Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation

Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation

Sherry Wolf

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1931859795

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Sexuality and Socialism is a remarkably accessible analysis of many of the most challenging questions for those concerned with full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

Inside are essays on the roots of LGBT oppression, the construction of sexual and gender identities, the history of the gay movement, and how to unite the oppressed and exploited to win sexual liberation for all. Sherry Wolf analyzes different theories about oppression—including those of Marxism, postmodernism, identity politics, and queer theory—and challenges myths about genes, gender, and sexuality.

Sexuality and Socialism is the most intelligent and enlightened discussion on sexuality to come from the Left in a long time. No other work that comes to my mind explains the history of sexuality and sexual repression in the United States as comprehensively and compellingly.”—Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice

“Sherry Wolf: Lesbian, Activist, Communist & Badass-ist... spoke to a pre-National Equality March rally. She. Blew. It. Up.”—Austin Chronicle

“Sherry speaks with such eloquence and plain common sense that I can't help but want to know more about her ideas and convictions.”—Derek Washington, “In the LV” radio host, Director of LGBT Outreach, Clark County Democratic Black Caucus

“The icons of the new generation of activists are people like Lady Gaga, Dustin Lance Black, Judy Shephard, Lt. Daniel Choi (ret.) and Sherry Wolf (author of Sexuality and Socialism).”—Don Gorton, Join the Impact Board Member

“Surprisingly funny, very readable and a fitting tome for a new movement in these troubled times.”—Dave Zirin for Progressive's Best Books of 2009

“‘What humans have constructed they can tear down.’ This is the powerful insight of this rare book that is at once politically important, theoretically and historically sophisticated, and clearly written. Sexuality and Socialism is enlivened in its engagement with a number of controversies, including those over the alleged biological determination of homosexuality, the myth of Black homophobia, and the consequences of postmodernist theories for the politics of gay liberation. Above all else, Wolf puts forward a cogent defense of the Marxist tradition—long and wrongly reviled as homophobic in itself—as a way to explain how LGBT oppression arose and what we can do to put it to bed.”—Dana Cloud, University of Texas at Austin

Sherry Wolf is the associate editor of the International Socialist Review. She was on the executive committee of the National Equality March Oct. 11, 2009 and has written for publications including the Nation, MRZine, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, and Socialist Worker and speaks frequently across the country on the struggle for LGBT liberation as well as a wide range of social and economic justice issue.

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incentive existed for those who knew they were gay to lie and go to war with their peers. Coming out in close quarters The armed forces segregated men in crowded barracks or in close ship quarters. The fear of death in a war that killed more than four hundred thousand Americans was ever present and created harsh and extraordinary circumstances in which the norms of civilian life were often suspended. Men on leave in por t cities danced together, an of fense that would have brought arrest during

little expense to itself. Likewise, the oppression of LGBT people stems from the implicit challenge that sexual minorities pose to the nuclear family and its gender norms. Far from subordinating the issue of fighting homophobia and transphobia to the class struggle, Marxists cannot conceive of the liberation of the exploited without the liberation of the oppressed. As any cursor y look at the modern working 76 SEXUALITY AND SOCIALISM class will show, class unity is inconceivable so long as

was not only to prove that all human sexuality is natural, found elsewhere in nature, but also to undermine the scientific pretexts used to legally persecute those who deviate in any way from the sexual norm. While he rejected Carpenter’s assertion of homosexuality as a “third sex,” he contended that sexual “inversion” was a “quirk of nature.”28 Despite Ellis’s ardent defense of the naturalness of human sexual variation and his open discussion about and defense of lesbianism and masturbation

department in 1928 discovered a “huge quantity of cases” of one doctor who “changed sex and made women of men and vice versa, using rather primitive surgical operations.”54 They seem to have been mostly concerned with the ethical and physiological ramifications of this practice, but did not pursue the issue as a legal matter. Bolshevik leader Alexandra Kollontai described the explosive changes in sexual relationships in 1921: “History has never seen such a variety of personal

beginning of the end of the postwar boom. This had major repercussions throughout U.S. society. Labor strikes from 1968 to 1974 had helped lessen the gap between rich and poor and the expansion of welfare programs during the Johnson administration, known as the “Great Society,” had helped alleviate some of the worst poverty in rural and urban America.1 Bosses launched an allout assault on working-class living standards known as the “employers’ offensive” to reverse these gains, which was

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