Available now!

Anarchy and the Sex Question:
Essays on Women and Emancipation, 1896-1917
By Emma Goldman
Edited by Shawn P. Wilbur
Available from PM Press, August 1, 2016


Emma Goldman (1869 – 1940) remains one of the best known figures of the political tradition known as anarchism, and with good reason, as few writers have so convincingly explained the evils of authority in government. But Goldman’s anarchism extended beyond the political realm, and arguably found its most essential expressions in her writings on matters more directly connected to everyday life. For Goldman, anarchism was not just an ideology, but a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions.” Still, there was another force that she considered “the most elemental force in human life:” Sex.

“The Sex Question” emerged for Goldman in the most varied of 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. However, despite the obvious importance of the question to Goldman, it has been hard to assess the precise nature of her answers to it, because the various elements of her analysis of that most elemental force remained fragmentary, scattered across numerous 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 contemporary questions such as Goldman’s place, or lack thereof, in the history of feminism.


  • Introduction: “Let Us Not Overlook Vital Things” (Shawn P. Wilbur)
  • Anarchy and the Sex Question
  • What Is There in Anarchy for Women?
  • The New Woman
  • “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation
  • The White Slave Traffic
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Her Tragic Life and Her Passionate Struggle for Freedom
  • The Hypocrisy of Puritanism
  • Jealousy: Causes and a Possible Cure
  • Victims of Morality
  • Woman Suffrage
  • Marriage and Love
  • The Social Aspects of Birth Control
  • Again the Birth Control Agitation
  • The Woman Suffrage Chameleon
  • Louise Michel: A Refutation Addressed to Dr. Maynes Hershfeld
  • Emma’s Love Views
  • Feminism’s Fight Not Vain
  • The Element of Sex in Life

Of course, the material in the Anarchy and the Sex Question collection is just an small sample from Emma Goldman’s work. Explore the other works archived here for much more by and about Emma Goldman, more material from Mother Earth, and works by and about Voltairine de Cleyre and Lizzie M. Holmes.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.