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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them (think Sex and the City), the language we use to describe this behaviour and these unleashed desires is profoundly outdated or, more often, simply absent.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
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
’We believe in you. We are with you. We will never forget.’ Grenfell solidarity sweeps East London in mass banner drops from housing estates
Michael Calderbank profiles Jeremy Corbyn's new supporters in parliament
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced
India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya
North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero
The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava
France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati
This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help
PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank
Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media
I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to
We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS
Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank
Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland
Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones
The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya
The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.
An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now
The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee
Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell
Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths
Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe