Archive for 'Women’s oppression'
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.
The recent protests are tied to the wave of fightbacks against the system on an international scale. The women and men who have been filling the streets of various Indian cities have seen, in the last few years, dictators fall and public spaces be occupied. We need to see these protests as not just standing in the tradition of past women’s movements in India, but also as echoes of Tahrir, Tunisia and Zuccotti Park–and inspiring, in their turn, a new cycle of protests for women’s rights.
it should be clear that the protests in India against rape and sexism are about rejecting the culture of misogyny and moralism imposed by the Indian state and the global free market alike. They are not about the narrow interests of any particular class of women.
It would be wrong to condemn these protests as “middle class.”
Mass movements need to be seen in their full course of development, in which numerous factors come together to produce confidence and mobilization. It is not a matter of checking whether these protesters were there to stand in support of Neelofar, Manorama or any other individual rape victim, but to see how these past cases were part of a slow build-up of anger that finally came to a head in the aftermath of December 16 in Delhi.
…it is an urgent task for the left to actively intervene and try to shape the movement -and the broader struggles for a future society free of rape and women’s oppression.
How can we achieve a world without rape or any form of sexual violence? Elizabeth Schulte in Socialist Worker US in June 2011 explains what socialists have to say about the question. Sexual assault is the product of a class society in which sexual relationships between men and women are shaped by alienation from their own bodies and emotions, and from one another.
The hope lies in the huge numbers of people who came out to protest in India. Even better was the willingness to direct that anger against the society and culture that justifies rape and sexual violence. However the dire situation women face in India has led some Western pundits to described the country as the worst place in the world for women.
But the problems aren’t confined to India’s borders. Many countries, including Britain, have shockingly low conviction rates for rape. And attitudes that blame women for rape and sexual violence aren’t confined to India.
The latest attack in India shows the urgent need for a change in the treatment of women and in responses to rape. And the mass protests that followed it show that many people are prepared to fight for that change.
Marxists have an equally firm determination to eliminate all of the oppressions of capitalism. We don’t consider any of these oppressions as inherently more important than others.
And because these oppressions all serve the interests of the capitalists, every struggle against oppression is objectively an ally of every other such struggle. A central task for socialists is to spread an understanding of this objective reality.
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.
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.
Real discrimination and real sexism are a part of day-to-day life, and their roots lie not in any fundamental differences between men and women, but in the structure of our society. It isn’t a coincidence of biology that women are unequal to men. It’s part of the fabric of a capitalist society, where workers are pitted against one another in a multitude of ways. Gender is one of those ways, and that’s what keeps women in a subservient role.