The Relationship between Socialism and Feminism
by, 07-14-2011 at 10:46 PM (2618 Views)
Would abolishing capitalism in and of itself be enough to create a just world? What is the role of women in the resistance? These topics have been discussed for a long time but I'm just starting to do research in this area. Feel free to send me articles via PM.
Excerpts from a few essays to get us started:
1. Women Workers Struggle For Their Rights. Alexandra Kollontai 1919
One might think that there could be no clearer or more well-defined notion than that of a ‘women’s socialist movement’. But meanwhile it arouses so much indignation and we hear so often the exclamations and questions:- What is a women workers’ movement? What are its tasks, its aims? Why can’t it merge with the general movement of the working class, why can’t it be dissolved in the general movement, since the Social Democrats deny the existence of an independent women’s question? Isn’t it a hangover from bourgeois feminism?
Questions like these are being asked not only in Russia. They are repeated in almost all countries, they can be heard in all languages. But most curious of all, it is where the women workers’ movement is least developed, where organised women workers are least numerous m the Party and in the unions, that one hears loudest and most assured the voices of those who deny the necessity of technically separated work among the women proletariat And in their simplistic way. they cut through the whole tangled knot of the women’s problem and the general social question.
The women workers’ movement literally grew out of the womb of capitalist reality. But for a long time it advanced tentatively, seeking is way hesitating in its choice of methods. The women workers movement takes extremely motley and varied forms. These forms vary from country to country they are adapted to the conditions of the particular place, and to the character of the workers’ movement. But gradually, especially in countries where social democracy has been strong, definite party machines have arisen to serve the women’s socialist movement.
To-day it would be difficult to find a socialist who would quarrel with the necessity for widespread organisation of the female proletariat. Social democrats in all countries pride themselves on the numbers of their ‘women’s army’ and, in weighing up the chances of success in the class struggle, take into account this rapidly growing force. Consequently, if there is disagreement it is not about the essence of the question, but merely about methods and means of agitation and work among the female half of the working class. However in all countries the vital victory in this argument goes to the defenders of the German way of working-the fusion of the male and female halves of the working class in the party organisation, while retaining the separation and autonomy of agitation among the women of the working class.
2. Why Socialist Feminism? by Jennifer Vincent
Women’s oppression was certainly not conceived by capitalism. However, the history of the subjugation of women and girls can be trace back to its origin in the development of class society. Contrary to theories that claim that it is the biological differences between the sexes that have oppressed women, it is clear that society and culture dictate much more how the world works than any physiological “natural” reasons. Through all human societies women have always been the ones to bear children, but they have not always been denigrated to servant, slave, and as naturally inferior as they have under class societies.
In subsistence societies (what Marx referred to as primitive communism) women and men worked together in roles that were seen as equally important to survival and goods were owned communally. Anthropologists have proven that the vast majority of human societies were based on this kind of system and that class society is a relatively new phenomenon. Without the concept of private property, there was no motivation to exploit any other person.
This changed with the advent of the idea of private property, which came with advancements in productivity through agriculture and domestication of animals. There were new divisions of labor and increases of surpluses. These developments created the idea that it is possible for some people to exploit the work of others – including women. Due to women being the ones to have children they began to be treated as property, along with their children. Women are the only ones who can bear the next generation of workers. Women’s role as domestic slave and baby factory was not a natural one, but rather a result of a particular socio-economic institution; class society.
The patriarchal family developed out of a need to keep the status quo of class status and protect the ideas of one generation to the next. Not only did this model serve as a way to keep people within their social class it also kept people in line with their gender roles. Sex is a biological reality, but gender is learned. Through the heterosexual marriage and patriarchal family little boys and girls learn their gender roles through modeling of their parents. Homophobia is connected in a great part to these learned gender roles and the traditional family where wife is subservient to husband.
Patriarchy allows all men of society to exert control over women no matter his status in society. The word family is based on the Latin famulus meaning household slave and familia which means all of the slaves of one man. This hierarchy unites all men with a privilege, no matter what their social class, to dominate over women. With patriarchal families also came the idea of the double standard of female monogamy and male promiscuity. The marriage of women to men signified not only a financial transaction between a father and groom, but also of that man’s control over the woman’s capital (her ability to bear children and to give men sexual pleasure). In addition to restricting a woman’s sexuality, patriarchy works with capitalism to keep women subdued in the workforce. The role of women in the family is seen as being to take care of the home and children ...
3. Radical Women
Radical Women believes that the liberation of women is indissolubly linked to the battle against all the burning injustices that define capitalism. When we work for the revolutionary transformation of capitalism into a socialist society, we work for a world in which all people may enjoy the right of full humanity and freedom from poverty, war, racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.
Socialism is a method of collective ownership, shared wealth, and democratic, working class rule that fosters cultural freedom and human emancipation. Socialism provides the material basis for women's emancipation. It frees women from the unpaid domestic labor that allows patriarchy and capitalism to flourish and it removes the profit motive that fuels women's second-class status and other divide-and-conquer bigotries. Authentic socialism and principled feminism are consistent, interdependent and harmonious at every point.
But women can't achieve socialism on their own. Radical Women is affiliated with the Freedom Socialist Party, where revolutionary feminist men and women collaborate on building a better world--starting now!