Mar 23 2002

International Working Women’s Day – Some thoughts

Category: Issue 01RCN @ 7:50 pm

As communists and progressives around the world celebrate International Working Women’s Day, Linda Gibson argues that, under capitalism, gender roles lead to an artificial division in emotional development.

As International Women’s Day comes around articles will again be written about how women are still not achieving parity with men. And of course that’s true but I want to look at things from a slightly different angle. I don’t want to be equal with men if that means having the right [and being expected] to work full time; if that means developing a male emotional psyche – or even if it means fighting to have a female emotional psyche validated in the workplace. The fight to be equally exploited and dehumanised by the needs of modern capitalist society is the wrong fight. [And, increasingly, we are facing a capitalism that has to squeeze more and more out of us to maintain itself.] Of course we, as communists, should be fighting to abolish all wage slavery; but even within the present system we can and should challenge the notion that what women need is to be equal with men, as men currently are. Because men aren’t brought up to be fully human – neither are women. We are socialised into our respective gender roles, each of which prepares us to operate in our given sphere. Of course this is a massive simplification and generalisation; people are much more complex than that. I also acknowledge the complications and contradictions of the class versus gender debate. However there is still enough of a socialised and internalised division between men and women to be able to use that as a starting point to look at what kind of change we really want to fight for.

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