For Emma Goldman, the “High Priestess of Anarchy,” anarchism was “a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions,” but “the most elemental force in human life” was something still more basic and vital: sex.
“The Sex Question” emerged for Goldman in multiple contexts, and we find her addressing it in writing on subjects as varied as women’s suffrage, “free love,” birth control, the “New Woman,” homosexuality, marriage, love, and literature. It was at once a political question, an economic question, a question of morality, and a question of social relations.
But her analysis of that most elemental force remained fragmentary, scattered across numerous published (and unpublished) works and conditioned by numerous contexts. Anarchy and the Sex Question draws together the most important of those scattered sources, uniting both familiar essays and archival material, in an attempt to recreate the great work on sex that Emma Goldman might have given us. In the process, it sheds light on Goldman’s place in the history of feminism.
- “Emma Goldman left a profound legacy of wisdom, insight, and passionate commitment to life. Shawn Wilbur has carefully selected her best writings on that most profound, pleasurable, and challenging of topics: sex. This collection is a great service to anarchist, feminist, and queer communities around the world.”
—Jamie Heckert, coeditor of Anarchism & Sexuality: Ethics, Relationships and Power
- “Shawn Wilbur must be congratulated for producing this work. By collecting Emma Goldman’s writings on the ‘Sex Question’—women’s rights and freedom—in one book, he enables current activists to study and learn from one of the key figures of anarchism. The issues then are the same as now: Is women’s equality within a class ridden society enough? Are women becoming bosses and politicians really the best we can aim for? Can sexual equality without social equality really result in true liberation? These were the issues Goldman was discussing and they are all too relevant today. Wilbur’s anthology will undoubtedly become essential reading for a whole new generation of activists.”
—Iain McKay, author of An Anarchist FAQ
- “Shawn Wilbur has done a great job assembling and introducing Emma Goldman’s writings on women, feminism, and sexuality. As he notes, Goldman’s essays continue to provoke and inspire. The collection artfully documents the evolution of Goldman’s views on freedom, sex, and human liberation.”
—Robert Graham, editor of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas
About the Author and Editor:
Emma Goldman (1869–1940) emigrated from Russia to the United States in 1885, just as the international anarchist movement was forming, and soon became among the best-known figures associated with anarchism. The remainder of her life was speaking, writing, publishing, and agitating, despite legal harassment, imprisonment, and deportation. Many years after her death, Goldman’s ideas remain important influences among both anarchists and feminists. Her works include Anarchism and Other Essays (1910), My Disillusionment in Russia (1923), and Living My Life (1931).
Shawn P. Wilbur is a historian, translator, and curator of the Libertarian Labyrinth digital archive. His published translations include work by Charles Fourier (The World War of Small Pastries), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Joseph Déjacque.
Author: Emma Goldman • Editor: Shawn P. Wilbur
Publisher: PM Press/Revolutionary Pocketbooks
Published: October 2016
Page count: 160
See and hear author interviews, book reviews, and other news on the Emma Goldman’s Page HERE
See and hear author interviews, book reviews, and other news on the Shawn P. Wilbur’s Page HERE