Sex, Race and Class: The Perspective of Winning by Selma James

Sex, Race and Class: The Perspective of Winning, A Selection of Writings 1952-2011 by Selma James


Published by PM Press 27 April 2012.

Foreword by Marcus Rediker. Introduction by Nina López.

ISBN: 978-1-60486-454-0

Selma James is the founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign and co-ordinator of the Global Women’s Strike

Includes A Woman's Place; Women, the Unions and Work, or what is not to be done; Sex, Race and Class; Wageless of the World; an excerpt from The Ladies and the Mammies — Jane Austen and Jean Rhys; Marx and Feminism; Hookers in the House of the Lord, with excerpts from Strangers & Sisters: Women, Race and Immigration, The Global Kitchen — the Case for Counting Unwaged Work, and The Milk of Human Kindness.

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Product Description

In 1972, Selma James set out a new political perspective. Her starting point was the millions of unwaged women who, working in the home and on the land, were not seen as “workers”. Based on her political training with her late husband C.L.R. James, on movement experience South and North, and on a respectful reading of Marx, she redefined the working class to include sectors previously dismissed as “marginal.”

For James, we face a conflict between the reproduction and survival of the human race, and the domination of the market with its exploitation, wars, and ecological devastation. She sums up her strategy for change as “Invest in Caring not Killing.”

This selection, spanning almost six decades, traces the development of this perspective in the course of building an international campaigning network. It includes the classic The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community which launched the “domestic labor debate,” the groundbreaking Sex, Race and Class and Marx and Feminism, the exciting Hookers in the House of the Lord about a church occupation by sex workers, an evaluation of the UN Decade for Women, a reappraisal of the novels of Jean Rhys and of Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania. Her account of CLR James’s organisation the Johnson-Forest Tendency—published here for the first time, together with some of the Woman’s Place columns she wrote at the time—reveals a different CLR from the intellectual popular among academics: an imaginative anti-capitalist organiser. Her writings and speeches are steeped in the grassroots movement and the class split in feminism—from Haiti, Venezuela, Egypt and Palestine to SlutWalk and Global Occupy.

The writing is lucid and without jargon. The ideas, never abstract, spring from the experience of organising, from trying to make sense of the successes and the setbacks, and from the need to find a way forward.

Other publications by Selma James: A Woman’s Place (1952), Women, the Unions and Work, or what is not to be done (1972), Sex, Race and Class (1974), Wageless of the World (1974),The Rapist Who Pays the Rent (1982 co-author), The Ladies and the Mammies—Jane Austen and Jean Rhys (1983), Marx and Feminism (1983), Hookers in the House of the Lord (1983), Strangers & Sisters: Women, Race and Immigration (1985  ed. & Introduction), The Global Kitchen: The Case for Counting Unwaged work (1985 and 1995),The Milk of Human Kindness: Defending Breastfeeding from the AIDS Industry and the Global Market (co-author, 2002).

Ms James toured the US with her new book to great acclaim. She was interviewed at length on Democracy Now, KPFK and KPFA.

For interviews or to review her book: Tel: 0207 482 2496

Additional Information

Dimensions 9 x 6 in





Feminism, Literary Collection, Politics




  1. 0 out of 5


    “Inspiring because of James’ ability to write plainly, incisively, and accessibly about complex ideas and complicated political moments.” — Paul Kivel,

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    “An insightful and exceedingly intelligent political analyst.” — Dr. Gerald Horne, University of Houston

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    “. . . reflects in concentrated form the history of the new society struggling to be born. In this respect, Selma James embodies in these essays the spirit of the revolutionary tradition at its most relevant.” — Dr. Robert A. Hill, dir. of the Marcus Garvey Papers Project, literary executor CLR James’ estate

  4. 0 out of 5


    “Selma James is a treasure, as this volume of riches makes clear. Pioneering analysis of ‘race-class-gender’. . . One of the key political thinkers and activists of our times.” — Marcus Rediker, from the preface

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    “Why had I missed this writing though much of the perspective has pervaded the movement in some form or another? . . . Her prose at once theoretical and inspirational has provided a renewed praxis to work with.” — Amrita Shodhan,,teaching fellow SOAS

  6. 0 out of 5


    “Reminds us that liberation cannot be handed down from above. A feminism that truly matters.” — Dr. Alissa Trotz, Women & Gender, and Caribbean Studies, Toronto

  7. 0 out of 5


    “Clarity and commitment to Haiti’s revolutionary legacy. A sister after my own heart.” — Danny Glover, actor and activist

  8. 0 out of 5


    “We have been enlightened and energised by [her] care and passion and commitment.” — Lord Anthony Gifford, QC

  9. 0 out of 5


    “It’s time to acknowledge James’s path-breaking analysis: from 1972 she re-interpreted the capitalist economy to show that it rests on the usually invisible unwaged caring work of women.” — Dr. Peggy Antrobus, feminist, author

  10. 0 out of 5


    “A ‘must’ for feminist and social issues collections alike, this college-level collection provides powerful assessments of evolving women’s rights.” — Midwest Book Review

  11. 0 out of 5


    “In varied contexts and at many venues, including the UN, James’s output over six decades, Sex, Race, and Class,shines with radical clarity on the economy, humanity, and society . . . Hers is a gift of clarifying often knotty issues in words that people can grasp.” — Seth Sandronsky, Z Magazine

  12. 0 out of 5


    “Why is it that so many of us militant mamas who struggle to balance paid work, social justice work and childraising remain so unfamiliar with Selma James, her writings and her work? . . . a challenge to bring these histories into our present-day organizing for a truly liberated society.” — Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars.

  13. 0 out of 5


    “Strong stuff . . . James has clearly walked the talk during six decades of activism.” — Angela Cobbinah, Camden New Journal & West End Extra

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    “The final essay ‘Striving for Clarity and Influence’ is a fierce defence of CLR James political legacy against those who would see his achievements in purely literary terms. Fascinating.” — Becky Gardiner, The Guardian

  15. 0 out of 5


    “This book is not only an intellectual tour de force, it is the best how to organise manual I have ever read . . . The staggering breadth of James’ writing takes your breath away . . . practical how-to feminism from one of the outstanding thinkers of our time.” — Cary Gee, Tribune

  16. 0 out of 5


    “Intellectually ambitious attempt to synthesize Marxism, feminism, and post-colonialism, not with the usual sellotaped hyphenations.” — Jenny Turner, London Review of Books

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