Sophie LewisNov 18, 2022
Abolish the Family
A Manifesto for Care and Liberation
Verso Books 2022
What if family were not the only place you might hope to feel safe, loved, cared for and accepted? What if we could do better than the family? We need to talk about the family. For those who are lucky, families can be filled with love and care, but for many they are sites of pain: from abandonment and neglect, to abuse and violence. Nobody is more likely to harm you than your family. Even in so-called happy families, the unpaid, unacknowledged work that it takes to raise children and care for each other is endless and exhausting. It could be otherwise: in this urgent, incisive polemic, leading feminist critic Sophie Lewis makes the case for family abolition.
Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (Verso, 2022) traces the history of family abolitionist demands, beginning with nineteenth century utopian socialist and sex radical Charles Fourier, the Communist Manifesto and early-twentieth century Russian family abolitionist Alexandra Kollontai. Turning her attention to the 1960s, Lewis reminds us of the anti-family politics of radical feminists like Shulamith Firestone and the gay liberationists, a tradition she traces to the queer marxists bringing family abolition to the twenty-first century. This exhilarating essay looks at historic rightwing panic about Black families and the violent imposition of the family on indigenous communities, and insists: only by thinking beyond the family can we begin to imagine what might come after.
Sophie Lewis is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia, teaching courses for the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Her first book was Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, and her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, Boston Review, n+1, the London Review of Books and Salvage. Sophie studied English, Politics, Environment and Geography at Oxford, the New School, and Manchester University, and is now an unpaid visiting scholar at the Feminist, Queer and Transgender Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Oana Uiorean is a Romanian writer and translator. She writes and thinks about communism and feminism while raising children and organising women’s strikes. She curates the book series Bread&Roses on feminist theory and practice for the publisher frACTalia. Her debut novel is Aporia.Dezbărații (frACTalia, 2019). A pamphlet on socialist revolutionary feminism is forthcoming, as well as a book for our comrades the children.