Archive for 'Women’s liberation'
In the latest edition of socialist magazine Solidarity, Geraldine Fela discusses the new film Suffragette, and how the fight for the vote polarised between wealthy and working class women.
If only the 24 women murdered by their partners or former partners in Australia so far this year had died in a plane crash we might hear about them and have some debate about how to address this systemic issue.
Having more women as bosses will not challenge the system that gives rise to women’s oppression. It will only reinforce it. In the meantime, women workers, including junior doctors, could join unions and turn them into organisations that defend their interests. In the words of the famous song, don’t be too polite girls, don’t be too polite.
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.