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Why we reject feminism

 

 

 

The negative reactions to our critique of feminism have varied from accusations of sexism to more resigned criticisms where we have been reproached for "focusing too much" on the subject.

 

Lying behind these disagreements is a fear of losing "the opportunity" to "connect" with a movement that is massive and is showcased in the media as it befits every ideology of the state.

 

There are those who accept that feminism is a bourgeois movement, but are afraid to reject it as such. They argue that "feminism" is a very vague term and that, therefore, it makes no sense to reject feminism as a whole. We are told that although bourgeois feminism exists, that is, the feminism of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois women, that there can also exist a "proletarian" or "Marxist" feminism. Those who make such claims utilize the fact that feminism is an "empty signifier," that can mean almost anything, and try to present that as proof of its ability to be "proletarianized."

 

What motivates these arguments is a prevailing fear that rejecting it outright would mean "becoming separated from young women", or simply "alienating" "women" in general. For them to accept, even theoretically, certain "types" or "flavors" of feminism is simply a matter of "image" and Marxist PR. 

 

We cannot but reject the notion that female workers, simply because they are women, are somehow less politically mature than their male counterparts, less able to arrive at class positions and, therefore, to come to the conclusion that feminism goes against their interests. And, of course, no less destructive is the idea that feminism, because it is a nebulous term, can be "regained" or used opportunistically for our purposes.

 

What is feminism?

 

Although feminism is presented as simply signifying "women's liberation" and "equality", feminism has a history as well as a material and concrete meaning. Regardless of the claims to the contrary, there is a fundamental idea shared by all "feminisms": the existence of a historical and political subject, "women." Women: a category that transcends social classes and that would supposedly create proper and common interests among women regardless of their social class and differentiated from those of their male counterparts.

That is why the essence of feminism is the creation of a supposed "community of women" who, on the basis of common interests, independent of class, would build a "sorority", that is, a fraternity based on sex. In other words: an exclusively feminine "sacred union" of bourgeois, petty bourgeois and working women. In a word: collaborationism. And in fact, collaborationism is the narrative that informs all of "feminist theory," including supposedly "proletarian" feminist theory.[1]

 

The feminism of “the class”

 

 

 

It is not surprising that "feminist theory", including "Marxist feminist theory", has been developed in the universities. Universities are a part of the apparatus of state capitalism charged with -especially social science faculties- reproducing and producing ideology, ideology that reinforces the social relations of the capitalist mode of production.  

 

The "Marxism" of Marxist or socialist feminism is utilized to reconcile a contradiction. If "women" constitute a political subject, with its own interests outside the current classes, it must have existed in previous modes of production. But if the same form of oppression remained constant - supposedly patriarchy - from slavery to feudalism and from feudalism to capitalism, it is because somehow women constitute "something like a class". That is to say, they suffer their own and exclusive forms of exploitation that transcend not only the borders between the social classes to which women belong, but also the modes of production of historical societies. If this were so, it goes without saying, historical materialism, as a whole view of the history of our species, would crumble: it would have been as though there only existed one mode of production with small variants without any real human development.[2]

 

Neither evidence nor prudence deterred our courageous academic "Marxists". For their purposes, they abstracted domestic work and an ahistorical archetype: the "housewife".

 

The Marxist feminists, by making the housewife central to their analysis and having it represent the condition of "women" in general, were alienated from the working class woman who struggles alongside her male coworkers, the one who migrates, who contributes to the history of Humanity.[3] The role of the housewife in its absolute was and is still a position that few working women possess. The Marxist feminist reduction of the toil of women to domestic work denies women their place within the struggle of the universal class and creates a mythical "proletarianization" of bourgeois and petty bourgeois housewives by demanding wages for housework. The demand for wages for housework was essentially about rallying behind "woman" as a political subject. As the Marxist feminists saw it, housework and what it signified, was something that united all women, across class lines.[4] The essentialism of the Marxist feminist movement was so prominent that they were willing to denounce our collective history as a universal class by denouncing the myriad of mass strikes that had taken place in the past, many of those strikes being what spread the spark of revolution itself, and many of them led by women workers. They denounced them by falsifying history, by claiming that no general strike had ever been achieved historically. [5] 

 

It is small wonder then that the effect would be to fetishize the peasantry, encourage small business, reside in the academic world, and organize "womens' strikes". In other words, it is small wonder that the movement, basing itself on a cross-class "woman subject" whose home is her world, would have a petty-bourgeois character.[6] 

 

As Rosa Luxemburg pointed out, for the proletarian woman on the other hand, being part of a universal class, the whole world is her home. The result of "class feminism" could only be a series of grotesque contradictions:

 

 

  • Not only does it assert, without foundation, that housework is productive, but it also upholds the erroneous notion that the price of labor is determined by it.

  • It tells us that there could be such a thing as a "women's strike"

  • It looks the other way when in Spain the queen "joins" the "strike" at the same time as in the US or Great Britain it redefines strikes that have always included all workers, such as the strikes involving workers in education or sanitation, as "women's strikes".

  • Determined to falsify, divert and divide the class struggle, they have no qualms about organizing the "feminist strike" with the unions. After all, unions are true experts on diverting the class struggle.

  • And if all this is not enough to make it clear to us that "class feminism" expresses class interests that are very different from those of the working class, they consider prostitution to be a job like any other and they fight for its legalization.

 

It is difficult not to realize that all these positions are rooted in the "essence" of feminism, which is not "the struggle for equality," but class collaborationism within the framework of the affirmation of an interclass "community", "women," as a political subject. Are there feminists with other positions? Yes, there are feminists with almost any position we can imagine, but always with at least one in common: working women have interests of their own and differentiated from their male companions. The class, therefore, would not really be singular and universal, nor would it be the bearer of a universal project, but rather a kind of "confederation" or aggregation of identities.

 

 

Calculated feminist "ambiguity"

 

 

 

 

In reality, the ambiguity of the term "feminism" is intentional, a rhetorical shield: feminism is "uncriticizable" because, as we are told, to be against it is to be against the abolition of discrimination between men and women. But when the discussion becomes concrete, class collaboration and the denial of the working class as a single historical and political subject becomes evident. And as if that were not enough, so many variants have emerged from universities and other ideological laboratories that, once they have reached the programmatic discussion, the possibility of discussion is denied because feminism as such "does not even exist".

 

But the fact that anything can be feminist is yet another expression of the bourgeois character of feminism. In state capitalism, a movement is valued for its ability to incorporate struggle into the framework of the state. And like all "successful" petty-bourgeois movements, that is, capable of being protected and strengthened to the point of exhaustion by the state, it is "flexible". If feminism is consolidated as an ideology of the state, it is because it is capable of shamelessly converting war recruitment propaganda into "progressive" symbols; it is capable of framing the struggle of petty-bourgeois women to enter the corporate bourgeoisie as a universal "cause" for equality and the "end of the wage gap"; it is capable of presenting prostitution and surrogate motherhood as "equal exchange", and even the very word "equality" - which in the view of the working class means absence of poverty and humiliations - signifies equality of sexual representation in the board of directors.

 

What is to be done with feminism?

 

Feminism is today, together with ecologism, the main ideological battering ram of a new offensive of the bourgeoisie. For many it is always tempting to think that they would be able to "follow the confusionist current" in order to "recover" or "bring consciousness" to any movement capable of taking "many workers" out onto the street. But if it does not work and has never worked, it's for a reason. Following the current, what we Marxists call opportunism, ends up blurring the class boundaries among many thousand ambiguities and excuses. And that, which we call centrism, is the antechamber of the definitive disablement and nullification of any political organization that tries to usefully contribute to the development of consciousness in the class.

 

There is neither "clarity" to be caught in the confusion, nor consciousness that can be contributed to a movement alien to our class that blurs and divides it. Nor are we interested in "appeasing" anyone, least of all the academic Marxists. We cannot afford not to go "against the current" when the current is encouraged by the state. We are part of that "real movement which abolishes the present state of things," a state of things of which feminism is a part of and defends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] For Lise Vogel, who many consider the most sophisticated of the Marxist feminists, there is "potential for building progressive women's organizations that cross class divisions" since women "not in the working class" are oppressed as well. Therefore "a broad-based women's liberation movement may represent an essential component in the fight for socialism". 

 

[2] We can see their conception of women constituting something "like a class" when they equate the feminist movement with the class struggle of the proletariat. The idea that women are literally a class is explicitly expressed in materialist feminist theory, re Monique Wittig or Shulamith Firestone. 

 

[3] "We assume that all women are housewives and even those who work outside the home continue to be housewives. That is, on a world level, it is precisely what is particular to domestic work, not only measured as number of hours and nature of work, but as quality of life and quality of relationships which it generates, that determines a woman’s place wherever she is and to whichever class she belongs". - Mariarosa Dalla Costa & Selma James

 

[4] "The demand for wages for housework is a direct demand for power, because housework is what millions of women have in common." (A General Strike 1974, Mariarosa Della Costa)

 

[5]"No strike has ever been a general strike. When half the working population is at home in the kitchens, while the others are on strike, it’s not a general strike." (A General Strike 1974, Mariarosa Della Costa)

 

[6] (https://www.scarymommy.com/ways-to-support-day-without-a-woman-strike-without-taking-off-from-work/). The Women's Strike organizers encouraged the participants of the "strike" to shop in minority and women-owned businesses. 

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