Feminism and solidarity on the left : rethinking the unhappy marriage metaphor

Alexander, Kirsty and Eschle, Catherine and Morrison, Jenny and Tulbure, Mairi (2019) Feminism and solidarity on the left : rethinking the unhappy marriage metaphor. Political Studies, 67 (4). pp. 972-991. ISSN 0032-3217 (https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321718817479)

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In the context of efforts to revive and reconfigure the left, fraught solidarity relations between feminism and other left forces are again under the political spotlight. This article revisits the widespread use of the ‘unhappy marriage’ metaphor to characterise these relations, given that metaphors play a significant role in structuring political discourse and action. We argue that the metaphor has been used in uncritical and limiting ways, and turn to feminist reconfigurations of the institutions of marriage to develop a more expansive, reflexive conceptual lens. We then apply this lens to three case studies of left organising in Scotland around the time of the 2012-2014 Scottish independence referendum, showing that the expanded marriage metaphor captures a more complex story of solidarity relations. Nonetheless, aspects of the marriage metaphor remain irredeemable, and we end with a call for the continued development of alternative frameworks that imagine political solidarity differently.