Why feminism is simply fighting the symptoms, not the cause

No socialism without feminism
Image by Labour Youth via Flickr

Quoth the Barefoot Bum

I say that feminism and anti-racism are absolutely necessary and central to communism and socialism. But I also say that communism and socialism are also absolutely necessary and central to feminism and anti-racism.

I couldn’t agree more.

However I can expect the reaction of feminists or people targetted by racism when they hear this. Moral indignation that someone might propose that the problem is not what it appears to be. That somehow everything will be alright if we manage to convince enough people to treat women and non-whites equally.

But this is simply treating the symptoms of the disease, not the cause.

Women started becoming a second class citizen as soon as farming came around. Before that time, there was no sexism against women for their house duties were equaly important as the man’s. The man simply owned the tools and skills of the food production while the woman owned the tools and skills of the household.

The problems started occuring when private property came about through the increased production of farming and subsequently slavery. The man thus started owning more and more property (the tools of his trade) while the woman kept owning the same. And because mostly the tools of the man could be used in trade, he started owning the wealth. Thus the role of the woman was marginalized as she was not creating any wealth, and after enough generations, she ended up being treated as inferior.

This is all simplified but it is a historic fact that male sexism and the mistreating of women appeared as soon as private property became the norm. The only reason why women have now started to reclaim some of their equality is because Capitalism has forced them to enter the workforce, and like all exploited people, this exploitation is what is raising the awareness of their inequality.

This inequality is not because of some innate feeling of men to be sexist. It is because men have been the only ones until now who have been creating wealth. And the ones with the wealth wield the power. Thus the women, who were not wielding any power, ended up being considered inferior organically, just because it looked that way. Now that this is changing with more women becoming workers, feminism is becoming more powerful.

But Feminism is not going to remove the strain of sexism from the world, for the Capitalist system demands it. Women will always need to give birth and many of them still give up their careers once they get married. This means that there are more men working, creating wealth and thus wielding the power. And as long as the manhood wields on average more power than womanhood, sexism will exist.

Communism however takes this distinction. There is no wealth, and thus there is no power. The duties of the man, of creating products and bringing food, once again become equal to the woman childbearing. Women staying home to raise their children (or men doing likewise) are not weakened because this kind of work, is still work, even if it does not create wealth.

That is not to say that Feminism cannot achieve victories as it is. This is a given since Capitalism will eventually equalize men and women in its exploitation. But as the Barefoot Bum says, you will only have replaced being exploited for being a woman, to being exploited for being poor. Same shit, different name.

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8 thoughts on “Why feminism is simply fighting the symptoms, not the cause

  1. "But Feminism is not going to remove the strain of sexism from the world, for the Capitalist system demands it."

    I beg you to learn a bit more about feminism before painting it with such a broad brush. You are referring specifically to liberal feminism, which certainly exists, but does not define the entire movement. Certainly anarcha-feminists like myself couldn't agree more that sexism is a symptom, not a cause, of oppression.

    1. I'm not certain I parse you correctly. You agree with me that Sexism is a symptom of oppression but you disagree that we need to get rid of the cause to get rid of the symptom once and for all?

      1. No, I disagree that feminism can't get rid of the cause as well as the symptom. You are assuming that feminism is only about women's rights.

          1. Well, in anarcha-feminism which is a branch of feminism, we view the oppression of women to be one of the many manifestations of a capitalist, hierarchical society. I'm afraid I can't say it better than Wikipedia: "In essence, the philosophy sees anarchist struggle as a necessary component of feminist struggle and vice-versa."

            I believe you must take on all manifestations of oppression, including the most prominent one around the globe (oppression of women), in order to create a just society. If one tackles the roots of patriarchy, they are also tackling the roots of other forms of oppression since they go hand in hand. It's not one or the other.

            In the most oppressed groups of people in the world, i.e. in some southern African nations, the worst off are the women. Even if a culture is treated badly, the women of that culture are treated worse, i.e. lower-class African-American women vs. lower-class African-American men. That makes the oppression of women the most universal form of oppression in the world.

            In essence, I believe that if you oppose patriarchy, sexism, and oppression of women, you are a feminist. It saddens me that some people who are for all intents and purposes feminists, do not embrace the term.

          2. Ok but I don't think you're saying anything more than I do. The quote at the start of the article says basically the same thing in fewer words.

            Yes feminism is a very important part of any struggle towards anarchism much like anarchism is a very important part of any struggle towards sex equality (or any other type of equality really).

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