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The CLR James Journal

Volume 24, Issue 1/2, Fall 2018

Sylvia Wynter
Pages 31-56

Beyond Liberal and Marxist Leninist Feminisms
Towards an Autonomous Frame of Reference

This paper attempts to outline an autonomous feminism; a feminism with its own voice, and one that will transcend the binaries in which Marxism and liberalism are still caught. Its first step is to make clear the semio-linguistic foundations of all human social systems. These foundations consist of an open-ended set of social imaginary signifiers embedded in complex abduction or analogy-producing schemas, the creative conjugating of which makes possible the establishing of social orders such as families, monarchies or patriarchies. The second is to show that the semiotics of these orders require dominant or central signifiers, such as father or king, that must be supported by subordinate or peripheral ones. Third, the paper shows that women have consistently functioned as subordinate signifiers in these order-producing semio-linguistic codes. Fourth and finally, the paper details the semiotic difficulties of overthrowing this underlying governing code and thus breaking women out of their assigned subordinate positions.

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