National Sections of the L5I:

Theses on Women’s Oppression

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Women’s struggles today

Women continue to face fierce austerity attacks on welfare, jobs, trade union rights, education, healthcare, childcare – the list seems to never end. Read more...

International Women’s Day and its working class origins

The struggle for women’s rights exploded towards the end of the 19th Century, as hundreds of thousands of women in the industrialised countries were drawn into mass production. Read more...

Chapter 1 - The origin and nature of womens oppression

There is nothing “natural” or “eternal” about the subordination of women. Human societies have existed during the stage of development that Engels terms “primitive communism", when women’s contribution to, and role within, these societies were regarded as equal to (in some cases superior to) those of men.The proven existence of such societies by anthropologists and archaeologists confounds those who defend the subordination of women on the grounds that it “has always been so” and must, therefore, always be so. It also exposes the errors of those feminists who regard the existence of women’s oppression in different class societies as proof that this oppression is not based on the division of societies into classes. Read more...

Chapter 2 -Womens oppression under capitalism

The allocation to women of the task of caring for children and performing the bulk of household work leads to women being unable to play a full and equal role within socialised production.Women are either excluded from social life, locked away in the domestic household, or where they are involved in social labour, they are often directed into areas of work closely allied to the domestic economy and its skills. Read more...

Chapter 3 - Imperialism and womens oppression

It wrecked subsistence agriculture, brought ruin to domestic textile industries, destroyed the systems of obligation and support in peasant villages and undermined feudal and religious authority. But where capitalism “beats down Chinese walls” it also tears apart the social fabric of the old societies, including the family structures, not in order to further progress, but to facilitate the colonial enslavement of the peoples it has conquered. Read more...

Chapter 4 - Stalinism and womens oppression

The Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 had, as a key part of its programme, a commitment to the full liberation of women. Immediately after taking power legal changes were brought about which went further than any bourgeois “democracy” had done before, or since, in abolishing the inequalities of women at the level of political, legal or civil rights.By December 1917 civil registration of marriage and easy free divorce was granted, abortion was legalised in 1920 and made available free in Soviet hospitals. In addition the Bolsheviks attempted to remove the fundamental features of women’s oppression in the home.Plans were made for the socialisation of childcare, communal dining facilities, laundries etc, plus encouragements for communal living arrangements. Read more...

Chapter 5 - Womens liberation and Socialism

The tasks of providing food, shelter and comfort necessary for the reproduction of labour power must be undertaken collectively by society, ending the individual responsibility of each separate family to try and cope. Only when relieved of this domestic slavery can women be drawn into socialised production fully and equally alongside men.However, this socialisation will only have a really socialist character if it is accompanied by the destruction of the gender-specific division of labour (and the corresponding roles) in socialised production. Women will not be the only historical subject for this special transformation, the deliberate dissolution of the bourgeois family and the overcoming of gender-specific forces, although they will be the most forward pushing section of the working class on this matter. Read more...

Chapter 6 - Feminism past and present

That is, that there is a separate “woman question", equally affecting all women regardless of their class and solvable by all women acting together, regardless of their class. This notion of a separate woman question, separate from the class struggle, is the unifying feature of all brands of feminism. Read more...