ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

October 2012



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



How class society led to women’s oppression

Jo Cardwell in Socialist Worker UK argues that biology doesn’t cause sexism

Women’s lives today are dramatically different to how they were just a few decades ago.

We have more economic independence, social freedom and legal rights. Many sexist ideas have been challenged.

But while some say women can now “have it all”, fundamental inequalities remain.

Pay inequality still exists. The burden of childcare and domestic work still falls on women.

The pressure to look a certain way has grown, while the conviction rate for rape is disgracefully low.

To make sense of these contradictions we need to find the roots of women’s oppression.

Some argue that oppression exists because of our genetic make up.

The flip side of this is the idea that if women ran big businesses instead of men, financial markets wouldn’t have crashed.

These ideas reduce oppression to biology. Socialists reject this. But if nature doesn’t cause oppression, is it nurture?

It’s easy to see the role that socialisation plays in shaping the expectations and behaviour of girls, boys, women and men.

But why does this socialisation happen? Ideas about male and female roles have to come from somewhere. Where did it all begin?

The revolutionary socialist Frederick Engels tried to answer these questions in his book The Family, Private Property and the State.

He examined the role of women throughout history, starting with the first human societies. In school these are often described as “hunter gatherer” societies. Engels called them “primitive communist”.

Such societies existed for more than 90 percent of human history. In them, people produced things in a very different way.

Concepts of wealth and individual ownership didn’t exist. People lived in small collective groups and produced what they needed.

There was a division of roles between men and women, but neither was seen as better or worse than the other.

The way people lived changed as they transformed the way they produced things.

Agricultural changes made production more efficient. For the first time in human history, it became possible to produce more than people needed.

An elite group developed to control this surplus. And as soon as there is division between those who produce a surplus and those who control it, there is a class society. This change in the structure of society fundamentally changed women’s lives.

Women tended to be the main gatherers in primitive communist societies. They often had authority over men, because their work provided the main source of nutrition for the group.

They participated fully in production while still having children.

The introduction of heavy ploughing and the use of domesticated animals made it possible to increase production.

But it was harder for pregnant women and children to be involved in this kind of work.

This meant that men increasingly took responsibility for the most productive work.

The improvements and change of techniques within agriculture also meant more workers were needed—and that bigger groups could be sustained.

It made economic sense to have more children rather than fewer.

Over time, men became exclusively responsible for production. Bearing children became the primary role of women.

Other social changes took place too. In primitive communist societies children were the responsibility of the group as a whole.

But as private property and class emerged, so did the development of a private family structure.

Over time a smaller and smaller elite controlled the surplus. Passing on wealth from one generation to the next became important and the family became the key mechanism for doing this.

Production and reproduction became separated into public and private spheres. This subordinated women’s role to that of men’s.

There was nothing natural about this in terms of biology or gender. It can only be understood in terms of the development of private property and class society.

Of course, the nature of the family has changed through different class societies. Yet the family remains the key economic and social unit for the reproduction of labour. As long as it remains, it will shape the role of women.



Comment from Critical Reading
Time October 12, 2012 at 1:11 am

That’s from the British paper

Write a comment