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John Passant

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June 2011
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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
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Of cats, mincing poodles and women’s oppression

A Liberal Party sexist and Senator miaowed at Penny Wong. The Labor Party got its back up and attacked his blatant sexism.

Two years ago Labor Party Deputy Prime Minister (as she then was) Julia Gillard called Christopher Pyne a mincing poodle, a clearly homophobic reference.  No attack on her for this disgusting remark.

The present brouhaha misses the point. It individualises sexism and homophobia when the reality is that it is the systemic oppression of women, rooted in class society, that is the real issue. Both Labor and the Liberals are about preserving and defending the capitalist system and the oppression of women that is essential to it and the sexism and homophobia that flow from that.

Let’s look for example at Labor’s record on women’s wages. Under Labor the gender pay gap has actually increased – from 17 percent to 18 percent and will continue to worsen.

Labor changed the Fair Work Act (their version of Howard’s Work Choices) to allow wage rises to overcome the gender gap.  But the process of proving equal pay for equal work is long and cumbersome, as workers in the community sector are discovering. Even with Fair Work ruling that such workers have made their case in principle, the question of the level of the pay rise and  its implementation are yet to be decided.

Labor has said to the Commission that governments’ capacity to pay must be considered in determining the wage increase. About 75 percent of community organisations are funded by government to pay their staff.

Labor under Julia Gillard has given no guarantee that it will fund any pay rise, which based on the arguments presented could be as high as 25 percent.

So under Labor if there is an equal pay increase there could be job losses to pay for it. So much for Labor’s commitment to women workers.

The one hope is the the campaign has energised and radicalised so many community sector workers and their union, the Australian Services Union, that they will fight against any attempts to make them pay for wage justice and strike against any attempts to cut jobs.

On homophobia Labor is as bad as the Opposition.

Julia Gillard proudly proclaims that marriage is between a man and a woman. Penny Wong supports her, although the pressure from the Equal Love campaign has seen Wong support changes to ALP policy on gay marriage. Not that a motion at conference, if passed, and it is still a big if, will force the homophobic Labor Party Government to actually legislate for gay marriage. 

When capitalism was first developing in Europe it could draw on a seemingly endless supply of peasants to fill its factories and workshops. It worried little about safety or sexuality then.

When however the supply of peasants began to dry up the ruling class developed and entrenched their cult of the family. It did this to ensure an ongoing supply of workers, paid for by workers themselves in the unpaid time and energy they spent on raising children.

The ruling elite created the ideology of the family as the natural unit of society. It also attacked any activity that might undermine the family. 

The concept of homosexuality was created and then criminalised. At about the same time homosexual acts between men were made illegal abortion too was criminalised. The economic drivers were the same – to ensure the next generation of workers arose to continue to make profits for the bourgeoisie.

Part of this shift to the family involved further oppressing women and creating for them the role of mother and housewife.  To this day that oppression continues, not just in gender pay gaps but throughout all aspects of society – from advertising to education to life training.

The stereotyping of women as meek and submissive, as caring and nurturing reflects the material intersts of the ruling class in women raising the next generation of workers. Women are in ths world view the brood mares of  profit.

Labor does not challenge this systemic oppression or the sexism or homophobia that flow from it because it is wedded to the system and does its bidding.

But there is hope. The Equal Love movement is challenging the homophobia of society and the major parties, so successfully in fact that the vast majority of Australians support gay marriage. The Slutwalks have the potential to become a vibrant new women’s movement challenging the oppression of women, assuming they don’t get sidetracked into adopting aspects of their own oppression in the name of freedom.

The overthrow of women’s oppression, of sexism and homophobia, won’t be won through Labor. Equal Love and the Slutwalks are but two manifestations of the struggle against systemic oppression and socialists should and do support them.

However ultimately victory over these systemic conditions requires a victory over capitalism. That can only be won through working class struggle.



Comment from Calligula
Time June 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Mr. Passant –
As usual I shall be specious and a nitpicker.
Actually WE shall be –
With regard to your statement – “Women are in this world view the brood mares of profit.”
Our view has always been that women peer groups younger than the baby boomer generation have been grossly treated by capitalism and ridiculously enough, also in result of peer group pressure.
Feminism, affirmative action, whatever it is called has dumped on men and women both – in the event they choose to bond and create a family – a ridiculous workload in a hostile, unsustainable environment.

In our part of the world, say about 40/45 years ago a decision was made by some entity – may I borrow and call it “RamJac Corp” (Yeah, blame Vonnegut again)
– to make it almost mandatory for a double income to purchase an ‘acceptable lifestyle’.
‘Acceptable lifestyle’ being facilitated by the ‘hire-purchase’ of the following essentials – 1 x box-ticky tacky – 1 x automobile, temporarily rustfree – 1 x TeeVee – 1 x refrigerator – etc etc – depending on willingness to overextend ‘financially’.

Clearly an exercise in futility soon reflected by the spiralling divorce rates after ten years into the exercise.
So not only have women been caught out by the biological imperative to be ‘brood mares’ but also utterly gulled by ‘RamJac’ into being a malleable human resource as well as a ‘force multiplier’ in the game of capitalism.

(To select the worst element in this is damned nigh impossible. Even with my tiny imagination I can tease out enough elements of perfidy to keep me railing and frothing at the mouth during those moments of idleness all my adult life.)

It is the industrial scale of the beastliness. Destroying the nurturing environment for children – even of the nuclear family – is perhaps the worst crime.
Then knowingly continuing with the experiment up until and then beyond the point of no return when governments (curse their murderous kidneys*) established ‘family courts’ to perfunctorily and arbitrarily redistribute the human casualties and their material assets.

And it is on the industrial scale as amoral and all pervading as Eisenhower’s ‘military industrial complex’.
Its purpose is to exploit the new age community ‘modules’ – to wait until the family module has spiritually burned itself out and is at its most vulnerable – then annex its assets – not to redistribute those assets among those who earned them but to suck them into keeping what their sort perceive as their ‘high end’ of the ‘two stage economy’ they are so proud to have helped create.
Successful parasites in nature do not kill the host. These are not natural parasites.

We have been watching the shenanigans for all these years and being both thick as planks and unimaginative as we are simply cannot understand why ‘so many have been gulled so often to the detriment of all’. Apologies Winston.

* Well, they don’t have hearts, do they?
Best regards – Mr. & Mrs. Calligula

Comment from Knoppke
Time June 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Funnily enough the Persian women, for instance, are damned good at sorting out oppression.
If they don’t have something in their ready use locker the local midwife or that old harridan who lives just on the edge of town does.
The extended family and a life lead relatively separate from the alpha males of their network affords them a fair amount of everyday protection from domestic violence.
So does their creed.
But if and when things go too far – there is always ‘that other’ alternative.
Why not accept that we have much to learn from other societies?
If ugly old men want to import ‘wives’ from overseas – then they take the risk of overseas methods being imported along with those women.
If a few horrible old farts end up dead after drinking their mushroom soup – then so what?
And the same applies if we, any of us, want to tear asunder other elements of society.
Bump the troublemakers off.
Get into it.
A shame that that Tony Abbott has not found Cleopatra’s asp in his budgie smugglers one morning.

Gruss Gott – Klaus Knoppke,
Visiting with Millicent
A Friend of Reinhardt D. – Editor, Calligula’s Horse