Why Women’s Marchers need to care about capitalism

On January 21st, an estimated 2.9 million people participated in Women’s Marches around the U.S., setting a record for the largest one-day protest in the nation’s history. For many feminists, a public display of enthusiasm of this degree is inspiring, perhaps marking the resurgence of a mass movement against the politics of the right. But in order to take the widespread anti-Trump sentiment and turn it into a movement to end inequality and injustice around the world once and for all, we need to be able to name the primary system behind this evil mess. To understand exactly how these various oppressions, injustices, and terrible governmental leaders are produced and interrelated, we need to take a critical look at the bedrock of not only American society, but the world: the economic structure. Capitalism.

Not crony capitalism, or corporatism, or Republicanism. Just plain old capitalism, functioning as it should, and as it must. A market-based economy necessitates cutthroat competition for firms to survive. Because material costs for manufacturers are relatively inflexible, it is labour costs that must be pushed down. Walmart and McDonalds spend millions on lobbyists to have influence in the government while paying their employees, whose labour produces all their value and profit, next to nothing. Capitalism, from its early industrial development until now, is fundamentally premised on the few profiting off the backs of the many, on eliminating competition and using monopoly to drive up prices, on working with the capitalist state to pass laws to protect profits.

To boot, capitalism thrives off racial hatred and caste systems. These both prevent workers from unifying against the capitalists and devalue the labour and lives of non-white workers. In other words, racism creates cheaper labour. Racism serves to justify imperialism, which is what happens when capitalism’s need for infinite growth drives capital out of its home country to exploit resources and labour abroad. Imperialist wars to secure territory and resources for corporations back home have killed millions of people and displaced even more. Women and girls suffer especially hard in war-torn areas, and in areas destabilized by U.S. military intervention and left to conservative extremist militias. Imperialism is not caused by greed, or the evil personalities of the capitalists like Trump (although they may be nasty). It is necessarily how capitalism develops, and what it does in order to grow.

Like it devalues people of colour, capital devalues women and their labour. Capital profits off and exacerbates gender norms and roles. In capitalist patriarchy, we raise men to acquire technological, scientific, and managerial expertise, as well as domineering personalities, and we raise women to pursue specifically feminized, underpaid professions involving domestic and reproductive labour. Capitalist patriarchy perpetuates myths of natural femininity, labeling domestic and reproductive labour as “women’s work,” that they are born to do and should perform without (or with minimal) compensation. This creates the “double burden” of both paid work and housework upon working women, and often drives them into isolation inside individual homes (as workers or housewives) where they cannot unionize and bargain collectively against their employers or husbands.

Capital profits off of privatized healthcare and expensive medication. It profits off privatized schools, where the rich can buy their children a lucrative career and the poor are left without education or skills. It profits off a denial of birth control and abortion, because it impoverishes women and families. It profits off homophobia, by forcing men and women into heterosexual unions (without birth control) to produce more desperate workers. It profits off conservatism and cultural misogyny and racism. It profits off cutting welfare, because the state can waste less money caring for its abused citizens (workers), and spend more money funding imperialist wars for the expansion of capital. It profits off the unliveable minimum wage, which affects hundreds of thousands of women. It profits off of masses of impoverished people desperate for meager wages. It is always ready to replace the unskilled worker who was fired for attempting to organize and demand higher compensation. It profits off the ruthless destruction of the ecosystem to support the infinite economic growth. It profits off of free trade agreements that move jobs offshore to exploit lax labour and environmental regulations in developing countries. It profits off hundreds of thousands, if not millions of women and children labouring in sweatshops.

This is not cronyism, or mere greed. This is how efficient business works. Capitalists (i.e. corporations), to make a profit, skim as much profit as they can off of the labour of their workers. If the capitalist was kind and gave the profit back to his employees through higher wages, a mean capitalist down the street would not, and therefore ultimately beat him in free market competition. What we need is not more female capitalists, a Democrat (or even a Green) in the White House, or more “diversity” in the one per cent and ruling elite. To liberate non-white people, women, gays, and the poor — the masses of workers — we need to abolish capitalism altogether.

The power of the worker lies in her labour. Her labour — at home and at work — make the world go round. And when any group of people get together and strike against capital, and demand nothing short of revolution, that is when inequality begins to die. We need a world where economic exploitation is illegal, where housing, healthcare, childcare, food, and jobs are guaranteed to all people. A world where humans collectively produce to meet human needs, and not for profit.

A “welfare-state,” social democracy, or “mixed economy” will not work. Capitalism will always be ruthless, racist, sexist, and ecologically destructive, and it will always influence state policy to unleash itself into its full, trickle-down, eight-men-own-as-much-as-half-of-humanity, neoliberal form. It will always drive production costs down and prevent equitable distribution of goods and services to maximize profit. What we — as workers, as women — need is socialism.

Women are a diverse group, and they are oppressed in many ways. We have been oppressed by men and economic elites long before capitalism was developed. We are, however, always instrumental in ushering in revolutionary change. A revolutionary worker’s state is essential in implementing feminist policy and alleviating the injustices women face. The January 21st Women’s Marches are part of a continuing display of popular interest in a world to come. As long as capitalism exists, so will every other injustice.

American feminists, as citizens of the leading imperialist capitalist power in the world, must include a radical critique of capitalism in their politics. We masses of women, and every other wronged minority and exploited worker, must together transform our disgust at this blatantly misogynistic corporate takeover into a revolutionary feminist movement. Our protests must turn to rebellion: a general strike, our collective power aimed at overthrowing the unjust order we have always known.

Women have been at the forefront of every revolutionary struggle in history. Today’s feminism needs to abandon capitalism, and the liberal ideology that supports it. It needs to abandon the Democratic Party, corporate feminism, pro-capitalist politicians, the ideologies that reify masculine and feminine gender stereotypes, the horribly misogynistic sex trade, and the liberal politics of “individual choice.” Women are not for sale, and we are not for profit. As feminists, we need to take feminism back from its neoliberal cooptation, and refocus on organizing women and their labour. We need to start thinking critically about capitalism. We need Red Feminism.

Emily Eisner writes about feminism, Marxism, and Marxist critiques of postmodernism. She holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin, and publishes occasionally at her blog, Red Feminism.

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  • How are you defining socialism? My experience of old-school socialist approaches is that it can be paternalistic and frustrating and way too bureaucratic. I actually think it would be good to subject businesses to a purer free market, so that the bad ideas die quickly, so long as workers (and non-workers, like me) are supported, and profits taxed fairly. A basic income plus egalitarian taxation, compared to all the protections business has now under the guise of “protecting jobs”.

  • susannunes

    She’s wrong about the “mixed economy.” It DOES work, and it worked fantastically well in the US during the postwar era until the crazy Friedmanites starting affecting public policy beginning in the mid-1970s. It isn’t either/or.

    • Wouldn’t it depend on the mix? Or is “mixed economy” only one kind of mix?

      Like right now the US has a mix of free market economics for workers and socialism for business.

  • shy virago

    This article proves that all men benefit from patriarchy – all over the planet. If not for women’s unpaid labor,
    how would they work outside the home and make their billions? Who would do the housework, childcare,
    cooking, farming, caring for the sick and elderly?

  • I think it needs to be emphasized that patriarchy and capitalism go hand in glove. The core value of patriarchy is, and always has been, hierarchy and stratification. Men want to line themselves up according to merit (or power) and they demand the perks of whatever status they manage to get. Those perks are wealth and women. And I have just defined capitalism, which rewards the most powerful and ‘punishes’ the less competitive. What place do women have, other than “reward”? I don’t believe patriarchy can be demolished without demolishing capitalism, and vice versa. We need a new vision, though. We can’t think of 20th century communism or socialism, both of which were driven by men who could not help but infuse them with patriarchal hierarchies and rewards (for men). We need a new vision. If women could create any kind of social structure we wanted, what would we create? Think about it? Would we create nuclear families? I wouldn’t. What would you, and what wouldn’t you create?

  • fxduffy

    I hate to be a party-pooper, but the size of the Women’s March had a lot to do with the shock of Trump’s victory. An earlier Women’s March back around 2004 was larger than this, as have been many other D.C. marches (speaking of one single venue) Still this was amazing given how far to the right this country has drifted.

    Just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq about 12-15 million around the world demonstrated on a single day, with approx. 3 million flooding the streets of Rome. And this wasn’t even their war.

    Anyhow it’s very important to stand back and assess the ravages of capitalism, which this Eisner piece excels at. And it must certainly be true that RED Feminism is superior to PINK feminism. But then Red most often means male domination, dogma, dead rhetoric, putting women’s politics on hold… well, you know the tried and true schema.

  • Independent Radical

    As a revolutionary socialist, I love this post overall, but cringed at a few parts. Sorry if I’m being nit picky, but I hold other revolutionaries to very high standards and worry about the influence of liberalism and identity politics on the movement.

    I think we should stay away from statements that are in any way celebratory of the exploitative labour that workers and women perform like “her labour — at home and at work — make the world go round”. I get that this is probably meant to emphasis that women have the power to challenge the ruling class by going on strike, but this could have been conveyed without implicitly complimenting women for the work they do. We should be careful to celebrate only those who are fighting back, not those who are obeying the system.

    Furthermore, I don’t buy that labour performed at home is as economically valuable as labour performed in workplaces. Men can work without stain-free clothes and shiny windows at home. A good portion of housework performed in middle income families is made necessary only through social norms that I feel socialists and feminists should be challenging.

    The housework that does need to be performed should be collectivised. Work done by one person at home to serve one family will never be as efficient as labour performed cooperatively to serve multiple. You can accuse me of being one of those bad feminists who hates housewives if you want (trust me, I’ve heard it before), but I have every right to hate systems and norms. If people insist on taking personal offence to my statements, that’s their problem.

    Speaking of social norms, instead of abandoning “the ideologies that reify masculine and feminine gender stereotypes”, can we just get rid of gender? Or masculinity and femininity? Redundant words suck the radicalism out of sentences.

    This way seem like a trivial point, but such language opens up the possibility that masculinity and femininity are acceptable so long as they aren’t “stereotypes” (which is in fact exactly what they are) or that ideologies are the problem instead of material realities. I hope a revolutionary socialist would recognise the need to get rid or severely transform the products that reinforce masculinity and femininity (e.g. aggression and beauty themed toys, violent media and sports, sexualised clothing, beauty products, including those aimed at children).

    Abolishing capitalism opens up the possibility of radically transforming the rest of society (including its social relations and dominate culture), but I don’t think we can do that without a gender abolitionist analysis. We need both socialism and gender abolitionist feminism (the only kind of feminism) to liberate women. Neither is sufficient on its own.

    • Child rearing is best done by a regular caregiver who is part of the child’s family – collective and privatized child rearing are both definitely inferior. There’s lots of research on that.

      Food preparation is often also better done privately, because of individual dietary needs and other concerns that aren’t met by commercial standardization.

      The other thing is that some people *like* housework. It can be meditative. And people often prefer the privacy of their own home to a collective environment. Collectivization may be more *efficient*, but that is not necessarily what people want or what is good for them. It would depend. I am not arguing in favour of women serving men – men can do their own laundry and pick up after themselves – but in favour of people doing their own self-care and caring for their own nests, instead of making it impersonal.

  • marv

    Many people think social democracy is the equitable answer to neoliberalism. One and the other are two forms of capitalism. Both are oppressive because they obstruct economic democracy – workers and the public at large controlling the means of production. I’m in favour of Emily Eisner’s feminist eco-socialism but with nonhuman animal rights incorporated.

    • FierceMild

      I’m not familiar with that work. Now I have something new to read! Thanks.

  • Lipstick_Traces

    I dislike the turbo/neo-liberal capitalism that we’re living through now, it is bad. However, this is a naive and utopian picture of socialism. Any economic/social system, taken to an extreme, is negative. A mixed economy (a mix of the market and socialism/social democracy) is the way to go. Revolutions always involve violence and killing. The Russian revolution involved the revolutionaries murdering a bunch of kids because they had the ‘wrong parents’ ie they were royal. You don’t have to be a royalist to find this really revolting. There is/was masses of sexism in far left socialist and communist groups- that’s why the term ‘brocialism’ exists – they give the right a run for their money on that account.

  • There has been a *lot* of research on the emotional needs of very young children. They need a primary care giver who is in their life for the long term. As they get older (age 4+) they’re not as fussy as to how much time they get with their primary caregiver, but they still need one. Inadequate parenting leads to all sorts of psychological problems down the road.

    Pre-agricultural societies, like agricultural societies, kept baby very close to mother for the first few years of life. (And even that wasn’t necessarily optimum for good mental health as adults, just the minimum required to keep the baby safe and fed.) 6 months of maternity leave doesn’t cut it.

  • Actually, women are being told to leave the pussy hats at home because they’re transphobic. So now I want one. 🙂
    https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/pussy-power-banned-from-uk-demo-against-trump/

  • foamreality

    I wondered why the Womens March, on a weekend, was so heavily covered by the media. I later discovered a much more effective idea was being organised for the same time: *http://www.womenstrike.org/

    I’m going to put on my tinfoil hat for a second and suggest it was mighty convenient that the march distracted from what could have been an actual revolution that week. Were the US power structures keen to promote the march as a harmless outlet for womens anger, women who otherwise might get more serious and withdraw their labour/weaken capitalist power/profits? What impact would that have if the same number of women went on strike at work and at home for a week? I’d love to see this idea gain new legs in the coming months.

    (*yeh, I realise the trans/non-binary inclusive guff on that website is off-putting, but the womens march had the same kind of crap, so whatever – its all moving in the right direction and we need to keep up that momentum)

    A great and important article. Thanks Emily.

  • OldPolarBear

    This is a really great comment and the issue of competition is really underrated in terms of how formative it is. You mention sports of course and reality shows. People think the latter are just trashy, diversionary fun, but they are insidious. There are so many of them, and the winner-takes-all mentality has become ever more vicious. What kind of sense does it even make for a show like, for example, Survivor to be winner-take-all? If a small group of people were in reality trapped on an isolated island, would it make sense for them to try and eliminate each other until one person was alone, or would they try to share and cooperate so each person could contribute and benefit from the varied skills and strengths of the entire group?

  • Meghan Murphy

    FUCKERS! Well, these privileges, pompous, pricks are precisely the kind of dudes who preach anarchist garbage at women, shame them for calling the cops on violent men, shame them for fighting the sex trade, shame them for excluding male who identify as women from the feminist movement. Privileged, white dudes who think they have the right to impose their political theories on real women’s lives. God this makes me livid.

  • Thank you for coming in with a bag full of books again 🙂 I’m compiling a reading list. I also believe that it’s time women starting conceptualizing new, possibly idealistic ways to structure society. We can only tear down for so long, without having a vision for what we want to replace it with. Or visions. And then arguments and discussions about what might work and what might not. Pros and cons of various possibilities. I don’t see why it would be called leftism. Its priorities and motivations would be entirely different than anything men of the left have conceptualized. Leftist men have only ever conceptualized a masculine society.

  • It’s maddening, isn’t it? Men have been fighting each other ever since the beginning, but women are supposed to be one homogenous group. I don’t think so. I think it’s time we thought about “multiple feminisms”, rather than just one (and by that I don’t mean funfem identity politics/individual choice fooferah). But groups of women in different circumstances are naturally going to be oppressed differently and experience their oppression in accordance with those circumstances. Situational feminisms? Linkages between them all would be wonderful.

  • I have an even more radical idea. Unfortunately it’s not one I can condone 🙁 I’d like to see a ban on male babies for about a decade. Imagine growing to age ten or so without any boys to exercise priviledge or power over you.

    • yummymoussaka

      That makes me think of another radical idea – no more babies ever (google VHEMT for more details). I know it sounds kind of crazy at first, but it’s surprisingly logical. By continuing to reproduce, we are supplying the pyramid scheme that is capitalism with more desperate people who have no choice but to be low-paid wage slaves and cannon-fodder on the battlefield.

      It’s no coincidence that every article trying to spread fear about “falling birthrates” worries about “who’s going to keep the economy going?” Women have the power to crush capitalism by not giving birth.

      That’s the real reason the patriarchy is so invested in making sure we have to give birth whether or not we want to.

  • Yisheng Qingwa

    Brava. Well said.

  • Tired feminist

    You don’t necessarily have to complain to be victim-blamed, you just have to be a victim.

  • Cassandra

    I’m sorry this happened to you. What a couple of fucking pricks. And they would have NEVER said that to a man.

  • Jocelyn Crawley

    I respect your view on separatism. What would be your view of separatism if it became a sphere through which gender was abolished? I think Marilyn Frye is an advocate of separatism who believes in the construction of women only spaces for the purpose of eliminating some of the phallic ideas that have come to define “femaleness.” An example would be the phallic insistence that women’s reproductive organs be appropriated to carry on patrilineal heritage and everything it tends to entail within heteronormative regimes. Rather than glorifying motherhood as a natural or somehow desirable condition for women, Frye questions it by noting that “The fetus lives parasitically.” Frye goes on to note that a woman who possesses the cognitive freedom necessary to view the fetus as a parasite might also interpret the male as a parasite. In examining her line of thought, I can see how the concepts and reality of pregnancy and motherhood are being interpreted in a manner antithetical to the lens through which the phallus wants women to view these institutions. (Therefore the social construct of “woman=mother” is being challenged.) Frye’s ultimate point here appears to be that women should be free to question that aspect of ostensibly innate “womanhood” we call “motherhood.” Also note that Frye connects the reality of a woman conceptualizing the fetus as a parasite and the male as a parasite when she asserts “The woman who is free to see the fetus as a parasite might be free to see the man as a parasite.” This makes sense in my mind not only because men indeed exhaust women’s energies, but because insisting that women carry a fetus is a modality through which they actualize the parasitic system of relations.

    Of course you are 100% correct regarding the need to abolish gender. As soon as I read this element of your post, my mind moved to Monique Wittig’s brilliant book The Straight Mind. In the chapter entitled “One Is Not Born A Woman,” Wittig argues that “…some avenues of the feminist and lesbian movement lead us back to the myth of woman which was created by men especially for us, and with it we sink back into a natural group. Having stood up to fight for a sexless society, we now find ourselves entrapped in the familiar deadlock of “woman is wonderful.” Simone de Beauvoir underlined particularly the false consciousness which consists of selecting among the features of the myth (that women are different from men) those which look good and using them as a definition for women. What the concept “woman is wonderful” accomplishes is that it retains for defining women the best features (best according to whom?) which oppression has granted us, and it does not radically question the categories “man” and “woman,” which are political categories and not natural givens” (13, 14). As Wittig noted, Dworkin has alsoreferenced this reality of women adopting the “woman is wonderful” approach.

    Now to your quote, which I enjoyed immensely: “Though identity politics is an issue too (feminists think of themselves as women who should take pride in their womanhood and much of the feminine garbage that comes with it rather than as human beings who born biological female and forced into femininity) and that has
    always been part of feminism to some extent.” I agree, and I would argue that an example is the emphasis upon “natural femininity” which materializes in the form of women placing primacy on their physical appearance by spending excessive amounts of time “perfecting” individual parts with acts like shaving the legs or applying make-up to the face. This (perhaps phallic) pattern oftentimes works to the abrasion of a self conceptualized in terms of a choate whole, with the woman being just body and not mind. A tangible cultural example of women internalizing male concepts of “woman” and then asserting that this form of “womanhood” is natural and/or something they should be proud of would be the pop song “I Enjoy Being A Girl.” Here are the first four lines:

    I’m a girl and by me that’s only great
    I am proud that my silhouette is curvy
    that I walk with a sweet and girlish gait
    With my hips kind of swivelly and swervey

    In my reading, the woman defines herself in terms of her body (and thus *as* a body) by referencing that her silhouette is curvy. She then goes on to describe her gait as “sweet” and “girlish,” thereby indicating that the bodily aspect of her being is separate from enabling, active concepts and realities like “strength.” (Woman is passive not active, a male concept.)

    The next four lines look like this:

    I adore being dressed in something frilly
    When my date comes to get me at my place
    Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy
    Like a filly who is ready for the race

    Here, I see that the clothing the woman adorns herself with is “frilly,” a word whose definition incorporates the concept of something inconsequential or frivolous. Then she goes on to note that she enjoys going out with various men. She conceptualizes this dating activity with the phrase “Like a filly who is ready for the race.” This line can be interpreted in numerous ways. All of them are negative. Woman is animal, man is the human who will tame or subordinate her. Also, the man takes on the role of picking the woman up (active). She sits at home and waits for him (passive). These lines show me what heterosexuality is all about.

    Thanks for your post. We need to think more about how to abolish gender and why we need to do so.

    • Raysa_Lite

      Males tend to be parasites. Absolutely no doubt.

    • Independent Radical

      I agree that pregnancy and vaginal intercourse need to be challenged. Unfortunately, pregnancy and childbirth are currently necessary for reproduction, but humans have invented technological alternatives to other previously necessary behaviours, so we could definitely invent an alternative to the painful, dangerous and yes, parasitic, way of producing children that women are now expected to endure. In fact if our society were not patriarchal we probably would’ve invented such an alternative by now and there are people working on it (mostly men, unfortunately, since science and technology are considered “male things” by feminists and anti-feminists alike).

      I don’t think this requires separatism though. The issue I have with separatism in a nutshell is that I want a world where my genitals matter as little as possible and separatism means deciding where people live based on their genitals. Genitals certainly do matter in our society, because patriarchy makes them matter. It is naive to believe that our genitals don’t influence the role we end up playing in our society, but they shouldn’t.

      If separatism is a strategy for achieving such a world then I can get behind it, but as an end in itself, I feel it is consistent with complete gender abolition (which mean creating a world where nothing is decided by what genitals one has). It creates cultures in which genitals and reproductive systems are essential part of one’s identity, resulting in the belief that they should never be criticised and thus to the endorsement of pregnancy, childbirth and genital-centric sexualities. Call me a freaky trans-humanist if you will (though I feel that there are dangerous to certain technological advancements occurring in a capitalist world, even if they would be really cool in an egalitarian context) but I want to move beyond all that.

      I totally agree with everything else you said. Putting women on a pedestal and thinking that everything women do is great (whether you define the term “women” according to biology or conformity to femininity) does lead back to pro-gender (reproduction is to some extent, yet another aspect of femininity) and thus anti-equality thinking. However, I can’t imagine any radical feminist (even those I disagree with about various matters) endorsing blatant femininity reinforcement that was unrelated to female biology. They are still smarter than that.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Lecturing poor women about ‘consumerism’ is waaaay up there in the top most disgustingly warped manifestations of brogressivism.

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope their dicks fall off.

  • Roseanna Danza

    The euphemism “the sex trade” is terribly unclear. Do you mean prostitution? Do you mean the enslavement of women and girls (- AND GIRLS! -) for repeated, ongoing rape? Or do you mean the interrelated both? That is, prostitution and the enslavement of women and girls are too related for me to parse this out without your input. I’m sorry, but you’re sounding WAY too much like a happy capitalist, in the use of that phrase. Please define.

    • Tired feminist

      Why, if it’s all the same crap and all needs to be abolished? Prostitution IS enslavement.

  • FierceMild

    LOL!

    You’ve inspired me to poetry:

    As I lay me down tonight,
    I pray the Lord their cocks to blight.

    ROFLMAO!

  • FierceMild

    I like your bookishness as well. It helps me identify titles I’m interested in reading and saves me some time.

  • Exactly correct. The point made by some feminists (and I agree) is that this will to force women into a position of compliance with patriarchal hierarchies is a form of death. In the field of signifying supremacy which operates according to a system of patriarchal binary thought where masculine and feminine are antithetical terms in which the latter is categorized as inferior, the dialectic process always involves the defeat (death) of the female participant. The interaction that takes place must unfold this way because, as Moi argues, “under patriarchy, the male is always the victor” (103, Sexual/Textual Politics). Ultimately, Cixous equated the passivity men ascribed to women as death, and I personally see the death as two-fold. First, to allow someone else to define and/or abrade one’s identity rather than retaining the efficacy and independence associated with self-definition is a form of death. Second, being relegated to the sphere of passivity is another form of death given the inactivity/latency associated with this attribute.

    In thinking about this further, I was reminded of an important sentence from Judith Halberstam’s book “Female Masculinity.” In discussing the reality of the “tomboy” and how young girls are socialized to be feminine through various measures of restraint and repression, Halberstam goes on to point out “That any girls do emerge at the end of adolescence as masculine women is quite amazing” (938, Literary Theory). Here I can see how the ongoing attempt to force young girls into a position of passivity during childhood constitutes a type of death as their proclivity to be active and assertive is continually quelled. That some young girls effectively resist this suppression and subjugation, existing as “tomboys” and becoming masculine women, is a spectacular occurrence which perhaps constitutes the inversion of the signifying supremacy schema in which 1. woman is constructed as passive and 2. woman must always lose when operating in context of a man. In the case of the “tomboy,” woman constructs self as active rather than being constructed as passive. She also “wins” when operating in context of a social world that functions according to the phallic principle that girls must emerge from adolescence as docile, passive creatures.

    (I put “tomboy” in quotes because I don’t like how the term seems to signify that a girl who operates in an active, aggressive manner is acquiring an attribute indigenous to the male sex.)

    Finally, I think men really do want women dead on a literal level. After all, the leading cause of death in women worldwide is men. I am also drawn to how the “Counting Dead Women” enterprise underscores this reality by providing feminists with detailed information regarding how this imperial project is unfolding. Additionally, Gloria Steinem has noted that “”snuff” movies and much current pornographic literature insists that a slow death from sexual torture is the final orgasm and ultimate pleasure” (239). This is the male mind operating in true form: taking pleasure out of female pain and the perverse power indigenous to engendering a woman’s death in a sexual context where “sex” equals a man dominating a woman.

    This paradigm of men taking pleasure from literally or metaphorically killing women is played out in numerous literary works, including Angela Carter’s brilliant short story “The Bloody Chamber.” In this short story, the protagonist marries a man only to discover that he kills all of his wives for sport. An interesting, important subplot of this text pertains to the husband “taking the protagonist’s virginity,” with this practice being described in language that conflates sex with (a battle leading to) death. After the event transpires, for example, she describes herself as “infinitely dishevelled by the loss of my virginity” (15). The “sex” act also unfolds in context of the protagonist noting that “A dozen husbands impaled a dozen brides while the mewing gulls swung on invisible trapezes in the empty air outside” (15).

    My studies of women’s literature have revealed that this pattern of men engendering female death is prevalent. The theme surfaces in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark, and Doris Lessing’s The Grass Is Singing.

  • Tired feminist

    LOL fine, don’t call it solidarity then. How about empathy? Also too feminine?

  • DeColonise

    To have an infinite growth economy on a finite planet is insane.

    And of course within Capitalism, which is a growth economy of course, everything shall be turned into a resource. To be used and thrown away. Nothing has value but economic value according to a capitalist based society.
    Sickening.

  • I think rather than demand the recreation you speak of, we need to do it. We need to recreate the social, political, economic systems. Libertarianism, as I understand it, is “every man for himself”. Such a philosophy truly is only for men. Women can’t survive in such a system. We need systems created cooperatively as much as possible. Coercion is awful and needs power to back it up, and the willingness to overpower.

  • Leo

    Woah woah, where did I mention bombing? I’ve never voted for Labour because of the Iraq war. LibFems on the other hand are quite capable of keeping schtum about bombing as long as their own abortion rights are protected – if someone is going to vote for something as a ‘lesser of two evils’ option they should at least make damn clear that’s what it is, not be all yay about it. My complaint is they *don’t* sufficiently condemn bombing. The marchers were far from all being Radical Feminists, and it’s the marchers the article refers to.

    LibFems often don’t stand with non-white women to fight sexism, they do defend Islam as being a matter of ‘choice’ while not extending that to Christianity (for an example there’s how Goldsmith’s Feminist Society took sides *against* feminist ex-Muslim campaigner Maryam Namazie). All patriarchal religion should be criticised by feminists, as with the rest of patriarchal culture.

    The LibFems also don’t want to talk about prostitution and how that affects non-white women including Native women.

    Women are *not* socialised to care about other women particularly, we’re expected if anything to accept it when it’s some other poor woman not us that the dudes are doing the usual to, and to put up and shut up lest it indeed be us next. The caring work we are meant to do is meant to be for the benefit of dudes (even the way we’re meant to care for girl children and raise them to be patriachy-compliant), not to be for women and girls and against male supremacy. Expecting feminists to care about women is a pretty minimal requirement, and I can’t really see the point of being one if we’re not allowed to encourage other women to be for women’s liberation too (lest that be treating them as ‘homogenous’) – how is that going to get any of us anywhere?

    “You want women to be one homogenous group. I’m sorry but women cannot offer a consistent political ideology, because their political needs cross all boundaries of class, race, nationality, religion, sexuality and majorities and minorities. If you want a consistent political ideology, then just recognise that women are deemed inferior to men in whatever socio-political context, nationality, religion or class in which they find themselves.”
    Well, yeah, isn’t your second sentence basically the point here? And it’s why religion is not a political ‘need’ that women have, rather most if not all (probably all) of it needs to go, it really is that simple. We cannot defend patriarchy and dismantle it. I want women as a class to rise against patriarchy.

    As for other boundaries, isn’t this what intersectionality is properly for? It’s entirely consistent ideology, for example, to note that women are most of the poor, that women who are further marginalised by race or disability may be particularly effected, etc, and it’s still focusing on women.

  • Carol Moore

    I meant as ideal end states. Unity and diversity, community and individualism, love and independence, etc. all the Yin Yangs of reality are where it’s at. 🙂

  • Leo

    When you put it like that it sounds better but I think people are just too complicated and often don’t actually get along great beyond a very superficial level, which is not what the concept of communal living is trying to encourage I think? It might well end up working for the more conformist and more outgoing, less so for the not conformist and less outgoing, which is kind of what we have already – however otherwise individualised there’s not really a ‘sod off and leave me alone’ option with communal living, and people who are very similar can still massively disagree (including of course over entirely stupid things, because people). My ‘Millennial’ generation seems if anything less likely to engage as much with other people and have close community connections (irl at least), but this may be because if given an actual choice people don’t want to.

    Will add those two to my reading list. : ) I was thinking ‘Brave New World’ for our current society, but also because I’m inclined to think some people won’t be satisfied no matter what you do with them and maybe we, uh, they, should be left alone to be miserable in peace. Certainly rather than having a bunch of cheerful people traipsing round helpfully to do their cleaning with them, that sounds god awful. And besides, it’d be a right pain for me, uh, they, to have to get all the hay off their floor before the happy-cleany people came round and saw it, how embarrassing.

  • Leo

    It’s gamers who are annoyed about that trend, not men, and it’s not because of the existence of these indie interactive media experiences (they’re not games), it’s because of how snobby mainstream journalism reacts to them (because of course they couldn’t be seen to praise an actual game for being artistic) and how it really does seem more about a dishonest agenda rather than an honest analysis of the medium. It’s like watching Heat magazine get held up as the pinnacle of what literature has to offer despite the total lack of depth or actual proper writing (in this case, proper gameplay). Unlike Heat magazine, walking sims could be fine for what they are, though at present are often insufferably pretentious, but they’re a different thing. Plenty of actual games don’t involve combat or competition either. Plenty of those that do still have positive messages about cooperation – I don’t really see it as a huge problem for instance to have combat against obvious monsters (which can simply be a fun and exciting gameplay mechanic) while the player helps and cooperates with every person and creature they meet (you can feed all the wild animals, and the game is about restoring nature, it’s very positive), as in Okami. But that game would never ever get the kind of serious attention these indie ones do, it’s too Japanese (based on their myths and art) for one thing, and Western journalists don’t like that (as well as plain old xenophobia they’d have to do more actual research). They’d rather throw in mentions of Depression Quest (which is really obviously not a game, and none the less useful as a tool to explain depression for it) than even consider bothering to properly analyse a game with an actual narrative that simply portrays depression as a natural part of a much bigger story (rather than centering it around it as a topical liberal issue, as these non-games often seem to, like over-edgy modern art), because it doesn’t occur to them games could be a serious medium, not really. I don’t like being patronised or dishonesty so I’m annoyed by the trend too. I’ve been playing Animal Crossing with male gamers for years, it’s not new for there to be games like that, and having someone barge in when you’re all quite happy sitting round playing together trading furniture items to decorate your houses, exchanging customised clothing designs, and pretty hybridised flowers with each other (my bestie invited me round especially to look at his garden and gave me some great tips), and then have them declare ‘look, these new games have no violence, not like all your nasty old games!’ *is* annoying. It’s typical liberals dragging the conversation backwards from where it was actually at because it suits their political agenda to do so.