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John Passant

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July 2010



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Feminism as a cover for reaction

Julia Gillard’s ascension to the Prime Ministership has exposed the fault lines of Australian feminism between the liberals and the liberationists. 

Already some feminists are complaining that the attacks on Gillard are because she is a woman, not because she is a reactionary.

Some committed women unionists have swung totally behind Gillard despite the fact her policies are the antithesis of all they stand for on workers’ rights, equal pay, equal love, the Northern Territory intervention, climate change, refugees, Palestine … The list goes on. 

For many feminists (but not all) it is gender that is all important, not class.

For the revolutionary left the basic issue is class, an analysis which helps explain why women are oppressed in our society. But it also explains Gillard’s reactionary policies.

Gillard rules for that small minority – men and, increasingly, women – who live off our labour. They make the big decisions in society, for example about living standards and jobs and about what to produce and how much, all in the name of profit rather than satisfying human need.

In this Gillard carries on the tradition of such wonderful female ruling class politicians as Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir.

From the revolutionary left’s position, the scrutiny of Gillard has been as intense as that of Rudd. Both are the lapdogs of capital.

Gillard has been the harbinger, if this was at all possible, of Labor’s further move to the right.

The capitulation to the big 3 mining companies, the attack on refugees, the continuation of the war in Afghanistan and of the intervention in the Northern Territory, the blind support for Israel’s ongoing genocide of the Palestinians, the widening of the gap between men’s and women’s wages, are all examples not of Gillard as a caring sharing woman but of her as the brutal overseer of a system that dehumanises women and men.

Her policies hurt women – women as workers, women as refugees, women as Palestinians, women as aborigines.

We on the Left criticise Gillard not because she is a woman but because she attacks women in order to serve the interests of her class. She is part of the problem, not the solution.



Comment from Shane H
Time July 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm

You know attacks on ‘feminism’ (when you mean liberal feminism) in the name of some non-gendered class is what is reactionary. I wonder if you have read any feminism since Engels. Marxists attacking “feminism” and elevatering class over gender is poor analysis. Leave the attacks on feminism to to the right.

Comment from John
Time July 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Shane, maybe you should read the article again. I was attacking those feminists defending Gillard because of her gender, despite her embrace of reaction. If you want to join with them, by all means do so.

Comment from Shane H
Time July 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Which feminists are you talking about?

Comment from John
Time July 13, 2010 at 5:31 am

Shane, I am talking about those defending Gillard in the popular and blogosphere press. Read some of the comments on Larvatus Prado for example attacking those who dare criticise Gillard and saying it is because we are misogynists or anti-woman or the like. I am merely making the point that in the name of defending women they give cover to Gillard’s attacks on women. Some really strong unionists I know have fallen hook line and sinker for this argument and will not entertain any criticism of her, despite the fact they support Ark Tribe, want the ABCC abolished, are strong campaigners for equal pay, equal love, for refugees, for Palestine and the like. There is a contradiction there that shows to me the fault lines in gendered feminism. perhaps I should have written in the first sentence about the faultlines between liberal feminism and radical and libertarian versions.

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Time July 13, 2010 at 9:55 am

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