This is going to be my final post on Shulamith Firestone’s “The Dialectic of Sex”, focusing on her chapter on race – which as you might have guessed, argues for the position in the title. I’ll freely admit that race issue are not something I’m hugely familiar with, so I feel a certain reluctance to issue judgements about it, and the claim that racism “is a sexual issue” seems like a fairly sweeping one. But I’d be inclined to take it in the following sense:
“The symbolic structure of American black-white racism is based primarily on the deployment and unfolding of psychosexual symbol-structures.”
So just to clarify – the focus is on the symbolic structure, the way that different races are constructed in the cultural imagination. The relationship and degree of weight to be apportioned between this and more ‘concrete’ economic or political issues, I will leave hanging. Similarly, Firestone expressly limits her remarks to black-white racism in the United States, but suggests that similar structures can be found far more widely.
Of course you may be wondering what on earth a ‘psychosexual symbol-structure’ is. Hopefully that will become clear.