The fight against male supremacy and the working class struggle for socialism

 
BY:Dee Miles| April 6, 2018
The fight against male supremacy and the working class struggle for socialism

The first report we heard established that women are half of the wage labor force, half of the worker segment of the working class.  This is foundational because it was not always true, and this dramatic change has taken place gradually over the years.

The question is: does our analyses, policies, approaches, and image fully reflect this reality or do we need to upgrade our ability to fully reflect this reality in every aspect of our work and in the projection of who we are? If we are going to be honest, and there is really no reason not to be, we would have to say we do need to make sure that women as half not just of the working class, because they were always that as wives of workers and mothers of working-class families, but women as half of the wage labor force, women as workers is captured in our concepts, analyses, policies, approaches, and image.

We have to admit that many of us still see the working class as the proletariat and the proletariat as male. Part of the problem is caused by the image of the working class that is projected to us by the capitalist culture that dominates our country.

In the second report, we learned that male supremacy and misogyny have been fundamental aspects of the tyranny of ruling classes historically. With the development of private property and the domination of the toiling classes by the owning classes came the subordination and oppression of women. In our view, the evolution of male supremacy and misogyny has its origins here.

The development of capitalism did not free women; the development of capitalism intensified women’s oppression with exploitation. In addition to culture, customs, historical tradition, ideology, laws, social policies and practices, the full power of the state is brought against women.

The election of Trump put male supremacy on front burner.

The election of Trump has placed the question of male supremacy and misogyny on the front burner. The institutionalized terrorism of capitalism subjects women to threats against their reproductive rights, lower wages, job segregation, sexual harassment and rape in the workplace, and continued domestic slavery at home, meaning the cooking, cleaning and care for children, elders, and the sick.

The working class has the challenge of distinguishing itself from the capitalist ruling class and all prior ruling classes. Because we live in a society dominated by capitalist culture, their world views and behaviors dominate.  We live in their house, and they rule.

Even though our working-class lives produce styles and ways of life akin to our reality, we are not free of the influence of capitalist culture.  Because the capitalist class is the dominant class, male supremacy and misogyny seep into every nook and cranny of this society, and we, as the working class, are not free of its influence.

Conscious Struggle

This reality produces the context in which we struggle. It is only in the struggle to promote the embrace and further development of conscious working-class styles and ways of life, culture, and thinking (as opposed to bourgeois styles and ways of life, culture and thinking) and to create the conditions for working-class unity (through building  the fight for equality and the advancement of democracy) that the fight against male supremacy, misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc is advanced.

In the absence of this conscious struggle, in many instances the reality can be very ugly and very violent in the work place and in the home.  Unity within the working class requires conscious sensitivity and conscious support for issues important to its various segments that are differently oppressed and exploited.  This kind of unity will lay the basis for social advance and the advance of democracy; this kind of unity is the basis upon which we will win.

Male supremacy and misogyny harm the working class and the working-class movement, and the only weapons we have against male supremacy and misogyny are consciousness, working-class and socialist consciousness, and united action.  That means rather than view issues of concern to working class women as secondary and on the back burner, especially because women are half of the wage labor force, half of the proletariat, this reality requires that women’s issues be placed on the front burner, in the mix of all the other front-burner issues.

Battle across class lines

It also means we recognize that because women across class lines are oppressed by this capitalist reality of male supremacy and misogyny, the working class has the opportunity and therefore the obligation to struggle to win wide sections of women to the movement for social progress and the advancement of democracy by steadfastly speaking to, representing, and fighting for the interests of women even across class lines.  If you disagree, then your argument is with Lenin, not with me.

It is not that the struggle against male supremacy and misogyny supersede the struggle against racism; it is that the struggle against racism and the struggle against male supremacy and misogyny are organically intertwined given the reality of the historical development and experience of the USA.

Unity

In fact, for Marx the biggest challenge to the working class was its internal unity. For Lenin, the development of socialist consciousness based on a scientific examination of the interplay of social forces was fundamental for the development of working-class strategy and tactics.  Not only is unity within the working class between men and women critical, but the working class can win the whole of women as a major ally. What matters is the consciousness of working-class forces in forging internal unity within itself and in forging the alliance with the whole of women.

The working class has to speak to women and speak up for women, stand up for women, march in support of women’s issues, and make clear the connection between the interests of women and every other major issue on the table today.  The working class must continuously demonstrate how women’s interests are embeddeds in all other major issues. Peace and women’s interests, higher wages and women’s interests, expanded unionization and women’s interests, climate change and environmental issues and women’s interests, the fight against racism and women’s interests, etc.  By supporting women, the working class in reality is simply supporting itself and one of its major allies.

Equal to all, second to none

Hence, today, understanding the unity of the working class to pivot around women, along with the racially and nationally oppressed and other differently oppressed segments of our country, is not the same concept that we utilized in the past.  The fight against male supremacy and misogyny must be elevated along side the elevation of the fight against racism and other forms of oppression. More than half of the racially and nationally oppressed are women and women of color are a major segment, more significant than their numbers, of especially working-class women in the USA today.

Hence, today, if ruling-class culture and ideology (the ideology of the  extreme political right is especially horrendous) have been exposed for the utter disregard for women, the debasement of women, the extra-exploitation of women, the imprisonment of women to backward reproductive policies, the continued subjugation of women to domestic slavery and sexual terrorism, then it is in the interest of the working-class movement to do everything it can to demonstrate the genuine rejection of and struggle against male supremacy and misogyny in every form.

Toward achieving this goal, the goal of the advance of the working-class movement, we have to begin to examine how male supremacy and misogyny penetrate and peddle influence in our ranks.  In our ranks male supremacy and misogyny can be grotesque, subtle, or even passive aggressive.

Male supremacy and misogyny leave little room for women to play leadership roles.

Male supremacy and misogyny leave little room for women to play leadership roles that are real, for the voice of women to be encouraged, welcomed, and really heard. Male supremacy and misogyny within our ranks convey the message that to be a leader means the “privilege” of being able to sexually pursue anybody and everybody who comes around. Male supremacy and misogyny ignore the reality that excessive drinking creates spaces where many feel very unsafe. Male supremacy and misogyny influence the delegation of time and the determination of what is important and what’s not as important; one would never say the fight against male supremacy and misogyny and the concerns of women are not important, but there are those within our ranks who have said and still say today that there are concerns that are more important. misogyny

If we don’t see that all of the front burner concerns have to be organically intertwined with the struggle to increase working-class engagement and involvement, and that this effort can be significantly expanded if we include a targeting of the involvement of women, then we miss the great opportunities of this moment.

It is in this light, this context, that we issue the statement against male supremacy and misogyny.  The goal is not just to discuss and adopt and leave it there. The goal is to reach deep down into our clubs, districts, and national collectives to change how we see and understand the significance of this struggle and to upgrade the reflection of the fight for equality in everything we do.

Image: Creative Commons 2.0 Elvent Barnes from Baltimore MD.

Comments (1)

carl page | April 14, 2018 at 3:59 PM

Great article Dee, Thanks !

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