CFP: Shulamith Firestone


2010 will mark the fortieth anniversary of the most radical manifesto of contemporary feminism. Firestone’s ‘The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution’ became a bestseller, yet unlike the other celebrated feminist polemics of that year (Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch and Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics), Firestone’s work is scarcely remembered today.  Firestone called not only for the abolition of the nuclear family and the economic and social independence of children, but for the end of pregnancy itself.  The cybernetic revolution was hailed as the technological solution to the curse of Eve and the subordination of mothers just as automation was claimed to offer an end to brutal physical labour. Today, as researchers attempt to devise a prosthetic womb, Firestone’s call seems prescient. More importantly, her philosophical challenge to the cultural significance of genital difference returns us to the unresolved question of genderdichotomy, whether this is understood as discursive, social, psychologicalor physical, and its relation to the continuing subordination of women and homosexuals.We are requesting papers of  7,000 to 9,000 words addressing The Dialectic of Sex  its argument, its reception, its salience today.  Please send 300 word synopses, together with a brief biography, to Mandy Merck and Stella Sandford at m.merck AT by April 1, 2008. 

Is female wrestling worse than stripping?

Florida, and Miami especially, has some of the laxest legislation regarding strip clubs in the States. Here, you’re allowed to touch the dancers, they can touch you, the venues can sell whatever booze as they want, and they can do so till 5 or 6am. There’s not many rules about advertising either, and one quickly becomes inured to flicking past the pages promoting establishments that offer ‘full liquor, full nudity, full friction’ in the local free sheets and listings magazines. Occasionally, though, there’s something egregious enough to startle still. This was the Miami New Times’ recommendation for how to spend Monday evening this week:

Witness the glorious return of female wrestling.

Sick of spilling cheese at the strip club? We have something better for you. Allow us to paint you a visual picture of the sights, sounds, and smells you are certain to behold when Nastie’s Female Wrestling returns tonight to Studio A. Scantily clad women will be rolling around in baby oil, pulling each other’s hair, and eventually ripping off each other’s bikinis. The oil will glisten off of their smooth skin, as testosterone-fueled onlookers chant things like “Fuck her up!” Good stuff.

The two contestants will be naked and kicking as the drooling crowd moves closer to the custom-designed wrestling ring. How do the brawls usually end during Nastie’s events? Video footage from a previous match featured a brunette putting a blonde in a head lock. Then the blonde broke free, rolled over, and sat bare-bottomed on top of her opponent. She fondled her pierced nipples as the referee counted to three. All of this awaits you.

I was first flabbergasted, then disgusted, then curious at my own reactions. Why is this enough to shake me whilst I’m complacent about the strip clubs?  (Studio A isn’t a strip club, it’s a mid-size nightclub that more normally puts on bands and DJs).  Is it just the article – the violent overtones, the horrible pack-animal imagery (drooling, chanting), the fact that a respected publication is helping to promote it? Or is there a significant ethical difference between this kind of thing and strip clubs? I’m no ethicist; my intuition is that yes, there is a difference, this stuff is worse. But I’m finding it hard to articulate why, beyond the fact that this adds stupid violence to stupid objectification. Help, anyone?