LOS ANGELES (USA) —-A young comrade was so angry with his co-workers’ steady barrage of anti-woman comments that he punched a friend.
A teacher comrade didn’t know what to do when she learned that a male student had texted sexist abuse to two female classmates. They blocked him and he dropped the class.
Five comrades were crowded into a car, going to distribute Red Flag. A young man reached over and touched a young woman, uninvited. An older woman rebuked him: “Keep your hands to yourself!”
The #MeToo campaign has dramatized the extent to which practically every woman (and many a man) has experienced sexist harassment and even assault.
It’s bad enough when rich and powerful men in politics, Silicon Valley or Hollywood rape and assault women who are trying to get a job. Like their class sisters who work in hotels, restaurants or factories, these women are trapped by wage slavery.
In some ways it’s even worse when working-class men, acting on the bosses’ sexist ideology, harass or assault their sisters. A working-class divided by sexism can’t liberate itself from capitalism. It can’t build the communist society we need.
Sexism has been a pillar of class society since it arose less than ten thousand years ago. It grew gradually, over thousands of years. Then, starting a few centuries ago, capitalism’s explosive growth spread the most brutal exploitation worldwide – and with it, the worst and most pervasive oppression of masses of women.
Capitalism turned the world into a giant market. Everything—especially workers’ labor – became a commodity. Capitalism’s object – the accumulation of capital (money) – has no limit. These social relations of production translate into “grab what you can.” They shape our social relations in a thousand ways. The commodification of women and the perpetuation of rape culture are inseparable from capitalism.
In communism, nothing will be produced as a commodity. Nobody will be treated as one. Our goal of working collectively for the common good requires us to respect and value each individual comrade’s needs and contributions. Nobody’s labor will be exploited, much less super-exploited as women workers (especially dark-skinned and immigrant women) are today.
Communist society will allow us finally to end sexism. But that won’t happen automatically. It will take sharp political struggle – starting now.
In all three stories above, comrades tried to fight sexism. But none points the way to a communist fight against sexism.
Our party needs to develop our line to better show how communism can end sexism. We are working to understand and overcome obstacles to recruiting more women and developing them as communist leaders. But we also need to struggle harder to wage communist class struggle against sexism, especially in our main concentrations.
Los Angeles Transit Workers:
Mobilize for Communism, Step Up Fight Against Sexism
A good place to start is our work among Los Angeles MTA transit workers, where we have a Party collective and mass distribution of Red Flag. Many of the hundreds of regular Red Flag readers are women. Some have told us about women they know who have been sexually assaulted on MTA premises.
MTA has a public-relations campaign “It’s Off Limits” to encourage riders to report sexual harassment. But when workers are harassed (by a supervisor or a co-worker) MTA typically hushes things up with “no-disclosure” settlements — just like Hollywood bigwigs.
A woman comrade distributing Red Flag once saw three workers (two men and a woman) walking toward the garage. One man fell behind, then grabbed the woman’s butt. Everyone kept walking – without taking papers. The surprised comrade didn’t know what to do. We need to find communist ways to respond to common attacks like these.
At another division, a supervisor saw a woman comrade distributing papers. He taunted a married male comrade who works there: “Hey, your girlfriend is out there!” Others saw this but dismissed it: “Everyone hates that guy anyway.”
This MTA party collective (originally all men) has struggled sharply against a co-worker’s sexism. It recently recruited a woman worker. Responding to this incident with a communist leaflet would have been an excellent way to put forward our communist line on sexism, exposing it as a bosses’ tool and calling on workers to mobilize for communism.
Pervasive, pernicious and violent sexism characterizes capitalism. It’s getting worse as US imperialism spirals into more open fascism amidst its decline and decay.
Today’s exposes are part of the sharpening conflict among the capitalists as they struggle over how to respond to their decline by preparing for war.
But the #MeToo campaign also creates many opportunities to sharpen and broaden communist class struggle against sexism. We urge comrades everywhere to share their experiences.