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Socialist revolution is road to women’s liberation

Published Dec 2, 2010 10:40 PM

Megan Spencer, left, with
Lauren Spencer.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

Following are excerpts from Nov. 13 talk by Megan Spencer at the Workers World Party national conference. A student activist and WWP member, Spencer is a co-founder of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence at Michigan State University.

In globalized capitalism’s current crisis, women around the world are facing increased oppression and attacks. Capitalism is a racist, imperialist and misogynistic system that exploits women; colonizes, occupies and displaces people of color; and destroys the diversity of life on the planet. The many injustices that women worldwide are fighting against can be traced back to their capitalist roots.

Globalized capitalism, with its imperialist expansion, must be fought and ultimately destroyed through a socialist revolution that acknowledges and overcomes women’s oppression, and that recognizes women’s contributions and leadership in the struggle.

Under capitalism and patriarchy, women’s historic status as property resulted from the division of society into exploited and exploiting classes. Capitalism has enforced the idea that women can be reduced to resources for reproduction, which has devalued women’s work in and outside of the home. This and other social injustices that result from capitalism have translated into significant threats to women’s health and well-being, particularly for Indigenous women, women of color, immigrant and refugee women, Muslim women, working-class and poor women, queer and transgender women, disabled women, young women and girls, and older women.

Women around the world face violence and injustice every day, whether it’s economic violence, sexual and domestic violence, attacks on reproductive autonomy and food sovereignty, or ecological destruction. Many of capitalism’s injustices affect women especially adversely. They manifest in concrete ways in women’s lives. This is true in the United States and internationally.

Globalization is causing horrible consequences for women, especially women workers internationally. Because women and their work have been so devalued, women are especially underpaid and exploited in many workplaces, especially by transnational corporations.

In Juárez, Mexico, hundreds, maybe thousands of women working in maquiladoras have been tortured, mutilated and murdered. These murders have gone unsolved. The companies which employ the women offer little protection. These young women have the choice to go to work and risk being harassed, assaulted or killed, or to not work and suffer from the poverty that NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement] has inflicted on Mexico.

Capitalism intensifies attacks

Capitalism is reaching its limits, and intensifying the attacks that oppressed people already face. It’s not the bankers, politicians and capitalists who suffer from this, but workers, poor people, women and people of color. No bankers are losing their homes or worrying about how to provide food and health care for their families, as people around the world are losing homes, jobs and funding for education and health care due to capitalist greed.

This is evident in the U.S. foreclosure crisis, which has devastated Detroit especially, but it is also happening because of gentrification and environmental disasters in other areas. Look at New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Indigenous women in the U.S. face high rates of rape, domestic violence and suicide, each of which is linked to their high rates of unemployment and poverty.

Internationally, many crises are being fueled by capitalism. Millions of Haitians have been displaced and killed due to the January earthquake. Yet, the legacy of colonialism and imperialism has intensified this crisis, as the imperialist powers have failed to provide food, water and shelter to Haitians in need. Haitian women, who have lost homes and families, face sexual assault in the tent camps. Now, Haiti is facing the cholera epidemic.

In Pakistan, millions have been killed and displaced from their homes because of the climate-change-induced flood catastrophe, which put 20 percent of the country underwater. Displaced women face sexual assault, starvation and disease. Rather than providing aid to human beings who are in dire need, the U.S. imperialist war machine continues its destructive drone attacks on the region.

Militarism and imperialism as capitalist tools have negative consequences for women globally, especially in occupied countries in the Middle East such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Militarism is misogynistic and homophobic in nature. Women face many types of violence during wars and occupations, and the policies put into place after these conflicts fail to address women’s needs, keeping them impoverished.

Ultimately, we need to be conscious of the struggles that women are facing within the context of capitalism, imperialism and militarism. We must recognize how the well-being of women is so closely linked to struggles for economic and environmental justice and against imperialism.

We must fight for a socialist revolution and align ourselves with the resistance and militant struggles that women around the world are engaged in, because women who are resisting injustice are facing a lot of repression and persecution.

Sister Ahlam Mohsen is a young woman of color who faces possible federal charges and an FBI investigation for speaking out against U.S. imperialism and militarism. She faces racism and anti-Arab repression for expressing solidarity with the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

We stand with women around the world who are resisting capitalism, imperialism and misogyny, because we cannot fight for women’s liberation without addressing occupation, militarism and racism. Solidarity is a must. Down with capitalism! Build a Workers’ World!