Archive for 'Women’s liberation'
If this is the way Abbott treats ruling class women imagine what he has in store for working class women. What Abbott’s male dominated cabinet shows is a government trapped in the past, reverting to the thinking of the 1950s. It reveals an anti-woman attitude which will translate into attacks on poor and working class women, if we and our unions let them.
But the truth is, just as there are different strands of Marxism, some with fundamental political differences, so too there are different strands of feminism–and some of them are self-consciously left wing (including Black feminism, that of other women of color, socialist-feminism and Marxist-feminism), who are as critical of feminism’s political mainstream as we are.
Unless we acknowledge these political distinctions between feminists, it is impossible to engage with feminism in any serious theoretical way. In many respects, over the last few decades in the IST, feminism became a straw figure–even a caricature of a straw figure, made up of the unlikely mish-mash of separatists who simply hate all men and bourgeois feminists who selfishly care only about gaining access to corporate boardrooms–against whom we Marxists steadfastly defended the “interests” of working-class women and men.
Women like Gillard or Thatcher running the ship of the capitalist state make no difference to the dynamic drivers of the system – the need to extract surplus value from productive workers, women as cheap carers and raisers of the next generation of workers, and all that flows from that – the second class citizenship of women, the low wages, the systemic sexism.
What has made a difference is the organised struggles against oppression, especially militant action by unions. Julia Gillard is part of the problem. Ordinary working women are part of the solution.
Fighting for Women’s Liberation A public discussion by Socialist Alternative Canberra 6 pm Thursday 30 May Room G 52 Haydon-Allen Building ANU Why are women still oppressed? Who profits from sexism? How do we challenge it? Join our discussion on sexism and how to fight it today. https://www.facebook.com/events/643768505639396/
So at this point in history, when feminism has been under sustained attack for the last 40 odd years with no end in sight, the last thing we should feel compelled to do is attack feminism. On the contrary, we need to defend feminism on principle, as a defense of women’s liberation and opposition to sexism. What is the definition of feminism? The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.
So I would argue that today, our emphasis should be more in keeping with that of the theory and practice of the Bolsheviks, in which we do not attempt to minimize the degree of oppression faced by women–or any other oppressed group–inside the working class, but rather to make a serious effort on every front to combat it.
Women are constantly told, in many different ways, that we are not equal and that our value lies in our bodies’ ability to please heterosexual men and sell products writes Kate Jeffreys in Socialist Alternative. Working women will be liberated by fighting against capitalism, alongside our working class brothers, for a world run for human need, rather than for corporate profits.
WHILE ALL women may suffer the effects of oppression under capitalism, though to varying extents, the working class, made up of men and women, is the only force capable of winning an end to that oppression. The working class has the power to bring capitalist production to a halt, upend the old society and build a new one with all workers’ interests at its heart.
During that process, workers shed backward ideas that divide and cripple them, like sexism. But struggle alone doesn’t guarantee women’s liberation. Struggles can ebb and flow. A totally different society has to be fought for, one where the material conditions for a world free of oppression can flourish.
This means locating the roots of women’s oppression. A key is the family, an institution that depends largely on women’s unpaid labor in order to survive, and that allows capitalism to get for free what a saner system would have to provide.
In a society based on profit, where every penny is squeezed from the working class, the nuclear family makes complete sense, even though it creates a double burden on women that includes unpaid labor in the home. But under socialism, a society in which the priority is providing for human need, the privatized family makes no sense at all.
Sharon Smith from the US International Socialist Organization talks about Marxism and women’s liberation in a very interesting video from Socialism 2012 in the US.
The Reclaim the Night Sydney Road collective, which organised the October 20 rally and march, refused to engage with any policies that would give further powers to police. Instead, the march called for an end to violence against women, support for survivors, an end to victim blaming and adequate funding for crisis services. These messages fit the inherently radical nature of Reclaim the Night in that it is a direct community response to a structural problem.
These sentiments resonated throughout the crowd, many of whom were carrying placards with wording such as “I’m here to end sexism, not campaign for CCTV to film it” and “A woman’s place is everywhere”.
I do wonder what our RSP colleagues make of this badly argued blunderbuss of sectarianism. I can only hope they challenge this ludicrous, self-satisfied, smug, anti-working class, infantile nonsense for what it is.
I have made it clear in internal bulletins I have my doubts about the merger with the RSP. But one thing that might come of the fait accompli of merger is a real challenge to the gross inadequacies of our analysis of the women’s movement and our relationship to it, gross inadequacies exemplified so clearly by this article.