The University of New Mexico’s newly minted Radical Feminist Literary Society is in full swing. Meeting every Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building, the group flourishes as a space on campus to read and discuss radical feminist theoretical works in a safe and inclusive environment.

“I think engaging with the actual theoretical tradition that actually exists is so important to push back against the idea that it’s just intuitive and that we already know what it is,” Mohammed Rawwas, UNM student and club member said.

UNM senior Vivian Norman started this organization as well as UNM’s Students for Socialism. They were inspired to create the group when they noticed a pervasive lack in the consideration of feminist frameworks across leftist spaces.



“I kind of noticed that feminism is shoved down as just a minor component of a bigger movement … I tried to address it a little bit within socialist spaces and it was kind of just met with ‘We already know that’ or ‘Oh whatever, we’ll talk about that,’ and things just didn’t change and didn’t get brought up, so I just left the generic socialist space and wanted to start a feminist space,” Norman said.

The lack of attention to feminist theory within Students for Socialism and other socialist spaces in Albuquerque was also noted by group member and UNM economics student Eben Bellas. Feminist spaces are incredibly limited on campus and within the larger socialist movement, according to Norman, and when there is large rallying around feminist politics, it starts and ends with conversations about access to abortion and childcare. 

“It seems like everyone thinks that they know feminism. It’s like, ‘We know what feminism is and we’re all feminists; let’s move on to more specific things,’ and we actually don’t and a lot of people really reject it,” Norman said.

Currently, the group is reading “The Dialectic of Sex” by Shulamith Firestone, which posits sexism as the most pervasive and widely ingrained form of class-based oppression in society. She also asserts that revolution can occur on the basis of sex and that sex should, in fact, be a primary political battleground as sex is rooted in a material reality that comes prior to other oppressive structures.

“This was a very novel set of ideas at the time she was writing them, completely unique and self-generated ideas that she’s developing for the first time … It’s up to feminism as a movement as to whether you take up this particular strand of argumentation or not,” Rawwas said.

The group has been fairly productive in its meetings and discussions, but they have had issues with their posters being taken down across campus “within 12 hours” of their being put up, according to Norman.

“I tell people that I’m in a radical feminist book club and some of the reactions I get are rancid. I’m like, ‘What? Why do you hate the idea of radical feminism so much?’” Bellas said.

Still, the group shows no signs of stopping. They plan to continue with the Firestone reading for the remainder of the semester, and they are excited to continue to parse through and exchange thoughts on oft-forgotten literature with a dynamic group.

“I feel like the left is so politically weak that there’s this obsession over bringing everyone in together to unite over one idea. I feel like every time I’ve encountered it, they treat it kind of like a conservation of energy. They’re like, ‘No, defeating capitalism is our end goal right now, and so everything else comes after,’” Norman said. 

Zara Roy is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle