Class Ceiling--Ehrenreich

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Mon Mar 20 12:03:48 PST 2000

kelley wrote:
> >Doing it for Ourselves
> >Can feminism survive class polarization?
> >By Barbara Ehrenreich

Doug Henwood:
> Ehrenreich has a very fine article in the current Harper's on
> housework and maids. I'm going to have her on the radio sometime in
> the next couple of weeks to talk about it.

It seems to me that the dissolution of social groups (in particular, the feminist groups which Ehrenreich reports or hypothesizes) due to class conflict is a coming-to-conciousness of basic truth, a truth which was temporarily obscured in some (but not all) minds by bourgeois social democracy and the Welfare State: the class war. A radical approach would sharpen it and make it more explicit. To some extent Ehrenreich seems to be interested in this. On the other hand she writes:

Barbara Ehrenreich:
> ...
> We should recall that the original radical--and, yes, utopian--feminist
> vision was of a society without hierarchies of any kind. This of course
> means equality among the races and the genders, but class is different:
> There can be no such thing as "equality among the classes." The abolition
> of hierarchy demands not only racial and gender equality, but the abolition
> of class. For a start, let's put that outrageous aim back into the
> long-range feminist agenda and mention
> it as loudly and often as we can.
> ...

Is it not the case that race and gender, like class, are social constructions and vectors of oppression? The equality of the races and the genders, like the oxymoronic equality of classes, would then mean either their abolition, or their dissolution into games that lack the power to do harm. A society without hierarchies based in force could not maintain such distinctions as serious, inescapable facts. A person could choose a race or a gender, or two, or many, or none.

I envision a future in which some people may _choose_ to play at capitalism or Black Man / White Man as they now play at B&D and cross-dressing, or not, as they please; when they get tired of the games, they can get untied and go home.

So you might ask her about that, on the off chance that it makes any sense.


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