by Polina Brik
The oppression of women is an inevitable component of capitalism. Women experience pervasive sexism and discrimination on a daily basis: lack of identity, harassment, being treated as men’s appendages – our voices are simply neglected. When we speak up, we are silenced and reminded of our position as men’s accessories. But where does this misogyny stem from?
Historically, women have been regarded as personal property of men. The division of labor caused by the emergence of private property was the starting point of subordination of women to men. Exploited in both the workplace and at home through the division of labor within the household, women continue to perform unpaid labor in the form of household duties such as child-rearing, cooking, and cleaning. Domestically the wage gap means that women still earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn, with Black women earning 63 cents and Latina women 54 cents. Taken into account the same socially necessary labor – teaching children or programming computers for example – women are still paid less than men by at least 10% and as much as 65% in certain positions according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, women have been driven to “female-specific” jobs, such as nursing children and low-level medical jobs, which are only two examples among many. Even in such “female-specific” jobs, women are paid less than men within the same occupation. Typically, women make up two-thirds of the workers earning minimum wage or less.
Women in low-paying jobs are stripped of healthcare benefits and maternal leave. Women are also rejected from jobs based on the mere possibility of them becoming pregnant and taking maternity leave, or needing time off at all. The commodification of women’s bodies still exists today: forced by poverty and distress, women are driven to sell their labor to inherently oppressive and dangerous forms of sex work, such as prostitution and pornography industry.
Women make up more than 70% of the world’s poorest people. We face abuse daily – both domestically and in the workplace. Female labor makes up 85% of sweatshop workers – the very same sweatshops that employ an estimated 170 million children aged 5 to 15. Labor law abuses are present both in offshore drilling industries and domestically.
These figures do not arise out of nowhere. This is a systematic problem of a class society which no president can heal, and this problem requires a solution. Currently, Trump’s administration is making direct attacks on women by both propagating misogynistic rhetoric and enacting policies which jeopardize women’s health and well-being. The Senate voted to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood, a service which provides free access to birth control and gynecological services to women, the majority of whom are women of color. The misogynistic rhetoric used by the current administration directly instigated violent reaction from among the far-right; see for example murders of Planned Parenthood employees and destruction of Planned Parenthood facilities. The aforementioned defunding means that more than 4 million poor women will lose access to comprehensive family planning services. Steps have already been made to defund all U.S.-funded healthcare services stationed internationally providing abortion services. This means that not only abortion clinics but hospitals in general will stop providing services to women in need.
This is the time to start looking beyond simply condemning Trump’s disgusting misogynistic rhetoric: we should start seeing the pattern within American politics in general. We should clear our clouded view that the propertied class have created in order to prevent us from understanding the problem. It’s not just the president, but the system itself. Trump’s administration is only a symptom of the disease of capitalism, and Obama’s presidency still perpetuated these symptoms with his record numbers of deportations (more than 5 million people), with his bombings of Libyan and Syrian families – the majority of victims of which are women and children, and those are the people who suffer most. We should stand in solidarity with those suffering from the imperialist murder machine, not only because we have basic human empathy but because it affects us as well.
Reactionary and liberal feminists have been upholding the image of a liberated woman as a woman with capitalist power: a CEO woman, a woman who expresses her freedom as the freedom to exploit other women, both domestically and internationally. Hillary Clinton for instance was seen as one such “liberated woman.” Clinton is responsible for the blood of thousands of people in Libya, Syria, and Honduras. This “feminist” is one who backed dismantling of welfare systems on which millions of poor American rely, and who backed destructive policies of austerity around the world. This “liberated woman” has a history of backing mass incarcerations of predominantly Brown and Black people thus furthering the support for the prison-industrial complex. And this is the image of a liberated woman the the bourgeoisie want us to believe in and to strive to be. Those fake feminists are the enemies of the working women, they are the bloodthirsty anti-feminists, despite their identity and smiley rhetoric. And what did the beloved Obama family prove by endorsing the warmonger while condemning Trump’s rhetoric in their reality show circus? They represent the same capitalist interests. So we are left with the utterly misogynistic Trump and his administration on the one hand, and the “liberal” hypocritical Democrats, whose feminist rhetoric is just a candy wrap which conceals the disgusting guts of capitalism. When will this nightmare end?
Working women across the United States must stand in solidarity with their working sisters and brothers, with those who are suffering most, with the most oppressed, with other workers of color and trans people, in a revolutionary struggle to finally eradicate capitalism and all the injustices that it breeds through class society and private property. We call for a society which will finally be able to bring emancipation, a society which will be able to rid us of the forces who cause our sufferings and the sufferings of our sisters across the world. A society which would enforce not only social equality, but the economic equality that we deserve free from capitalist exploitation.
In realizing that the oppression of working women, of women of color, and of the LGBTQ+ community is stemming from the system which requires it, capitalism, we simultaneously acknowledge the necessity for a fight against it. Down with the oppression of women! Down with the system which creates it! And one day we will see the fruits of our common struggle, we will bring about the real freedom – life free of exploitation!