Women's Liberation – needs Socialism



we're gonna have too many speakers and one contributor to the discussion today about the women in the Sunday it is very important that we recognize the struggle worldwide women struggle for interpretation and also it's very important day for today that we could actually not listen to our speakers we also had to ask questions and contribute to the discussion so we all learn from each other so that I'll start first with my first speaker is your tea please Thank You comrades so before I start I just really want to put in a plea and a plug and that is for however much you like or don't like what I say today or the way I say it well you know however well you think I put the case across I really really really want everyone here who hasn't already and even those who have to go away and read angles book the origin of the family private property and the state and the reason is that it sets out better than anything else what is the root of women's oppression where it comes from why and gives you in a really beautiful way an incredible overview of the history of humanity I was given that book and I've got to say is that weren't the best things my mom ever did for me when I was 15 I was given that book for Christmas and before I knew anything political really I read it and from that moment onwards I felt like I had a framework for making sense or starting to make sense of history of human society of my place in the world and of almost every piece of human knowledge in fact it's an incredible incredibly powerful book and not that particularly big or hefty as a totem but absolutely enlightening and it really is one of the key texts for understanding the woman's in computing our struggle today in context of history and recognizing why it's it's so important so what do we mean when we say that women are oppressed what do we mean well the fact is even today when conditions for women in many parts of the world have really dramatically improved compared to what they were saying century ago it is still the case that wages are lower for women who do the same work as men that women carry out the lowest paid and unpaid work that women are expected to carry out domestic labor for their families whether or not they work outside the home as well that women are expected to act as carers for the young the old the sick and disabled family members that women as even recent statistics sadly show are very often used as punch bags for the frustrations of their husbands and their boyfriends and that it is still considered normal and even inevitable that there should be a massive sex industry that relies on selling the bodies of women who have been physically or economically coerced into sexual slavery and that men who choose to have kind of probably got a kind of natural right to access this service it's kind of natural to never double its normal relationship and as far as our own society in Britain is concerned women have been presented as inferior to men for a good 2,000 years and for much longer in parts of the world where civilization developed earlier than it did here and for all of that time we were told that we were weaker not just physically but also mentally that our brains are smaller and less powerful that we're unable really to think in the same complex ways as men and therefore that we were unfit for public life we were told that we were essentially lifelong children who needed to be guided and controlled by those who knew better which and a woman's place is in the home was a mattre for our ruling class until very recently and even today when it's been so thoroughly discredited actually it's still a message that's very common and is regularly articulated across our media and in all sorts of ways the law until very recently backed up men's rights over their daughters and their wives the right to beat them to look them up to dispose of them in marriage or to relegate them into lunatic asylums if they're bit difficult all completely legal no redress by a woman to any of those things and essentially until like as I said very recently women's legal position in society was that they were chattels the private property of property owning men and our only recognized purposes in life were to carry out unpaid domestic labor for our lords and masters and to produce children so how did this come about what was the cause of women's oppression well because women were not always seen as inferior you know because of our importance as child bearers which was valued and seen as being sacred and even a kind of magical function the early human society is perceived women not just as equal to but very often as more important more powerful than men in primitive communistic and tribal societies there was a natural division of labor so that on the one hand you had women collectively responsible for running the households gathering food that meant looking after children cooking making clothes making baskets gathering wild foods planting and tending small-scale crops and on the other hand men were collectively responsible for heavier work which included hunting tending to livestock once livestock had been domesticated building shelters making tools but these divisions didn't imply any kind of superiority or inferiority all the work was essential to the life of the tribe the community was all recognized as being socially necessary it was all carried out collective for the benefit of everybody and in fact women's work tended to be more essential more productive more key to keeping society together and very much valued the point at which has really changed for was when farming developed to the point that societies were able to start producing a surplus that means more than they can immediately consume you start to get wealth and this is the key this is the really unlucky moment if you like for women it just happened that when this development took place the first property that was accumulated the first riches known to humanity were in the form of livestock and that had traditionally been the sphere of the men so private property grew as a phenomenon in the sphere where men were in control and the old division of society had been according to family groups and it was matriarchal all family relationships we'll remember were reckoned according to who your mother was and and how you're related to who you're related to via your mother and that meant that inheritance also went down the female line so a man if he had if the odd personal possession could leave it to his sister his sister's children but not to his own children because they were part of a different family group according to that structure of society and this didn't suit the new emerging class of powerful men who wanted to pass their new wealth on to their own children and that was the moment at which matriarchal society gave way to patriarchal society mother writes as English called it was overthrown and their new requirement arose not just that society should be structured in a patriarchal way so you officially recognize you know fathers as as the fathers of their children but that you can control women physically to be sure that the paternity of the children is guaranteed and the only way you can do that is that women of but young in classes have to be locked up inside the home becoming private servants of their husbands and fathers they can't be left free to behave as they will and of course what becomes a right and proper for a new ruling class naturally becomes disseminated via the ruling classes ideology its media its culture its state machinery to all the other classes so a whole moral justification had to be and was developed to justify the subordination of women women became chattels for the production of heirs and their domestic labor stopped being a collective communal act for society and became a private service performed for the male head of the household and meanwhile although monogamy which is this idea of absolute fidelity in marriage will society is official moral code in reality this virtue was only required of women so you get this double standard this hypocrisy which is alive until today whereby alongside enforced monogamy for women you have a whole new industry which is prostitution a whole section of the female population forced into sexual slavery and a complete double standard in terms of official morality but actually what happens and as a result of all these developments women were degraded from being full and equal members of a communistic society to being subordinate members of a class society now this can seem like a very you know this is ancient history right it's a long time ago so how is women's oppression purpose perpetuated today what message does British capitalist society give women about their place their role in today's society and if you look around you can see that even today despite all the advances that women have made in really quite recent times and despite the fact that we now have a formal legal recognition of women's rights in Britain the ruling class still project a very strong ideological message about women from its media and through all its cultural and political fronts and something you're aware of as you grow up button won't always necessarily articulate the certainly gets brought home to you if and when you have children of your own is how different the social expectations and morality are for women and for men so just a few examples that people are familiar with you know a man who has many sexual partners is a lat and is just following his natural urges a woman who has many sexual partners is a slag and is going against nature right a man who has firm opinions is strong and someone to look up to a woman who has firm opinions is unfeminine unattractive and to be denigrated a man who spends his time looking after children is weak and not really masculine a woman who doesn't spend her time looking after children is uncaring and unfeminine and you know you can all add to that list right our children are taught from a very young age that certain behaviors are associated with certain genders and encouraged to conform to the types that have been set so on the one hand you have boys who are expected and encouraged to be strong to handle themselves physically to suppress their emotions in boys don't cry right to prepare themselves for a life out in the world and on the other hand girls are expected and encouraged from really early on to be quiet to avoid rough playing to be pretty I eat you know to really think about and work on their physical appearance and you know do everything they can to enhance it to be decorative as in you think about their clothes their accessories you know this is stopping it from really young massively encouraged to focus on to make people like them to be agreeable not argumentative to be sensitive to the motivations and needs others in preparation for a role at the center of a family hunt that's really what's presented to us are so successful you know the right kind of woman to be a woman in capitalist society suffer a really heavy social penalty penalty when they carry out what is a social and biological function of producing the next generation you know capitalism has even further broken down the communities that formerly would have taken collective responsibility for raising and caring for all of our children so care has become a private matter and a personal responsibility of one or two parents and what those parents can provide to their children depends completely on their private level of income ability to access services decent housing and all the rest of it there is next to no financial or physical support and there had been a little from the welfare states and we've seen that being removed now for child rearing there is no real recognition of the fact that this is a task that concerns the whole of society having children is presented to us today as a private lifestyle choice not a social need although you only have to think about it for a minute what happens to human society if we don't produce the next generation right not going to last very long and the ruling class propagates this attitude that says if you can't provide for them don't have them you shouldn't have brought them into the world when it comes to working many mothers simply aren't able to return to work once they have children with given this lack of support because the finances and the logistics of arranging childcare just don't work out and for those who do go back to work most of them will find that they are suddenly very much discriminated against in the workplace in host of different ways so essentially what's happened is they've lost this desirable for their employers level of flexibility they've got other priorities and employers don't like that sometimes that they need to work part time or they need to be able to get away for you know I'll have sick days or just they can't stay that extra hair at the end of the day that someone demands on the spot you can sorry that school closes I have to go you know this is all frowned on and seen as being inflexible and individual employers feel that employing such women is unprofitable it reduces their efficiency they resent having to do it they don't want to and women in that situation find it suddenly much harder to be promoted or considered for the most interesting work they're basically expected to be grateful if they're employed at all and this of course is emphasized even more at a time of crisis like the present when we're seeing a concerted ideological attack on the rights of working mothers so for example just recently in the Daily Mail a very eminent surgeon called Marion Thomas as a man by the way wrote complaining about the expense of training and employing women doctors saying it's a waste of public money they're going to have children take leave they're expensive it's silly why do we bother and on the other hand we had Nigel Farage of you Kip announcing the other day that this idea that women are discriminated against in the workplace is ridiculous of course women can climb as high as they want in the city they just need to accept they can't have children it's a lifestyle choice is the message it's an individual lifestyle choice shouldn't be for employers to have to make any or society to make any adaptations to adjust to that if you do it it's your business is your choice if you want a good career don't do it that's the message and that's the bourgeois idea of women's freedom and meanwhile we find that the growth of the sex trade and the capitalism and the development of this huge pornography industry has had massive ramifications on our popular culture and has reinforced the commodification of sex generally and of women in particular so from a very young age women and girls feel this huge pressure to present themselves to behave and dress in certain ways that they are told will make them attractive to the opposite sex and that that is something that they should be really focusing on in aspiring to women in the public eye whether they're pop stars dancers actors TV presenters or politicians are subjected to a constant barrage of scrutiny and/or criticism concerning their clothing body shape personal grooming in every aspect of their appearance it's nonstop and you will not read an article about a woman whatever she's achieved doesn't start with and focus on what she looks like what she's wearing you know and the proliferation of pornographic videos etc now means that even the act of sex itself is being transformed into a kind of performance that girls are growing up feeling like this that they're going to be judged on it and we can say to ourselves well you know but women have won a lot of freedoms in the West right well good things a lot better for us and it's true that the position of women took some very big strides forward in Britain in the last century and especially after World War Two but it's really important for us to understand just what forced the ruling class to make the concessions they have made and how actually reluctantly and half-heartedly those measures have been implemented there's one earth-shattering event that dominates 20th century history and has affected almost every aspects of our lives in the last hundred years and that's the October socialist revolution in Russia you know before 1917 Britain had a women's movement but it was October and it was the building of socialism in the USSR that really drove the cart and horses through the Age of Mythology that justified keeping women are second-class citizens and domestic slaves and denied them full legal rights you know this mythology about woman's natural capabilities had hardly been modified since the days of primitive slavery and it had this weight of thousands of years of habit behind it but with women taking up full roles in every area of public life and every kind of occupation building Soviet socialism the ground was just cut from under the feet of all of this before it had been you know a few people standing up and saying no no but this doesn't make sense they were now saying what you want about you know look look it's inevitable it's how it's always been and suddenly there was the proof people were doing it completely differently women were doing everything in the Soviet Union women were given the opportunity to work and they took it and they made incredible contributions and the women's movement all over the world gained this a really unstoppable momentum as a result of what happened in Russia um meanwhile rights for women and a formal recognition of women's equality in Britain along with the provision of a few facilities that enabled at least some women to take up education and work opportunities that were previously turned off to them really came to us as part of the settlement that was the post-war welfare state and that welfare state certain guarantees of labor rights employment housing a safety net for the working class in Britain was a raft of concessions that were granted to working people by the ruling class to stop us from following that inspiring Soviet model that was the aim and it succeeded it bought social peace but it bought to capitalism to reestablish and therm itself up after the debilitating damage of the war and the huge victories of the Soviet Union in that war but all the rights that we got here came piecemeal and very slowly you know in Russia in 1917 the October Revolution made all discrimination against male control and all discrimination against women and male controller over women illegal and immediately gave women not only the right to vote but also equal access to education to jobs equal pay promotion to political and managerial positions straightaway 1917 and by the 30s you know you were really seeing the fruits of that everywhere which you didn't see anywhere else in Europe in Britain on the other hand we got a law on equal pay finally after massive campaigning in 1970 and it's never actually become a reality in fact it's just a law it's a recognized right and of course that's a step forward but the reality is as we know this did a massive pay gap the first Sex Discrimination Act was passed in 1975 you know when my mum was having me in 1972 she could be told by her boss no no we're not going to employ your part-time no no we're not going to consider the promotion we know you're you know you've got children now you'll be having more children you'll be other student you know that attitude is still there but he could say it to her place in 1972 the first no-fault divorce option was belatedly introduced here in 1969 so these rights as I said although they were one formally were not ever universally implement it and still haven't been today and of course now that capitalism is in crisis and the welfare state is being dismantled cuts are disproportionately affecting women and undoing the gains that they had made so women have month once more finding they're responsible for taking on private unpaid caring roles for their extended families as the support support facilities for the elderly the disabled young children that had been gradually built up since 1945 are being taken away again employers are once more asking openly why they should hire expensive women who might go off for any minute to indulge this selfish desire to have children and of course as unemployment rises there's competition for even the lower paid and the part-time jobs that have been open to women which means that it's women who are disproportionately finding themselves now being kicked out of the workforce and onto the dole and we talked about this historical need to control women and ensure paternity well today you can get paternity tests right so why would the ruling class still be bothered with oppressing women what's in it for them now of course it's true that that real imperative to keep women guarded and locked up has been ameliorated by scientific advances and undermined as I said by what happened in the Soviet Union but other factors lead to the continued oppression of women in modern capitalist society firstly for as long as private property remains there still is a wish for guaranteed paternity and even if you can test you know if someone's you know worried that their wife is being unfaithful or the children aren't really theirs okay you can exist on a paternity test and you can get a divorce and you can disinherit the reality is that actually doesn't happen too often in practice and there's really still a strong need for this moral code that promotes the idea of strict monogamy for women and of course there are all the economic reasons we've listed above when women's role in the workplace is considered individually and in a short-term way which is the only way capitalists ever consider anything taking out their overall benefit to society of the fact that you know women's collective input or even taking out the view of what a woman will contribute in a whole career individual employers will continue to resent any compromises have to make right now when it comes to employing women of childbearing age at a point where they're going to get pregnant and have young children to care for or have other caring responsibilities for example with ailing parents etc you know when it comes right down to it taking the long view just isn't compatible with the need to maximize profits which is the only real imperative that the capitalist system of production recognizes and finally we come to the simple fact that capitalist rule is only maintained by dividing workers so they're separated according to race gender age locality and so on and encouraged to emphasize their differences and forget their essential likeness and community of interests you know we are all human beings and science has shown has proved that while there are some natural differences between men and women actually these are pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things they are not enough to mean that men are incapable of feeling empathy or caring for children or doing housework and differences don't mean that women are incapable of managing large enterprises or flying a space rocket or engineering a bridge right they don't add up to anything that really means very much the socially engineered divide between men and women is as old as the divide between exploiters and exploited and that's really important to remember it comes with this huge cultural weight and so continuing that divide really benefits our class of capitalist exploiters when they want to maintain their rule and even more so when you think about the fact that it was revealed there was a newspaper article right just recently that the real rulers of this world the imperious ruling class of the planet has shrunk to such a tiny size that these kind of super exploiters the really big powerful ones all of them you sit them comfortably in a sink in a double-decker bus a couple of hundred people this so the socially engineer divided between men and women is as old as the divide between exploiters and exploited it started at the same time so I'm just emphasizing the weight of historical precedent for looking down on mistreating women relegating them to this position so given how tiny in fact the imperious working class is it's no wonder they need a really elaborate system if divide and rule and that they put so much effort into encouraging us to get wise ourselves and identify with smaller and smaller sections of our coworkers but the plain truth is that even though it can no longer be denied ever since the October Revolution that's the truth of it it can't be denied that women ought to be considered and treated as equal to men Kapla Society has shown now we've had a hundred years of them admitting it that they never will deliver that formal equality for women continues to be undermined by class and economic backgrounds so your individual economic or class position as a woman determines what access you have to finances to give you private help in the home or kept help with carrying responsibilities to see whether you'll be able to work or take it your part in social life the general economic climate whether or not it suits capitalists as a whole to have more working women or fewer the inability of capitalist society to provide for those who aren't capable of looking after themselves whether it's the young the old people who are disabled in some way the need of the capitalist ruling class to divide work because as I said in order to control them which leads of course to constant reinforcing of social prejudices so what's the answer now I said already right at the beginning that the women's question is a class question so it's not simply a question of educating men not to say that there aren't plenty you could do with plenty of educating all of getting rid of them doing without them what we need to do is remove the class divisions to perpetuate the need for controlling women and treating them as second-class citizens that's why we believe that the only lasting answer to the problem is to abolish capitalism which is the final incarnation of a class divided society and to build socialism under socialism all major property will once again again be held in common and work will be organized collectively including of course the vital work of caring for all those members of society who are unable to care for themselves and the essential task of bringing up society as children now as part of taking collective responsibility for work and also as a way of emancipating women from the private labour they perform at home socialist society provide public laundries public dining rooms crushes nurseries kindergartens after school facilities care for elderly people care for the disabled all sorts of things that mean that these roles become socialized and women are brought into the workforce when the profit motive has been abolished actually it's a relatively simple matter the society has simply allocate what record what resources are needed to ensure that everybody's needs are met and everybody's ability to contribute to society and a social life can be maximized under socialism therefore there will be no need for this barrage of insidious and damaging propaganda that we are currently subjected to which demeans patronizes sexualizes and commodifies women biter and which massively influences not only the way we relate to one another but the way we see ourselves the truth is that women have much to gain from the revolution everything I would say but it's also true that extra pressures that women so often face just trying to get on with their lives in a coupla society make it very hard for them to create the space to think about that and to be involved so it's our job as people who do understand that to help them to want to do it and to really be as facilitating as possible in helping them to achieve that involvement and it's especially important when we realize what influenced our example steps for the next generation you know we have to remind ourselves constantly that our children are learning about what matters in life not only from the capitalist media and capitalist schoolbooks but also from watching the example their parents set you know a busy political mother is not the norm in our society and she certainly can be made to feel guilty at choosing to spend time away from her children but there's something her children gain from that situation they learn that everything their mother does doesn't have to conform to the images they've been fed on the TV and in their storybooks they also learn that mothers can have an independent existence and a purpose in life outside the home and the family and they will learn by watching their mother prioritize things in her life that there are some things that matter more than their individual family unit and that's the message we need our next generation to understand political mothers beget political and conscious children you know it's a common phenomena that men who leave their wives at home to look after their kids while they go to meetings unencumbered will in years to come be surprised to discover their children have grown up either indifferent to or even hostile to revolutionary politics they weren't involved their mother wasn't involved they saw it simply as something that took their father away Chairman Mao summed up the need for women's participation when he said that women hold up half the sky he also talked about how a movement can only be said to be truly popular when it's produced a culture of its own and in my lifetime in Britain one of those popular math struggles that I've been inspired by is that of the people in the north of Ireland against British imperialism and that has had a truly flourishing culture that's gone along with it um and there's once songwriter in Derry called Declan mcLaughlin who wrote a song I really have always loved dedicated to the women the crucial role played by women in all areas of the struggle over there and I just want to read you a couple of lines from that song he says when men behind the wire echoed up and down the street you were planning revolution with your children at your feet when the images of Ireland as a woman have all gone it's the women of the movement that keep it moving on come as javi Stalin really summed up what I want to say which is that not a single great movement in the history of the oppressed have been able to do without the participation of working women if we are serious about abolishing capitalism and building socialism in Britain we have to do whatever is necessary to overcome all the barriers to women's participation in our movement to inspire women to want to be part of our movement to mobilize working-class women so they want to and they do take their vital place and ensure our victory thank you it is really an excellent you

13 thoughts on “Women's Liberation – needs Socialism

  • Prostitution, sex work and the Liberals who support decriminalizing it is the product of the economic situations thrust upon women of the underprivileged classes, and the commodification of women's bodies that is a staple of two-tiered economic systems. Liberals, in their pro-Capital hubris, fail to see or acknowledge this. A woman who has no skills to market has to fall back on the ability to market her body in order to make ends meet, in many cases.

  • True feminist! I've always been against the modern so called "feminists" that just hate men and all of that stuff. Now, thanks to you, i trully understand the real feminism. Thanks again for the lecture!

  • At last I stood a chance of hearing one among the widest range of information about the hardships women have to suffer under capitalism. Very accurate/detailed description, of women's oppression. Thank you for underlining the many rights and gains women attained since the beginning of USSR: a very vital underlining. PROLETARIAN TV IS GREAT. 

  • Thank you Joti, you have articulated what I've thought for years… and my father was a socialist, who did make sure to involve me in debate and discussion about social issues… it is something I have carried on with my own child.

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