Class trumps gender? (Was Re: NOW and Marxism)

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Sun Aug 11 13:24:38 MDT 2002


> >Viveka: Some weeks back, there was a similar discussion re gender v.
class, and
> >someone posted that "class trumps gender every time."  The above is quite
> >illustrative of that point.  Given the choice of siding with their gender
or
> >their class, the decision of these educated upwardly mobile women to side
> >with their class was a no-brainer.  The same might be said of black
middle
> >class folks that have made entry into the white world, who distance
> >themselves from their black "brothers and sisters" in the streets.
>
> Nancy: What exactly are you saying here? That in cases of workers'
> actions to protect themselves from the greed of the ruling elite, class
trumps
> gender everytime? Of course class trumps gender in the case of workers'
actions
> to defend themselves -- the struggle was a workers' struggle in the first
place.
>

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear.  These academic women sided with their
"class" rather than their "gender" in this case, leading one to conclude
that class holds more weight than gender.    Thus, "class trumps gender."

> >Viveka: My own observations about the workplace is that lines are drawn
first along
> >class, with, certainly, men getting the lion's share within each sphere.
To
> >focus one's efforts on increasing the proportion of women withIN each
sphere
> >does little to move us forward toward a classless society.
>
> Nancy: Are you saying that in the workers' struggle, the addition of more
women
> would do little to move us forward toward a classless society?

Did I say that?  Don't think so, but again, maybe I didn't make myself
clear.  More is better, with the caveat, again, that academic feminists
cannot be counted on in a real struggle not to abruptly switch sides in
favor of their class interests.

>
> As for Judith Shapiro, I have little respect for her kind of academic
feminism.
> Feminists like her are completely into the gender question as unrelated to
the
> social setting -- i.e., out of context. Another one who is out of touch
with
> reality.

I think we're saying the same thing.

Tamara


Response (Jim C): Now we are getting somewhere. Can any worker's struggle or
party go anywhere without the active participation of women, which includes
dealing with reproductive (unique biological capabilities of women and how
and for whom those capabilities are harnessed/utilized under capitalism) and
"family" issues, intra/inter-class "patriarchy", issues facing women as
women (e.g. rape, violence etc) and irrespective of class, and the backward
ideas/relationships of male workers potentially progressive on non-feminist
issues? The answer is obviously no. The same applies to women attempting to
deal with "women's issues", irrespective of class, or "race", or "ethnicity"
or whatever, and working only with women irrespective of interests or
outlooks on nominally "non-feminist" issues. It is all part of a totality of
oppression and what it takes to eliminate oppressive systems, ideas,
relationships, symbols, institutions etc.

We have among the Blackfoot, some who publicly sound "real Blackfoot", speak
the language, nominally practice Blackfoot Culture and "Spirituality", talk
about "genocide", and actually use that word etc, yet identify, at the end,
"the enemy" as "The White Man". Some of these individuals, while decrying
genocide and oppression of Indians in general (sometimes only decrying
oppression of Blackfoot) engage in extreme homophobia, abusive relationships
with female (or male) partners, assert themselves as self-appointed/anointed
"leaders" and basically seek to become like the very oppressors they purport
to decry. That is why, in the Blackfoot Constitution (and Indian country is
riddled with extreme homophobia and sexism along with careerism, nepotism,
cronyism and other forms of dangerous and damaging oppression) all forms of
oppression, including oppression on the basis of sexual orientation, are
forbidden (and so far not one protest knock on wood). Because there is an
increasing recognition among Blackfoot that we simply cannot eliminate
oppression by becoming like our oppressors or becoming oppressors ourselves
and that the various forms of oppression are all interlinked with each
form--gender, sexual orientation, class, form/conditions of work (strata),
"race", ethnicity, age, disability, etc--not only an instrument of
"divide-and-rule", but also, an instrument for facilitating the other forms
of oppression (the many weapons in the arsenal of capitalism and
imperialism). In the Blackfoot Constitution we do not define "Blackfootness"
by blood-quantum in the same fashion that true feminism is not to be equated
with/"credentialed" by the presence of XX as opposed to XY chromosome
structure; we do not identify "The White Man" as the enemy, we identify as
the enemy, all those, irrespective of color, gender or whatever who are
activitely or tacitly supporting oppression--and not only against Blackfoot.

On the other hand, with scarce resources (not only material, but in terms of
numbers of conscious, aware, dedicated and courageous freedom fighters), we
can and must prioritize where to allocate/link-up resources to do the most
damage to forms of oppression and oppressors. Although we all work in
specialized niches in accordance with our backgrounds, interests and
capabilities, lists such as this one help us to link-up and learn about
those other areas and forms of oppression about which we are ALL "fucking
clueless" in somne meaningful ways. But specialization in interests and
activities should never cause myopia and balkanization in terms of lack of
overall coordination, mutual learning, common purpose and struggle against
common enemies or, in terms of seeing only our own pet causes and issues at
the expense of ignorance of or shouting down, other causes and issues with
which we might not be as familiar as our own.

Jim Craven


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