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Books – Women’s studies

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Women, Race & Class

by Angela Davis
Vintage Books, 1983
Paperback – 271 pages

Angela Davis’ Women, Race & Class gives the best insight into the links between women’s issues, racism and the class struggle that I’ve ever read. It contains a fascinating historical background on slavery and the emancipation struggle of Black women in the US, Communist women and women’s rights. It is an extremely educational and interesting book recommended for all readers, regardless of gender.


Women Culture & Politics

by Angela Davis
Vintage Books, 1990
Paperback – 238 pages

“A veteran radical’s feisty views from the barricades ... Davis’s integrity here will inspire many.” – Kirkus


Blues Legacies and Black Feminism

by Angela Davis
Vintage Books, 1999
Paperback – 427 pages

“Extraordinary ... Davis has given voice to a complex feminist history that might have otherwise have eluded history.” – Newsday


Choice: A doctor’s experience with the abortion dilemma

by Dr D Sloan with P Hartz
International Publishers, New York, 1992
Paperback– 201 pages

Dr Don Sloan with Paula Hartz draw on real cases to provide a much-needed source of understanding of the issues involved when women are faced with an unwanted pregnancy.

The book deals with social realities, the dilemmas facing women and the barriers to choice they face, such as what happens when they do not have the money to travel when their public hospital doesn’t do abortions. “If we learn to see the aborting issue clearly – not religion but science, not ethics but rights, not sexism but equality for women – we can begin to work on the dilemma,” the book concludes.


Clara Zetkin: Selected Writings

edited by Philip S Foner
International Publishers, New York, 1984
Paperback – 206 pages

“In January, 1915, the British journal Labour Woman wrote of Clara Zetkin: ‘She is Socialist in her very fibre, and she is a fighter ready to face death rather than give way in any issue of import in the people’s struggle.

“Through her journal Gleichheit (Equality), with a circulation in 1914 of 125,000 ... she was able to exert a powerful influence in the formation of socialist and communist policy on the woman question, and on the policy of a number of trade unions toward women workers ...

“Clara Zetkin called upon the workers to throw their whole power into the struggle against imperialist wars without the slightest hesitation or reserve.”

From the introduction by Philip S Foner.


Cold tea for Brandy – A Tale of Protest, Painting and Politics

by Joan Coxsedge
Vulcan Press, Victoria, 2007
Paper back – 432 pages

Joan did not grow up on easy street. She started life in the Depression years in Ballarat and knows what it is to be evicted and to go without. Alcohol and gambling ate up the meagre family income. This personal, lively account of her early days is a reminder to older readers of those tough times and for younger readers a powerful picture of those days and how much has been achieved since then by the labour, women’s and other social movements.


Women in Cuba: The making of a revolution within the revolution

Editor Mary-Alice Waters
Pathfinder, 2012
Paperback – 346 pages

Women in Cuba: The making of a revolution within the revolution is not a book about women per se, but about the Cuban Revolution with first hand accounts of two of its leaders – Vilma Espín and Asela de Los Santos. “What strikes the reader more than anything else in Espin’s account is the absence of dogma or schemas, the absence of clotted political jargon. There was only one guide: opening the way for the broadest layers of women to become involved – with organisation, effectiveness, and discipline – in ongoing struggles and the construction of a new social order,” Mary-Alice Waters notes in her introduction.

Yolanda Ferrer, a generation younger than the other women, as a 15-year-old took part in the national literacy campaign in 1961, was a founding member of the revolutionary militias, and is now General Secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women and a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee.

Their stories give a rich history of the Revolution, in which men and women played leadership roles and fought courageously along side each other. There are some humorous moments too, such as when Castro explained to a meeting in 1960 fundamental aspects of the Revolution and women’s place in it. The integration of women into the workforce was a bit too much from some:

“My wife doesn’t need to work,” some said. “I’m supporting her.” Or “Who will do the cooking?”; “Who will do the cleaning?”; “Who will wash the clothes and care for the children?”.

“This was the battle for consciousness of men and women …,” Asela de Los Santos says. A really great read, in particular, for anyone interested in the Revolution, politics, building of socialism, including women’s equality.



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