What socialism could mean for women

A new socialist society will help women to find their strength.

Our goal, as socialists, is to raise women (and for that matter, all of humanity) to a level where they are regarded as true human beings.

By that I mean, people whose ideas, opinions and desires are worthy of consideration, rather than machines which exist to provide sexual pleasure, offspring, and free/cheap labour in the form of caregiving/housework.

Young women face much pressure in our society, in the form of media and pornography, which tell them how they must behave, look and relate to men.

But instead of dwelling on the negative I would like to give adolescent females a sense of optimism, by asking them (and anyone else who might be reading) to imagine what life would be like for young women growing up in a different world.

The world I am envisioning is one in which a transformation of the economic system has occurred. In place of a system based around the domination of a privileged few, the new society will be in the hands of workers, struggling to bring about a world free of classes.

Whether they succeed only time will tell, but once the process has started, a new set of values will emerge. The challenging of authority will be celebrated.

Those who are different will not be condemned by people who claim to stand for “freedom” and “individuality”. Unequal, authoritarian relationships will not be seen as something to be endured, but will be abhorred in most circumstances.

So what will this mean for women? Since the principle of equality applies not only to the relationship between workers and capitalists, but also to sexual relationships, it will mean that teenagers in the new society will be presented with a healthy view of relationships and taught to recognise the importance of treating their partner not as a “trophy” to be won, but as a human being whose desires matter, while of course pursuing their own desires.

Young men and young women will learn in school about the symptoms not just of physical abuse, but emotional abuse.

The expectation that women are to have sex with their partner on the first date (or third date or whatever the expectation is) will not be widely held. But neither will women be expected to remain chaste until marriage.

Our purpose is not to control how young women behave, but to give them control
over their sexuality, so they can use it for their own enjoyment, instead of their sexuality being used by men for men’s pleasure alone.



For this reason Resistance criticises the conservative attitudes towards women (that they exist to produce and to raise their husband’s children and that women should provide men with sexual pleasure).

There will, however, be one expectation with regard to women in a socialist society, that they be treated like equals. Subsequently they will come to view themselves as equals. Not that they shouldn’t already view themselves this way, but the current society makes this difficult.

The new society will encourage women (and men) to be assertive, independent and to develop thoughts and opinions that are unique to them.

Again women should not be pressured into having these characteristics, but will naturally
desire them since they are the best characteristics one can develop if they are to free themselves of oppression.

Unlike in the case of a woman choosing whether to have sex, being assertive is a legitimately better option than not being assertive for men and women wishing to rid themselves of unequal treatment.

Passive, dependent people who cannot think for themselves should not be emulated. But blaming them for their weakness will only make things worse. Our message is not
that women must be strong, but that they can be strong and the new society will help them to find that strength.

So now that we have established the values of our new socialist society (equality, sexual freedom, female independence) how are they going to be expressed?

Most likely, a change in the structure of society will produce an entirely different culture: one driven by personal expression, not by profit.

Instead of being corporations controlled by capitalists, the media will be a product of the people. It will enable people to produce films and shows that have a meaning for them, instead of shows that appeal to people’s shallow desires in order to generate box office success.

These changes should be especially noticeable in the way women are portrayed.

My hope is that instead of being used as sex objects to sell movies to men, women in film will portrayed as complex characters. They will have desires (beyond those which revolve around men) and their own opinions.

They will struggle with challenges and internal conflicts independently. Their sexuality will be part of their character, not the entire reason for their existence. This will be part of a more general transition from a shallow and consumerist culture to one which celebrates human value.

If teenagers in the new society were to read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, they will do so in history class, so as to learn about the shallow and unequal relationships, which were not only tolerated but seen as desirable during the late capitalist era.

While Twilight has a certain entertainment value, youth born into a socialist society (who have been encouraged to think critically all their lives) will want
something more.

They will read books that will challenge them intellectually and inspire them to become stronger people, so they actively seek what they desire instead of waiting for a “magical something” to make all their dreams come true.

This is my dream, hopefully one many of our readers will share, but the dream is not enough.

This article (which is based in a speech delivered at the recent Resistance conference) is not a prophecy, nor a promise I can make, but a vision of what workers and oppressed people are capable of when they take control of society for their own ends.

Comments

In my opinion, the one thing lacking here is a discussion of the spirituality of women (and equally, men and children). Again only in my opinion, the sorts of shift in culture described here can only be accomplished as a result of shift in spirit. Beginning with an agenda of changing behaviours, physical patterns, social structures and even thinking, will not be enough. The change must begin in spirit. All else will follow.

Great article, Pam. This is what we need; a new way of thinking about and being in the world.
I love the idea of Meyers being used in history classes because that story really does mirror the power imbalance in het relationships and then presents it as romantic.

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