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Issue #1895      November 20, 2019

Why I am not a feminist

There is nothing anti-Marxist about analysing women’s oppression as a specific social relationship, or of seeking women’s liberation from this social role. However, feminism as a specific ideology, in all its forms, is based on a false premise that the core power relationship in society is that between men and women. It seeks to divide workers by sex and entrench further our differences to continue the necessity of feminism, which benefits the ruling class. Why? Feminism is the result of anti-dialectical philosophical inquiry which fails to take into account the continuing developments and competing social structures within our society, coming to a simplistic conclusion that all men benefit from the oppression of women, a very reductive and demonstrably false notion. More recently feminism has ventured into idealism and postmodernist schools of thought that are antithetical to Marxism and the socialist movement, choosing to focus on language, identity, and symbolism rather than material conditions, the postmodern infiltration of the women’s movement is clearly a boon for the capitalist class as the movement stopped demanding a change to society but simply an improvement to their position within it.

A suffragette march by the National Federation of Women Workers in Bermondsey, London.

This is a good opportunity to look at the different “waves” of feminism and how they differ from Marxist analysis. My hope is that any women reading this who have been convinced by feminist rhetoric, that the women’s movement is what will bring them liberation will see that feminism (especially in its current form) is hostile to the idea of any real radical restructuring of society, and in turn does more harm than good by teaching them that men, rather than the ruling class, are their oppressor and enemy.

First Wave Feminism

First Wave Feminism was the movement of the suffragettes, a group of women who sought the vote for women. In the UK, the suffragette movement was led by wealthy women who sought to gain franchise only for property-owning women at a time when the majority of working-class men also could not vote. While history looks fondly upon the suffragette movement, (there were a few radicals who sought the vote for all working people) it is likely that without the October Revolution and the implementation of full legal equality, including voting rights, for women in Russia and the Soviet Union, western European countries would not have granted women the right to vote so quickly. Some Australian states gave women the vote before this, but the global impact of the Bolshevik revolution ensured Australian women in all states received the right to vote. Indigenous Australians were not given the right to vote at this time, and it was not a demand of Australia’s first wave of women’s rights campaigners.

Second Wave Feminism

Second Wave Feminism (aka Radical feminism or the women’s lib movement) theorised that the core oppression that exists within society is that of men over women, the belief that all men benefit from the oppression of women, that all women are oppressed, and that all men contribute to that oppression. While it adheres to materialist school of philosophical thought it is a historical, reactionary, and undialectical, failing to develop a theoretical understanding of how the development of class society affected the relationship between the sexes and how this impacted the social structures of society as a whole. The tendency to push the idea that men are inherently violent is also undialectical. Second Wave Feminism fails to propose a coherent image or structure of society where women would be liberated beyond the absurd ideas such as women-only communes, complete sex segregation (what would happen to male children?), using sperm donations to keep the species going, and advocating political lesbianism as a means for women to set themselves free from the oppressive nature of heterosexual relationships (as if there is something liberatory about denying yourself the love and affection of a partner of the sex you are attracted to simply because they are a man!). Many radical feminists would rather ally themselves with ruling class women than their fellow working-class male comrades, which is why it is an inherently bourgeois ideology that doesn’t threaten the present state of things. What I would like to know is this: what would the ultimate Radical Feminist society be? One without men? One with very few men who do the lowly paid work currently carried out by women?

Third Wave feminism

Third Wave Feminism, or what was known as Liberal Feminism, has developed into what is now known as “Intersectional” Feminism.

Liberal feminism has been concerned with ideas of equality within the capitalist system, i.e. increasing the number of women in corporate and political leadership positions, not as a means to achieving any political goal but as an end in itself. Third Wave Feminism has taken on the postmodernist and idealist task of using language and ideas as a way to change society, rather than focussing on material development.

Liberal Feminism can, at times, accurately identify issues which disproportionately affect women, for example: climate change, domestic violence, unequal pay, unequal share of domestic work. Liberal Feminists tend to analyse issues from a moral perspective rather than from class. This leads to issues such as abortion becoming an issue where they appeal to the morality of a politician that women should have “control over their body,” neglecting the fact that bourgeois women have always had access to abortion and that it is only working-class women who face any real consequences (legal and economic) from an unintended pregnancy.

It is why we also hear liberal feminists constantly ask, “why doesn’t anyone care about domestic violence?”. It is not that our political class do not care about violence; it’s that it is against their class interests to enact any radical change to material conditions that would reduce violence. It’s why we see such support from the political class for symbolic institutions such as White Ribbon. Whenever we see liberal feminists ask a question about why there is no political or corporate support for certain questions of women’s rights, the answer will always be “it’s not in their class interests to do so.” Liberal feminism fails to understand class from a Marxist perspective and would prefer to treat it as an issue of people being rich or poor, which means they fundamentally fail to understand that ruling class women’s interests are opposed to working-class women’s interests and no amount of female media representation or women on corporate boards or acting as CEOs will change the everyday life of working women.

Marxism and the women question

A Marxist approach to the women question is the only approach that demands a revolutionary restructuring of society to free all people from exploitation.

Women cannot achieve liberation from the burden of family responsibility such as child-rearing, housework, care for the elderly, etc. under a capitalist society and this is something that is never addressed by feminist groups. For example, there are often proposals by liberal or radical feminists for women to be paid for housework, but this would essentially replicate the problem of women lacking independence outside of their family unit. If a mother’s income were reliant on her being the primary carer and performer of household chores then she would have no power or independence to leave a relationship or family situation without jeopardising her earning potential

Looking over the history and positions of western feminist movements it should be obvious to all that working-class women have nothing to gain from supporting these ruling class ideologies.

When Marx wrote of the racial divide in English factories between the Irish and English workers, who divided themselves into 2 competing proletariat groups, he wrote of how the racial antagonism was wholly created and fermented by the bourgeois class who sought to divide all working people so they could not realise their true power as a member of the proletariat, the only truly revolutionary class who together have the power to completely reshape society for their benefit. The ruling class continue to use sex, race, age, religion, or any difference between to prevent us from realising our collective power.

Any time we repeat nonsense slogans about how life would be better without men, that men are the problem, we are letting off those who are truly guilty of oppressing and exploiting us. The target is much smaller than men; it is the ruling class.

Next article – Share the wealth, not the misery

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