Reclaiming utopia and the political imagination: Revisiting Firestone's dialectics of sex
Utopianism is a way to imagine and conceptualise images of an-other world, to critique the current world, and to generate a desire to move to a better place. It is an endeavour aimed at the root of social and political life. Scholars writing on the utopian tradition, however, have suggested that there has been a demise of utopia, signalled in an inability or unwillingness to engage with utopian concepts of imagination and improvement. This thesis suggests a theory of feminist dialectical utopianism as one way to counteract the demise of utopia and draws on The Dialectic of Sex, a 1970 manifesto published by radical feminist Shulamith Firestone. The feminist dialectical utopianism draws on orthodox Marxist ideas and alters them simultaneously, creating a theory which prioritises the interrelation and conflict of things such as the individual and community, space and time and the ideological and material. While Firestone’s utopian goals aim to resolve the inequality between men and women through an achievement of an androgynous cultural revolution, her methodology is crucial in understanding how we can reconceptualise utopia in a more general way. Firestone’s work is typically disregarded and caricatured, however, this thesis aims to explore her work in a more honest manner, and explore how these ‘dusty’ ideas of radical feminism, dialectics and utopia are becoming increasingly relevant and important in the early 21st century.
Advisor: Lam, Carla
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Politics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Shulamith Firestone; Utopia; Political Imagination; Feminism; dialectics
Research Type: Thesis