Lenin, sex and marriage

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Feb 12 18:49:35 MST 2002

Mike F wrote:
>IMHO, Lenin had it wrong, period.

Well, yes and no.

You'll note that what Lenin was objecting to was the way Zetkin put the
discussion of sex and marriage *first*.

I'd criticise that as well.  When the Russian revoolution was under threat
of counter-revolution there were more important things to be discussing
than vagina monologues.

Of course, we all know that Lenin was a bit prudish and said *a few* crap
things in relation to women.  But then many feminists of the time were
ardent racists and pro-imperialists, so I don't think Marxists need to
apologise to feminists for anything.  There are way more ugly skeletons in
the feminist closet than the Marxist closet.

And for most working class women, it is still true that sexuality and
marriage and the family is not the first concern. Those things can only
become the chief concern for women who have already solved the problems of
making ends meet.

An example.  Some years back working class women in the poorest suburb of
Christchurch organised a Housewives Boycott Movement in protest at rising
prices by certain food monopolies in NZ.  The first meeting they held in a
local kindergarten in Wainoni attracted 300 local women and the movement
rapidly mushroomed nationally.  I grew up round the corner form the woman
who started it all and I had quite a lot to do with her during the boycott
movement, including baby-sitting her kids.

The problems she and the other HBM women faced were poverty, lack of
childcare (it's difficult to organise pickets when you have a load of small
kids and your husband is working full-time and there is no public
childcare), lack of local facilities, lack of employment etc.  If you asked
any of those women to draw up a list of 5 issues which most concerned them,
sexuality and the family would have been unlikely to appear on that list.

While I think we can and should go a lot further today than Lenin, this is
mainly an indication of how *society* has moved on and put a wider range of
discussions on the agenda, not an indication of Lenin being wrong period.


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