A Political Strategy for the Liberation of Women: Socialist Feminist Political Practice

Public Deposited
Resource Type
  • This dissertation examines socialist feminism as it developed as a political force in English-speaking parts of Canada, especially Toronto, from the 1960s - 1980s. This project contributes to documenting, summarizing, and analyzing socialist feminist activity, with particular attention devoted to organizational forms and methods. The legacy of socialist feminism is remembered as a disinclination towards parties, leadership, and organization. In reviewing the history of socialist feminism, I show that this is not an accurate portrayal of the movement. Instead, there were heated debates about the best strategies for achieving the goals of the movement. Drawing on archival research, interviews and secondary sources, I look at what practices emerged from the development of socialist feminism that can inform contemporary projects for women's liberation. Socialist feminists rooted their analysis of women's oppression in relation to capitalist production and economic structures. Their political work on reproductive rights, childcare, housework, equal pay, anti-free trade, labour, and anti-war were all rooted in an understanding of how capital structured the lives of people. Throughout this dissertation, I'll show how this analysis helped strengthen the political work of the women's movement and political organizations on the Left. I also examine socialist feminism's relationship to communist and socialist organizing by women and around the woman question historically, alongside the developments in class struggle in Canada and the ideological and political divisions in the socialist Left. Reflecting on socialist feminism from our vantage-point today, I argue that a reconsideration of the role of the socialist political party is needed. A modern socialist left must be conscious of what tools cannot be discarded, or are indeed most critical, if it hopes to organize people in the thousands and millions required to bring about transformative, revolutionary change.

Thesis Degree Level
Thesis Degree Name
Thesis Degree Discipline
Rights Notes
  • Copyright © 2020 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2020


In Collection: