Gender and Class (jcraven at clark.edu)

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Aug 8 18:25:22 MDT 2002


By the way -- it hasn't escaped me that neither you nor anyone else has
responded to the really crucial part of my post, having to do with
the relations of class and family, and the question of how the marxist
movement could support the anti-war movement of the 60s (definitely
a cross-class movement) but not the feminist movements of the 60s and
70s. It makes me wonder what actually is behind the refusal to
recognize issues of the family as essential to organizing the working
class. If it isn't the cross-class problem, then what is it? Could it
be simple misogeny and the accompanying male protection of male
territory? I'm not saying that that's what it really is, but if not
this, then what?

nancy

Response (Jim C): Here we have a problem because we get caricatures being
set up (and the same thing is done to feminists, gays etc) to respond to.
But ok let's move forward. I do not know any Marxists who supported any and
all anti-Vietnam expressions (and I was intimately involved in that movement
in the 60s through VVAW and other organizations). For example, there were
some who supported getting out of Vietnam because the U.S. was not likely to
go the whole route and nuke the Vietnamese which is what they favored; no
progressive people supported that or those types, just as no progressive
should support bourgeois feminism (e.g. having an "equal opportunity to
become an oppressor) or should support bourgeois gay rights (exclusivism on
sexual freedom/coming out and caring about nothing else) or bourgeois Native
Rights (having an equal opportunity to become a Native capitalist
exploiter).

Oppression is a multi-dimensional beast: gender, age, class oppression,
race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion etc. Of course they are
intertwined in complicated ways and of course it is reductionistic to
separate them out--or can be. But just as class oppression is a tool to
facilitate other forms of oppression, the reverse is also true. And that
applies to phony, bougeois or petit-bourgeois feminism, gay liberation,
race/ethnic liberation or whatever--they are also reductionistic, divisive
and serve the forces of oppression (like the bullshit that people of one
particular group need to separate themselves out and hang only together--and
yet ask others outside that group to support them and their causes/issues
while saying "but we need to hang only with each other to learn to speak
with each other")

We have Indian activists on the "hate whitey" trip yet who want support from
non-Indians on Indian issues while caring nothing (or at least doing
nothing) about the interconnected issues of non-Indians (some of them feel
that just calling oneself an Indian is an inherently revolutionary act like
some who feel that being gay is some kind of inherently revolutionary act in
and of itself--would J.Edgar hoover then be considered a patron saint?) I
find some of that same narrow parochialism and petit-bourgeois identity
chauvinism (called "cross-class politics as a cover that class doesn't
really matter especially for those from potentially oppressive classes and
strata) among some of the bourgeois/p.b. feminists, bourgeois/p.b. gays,
bourgeois/p.b. Indian nationalists, bougeois/p.b. unionists, etc. And just
as there are phony Marxists who cause non-Marxists to confuse the phony with
the real, so there are the same among Indian activists, feminists, gay
activists, union activists, environmental activists etc. The way we separate
the wheat from the chaf is unity and real struggle not "identity politics"
and balkanization.

Jim Craven

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