

Reviewing “The Dialectic of Sex” in The New York Times, John Leonard wrote, “A sharp and often brilliant mind is at work here.” But, he added, “Miss Firestone is preposterous in asserting that ‘men can’t love.’ ”

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