the role of women

Richard Bos Richard.Bos at
Fri Aug 16 23:22:28 MDT 1996

Kate at NICK.HOLDEN at wrote:

> 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.
> Kate

Thanks Kate,I agree, but I still want answers. What is the situation in
other parts of the world, and how do Marxists tackle it?

The involvement of racial minorities is yet another issue. If you
attended our congress, you would be impressed by the number of black, and
brown faces. The problem is that they are overwhelmingly fraternal
delegates, and very, very few are NCPB members. I think that the same
could be said about all the left parties that I can think of.

It is really ironic that we are the people fighting for sexual equality,
and internationalism, but we can't get it solved in our own

Best wishes,

      New Worker Online

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