Sexism and misogyny are both cultural and socio-economic phenomena. As Frederick Engels explained in The origin of the family, private property, and the state, the patriarchal authoritarian social structure was established “to make man supreme in the family and to propagate, as the future heirs to his wealth, children indisputably his own.”
This could not be accomplished without complete control over a woman’s sexual life, which required nothing short of their total economic, social, political, and psychological subjugation of women to the dictates of men. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite their history(s) of brutal conflict and war, share a common cultural and socio-religious ethic of justification for brutal colonialism, economic exploitation, and violence against women. Traditional and contemporary judeo-christian and Islamic fundamentalism have been exceptional vehicles for genocide, slavery, sexism, territorial expansion, misogyny, and imperialism. As stated by Max Weber:
“One must go to the ethics of ascetic Protestantism to find any ethical sanction for economic rationalism, and for the entrepreneur.”
No matter if it’s India (where a woman was recently raped to death by 6 men on a public bus) or the U.S.A. (where in February 2012 House Republicans held a hearing on contraception and intentionally did not invite women to testify, but instead 5 male clergy to offer their “expertise” on the subject of women’s sexual health rights), societies based on competition and private expropriation of social production, employ the patriarchal family unit. Such family units have proven perfect incubators for labor submission and socialization, and in order to perpetuate the economic order of capitalism found it practicle to establish the intimate oppression of women.
This sexist repression has been reflective of domestic slavery; women have been used and exploited as servants, sexual pleasure tools, social companions, child bearers, child teachers, and child correctors. Legislation is incapable of altering cultural mores which are rooted in the productive system itself. Suffrage and the “Lily Ledbetter Act” have done little to alter sexists’ social attitudes in the U.S., or the misogyny it has exported around the globe via imperialist economic penetration.
This is because, like the economic class and race-caste systems, institutional sexism is a structural component of monopoly capitalism. The middle class is so vital to the maintenance of the capitalist culture because it is the mainstay of patriarchal marriage and the authoritarian family unit, which are primary logs in service to the 1%’s interest in material profit. As Wilhelm Reich states in The Mass Psychology of Fascism [The Autoritarian Ideology],
“It is the class that preserves nothing less than several thousand years of patriarchy and keeps it alive with its contradictions… The social position of the middle class is determined by 1) its position in the capitalist production process, 2) its position in the authoritarian state apparatus, 3) its special family situation, which is directly determined by its position in the production process… There are indeed differences in the economic situation (of middle class families) but the basic nature of the family situation is the same.”
Therefore there can be no serious discussion of the abolition of sexism and misogyny in the U.S. and abroad without it taking place within the framework of the abolition of global capitalism through scientific socialist revolution. With that in mind, the totality of women’s oppression is not located in the profit system, nor will the overthrow of capitalism guarantee complete freedom for our sisters. No. Even more central to this aim is the abolition of the puritanical and patriarchal authoritarian culture of conservatism upon which the economic exploitation of gender inequality is based and sustained. This can not be accomplished via bourgeoisie democracy or attempts to reform that which can not be reformed. As Emma Goldman stated:
“The history of the political activities of man proves that they have given him absolutely nothing that he could not have achieved in a more direct, less costly, and more lasting manner… There is no reason whatever to assume that woman, in her climb to emancipation, has been, or will be, helped by the ballot… Her development, her freedom, her independence, must come from and through herself. First by asserting herself as a personality. Second, by refusing the right to anyone over her body; by refusing to bear children, unless she wants them; by refusing to be a servant to god, the state, society, the husband, the family, etc. By making her life simpler, but deeper and richer… only that, and not the ballot, will set woman free…”
We concur. Our sisters must first conquer their rights, by self-defense and force of arms where need arises. Ideologies are indigenous, and feminism is an ideology of liberation which finds its origins with our sisters. It is our sisters which must take the lead within the scientific socialist revolution to indoctrinate their brothers in feminist ideology and the abolition of these sexist, chauvinistic, and misogynistic tendencies which remain in us all.
In the final analysis, it is this commitment to destroying the capitalist values and mores within ourselves – removing the artificial divisions between us all of race, gender, class, and culture which will prove the death knew for monopoly capitalist exploitation. Our solidarity is the ruling 1%’s worst nightmare. We must all commit ourselves to destroying sexism and violence against women wherever it rears its head.
Until we win or don’t lose.