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Personal Modification is not Revolution – By Lea Melandri


Italian autonomist feminism emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s, in large part as a response to the failures of 1968 and the New Left. In critical dialogue with Operaismo, thinkers of the movement worked to problematize a Marxist orthodoxy that had neglected the role played by gendered labor in the reproduction of capitalism. By classifying domestic work as reproductive labor — itself the site of the constitution of gender, made invisible by way of the wage relation — and launching initiatives such as Wages for Housework, the Italian feminists such as Silvia Federici and Mariarosa Dalla Costa along with their international cohorts became best known for redefining materialism through a feminist lens, transforming the dynamic of workerism as a practice, and emphasizing political autonomy over aims of equality. Italian feminists interrogated difference rather than championing common ground between the sexes, setting them apart from many feminist initiatives elsewhere.

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