Friday, February 12, 2016

State Department Feminism

Feminists and Feminists

Recently two supporters of Hillary Clinton made disparaging remarks about any woman who does not vote for Clinton.  One was by Madeleine Albright, who supported the invasion of Iraq and enthusiastically promoted the long prior campaign of throttling Iraq with sanctions, which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.  Albright said there was a ‘special place in hell’ for any woman who did not vote for Clinton.

Madeleine Albright - 1st Female Sec of State
Feminist #1 Track Record – A Peek:
Correspondent Leslie Stahl said to Albright, "We have heard that a half million children have died (in Iraq). I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And — and you know, is the price worth it?"

Madeline Albright replied "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it."

I think I know who has a place in hell reserved for her.

Feminist #2:
The other feminist Clinton supporter was Gloria Steinem, who was a founder of Ms. Magazine and NOW and has not been a paid government official like Albright, thank god.  Steinem said that young women who support Sanders were only following the lead of their boyfriends or husbands.  She later apologized about this statement for insinuating that young women were not interested in politics.  Actually, the mainstream official feminist movement is as moribund as this statement.

So what we have obviously are different kinds of feminism.  Anyone who uses the generic term of ‘feminism’ as referring to something good for all women would be mistaken.  There is bourgeois feminism, which is mostly concerned with getting women in high places – on boards of directors, as CEOs, as government officials, as media stars or for higher pay for Hollywood’s leading actresses.  The ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘leaning in’ are their main concerns.  Making your number one objective a woman president in the White House is a perfect example of this kind of feminism, damn her politics.  Can you say Margaret Thatcher?  Sarah Palin?  Hillary Clinton?

Then there is its polar opposite – proletarian feminism.  That is the kind of feminism that benefits working women most of all.  A higher minimum wage – like Sanders’ $15 an hour – is a reflection of that.  Low cost or on-site day care for working women and families.  Socializing housework, or payment for it.  An end to a war budget taking money away from public services, or killing women abroad.  An approach to Wall Street that keeps them from impoverishing families and working class people – of which women are the main targets.  A real government-run jobs program and promotion of unionization everywhere, which helps women workers.   An international policy that does not coddle the oppression of women through fundamentalist religion, FGM, theocracy or the destruction of partially secular states.  An end to a block with the most anti-feminist country on earth, Saudi Arabia.

The most advanced form of working-class feminism is socialist feminism, which had a lot of weight in the 1970s. This kind of feminism posits that women under capital will always be second-class citizens.  It posits that capital is invested in wage differentials, the male bribe (you can rape and get away with it!  You don't have to do housework!) and free labor in the care of children, the aged and working class household duties.  Under a worker's government and consequent socialism these permanent features of capital will disappear and women's liberation can become a real possibility.

Of course, there are issues that all types of feminists can agree on, like the right to abortion.  However, the middle-class feminists in NARAL have focused only on electing officials who will decide who is on the Supreme Court – a top-down, bureaucratic feminism.  This strategy has ignored the states doing an end-run around the right to abortion by passing local laws one state at a time.  What is really needed for defending abortion rights is a new movement in the streets and locally, not high-end lobbying centered on 1 election every 4 years.  A massive women’s movement made abortion legal in the first place.  Sanders says he wants to rebuild this kind of movement, but the middle class and bourgeois feminists do not. 

Then there are ‘radical’ feminists who think all men are the problem.  All men are rapists and thugs and are therefore the main enemy.  I.E. the patriarchy is the enemy, not a capitalist system.  Yet capital uses male dominance to ensure lower wages for a majority of women; puts women in a subservient position as a bribe to males, thus dividing the working class; benefits the capitalists by ensuring the family unit or marriage or babies are all a free incubator for future laborers.  This economic view of the financial benefits of the oppression of women is to be ignored.  So you will see radical and middle class feminists targeting all men as the problem, via their genitals or their culture.  Too much testosterone or guns or beer and not enough floor sweeping. The real battlefield is where the toilet seat sits. I.E. the culture wars, liberal style. 

There are even some third-world religious feminists who support Islamic dress codes for women and pretend that it is not required by archaic patriarchal laws or traditions.

These basic kinds of feminists have been with us for years, in various strengths.  Now Hillary is running.  She is a woman supported by Wall Street, who is temporarily against the Trans-Pacific Partnership until she will be for it again; who was for the Keystone Pipeline as Secretary of State until she was against it; who enjoyed bombing Libya, is still a hawk on Iran and wants regime change in Syria more than defeating Daesh; who is against the legalization of marijuana and has been a long-time supporter of the incarceration state; who wants a stronger military; who goes to prayer breakfasts with Republicans; who supports a corporate version of universal health care; who thought that Obama’s anti-foreclosure program could really work; who has no plan to tackle unemployment; who supports the surveillance state, who loves to creatively ‘disrupt’ every place on earth that opposes the U.S. government… the list could go on.  She was to the right of Obama in 2008 and she still is.

What the bourgeois feminists want you to think is that women should narrow all their political thinking down to one issue – the gender of the candidate.  Which is really not that much different than the identity politicians who want a white president or a rich president or a male president as their prime marker.  This kind of feminism dumbs-down women and is intended to do so.  

The fact that some women are looking at ALL the issues that affect their status as women - and other people’s status too - is actually a measure of maturity.  It is a higher form of feminism. It is an approach that grounds women’s oppression in economic reality, not in the lack of female leaders in a capitalist economy and state.  As everyone knows these females will do the bidding of the capitalist patriarchy when required.  In essence, we are to elect a puppet, a front-woman, a shill, and pretend that this is the only form of progress allowed.

Books on women's issues reviewed below:  "Fortunes of Feminism," "Marxism and the Oppression of Women," "Stitched Up - The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion," "Fashionable Nonsense" and the essays of Alexandra Kollontai.

Red Frog
February 12, 2016

P.S. - Oddly enough, Thomas Frank has just come out with a book, part of which analyzes the type of corporate feminism embraced by Hillary Clinton.  The State Department's big initiative on women was to promote micro-lending, and poured much money into promoting it, with few results. As he says, she has: “a version of feminism in which liberation is, in part, a matter of taking out loans from banks in order to become an entrepreneur.”

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