Shulamith Firestone

(b. 1945)

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Canadian born feminist scholar, activist, and writer. A central figure in the establishment of radical feminism, her best known work The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970) remains a crucial milestone in the field of gender studies. Firestone's thesis is that the political inequality of women originates with their reproductive capacity, which forces them into a state of dependency on men (which in turn strengthens the power of the patriarchy by making a political choice appear a political necessity). Her political programme is built around the need for women to alter their circumstances by seizing control of the means of reproduction. At the extreme, she advocates non-human means of reproduction through the use of sophisticated biotechnology. Her work is cited as an influence by Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna and SF novelist Marge Piercy. It has been criticized for its biological determinism and failure to take into account other social factors such as class and race. Firestone was a vanguard author in the Second Wave of feminism.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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