Female socialisation to ‘care’, and the political impacts on proletarian feminism

Because of our socialised belief that it is women’s responsibility to put our own needs behind those of others, women in the feminist movement also often expect its other members to deprioritise the cause and their own needs, in order to provide for theirs.

This common expectation on the part of feminist women that we should be ‘agreeable’ and ‘caring’ (at least in a performative sense, by ensuring that those around us perceive us as such) has wide-ranging ramifications, such as women desiring the cessation of both political debate and even criticism of individuals, because such criticism interferes with one’s personal and social comfort levels.

These expectations tend to work ‘down’ social hierarchies, in that more bourgeois ‘feminists’ are less accustomed to prioritising others and less accustomed to the pressure to agree with what other women say, although they may expect more proletarianised women to agree with them.

These norms are self-reinforcing, since the less we experience disagreement, the harsher it appears when it comes.

Since capitalist education and other teaching are hierarchical, we are also prone to conflating analysis with power-over-us, and to assume that a woman disagreeing with us is ‘telling us what to do’ or ‘making us discard our opinion’. We may respond by accusing her of attempting to silence us, a response which is quite likely to discourage disagreement.

Given that the women who have already spoken (and must not be disagreed with) are more likely to have voiced ideas based on what bourgeois society teaches us – in that proletarian-supporting ideas are held by a minority – this entrenches bourgeois ideas within feminism.

It also means that many feminists who officially/consciously reject feminist trends such as ‘cultural feminism’ will nonetheless prioritise approaches which strongly resemble that.

[The practice of divining a woman’s politics by how she identifies, or is identified by others, continues to have hugely limited usefulness, which is not to say it is nil.

Marxist feminists will continue to prioritise the activist efforts of women whose politics are proletarian-aligned and scientific, regardless of how they ‘identify’.]

We must be more active in recognising the pressures on women to deprioritise our own needs in favour of ‘the cause’, and reject them. Of course, capitalism also socialises us to believe we ‘need’ to focus on individual advancement only. (Which will certainly see us reaching planetary levels of increased misery so much faster.) That we ‘need’ to boost ourselves at the expense of others, and to believe we need to have our activism agreed with. This is, of course, not a real need. We are not owed agreement.

This social/emotional pressure to suppress disagreement is often boosted by a self-indulgent socialisation on the part of both men and women to believe that a woman speaking unpalatable truths is ’emotional’ or ’emotive’, and to declare her opinion or analysis a ‘rant’ without properly rebutting it. This emotional self-indulgence is enabled by an implicit understanding that the automatic attribution of illogic to women has society’s endorsement. And via the bourgeois myth that a woman with feelings cannot simultaneously manage logic. Indeed, women are so accustomed to the illogic of our social situation that we may frequently be exasperated when pointing it out.

Collectively enabling the pressure on women to agree with one another is by no means the only form which this pressure to prioritise others over one’s own needs can assume. A woman who disagrees with others with ease may also expect other women to cater to her own needs above theirs, and provide little corresponding support, via means including manipulation, abuse and taking advantage of the prevailing gendered expectations.

Let us recognise and discard these hierarchical and anti-woman responses, as much as we can. Ultimately they see us deprioritising women’s needs and engaging in very little kind of real ‘care’.

 

 

Banner image in full: socialisation not to disagree

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Lenin: The Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War

 

As Lenin so rightly remarked 102 years ago, ‘“a war against war” is a banal phrase unless it means a revolution against their own government’. Here, he spells out why. Opening comment by Amber B. of Anti-Imperialism.Org.

[Originally published in Sotsial-Demokrat no. 43, July 26, 1915, this article is of vital importance even today. Revolutionary defeatism, or the willingness of revolutionaries to not only wish defeat of their own imperialist government in times of reactionary warfare, but assist in that defeat by whatever measure is possible under the current circumstances. Now more than ever Communists and Socialists must be reminded of this doctrine, as they have taken to the practical cheer-leading of amerikan imperialism as it fights the Islamic State, or edges closer to open conflict with the DPRK. [US aggression against IS is increasingly undertaken in such a way as to aid its objectives against Syrian sovereignty and increase US access to oil, rather than being for the good of those in ISIL territory – GB]

Further, the backhanded defenses offered to the sanctions placed on Russia and China, and the economic warfare underway in the South China Sea has also played into this great hypocrisy by which amerikan imperialism becomes seemingly progressive in competition with that of foreign countries. It is our responsibility, as revolutionaries in the imperialist core, to take on the task Lenin describes in this article, and to ensure the final defeat of imperialism. As always, this document is being made available here for the purposes of education and discussion.]

During a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government.

This is axiomatic, and disputed only by conscious partisans or helpless satellites of the social-chauvinists.  […]

Continue reading at Lenin: The Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War — Anti-Imperialism.org

Stop Trans Chauvinism Statement Against Feminists Collaborating with the Right Wing

Sharing this statement from the Stop Trans Chauvinism admins.  It draws out a number of tactical and strategic points relevant to these alliances which have lately become controversial in gender-abolitionist networks.

“It has become popular amongst some feminists to assert their support for coalitions with the Christian right on a single issue, as though they automatically advance women’s rights.

We cannot afford a blind faith in these coalitions, but need to put in the work necessary to figure out whether they do in fact benefit the oppressed at the time they’re undertaken. It is too tempting to simply assert that the feminists in these coalitions are retaining their independence, rather than looking at what’s really happening. For instance, if feminists simply happened to agree with a conservative group on one piece of legislation, that would be one thing. It’s quite another when feminists enter coalitions with far more powerful and resourced extremists and are pushed into further and further public alignment with them, and into making little public critique of them. That’s not a sign of political independence. When gender abolitionist feminists do this, it creates the impression that we believe gender identity legislation is a bigger threat to women than the right-wing attacks. That’s a fast way to appear extremely out of touch.

Feminists who have aligned with right-wing Christians have made the tasks of opening up discussion, and acceptance of gender-critical thought amongst the oppressed – our far more ‘natural’ allies – so much more difficult.”

As this statement remarks, in the USA, rightwing Christians:

“pass laws that result in women being arrested for having a miscarriage. They are the people who have doxxed names and addresses of abortion doctors and scientists who work with fetal tissue to anti-abortion groups – and such tactics have led to people being murdered. They are for replacing public schools with vouchers so religious schools can be federally funded. These are the people working for religious exemptions laws that allow pharmacists to refuse Plan B to rape victims. We could go on and on.”

Is it a good idea for gender-critical feminists to make alliances with the Christian Right on issues we might agree on? Stop Trans Chauvinism collective maintains that this is a disastrous strategy.

We understand that feminists who have chosen to work with right-wing Christians are sincerely trying to accomplish something positive for women. But we believe this is a terrible mistake and urge them to reconsider their actions. We hope to engage in a principled discussion of the implications of these alliances, which does affect how the public views all feminists, and all gender-critical feminists in particular. This is an important discussion we must have.

[…]

Read full statement here: Stop Trans Chauvinism Statement Against Feminists Collaborating with the Right Wing