YCL Executive Committee: Socialism & Feminism Go Hand in Hand
A statement on behalf of the Young Communist League Executive Committee to mark International Womens’ Day 2016.
Any attempts at achieving gender equality are effectively pointless until we admit that capitalism must be overthrown in doing so.
Capitalism exists to exploit the vast majority of the human population who are unfortunate enough to find themselves born into the working class. It maintains itself by keeping the working class divided and stratified so that there are barriers placed in the way of the working class that must be overcome before the workers are able to unite and overthrow capitalism. These barriers take many forms and capitalism tends to take advantage of pre-existing differences present within the human population such as race, nationality, sexual orientation and of course the largest; gender.
The patriarchy actually predates capitalism, but evidently it was useful to previous systems. Technically capitalism doesn’t actually need the patriarchy to be present as an inherent mechanism within the system. So, feasibly, the patriarchy could be abolished and gender equality could be achieved within capitalism. So say the liberal feminists, but such a victory would be hollow. Without one of its largest mechanisms to divide the working class the needs of capitalism to keep the workers divided would mean some other form of division through discrimination would be needed to enable capitalism to ensure its continued success. This would likely mean an increase of other divisions such as race, nationality or a deepening of the oppression of certain strata within the working class. Neoliberalism in the modern era has been prepared to make concessions to the feminist movement; notably seen in the rise of business women, women that have now been able to break into the upper echelons of the corporate world. But we should ask ourselves; has the whole feminist movement up until now fought so hard and used so much effort merely to have a select few women, the 1% placed in the boardrooms of large companies? Despite this supposed gender equality (that’s not to say true gender equality has yet been achieved but that is what we are encouraged to think) we have seen a huge deepening in the physical equality in society, a huge unprecedented rise in foodbank use, cutting of all kinds of benefits including benefits to the disabled. Many women have been affected by such cuts even if they now have a modicum of bourgeois equality. So where capitalism may be prepared to make concessions in some respects it will take the pressure off one area that it exploits and shift it to another.
So we see that whilst the feminist movement may be able to achieve some, let’s face it, fairly cosmetic reforms of the patriarchy under capitalism the way for both the patriarchy to be abolished and for every woman to achieve meaningful equality is socialism. A system that unites, rather than divides the working class and has no interest in exploiting the differences between groups and populations and will enable society to move towards a truly classless society free of all divisions along lines of race, gender etc.