Mar 06 2015

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY – MARCH 8th

In recognition of International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, we are posting two contributions. The first is the introductory talk on IWD given by Linda Rogers and Cat Grant to the Edinburgh Radical Independence Campaign meeting on March 2nd.

The second is a major contribution to the history of women’s suffrage, entitled Finland 1906: the revolutionary roots of women’ suffrage by Eric Blanc, a socialist activist based in Oakland, California. This was first posted at:- https://johnriddell.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/finland-1906-the-revolutionary-roots-of-womens-suffrage-an-international-womens-day-tribute/

 

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Mar 20 2009

Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People –What does it stand for?

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 17RCN @ 4:31 pm

When the RCN used the image of the bare-breasted Liberty from the iconic Delacroix painting as a front cover for our pamphlet, Republicanism, Socialism and Democracy, this provoked a debate in the SSP. Catriona Grant, leading socialist feminist, and member of SSP Edinburgh no 2 branch contributes to the debate.

Why are Liberty’s breasts bared in Delacroix’s painting – Liberty Leading the People? A recent discussion in the SSP raged for a week or two whether Delacroix’s work of Liberty Leading the People was sexist. Is it revolutionary or sexist? Can it be both?

Eugene Delacroix’s Romantic painting of 1830 is probably Delacroix’s most famous work – the bare breasted and footed goddess warrior, triumphantly leading the Parisians with the tricolour in her hand to their ultimate goal for liberty, fraternity and equality! (Sisterhood was never mentioned).

Liberty Leading the People commemorates the July Revolution of 1830 in France, which toppled the Emperor Charles X, a generation or so after the French Revolution. In the painting, Liberty leads the people over the bodies of the fallen. Stridently and encouragingly she holds up the tricolour of the French Revolution in one hand and brandishes a bayonet in the other, the dead being her pedestal, her plinth to declare the revolution – they are victorious.

Why does Liberty in the painting have her breasts on show? Does it matter? Did her dress fall off her shoulders by accident or was she just tardy in her dress? Traditionally, in Romantic paintings, this meant that she was not like other bourgeois, proletariat or peasant women, but having her breasts on show indicated power and even supernatural strength. The bare breasted lady is indeed not a lady at all but a symbol personified by Marianne – a French goddess-like figure and “robust woman of the people”. She symbolises the French Republic. Liberty in Delacroix’s painting is no ordinary woman – she is a revolutionary goddess! She is a goddess-like warrior, who symbolises the Revolution and the Republic, and not a depiction of women’s status in society of the time. This painting pre-dates Impressionists, who recorded what they saw, rather than depicting symbols in a romantic way. Would it have been possible to paint a French mortal woman in this stance? At this time probably not. Only a symbolic woman could have such a role in a piece of historic propaganda rather than a real woman.

So is Delacroix sexist in his subject matter? Well, of course he is! In 1830, it would almost be impossible not to be sexist or patriarchal as the dominant society, even in revolutionary France, was sexist at this time, as was the rest of the Western World. However is the painting sexual and misogynistic? No, I don’t think it is. It’s subject matter is not about sex or sexuality but about the power of the revolution, the breasts are symbolic, not a pair of pneumatic boobs of a ‘page three stunna’.

But what does this painting stand for – is it a revolutionary painting, or an excuse just to see another pair of breasts in a gallery alongside hundreds, even thousands, of other pairs of breasts? As the Guerrilla Girls tell us, only 3% of the paintings in the Metropolitan Museum, in New York, are by women, and of the paintings of women, 83% of them are naked – this is replicated all over the world in art galleries. Women have been objectified over the centuries and so have their body parts, Delacroix is not a feminist but a bourgeois 19th century painter capturing the mood and propagandising the only way he knows how – through Romantic imagery.

Who was Delacroix and why did he paint this picture?

Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix was born on April 26, 1798. He was the son of the ambassador of the French Republic to Holland. His father had been very active during the revolution. Despite his parents dying when he was a little boy, he would be very aware of the revolution and the terror that reigned afterwards.

He began to paint at age of 17. He was hugely influenced by the Romanticist period of painting and later went on to influence the Impressionist movement, particularly Cezanne and Picasso, who copied his paintings. Romantic paintings are paintings, depictions of fantasy, and an expression of feeling – of love, of fear, of desire and even, of revolution. They are emotional paintings not paintings of reason, or of fact.

In 1830, Delacroix watched the fighting in central Paris alongside his friend and fellow painter Eugene Lami. This fighting had erupted not far from their studio. Delacroix was not a participant but a spectator. He wrote to his brother, Since I have not fought and conquered for the fatherland I can at least paint on its behalf. That’s why he painted
Liberty Leading the People.

Liberty Leading the People is sort of a political poster, it’s the ‘No Poll Tax’ poster of its time. It marks the day when the people rose and dethroned the Bourbon King.

Delacroix made a number of sketches. They contained street fighters, individually and in groups. He decided to construct his artwork around the allegorical female representing Liberty. This was a daring concept – having the bloodstained victims of an actual battle, setting a high-flown symbolic figure in the middle of the dirt and triumphant on the bodies, not of our victims, but of her comrades.

Liberty Leading the People is a two-dimensional painting. Delacroix uses linear perspective to give the effect of 3-dimensional space. He uses aerial perspective with the city in the back being smaller and the sky is blue and grey. The battle of July Revolution of 1830 is the subject matter. The meaning of the image, the content, is the people wanting liberty, and the battle the people went through to gain liberty. Liberty leads the people on. Delacroix uses these images to tell the story – looking at the painting you know that there is a victory, a triumph – even if you are not aware of the situation.

The focal point of this work is Liberty. The emphasis is on Liberty because she is the most important figure in the work. Liberty stands out more than the other figures because she is carrying the flag with bright colours of red, blue and white. According to people who know things about fine art, Liberty Leading the People is very much in scale and proportion. The art is in proportion because of the relationship between the parts to each other. No figure is larger than any other figure. An example is the young man to the right of Liberty. He is not larger than the older men to the left of Liberty. The figures are in scale because the figures are the normal or expected size. The shape (hands, arms, feet, torso, head) is all in the right scale to the actual bodily parts of a person.

Delacroix’s spirit is fully involved in its implementation of Liberty Leading the People. He executes the work with the heroic poses of the people fighting for liberty, the outstretched figure of Liberty, the dead figures, and the attitudes of the people following Liberty. Delacroix has given this painting a sense of full participation, no one is passive in the painting. This work has been called the first overtly political work of modern painting.

Shown at the Salon of 1831, the painting was understood in various ways and caused quite an uproar. Working class, a fishwife, and a whore is what the figure of Liberty was called by Outraged of Paris. Critics said that the painting was a slander of the five glorious days, that Liberty was ignoble, and that the insurgents represented a rude class of people, urchins and workmen. The newly blossoming bourgeoisie was shocked by the painting – it was seen as crude and unnecessary.

Liberty’s breasts were seen as shocking, despite the fact the majority of Romantic paintings depicted naked women or semi-naked women, because she was active and not passive. Her breasts, on show with her bare feet, indicate her power and strength as opposed to her sexuality – naked or semi naked women are usually reclining or surrounded by other women – rather, she is in an active stance of defiance surrounded by mortal men.

Women in the first French Revolution

But was it so impossible to depict a real woman involved in the revolution other than a fantasy warrior goddess? Did women not play a role in the French Revolutions? Women – working class and peasant women – have always played a political role. They were responsible for putting food on the table, and during times of hardship, such as famine, when bread was unavailable or expensive, women had traditionally marched to the civic centre to beseech the local government to ameliorate their misery. During the first French Revolution, this tradition would be followed, but with one new development. Parisian women no longer marched to the civic centre to petition the local magistrates, but rather they marched first to the royal palace itself. They sent their petitions directly to the king then, later, they marched to the national legislature. It was the women who rattled the gates demanding bread!

Women in France formed clubs and organised. They met together to learn how to become citizens of a great nation, rather than subjects of a king, and to press for specific legislation. These women wanted equality of rights within marriage, the right to divorce, extended rights of widows over property and of widowed mothers over their children, publicly guaranteed educational opportunities for girls (including vocational training for poor girls), public training, licensing, and support for midwives in all provinces, guaranteed right to employment, and the exclusion of men from specific traditionally-female professions, like dress-making.

In August 1791 the Declaration to the Rights of Man was made known by the National Assembly. In September 1791, National Assembly was replaced by a newly elected body, the Legislative Assembly, a constitutional monarchy. This prompted Olympe de Gouge, female revolutionary, to write the Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Citizeness (1791), possibly the best known tract on the rights of women from the period, as a response to the Declaration to the Rights of Man and its silence regarding women.

But the revolution did not deliver male suffrage never mind female suffrage – only men who paid a certain amount of taxes had a say and unemployment was rife. War against foreign forces who wanted to restore King Louis XVI’s power, the return of political instability and the resulting economic hardship, and their desires for sexual equality, all mobilised women once again to act collectively on their own behalf. This resulted in even more marches, more clubs, more petitions, and the increased use of the taxation populaire.

In 1793, the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women, created by sans-culotte women, lasted only six months, before it was shut down by authorities. These women were revolutionary, militant feminists! Advocating issues of interest to the radical middle class and the Parisian poor, such as penal reform, occupational training for girls, public morality, and economic reforms. At this time the Jacobins demanded, among other things, that all women wear the Revolutionary dress and cockade (a hat that indicated different factions). A law was duly passed to require all women to put on the proscribed articles and when the Républicaines-révolutionnaires tried to have the law enforced, market women rebelled and petitioned the Convention. The Convention seized their opportunity, dissolved the Society, and outlawed all women’s clubs and associations. The women were seen as anti-revolutionary and as traitors. A period of terror and barbarism reigned in France, but women still rebelled and organised. But by 1794, Olympe de Gouges had been guillotined. The people would not rise up again until 1830 (depicted by Delacroix – could Liberty be Olympe?).

Society of Revolutionary Republican Women Manifesto

The National Assembly, wishing to reform the greatest and most universal of abuses, and to repair the wrongs of a six-thousand-year-long injustice, has decreed and decrees as follows:

  1. All the privileges of the male sex are entirely and irrevocably abolished throughout France;
  2. The feminine sex will always enjoy the same liberty, advantages, rights, and honours as does the masculine sex;
  3. The masculine gender [gendre masculine] will no longer be regarded, even grammatically, as the more noble gender, given that all genders, all sexes, and all beings should be and are equally noble;
  4. That no one will henceforth insert in acts, contracts, obligations, etc., this clause, so common but so insulting for women: That the wife is authorized by her husband before those present, because in the household both parties should enjoy the same power and authority;
  5. That wearing pants [la culotte] will no longer be the exclusive prerogative of the male sex, but each sex will have the right to wear them in turn;
  6. When a soldier has, out of cowardice, compromised French honour, he will no longer be degraded as is the present custom, by making him wear women’s clothing; but as the two sexes are and must be equally honourable in the eyes of humanity, he will henceforth be punished by declaring his gender to be neuter;
  7. All persons of the feminine sex must be admitted without exception to the district and departmental assemblies, elevated to municipal responsibilities and even as deputies to the National Assembly, when they fulfil the requirements set forth in the electoral laws. They will have both consultative and deliberative voices. . . .;
  8. They can also be appointed as magistrates: there is no better way to reconcile the public with the courts of justice than to seat beauty and to see the graces presiding there;
  9. The same applies to all positions, compensations, and military dignities. . .

We are told that Liberty is a symbol, however the women who in the 18th Century penned the above could easily have been Liberty. However they may have worn trousers and had their blousons tightly buttoned up (I would imagine).

For those worried about her breasts being on show forever or her catching cold, Liberty is properly attired by the time she appears as a giant statue guarding over Ellis Island in the US, this time her breasts are covered and instead of a tricolore she holds a torch of justice aloft her head.

Liberty has been printed on stamps and the 100 franc note, she remains a poster girl of the 20th and 21st century – featured on the front cover of the RCN’s Republican Communist magazine, Issue 1 and their pamphlet on republicanism, and on Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Revolution. It is on the front cover of the band, Coldplay’s Viva la Vida album. Liberty Leading the People has inspired many over the decades and centuries.

Long live Liberty!

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Mar 12 2007

Naming Women’s Oppression

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 14RCN @ 2:41 pm

As we celebrate 98 years of International Women’s Day, Catriona Grant, the SSP Women and Equality Policy Coordinator, explains what feminism is and how it fits into socialist practice and ideology

The suffragette movement was a bourgeois movement

I’m a Marxist not a feminist, I stand for the liberation of all workers

The socialist movement played no significant role in the feminist movement of the 60s and 70s, which proves the Marxists really do not care about women

Historically, Marxism hasn’t recognised the oppression of women as a sex. It is only concerned with the oppression of women as workers.

I’m a socialist, I believe in equality for all workers. Positive discrimination is just discrimination against men

What is feminism?

Many of the above statements have been made in discussions and debates around socialism, feminism and Marxism. The SSP has been a microcosm of many of these discussions since its conception. There has been a battle regarding ideology around feminism, women’s liberation and oppression but at times the debate appears to lack praxis, the praxis of theory into practice.

No doubt women are changing. We need an appropriate word which will register this fact. The term feminism has been foisted upon us. It will do as well as any other word….It mean’s women’s struggle for freedom.

(New Review, 1914, paper of American Socialist Party)

What do we mean when we call someone a feminist or refer to feminism? Why does it have so many different meanings? And why can it be seen as a positive expression of liberation politics or a term of abuse? And more importantly what is socialism’s relationship to feminism?

Feminism, means many things to many people but perhaps the best way to explain feminism is to see it not as a theory, a practice or ideology but almost as part of anthropology regarding women’s position in society. Feminism is the naming of women’s oppression, women’s rights, the women’s question etc. This was first posed by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1790 in her book The Vindication On the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft named the problem, she described women’s relationship to men and to society as oppression, that women are infantilised, sexualised and ignored, they are denied their full human potential by lack of economic power, the vote or say in their own or anyone’s else’s lives. Many of Wollstonecraft’s ideas and questions were taken up and raised in the French Revolution and many women and men discussed her ideas. Indeed Wollstonecraft moved to Paris during the revolution.She was hailed by many liberals and revolutionaries as a true visionary.

Wollstonecraft brought the vindication of women’s rights into the liberal and utopian socialist movement and since then women’s rights have been discussed and debated as a moral, political, ideological, scientific and social problem.

Feminism is best explained (crudely) as a spectrum between radical and reformist. Feminists of all kinds oscillate on the spectrum between radical and reformist.

Feminists who describe themselves as radical feminists are the feminists who wish to change the system, have a radical approach to the world. However radical feminists rarely agree with one another. They are often diametrically opposed to one another. The two main spectrums are materialist feminists (usually Marxist but may be anarchistic) and the political feminists, who see patriarchy (men) as the problem.

Radical feminists share an understanding that society and even the class system need to be overthrown, however they may differ (greatly) on how to solve the problem. Political feminists are often wrongly described as bourgeois feminists (e.g. Andrea Dworkin etc). Materialist feminists want to defeat the class system with the working class; political feminists want to defeat the domination of men or the patriarchy by feminist action and may see little role for men.

Reformist feminists want to reform society to make it better for women, They can be liberal feminist (sometimes known as bourgeois feminists) who want to compete with men and have what men have within class society. On the other side, are economist feminists (socialist feminists fit into this categorically when calling for reforms), who want economic and legislative reforms to address women’s oppression.

The problem is that rarely does any feminist fit into any one category all of the time but the key issue is how we are influenced by the ideas and solutions in addressing women’s oppression.

A materialist feminist may be involved in an economistic demand for equal pay or a woman managing director (liberal feminist) in supporting a campaign against men’s violence against women (political feminism).

Many comrades dismiss feminism on the basis of coming across feminist ideas and/or practice they disagree with. Instead, the methodology should be – if you have identified that women are oppressed and something has to change that is identifying with feminism. The real dilemma is how do we address this oppression and bring about women’s liberation? Some people, usually men feel more comfortable describing themselves as pro-feminist.

Marxism & Feminism

However to understand politically the ideas of feminism i.e. the acknowledgement of women’s oppression and the need for women’s liberation, we must first understand it historically and materially. Revolutionary Marxists in the past (though not always consistently) have waged an unremitting struggle within the broad working-class movement in order to struggle for women’s liberation. Marxists were not only involved in raising the consciousness of women to recognise their oppression and to demand their liberation but to educate the advanced working class to an understanding of the significance of the struggles by women for full equality, emancipation and for the liberation from the centuries-old degradation of domestic slavery. Throughout the past 160 years the struggle has been more intense than at other times.

At the time of Marx, debates were held about women’s liberation and oppression. In Marx’s Communist Manifesto of 1848 he stated:

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family based? On capital, on private gain……The bourgeois sees in his wife, a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.

Marx identified that women’s oppression was based on her relationship to production but also her relationship to men and to the family. There were many debates with the utopian socialists about this subject before the Communist Manifesto. Fourier and Owen were fervent champions of the emancipation of women but they saw it as a moral question rather than a materialist question. Marx explained that the oppression of women lay in its relationship to their role in the family and the system of production, based on private property and a society divided between a class that owned the wealth and a class that produced it. Marx (and Engels later in The Family, Private Property and the State) identified the role of the family in perpetuating the oppression of women.

Marx and Engels explained how the abolition of private property would provide a material basis from transferring to society, as a whole, all those social responsibilities borne by the individual family – the care of the old and sick, feeding, clothing and educating the young. Relieved of these burdens, Marx pointed out, the masses of women would be able to break the bonds of domestic servitude, and they would exercise their full human potential as creative and productive – not just reproductive – members of society.

Marx gave a solution. Just like Dorothy’s red shoes, the solution was there all the time, the solution being the working class, created by the capitalist system, which could become the force to overcome class society. However the wish wasn’t just for a better society but to begin to organise how to bring it about. In bringing about a communist transformation of society, women would be liberated. However women would only be liberated if they were organised and involved in their own liberation, as part of the liberation of the class.

In the First International there was a debate whether women should be allowed to join. Marx himself presented a motion in 1864 to the General Council that special women’s branches be organised in factories, industries and cities where there were a large concentration of women workers. He made it clear that this should not cut across building mixed branches as well.

However the next year a massive row broke out in the German section of the First International between the Marxists and the non-Marxists. In 1865, and for twenty years following, the German SDP was divided between the followers of Lassalle (the reformists) on one side and the Marxists under Bebel and Liebknecht on the other. There were sharp differences on organisation and ideology but one of the major debates was on women. The Lassalleans were opposed to demanding equal rights for women. Their demand was women should not be forced to work for a wage, that their rightful role was in the home with the family and that a man should have a family wage to support his wife and children. Liebknecht and Bebel argued ferociously that women had the right to be economically independent from men and to be liberated from the family. The SDP’s original demand was for full political rights for adults which left the demand open as to whether women were indeed considered adults or not.

The decisive arguments that won the victory for the demands were published in 1883 in Bebel’s Woman and Socialism and Engels’ The Family, Private Property and State published 1884. In 1891 the SDP demanded political rights for all, regardless of sex, and the abolition of every law which discriminates against women in any way.

The SDP in 1896 organised women into autonomous groups in order women could be educated and organised to concentrate on specific campaigns particularly political equality, insurance for childbirth, protective legislation for women workers, education and security for children. Until 1908 women were banned from joining political organisations in Germany but women could join societies. Women within the SDP had proportional representation from their societies and committees to the National Committee of the SDP.

Whilst the German SDP were debating whether women were adults or not or had the right to be independent both economically and sexually – the debate echoed around the world, particularly in the demand for the vote, the right for women’s franchise. (This article cannot properly address the suffragette movement)

The year before women won the vote (well those with property and over 30) in Britain in 1918, women in Russia went on strike under the demands of Bread for our children, bring home our husbands and sons from the trenches. Indeed it was International Women’s Day of 1917 that was the first day of the Russian Revolution. Women had organised themselves as women, despite being workers and Bolsheviks. Before the revolution, demands such as contraception, the right to abortion and to divorce were not common demands, however by 1918 they had become part of Soviet legislation.

Alexandra Kollontai, the only women on the Bolshevik Central Committee toured throughout the Soviet Union with her comrades Inessa Armand, Emma Goldman, Clara Zetkin and many others, in arguing women were central to the revolution and their own emancipation. Previously in 1913, Kollontai had organised a day long lecture in St Petersburg on the Women’s Question and all the organisers and speakers were arrested for immorality. In Britain, the British Communist Party organised a Kollontai lecture where working class women queued up in their hundreds to hear of the reforms of the Russian Revolution, though many believed they would be told how to practice birth control and be given Russian contraceptives.

In 1921 the Communist International made it obligatory for membership, that communist parties throughout the world had set up women’s bureaus and there had to be at least one full time member of staff to co-ordinate the work. There was an International Women’s Secretariat to oversee the work with six monthly conferences with representation from all sections to discuss the work with women and demands to put forward to support women’s liberation. Unfortunately the rise of Stalinism put an end to the progressive nature of this communist tradition and women were not to organise themselves so radically for another 50 years.

Conclusion

This article is in response to the confusion of whether, as socialists or Marxists, we can identify with feminism. To suggest that we do not is ahistorical. It does not fit the praxis of our theories about class society and human liberation.

Surely it cannot be argued that women, currently, are fully equal to men and even if they were, are they so liberated they can reach their full human potential? No sane socialist or Marxist would suggest such a thing. The debate to reject feminism in the socialist and Marxist movement is a false one, denying uncomfortable truths and realities. Many male socialists do not enjoy the accusation that they may wittingly or unwittingly benefit from women’s oppression and many female socialists do not want special treatment or to be victimised because of their gender, all of which can be addressed in a vibrant socialist organisation with debate, discussion and trying very hard to solve problems when they arise. The debate now needs to be about how do we address the specific issues of women’s oppression and exploitation and more importantly how does a party like the Scottish Socialist Party deal with feminist action and identification as part of the working class movement to change the world.

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Aug 05 2002

Equal partners in the struggle

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 03RCN @ 12:44 pm

Catriona Grant explains why the fight for liberation must include the struggle against our emotional internalisation of constraints and beliefs

Linda Gibson’s article in the first Emancipation and Liberation enthralled me. She was able to eloquently express many of my thoughts and feelings. It has often perplexed and confused me why Marxists are meant to be without emotion.

The 70’s gave us the slogan from the Feminist movement The Personal is Political which is, I believe, correct. It is our own personal consciousness that brings us to political consciousness and hopefully to a collective consciousness. It is our feelings, thoughts and processes that bring us to the political act, to ignore this means an unbalanced approach to our politics.

Linda expresses a concern of mine. In the quest for women’s equality, why do we aspire to be equal to what men are? Overwork, stress, alienation from themselves, family and friends, violence, going to war, being the management class. I have no aspiration to be equal to the paltry gains men have made, however, I do fight for women to have the right to equal pay, equal representation, equal position in the work place. The material inequalities between men and women are not perceived inequalities but very real ones. Women still earn only 80% of men’s wages, 68% when overtime is taken into consideration and only 50% of women’s wealth when investments, savings and pensions are taken into consideration.

I empathise with Linda, to be equal to men as men currently are – for me would be frightening. As Marxists we fight for liberation not equality, equality however is on the journey to full emancipation. Being equal wage slaves makes us only equal wage slaves. Those with less have the right to want as much as those who have more.

Class society depends on the oppression of women, the creation of the family that places the woman as the wife, mother or daughter but also the alienation and oppression of men too. Class society has manipulated our life styles, our family structures, our beliefs and even our emotions. Our emotions are what drive us, some emotions are very basic and some very complex – many years in a psychotherapist’s chair would still not explain the feelings we have and why we react the way we do.

There has been much debate and discussion about the nature of men and women whether, we learn our behaviour or whether it is innate within us. There are many traits that may be biologically male or female traits and/or behaviours and there are, without doubt, behaviours that men and women have developed through the world around us. It seems a maze to work out what happens because of our sex or gender. But can we perceive a time in human history where gender would not exist and sex would be a biological state only?

Our emotional development starts at the time of birth; we are brought up to be strong, brave boys or nice, pretty girls. If it was only done so starkly we could fight against it much more easily. However, the messages are so strong and relentless that sometimes, even when we know some of our reactions to some things are wrong, we still have the feelings anyway. Class society brings the majority of us up to believe that we are not bright, articulate, good looking, worthy and we internalise our disappointments, our knocks and blows to believe that we are stupid, unworthy, daft, ugly, not worth listening too etc. As Linda says we internalise our own oppression so we believe that it is part of us not that it is external forces around us.

Being emotional usually means becoming upset, sometimes crying; it is often seen as a negative thing to be – seen as behaving unpolitically. Yet being strong, sometimes blunt and not taking care of how we speak is seen as being strong, leading by example. We have bought into the bourgeois way of thinking and feeling when we express our politics through an emotional void.

Weeping can be healing and an expression of how we feel but it is also a learned response from the world we live in. Like Linda, I argue for neither one set of emotions over another. Our struggle for equality is not for women to share in the spoils of capitalism and to be alienated alongside men nor for men to feel and be like women. Neither men nor women can express themselves fully because the world around us does not give us permission to do so; our alienation makes us feel less than we are.

Without women struggling alongside men as equal partners in the struggle then the struggle will always be unbalanced. In a socialist sense, we do not ask men to compensate women for past wrongs but ask that women can be equal to men in order that they can fight together. Perhaps we may never be truly liberated. However, we can fight for our liberation not just from wage slavery and class society but also from our emotional internalisation of constraints and beliefs that make us less than free.

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