Male Supremacy, Sexism, & the Workers' Movement, was Re: Older

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Wed Nov 8 07:59:42 MST 2000




John Edmundson wrote:

>  between older men and younger women are "potentially" oppressive.

That seems a careful statement -- they certainly are potentially oppressive and I
don't see why anyone would dispute the position so stated. No one that I know of says
they are *always* oppressive. (For the record, Jan is 17 years younger than I, and we
have been married for 31 years.)

> Such relationships are obviously nothing like the case of Nicolle Smith however.

I have always considered the citing of odd examples as strong evidence of an inability
to understand the importance of the "woman question." I can't respect an argument that
pulls in Nicolle Smith (or any other particular person -- e.g., Albright or Thatcher
or ...)

>  But neither .  . .nor the women whom Healy pursued were in anything like the
>situation people like my mother in law or the women described in Lou's post were. To
>suggest that there is a useful parallel here is absurd.

I don't know anything about the legitimacy of the parallel, but denying the parallel
tells us nothing about the Healy case. Being put in jail overnight is not quite
parallel to a death sentence -- but may be an outrage nevertheless. A single
relationship between the leader of a party and some young woman in would not be
objectionable. A series of such relations probably is -- and even it it isn't, feeling
a need to defend it seems to me to constitute insensitivity to the gravity of the
question of the position of women in the workers' movement.

>
> Of course women are still exploited in New Zealand. Women consistently earn less
>than men - on average - for example. But things have changed here which must surely
>lead us to reassess the theories we have relied on in the past to explain women's
>oppression.

The operative consideration is the status of women within the workers' movement.
Defensiveness on the part of men on the list is strong evidence that we have a serious
problem here. Listing important women as relevant is really offensive.



> the Prime Minister is a woman, ....[clip]
>
> Politically, these are the top jobs in the country. Economically, quite a few of
>them are also dominated by women.

This is nonsense. It is about as relevant as a discussion of the flavors of ice cream
available.

> To this we can add the minister of health, the associate ministers of health, the
>deputy leader of the government's junior coalition partner, the co- leader of the
>government's key non-government ally in parliament. We have by far the largest
>proportion of women in parliament that we have ever had. One of the most conservative
>provincial electorates in the country elected a transsexual woman first as mayor,
>then as member of parliament. I'm not trying to pretend that women have gained
>absolute equality, despite some leading women politicians and feminists having hinted
>at this. What I am saying is that the theory of patriarchy as a key element of
>capitalism is seriously in need of review. Capitalism in New Zealand has no problem
>giving any and all of the top jobs to women. This is not like when Thatcher was
>around and we could say, "Well she's an aberation, one woman in
> power doesn't change anything." What is more, there is no sign of a reactionary
>backlash against the success of women in these jobs. Is this a characteristic of
>patriarchy?

This is really obnoxious. We are considering a group who make up over half of the
working class -- and probably the politically most important part, and someone offers
us a list of all the important women among the enemy.

>
> Yoshie's suggestion of a need to address issues like the age of consent is an
>excellent one.

Let's forget older men and age of consent. That was the point of departure for this
discussion, but now we are discussing the very possibility of a workers' movement with
any chance of success, and we can't base that discussion on endless fuss over this or
that particular question.

> Questions around sexuality, like age of consent, prostitution etc need to be studied
>anew if we are to have an informed position on the nature of gender in capitalism in
>the 21st century, rather than carrying over the outdated theories of the 20th. Things
>have changed. In New Zealand, we don't have places where sodomy is illegal, where sex
>is illegal until age 21, as I understand still applies in some US states. So these
>things need to be looked at again by Marxists, rather than adopted by them from the
>feminist movement. In the third world, a low age of consent is seen as a sign of
>oppressive religious power, witness Lou P's Afghan example. In the Southern US,
>conservative religion does exactly the opposite, both by enforcing a high age of
>consent and proscribing the permissable forms of sexual expression.

All irrelevant.

> To return to the point I made at the start of this post, we can't begin to
>understand these issues if we lump together the experience of all women, whether in
>advanced capitalist countries or in villages still primarily governed by
>pre-capitalist religious practice.

Well then, drop this filibuster and begin to explore the question of women and the
workers' movement . It sounds to me as though you are an objective defender of the
preeminence of men in the workers' movement.

Carrol

>
> Cheers,
> John E








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