Pioneering Radical Feminist Writer Shulamith Firestone Dies

The controversial and brilliant thinker predicted a future in which reproduction would be divorced from sex, with fetuses grown outside the body via technology, which she felt could end the oppression of women. The Villager says:

Shulamith Firestone, who shot to fame at age 25 with her best-selling book, “The Dialectic of Sex,” was found dead in her East Village apartment on Tuesday. She was 67. Suffering from mental illness, she had shut herself off from contact with other people…the cause of death is unclear at this point.

“The Dialectic of Sex” was a key feminist work that presaged today’s issues surrounding birth and science. “No one can understand how feminism has evolved without reading this radical, inflammatory, second-wave landmark,” said Naomi Wolf.

According to, “The book synthesizes the work of Freud, Marx, de Beauvoir and Engels to create a cogent argument for feminist revolution. Identifying women as a caste, she declares that they must seize the means of reproduction — for as long as women (and only women) are required to bear and rear children, they will be singled out as inferior.”

According to Wikipedia, “She advocated the use of cybernetics to carry out human reproduction in laboratories as well as the proliferation of contraception, abortion and state support for child-rearing; enabling [women] to escape their biologically determined positions in society. Firestone described pregnancy as ‘barbaric’… . Among the reproductive technologies she predicted were sex selection and in vitro fertilization.”

41 Comments on "Pioneering Radical Feminist Writer Shulamith Firestone Dies"

  1. Deedsdeet | Sep 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm |

    This lady was a nut.Woman should not want to be like men.Embrace being a woman.If a woman wants the life of a man she will be mentally screwed.There are many pros and cons for each gender.You can’t have the pros of both genders.There’s allot of pros that woman have that men don’t.Like getting things just for being good looking.Woman have it rough in many parts of the world.Its a very sad thing.Every woman deserves equality.But this whole feminist thing is a joke and messes up a woman’s mind of how things should be.Equality is what we need.
    Just the fact that she closed herself off from people says it all.Its sad but she was going in a very wrong direction.
    Men and woman need to learn more about each other.It would make things so much easier.Allot of people today are ignorant of the opposite gender and are ready to throw someone under the bus for being themself.A woman wants to look nice and she’s a slut.No she’s not a slut.she’s just doing want she likes and theres nothing wrong with that.A man watches alot of sports and spends too much time with his car and his girlfriend will make him feel guilty about it.He’s just being a man.Let him be a man.

    • What’s wrong with a woman wanting to be like a man, or a man wanting to be like a woman?

      I don’t watch sports or spend much time with my car.  Does that make me mentally ill?

      • Calypso_1 | Sep 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

        I would personally like to see a Sports Obsessive Disorder in the DSM…but I do live within the SEC.

        • Matt Staggs | Sep 7, 2012 at 10:19 am |

          I hear ya. The irony of guys who wear team colors 24 hours a day, cover their trucks in team slogans and have a yard full of team signs and mascots calling other people geeks is hilarious.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

            Once met a guy who knew the measurements of every player on his fantasy football team….

          • Matt Staggs | Sep 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |

            Depending on which measurements you mean this conversation could get real interesting, real fast.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

            He was rattling off neck, biceps, thigh, etc…it seemed like a good time to leave before more obvious connotations escaped from my limited abilities to maintain polite conversation about football.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

            He was rattling off neck, biceps, thigh, etc…it seemed like a good time to leave before more obvious connotations escaped from my limited abilities to maintain polite conversation about football.

      • Given the context, its more likely Deedsdeet is referring to the hardwired brain differences responsible for sexual behaviours and attitudes (ie the double standard). As the product of our evolutionary history, they aren’t just going to disappear because someone invented the Pill and condoms.

        • Most neurological hardwiring develops during childhood in response to the environment.  And his examples weren’t among those that are genetically determined.

          • You know you’re trying to avoid the issue of male-female differences in the brain being genetically determined.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm |

            Similar to how racial superiority is genetically determined?

          • Spencerbennett06 | Sep 8, 2012 at 1:20 am |

             You do realize that you just implied one gender is superior right? You just equated it like this male-female differences : genetic superiority. This is why I find feminists so pitiable. Just because females are the more submissive ones in the sex act up to intrapersonal politics doesn’t mean their contribution isn’t just as important. Only you guys have that opinion of your own self-worth.

            I see feminists in a very sad light. Fighting an uphill, unwinnable battle against their own gender role. Good luck with that.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 8, 2012 at 1:53 am |

            That is not what I realize, and it is in no way what I think or was communicating in this message, as it was based upon subtext relevant for the recipient and the recipient alone.  Though I do realize that is not something you would necessarily know as you may not have chosen to avail yourself to the context of the recipients’ views on certain topics.  It is interesting to me that your assumptions about my opinions have elicited such a sharp expression of your own.

          • I only avoid the issue because I don’t value it as important.

          • I only avoid the issue because I don’t value it as important.

          • Jin The Ninja | Sep 8, 2012 at 12:52 am |

            and you’re ignoring the entrenched legacy of victorian sexual mores on western culture. it  DEEPLY affects how we interpret gender, sex and orientation. this culture of oppression has permeated and infected even non-western cultures, erasing and effacing diverse traditions of interpreting gender and sexuality.

          • Please, though Victorians believed some silly things about sex, their gender roles were positively egalitarian compared to the non-Western world at the time – remember Chinese foot binding and suttee in South Asia.

          • Jin The Ninja | Sep 8, 2012 at 1:30 am |

            “positively egalitarian.”

            that is positively bullshit. and while i’m aware of suttee, i can’t speak accurately to its complex history within south asian culture on this forum. however ‘foot-binding’ is something i am very familiar with.

            this is a repost of something i wrote on a different thread.

            “foot binding was/is in fact part of patriarchal domination/oppression against women. however you again spout hysterical points outside of their context. did you know that foot binding was actively promoted in the Yuan dynasty? Qing Dynasty? before that it was only mentioned 3 or 4 times as a practice of palace dancers in relatively obscure texts. manchu and mongol culture were much more hierarchical with no meritocratic elements, very much entrenched in specific gender roles. have you met a woman with bound feet? i have. i was related to one. do you that manchu and mongolian rule both supplanted many traditional han practices including but not limited to dress and hairstyle. manchu and mongol rule also created a hierarchy of race where han chinese were somewhere on the 3rd tier, only above the southern ‘tribes’ of vietnam and thailand. and that colonial powers colonised china in a distinct way during the 17th 18th and 19th centuries (mostly thought economic domination of the drug trade)? which also led to a decline of traditional culture. the ‘foot binding’ assertion is true, in many ways, but to a point. it was also used as a justification of white christian feminists to racially segregate chinese people in the west, and to actively impose racist laws in china against the chinese.”

            “foot binding and its history is very complex. it is a symptom of an overarching confucian male domination, but in MANY ways it became a part of SOUTHERN chinese culture (the part of china which practiced footbinding by far the most regularly)- in that only the eldest and rarely 2nd eldest daughter were bound. This was done to enable their marriage to men of high socio-economic status. in chinese society, economic privilege gave women a high degree of autonomy and enabled them to live without the same social constraints of poor women. in a way it served as a vehicle to social privilege as much as it served as a vehicle for social oppression. it’s truly a complex issue.”

            don’t try to parallel non-western sexual values with the overarching victorian hold–over morality prevalent in our western world. you obviously don’t know enough about sexuality, gender or sex or non-western contexts to speak accurately of it or to it.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 8, 2012 at 1:58 am |

            Jin, I highly advise you to take an extensive tour through Ms. Raverner’s Disqus activity…it’s going to be interesting between you two if she frequents this establishment.

          • “don’t try to parallel non-western sexual values with the overarching victorian hold–over morality prevalent in our western world.”

            Nonsense, such cross-cultural comparisons are necessary to place things into a context where they may be evaluated and understood.

            “you obviously don’t know enough about sexuality, gender or sex or non-western contexts to speak accurately of it or to it.”

            Yea well, what you wrote isn’t real anthropology or history is it? Opinions such as “patriarchal domination/oppression against women” and “racist laws in china against the chinese” are not exactly what you find in unbiased scholarship because they’re your own value judements.

            Besides you’re making it look like all those evil Manchus and Mongols and (as always) westerners came and oppressed these innocent Chinese and created all the things about China you don’t like. That’s ethnic scapegoating, and you must realise that kind of things a politicised myth. Either the Chinese practiced footbinding or they didn’t.

          • “Most research looking at psychological similarities and differences
            between women and men has been carried out in North America and Western
            Europe. In this paper, I review a body of cross-cultural evidence
            showing that it is precisely in these Western countries that women and
            men differ the most in terms of personality, self-construal, values, or
            emotions. Much less-pronounced gender differences are observed, if at
            all, in Asian and African countries. These findings are unexpected from
            the perspectives of the two most influential frameworks applied to sex
            differences coming from evolutionary psychology and social role theory.
            However, recent research related to social comparison and
            self-categorization theories suggests a promising approach to explain
            why more egalitarian societies can paradoxically create greater
            psychological differences between women and men.”


          • And you left out the inconvenient bit from the very same abstract you copypastad – “However, recent research related to social comparison and
            self-categorization theories suggests a promising approach to explain why more
            egalitarian societies can paradoxically  create greater psychological differences
            between women and men.”

            The relevant paper is online here.


            Though the results are contray to Evol Psych TM, in which the ‘mind of man’ is more or less fixed by a shared evolutionary history, they don’t go against he predictions of traditional sociobiology in which culture is recognised as man’s niche (ie EO Wilson himself, Kevin Macdonald, Peter Watts etc).

            It certainly does not support social constructivist (ie feminist) theories of gender differences…

          • I didn’t leave out the part you claim I left out.  It’s right above what you wrote.

            You might want to read up on epigenetics, which explains a lot of things you’re suggesting are genetic and unalterable.

          • If you actuallyunderstood what epigenetics is, instead of tossing around words from scientific literature to make yourself look intelligent, you’d realise I mentioned the role of epigenetics without actually using the word.

          • I see.  You get caught not having fully read my comment so you switch to attack mode.  Got it.

            As long as you understand that culture affects gene expression, I’m done arguing with you.  I suspect you need the last word, so go for it.  I’m not fond of playing your kind of games.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

            What do you like to toss?

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

            Would that be the renowned white ethno-centricist Kevin MacDonald?

          • Yea, he’s brilliant.

            He comes from a left-leaning background and he still cares for workingclass whites.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm |

            Facinating opinions about the Jews as well.

    • Calypso_1 | Sep 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm |

      A man or woman man certainly do the things you spoke of but they do not define what it is to be a man or woman.  A man is far more than sports and cars.  If that is what you like fine, but if that is all you know you have been cheated.  At least go hunting with a homemade bow and brew beer.  ; )

    • Threefourdumb | Sep 7, 2012 at 11:47 am |

       Yeah. You have a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism, basically.

  2. A nutcase just as Freud was a nutcase, in particular its anthropologically absurd to define women as a ‘caste’.

    No one sane wants to ban all use of birth control or state support for all single mothers, but the way sex and reproduction/childrearing (and by implication human warmth) have been separated as far as possible in our post-WW2 society is hardly something good. The ideal is as irrational as trying to separate eating from digestion.

    As for the abortion of what we used to call ‘unborn children’ before Newspeak, if it was men having abortions people like this mad deceased bitch would be citing them as evidence how men are the violent sex. Which brings me of sex selection – hardly something pro-woman in real life.

    The involvement of cybernetics thrown into the mix marks her flight into outright fantasy.

    To revolt against society is one thing, to revolt against nature is another. Describing pregnancy as barbaric is the same as calling evolution itself “sexist” FFS.

    • Spencerbennett06 | Sep 8, 2012 at 1:16 am |

       See, but you are using logic and respect for nature and it’s biological roles. People like calypso_1 and Andrew just want rhetoric.

      • Calypso_1 | Sep 8, 2012 at 11:43 am |

        You don’t know me very well if you think that is what I want. But by all means continue on this course of presumtive insight, I’m fairly in the mood for a mental trollop to toy with.  Fair warning, my knowledge of the biologique is more than sufficient for the task. 

      • Don’t tell other people what “I” want.

    • beyondutopia | Sep 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

      Where is Valerie Solanas when you need her?  
      I loved S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and I highly recommend it. It is an entertaining and ultimately nihilistic diatribe, with a willingness to consider extreme possibilities. Of course, it should be taken with a grain of salt – many of the feminist writers of the 60s and 70s were hearkening back to the manifesto tradition of the early 20th century (The Futurist Manifesto (Marinetti)) comes to mind.There were lots of female firebrands at the time.. Charlotte Perkins Gilman — Herland — and Emma Goldman …Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most intriguing reads I can think of that takes control of fertility and an autocratic, religious fundamentalist state into the ambit of an ordinary person (with the bad luck of being fertile) …

      • Anyone who believes The Handmaid’s Tale endorses the feminist views going around at that time, rather than including commentary on both feminism and its failiure and its backlash, they’re mistaken. It is only truly feminist at a shallow reading.

        It helps to remember Atwood is a Red Tory (similar to George Orwell), she won’t like ideology of any kind. This is her words about utopias, it places Gilead and its background and its real world inspirations into context.

        “They all started as utopias. They all started by saying we’re going to make your life so much more unimaginably better. And, by the way, it’s inevitable. So you’re either with us or against us. And if you’re against us, I’m sorry, but we will have to eliminate you. Because you’re standing in the way of the greater happiness of the greater number and the greatest good. And the improvement of humanity and all the rest of it.” … “So, I’m not very interested in labels. I’m not very interested in what they’re calling themselves. I’m interested in what they’re doing. So, in the Dictate-o-meter, on the road to total lockdown, the place you don’t want to be. And you don’t want to be in screaming anarchy either, it’s the war of all against all, and that soon precipitates into gangs and warlords and out of that eventually will come Henry VIII.”

  3. TennesseeCyberian | Sep 7, 2012 at 1:23 am |

    Interestingly enough, my parents were academic social scientists who gestated me in a amniotic vat in Berkeley so that my mother could continue working on her career.  Though I never met her, I hear that she’s the head of the Women’s Studies department now, so I’m really proud of her and stand behind her decision.  Besides, she left me in the care of some really good people.
    My adopted mother:
    and my adopted father:
    both cared for me as much as any so-called “real” parent ever could.  That’s why I think the recent push against “non-traditional families” is bullcrap.
    It’s not like I was raised by wolves.

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