“Not picketing in front of bra factories...”: Marxism, feminism, and the Weather Underground

McEneaney, Sinead (2021). “Not picketing in front of bra factories...”: Marxism, feminism, and the Weather Underground. In: Phelps, Christopher and Vandome, Robin eds. Marxism and America: New Appraisals. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

URL: https://manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526149...

Abstract

Created in 1969 out of ideological discord within the Students for a Democratic Society, Weatherman typified the disillusion of the late stage New Left, which grappled with how to consolidate competing approaches to gender inequalities, the Vietnam war, the conservative turn in domestic politics and the problem of imperialism. Tensions quickly emerged within Weatherman between their Marxist ideological leanings and the expectation that a group fronted by high-profile women leaders might have more fully embraced the cause of women’s liberation. After four decades, key Weather activists have sought to redefine Weatherman as feminist. However, contemporary critics – even within Weather itself -- highlighted the leadership’s inability to see the possibility of a happy marriage between Marxism and women’s liberation, and thus to contribute to the shaping of what we now call intersectional feminism. This chapter examines the ways in which Weatherman deployed Marxist ideas and language to justify their antagonism to hegemonic feminism, and argues that the dismissal of feminism as ‘self-indulgent bullshit’ can help to explain the group’s slide into irrelevance.

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