The liberation of women must be at the heart of the struggle for socialism, argues the MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY.
THE existence in all known societies of a sexual division of labour has led some to claim that inequality is “natural,” inevitable, due to innate differences in mental make-up or to biology, including women’s vulnerability during pregnancy and the demands of child-rearing.
Others have assumed that, at some point in pre-history, men acquired power over women due to males’ greater strength and/or aggression, including intimidation and rape.
Some maintain that there are two motors to history — the class struggle and an ongoing struggle between the sexes.
They assert that gender — or at least man to woman — relationships were forged in our ancestral past or that they are fixed in our genes.
This ignores the fact that gender relationships have varied over time and they continue to do so between places and cultures.
For Marxists, the roots of oppression are to be sought not in biological “givens” but in the dual processes of production of the means of subsistence — food, clothing, shelter and tools — and reproduction of individuals and social systems.
As Mary Davis says in her book Women and Class, women’s oppression is “a problem of history not of biology.”