NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk
Fri Aug 16 16:58:19 MDT 1996

Hi Richard

> NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk wrote:
> >
> > Re:  Karl Carlile's reply....
> > However, whether Kate will feel it's worth continuing to read mail
> > here, when her first contribution is responded to like that remains to
> > seen.

I've decided to stick it out as obviously not everyone on the list has the
same outlook on life as Karl (thankfully).

Richard said:
> A question about Marxist politics I would like an answer to is: Why does
> it exclude women when it should be more attractive to women than any
> other political thought?
> I know that in my party, which is probobly better than most, only 25% of
> members are women. 33% of the Central Committee are women. On the New
> Worker, all the technical side is male, and most of the editorial side is
> female.

Its unfortunately true that marxist politics (and all other politics come to
that) attracts fewer women than men.

I would guess that part of the reason is because of the dual oppression that
working class women suffer - oppression because of their gender, and
oppression because of their class.

In a very practical sense this makes it much more difficult for the majority
of women to get involved simply because they have less free time.

Ironically, I also suspect that part of the reason women don't get involved
in marxist groups or leave more quickly if they do, is because inside those
groups they also have extra demands placed upon them.

You said that in your party whilst 25% of the membership is women, 33% of
the CC is. Its a dialectical process (I think) that the things that groups
do to try and develop a proper involvement of women at all levels of their
organisation also contribute to women feeling like being in a group is an
awful lot of work (on top of the work that they already have to do in life).
Things like women's caucuses, women-only sessions etc all add to this
precise problem - not least since they almost always take place in lunch
breaks at already long conferences.

It is sadly self-evident that the same problems hold true for black people.
I have been at conferences in the broader labour movement where to be a
young black woman meant being in conference session solidly from 10am until
6.30pm with no breaks at all! And to top all of that you would have
undoubtedly been elected to at least four different committees so that you
could attend hundreds of other meetings. No wonder there aren't many young
black women involved!

As to what the answer is, I am afraid I don't know. I am not suggesting an
end to trying to involve women (far from it!). And I do think that women's
caucuses and women-only sessions have a useful role to play. But we all need
to recognise the contradictory aspects of being marxists.


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