WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY
The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee turned out a contingent of 20 people to the International Women’s Day march this year. The march is one in a series of events we are participating in and hosting, as part of Women’s History Month. Two RSCC members spoke before and after the march, about the experience of proletarian women and the importance of the struggle for women’s liberation.
“The women’s struggle is a part of the class struggle. We must become more proactive in abolishing the structure we live in, capitalism and the fight against patriarchy” – Denise Ford, RSCC Chairwoman
The Chairwoman of RSCC, Denise Ford discussed the importance of linking the struggle for women’s liberation to the fight against capitalism. The RSCC is a proletarian feminist organization, and understands that capitalism thrives on oppression of women; particularly working women. Thus we uphold the need to take up the struggles of working class women, such as the right to free and accessible abortion, childcare, gender specific healthcare etc.
“Today we honor Woman like Assata Shakur, who is known for her work in the United States, Anuradha Ghandy for her amazing work in India, Lorena Barros from the Philippines and Arlen Sui from Guatemala just to name a few of the many revolutionary women who have paved the way for us to be where we are today” – Marisa Jalo, RSCC Member and President of the Lehman College DREAM Team
Marisa Jalo, president of the DREAM Team at Lehman college and a member of the RSCC names many revolutionary women who provided proletarian feminist leadership in struggles against capitalism and patriarchy around the world, in her speech. She talks about her own experience as an oppressed nationality, working class woman working long hours while registered as a full time student. Marisa makes it clear that the educational system is not set up to help working class people receive an education, as she has had to work for below the minimum wage, having had to give up jobs with a living wage because of conflicts with her school schedule. The educational system is also not set up to accommodate women, which can be seen in the fact that day care centers on campus (which were fought for) are not given adequate space and resources to help all of the women who need to use them, and the gendered division when it comes to classes. For example, more women tend to study in the fields of social work, sociology or education whereas more men can be seen in mathematics, engineering and political science classes.
These structural discriminations and gendered divisions in the university are not random, but reflect the patriarchal, capitalist society we live in. Schools are not simply institutions of learning, but Ideological State Apparatuses, or ISA’s. The ISA’s can be religious institutions, the family, cultural and political institutions- anywhere that the ideology of the ruling class is reproduced to legitimize the oppression and exploitation that society is based on. Gender divisions are reproduced from birth in the family, and reinforced later on in religious institutions, schools, movies, books, magazines etc. For example, babies are given certain color clothes and certain kinds of toys based on their sex in order to socialize them into gender; this is ideology at work. In school, we are taught that men make history and women play supporting roles, that women in general are subordinate to men.
The most important role of ISA’s such as the school is to ideologically reproduce capitalism. Poor and working-class people have underfunded schools to reproduce workers, middle class schools create managers and professionals, ruling class schools reproduce the ruling class; and at every level, these schools reproduce gender. The reproduction of capitalism is impossible without reproducing the gender roles. This is because the ideology that creates the illusion of what women are supposed to function as: child bearers, care-takers, and whether personally in the home, or ‘professionally’ in the work place, servants of a patriarchal capitalist system. We only need to look a the news, and see what those in congress say on these matters. February of this year, Republican senator of Virginia Steve Martin ranted on facebook about pregnant women being ‘hosts’, sometimes referred to as ‘mothers’. This rant is not an isolated incident, it is an ideological reflection of the underlying reality of women’s oppression in capitalism.
The RSCC recognizes that we need to hold a firm commitment to proletarian feminism, and challenge the ideology that the ISA’s reproduce. We must expose oppression and exploitation as the basis of this patriarchal, capitalist society. We must organize and lead struggles on the basis of liberating oppressed people and putting power in the hands of working class people. This is a struggle that takes place both on and off the university, and revolutionary students must take up this task.
We are not proletarian feminists one day or one month of the year. We must be proletarian feminists every day of our lives.
Smash capitalism, destroy patriarchy!
Women hold up half the sky!
All power to the people!