Feminist Next System Literature Review

Angela Davis

In her 1983 book Women, Race, and Class, Angela Davis challenges racist ideas about the Black family, arguing that Black Americans have managed to transform the oppression they suffered as slaves into a positive family system in which there is general egalitarianism in social relations.

Davis describes the ways in which the women’s movement failed Black women but also holds up examples of cross race and cross class alliances that achieved positive results. Pointing out the tensions between Black and white feminism, she devotes a chapter to the linkages between the early birth control movement and the eugenics movement, highlighting the fact that birth control and sterilization (things white women saw as liberating) were linked to poverty and genocide against Black, Latina and Native American women.

Perhaps most directly relevant to the question of the next system (although much of Davis’ early work is relevant since she is grounded in a socialist analysis), is her chapter "The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework: A Working-Class Perspective," in which she describes housework as boring and repetitive and argues that neither men nor women should have to waste their lives on labor that is “neither stimulating, creative nor productive." Instead, she advocates for a system in which: "Teams of trained and well-paid workers, moving from dwelling to dwelling, engineering technologically advanced cleaning machinery, could swiftly and efficiently accomplish what the present-day housewife does so arduously and primitively." In this argument she has much in common with feminists interested in harnessing technology for collective empowerment, notions that many eco-feminists and environmentally-focused feminists are critical of. 

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