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The Managed Heart: Commercialisation of Human Feeling
Arlie Russell Hochschild
A prescient account of how emotions and feelings get incorporated and exploited in certain forms of employment, particularly in jobs that feature a high percentage of women. Hochschild takes as her test case the flight attendant, arguing that here ‘the emotional style of offering the service is part of the service itself’. Hochschild’s book is crucial for thinking about what the supposed ‘feminisation’ of labour might mean, and for thinking of strategies of resistance to the demand to sell emotional as well as physical and intellectual labour.
Set in a hospital, Wetlands follows the thoughts and strange encounters of 18-year-old Helen Memel, the victim of an unfortunate attempt at intimate shaving. It is hard not to see Charlotte Roche’s rebellion against the unwritten demand that women be (mostly) hairless, constantly presentable and perpetually desirable as, in part, an attack on the television culture that made her name (Roche is a TV star in Germany).
Helen is everything a female TV host cannot be: ill, self-involved and obsessed with obscenity. But Wetlands is more than just a complaint against the sexual double standards of contemporary life. It points to an odd paradox: for all the hedonism of an apparently liberated culture in which women can drink and screw with the best of them (think Sex and the City), the language we use to describe this behaviour and these unleashed desires is profoundly outdated or, more often, simply absent.
The Dialectic of Sex
A visionary account of woman’s historical oppression (what Firestone calls ‘sex-class’, which underlies economic class) and of how technology will bring about what she calls ‘cybernetic communism’, the complete emancipation of women from childbirth and the negative dimensions of female embodiment. Firestone is unusual for making sexual difference her starting point (as opposed to starting with the ‘constructed’ nature of gender, for example), but gives us a vital indication as to how serious and wide-ranging feminism can be.
Heartbreak: The Political Memoirs of a Feminist Militant
Dworkin was a brilliant, crystalline writer. Whatever disagreements you may have with her positions (her campaign against pornography, for example), there is no doubting the strength and the rigour of her arguments, as well as the passion for her cause. Heartbreak is a short, compelling book that details, often in a humorous way, her encounters with injustice in childhood, adolescence and then as a campaigning and outspoken adult. Her white-hot anger against violence towards women in all its forms burns from the page.
King Kong Theory
This is a half-polemic, half-memoir in which French filmmaker and writer Despentes takes to task French hypocrisy about sex and her own experiences of prostitution. She writes that undesirable women ‘have always existed. We just never feature in novels written by men, who only create women they want to have sex with. … Even today, when women publish lots of novels, you rarely get female characters that are unattractive or plain, unsuited to loving men or to being loved by them.’ It is an angry cry for the recognition of sidelined women everywhere.
The Piano Teacher
Jelinek explores the darker regions of the female psyche and sexual desire, linking repression and perversity to broader social and political conditions. The book is about the self-destruction of sexually repressed Erika Kohut, a piano teacher at the Vienna Conservatory. But it is also about obsession, desire and having a weird relationship with your mother. It frightens, but in a good way.
Little Tales of Misogyny
Highsmith, a gay, drunk crime writer who famously hated women but couldn’t live without them, had a tough, eerie style that generated true psychological anti-heroes. In this short story collection, a Women’s Lib meeting ends in murder at the hands of a can of beans, marriage ends in an arranged heart attack for the husband and little girls grow up far too quickly into back-stabbing women. Highsmith’s refusal to ‘play nice’ is her greatest strength.
Smile or Die
Ehrenreich addresses class, employment, gender and in Smile or Die, a history of the self-help industry. Her first real encounter with this billion-dollar hot-air cloud comes through her own experience of breast cancer and exhortations to ‘think positive’. She points out that if we spent more time looking for a cure, rather than demanding sufferers go on a ‘personal journey’, then we might not need so many pink ribbons.
Nina Power is the author of One Dimensional Woman and blogs at infinitethought.cinestatic.com
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Priti Patel's shady deals are business as usual. Enough is enough, writes Eleanor Penny
Boris Johnson is a local disaster and a national embarrassment. He must go, writes James Clouting
The global elite have been stealing from society on an unprecedented scale, writes Tom Walker
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum