Do sweatshops "free" women? (PEN-L exchange)

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue May 9 09:49:51 MDT 2000

jonathan flanders wrote:

> "Do sweatshops "free" women? (PEN-L exchange)"
> No, they just change the conditions of enslavement from rural semi-feudal
> patriarchy to capitalist wage slavery.
> Women workers in factories will free themselve through struggle. If they
> can't, let's junk Marxism and look for something else.

This seems right to me -- except, perhaps, that it tends to support the
opposing view. Sweatshops do not free women, but they establish
conditions (in *contrast* to "rural semi-feudal patriarchy") in which
women *can* struggle to free themselves. I have no real opinion
on the conflict -- but as far as I know, no one has ever really claimed
that sweatshops free women, only that the unfreedom there can (unlike
the unfreedom of poverty-stricken rural patriarchy) be struggled


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