The Rising Brutality of the State Against Women
New forms of violence have emerged, and in some countries advances toward equality and freedom from violence previously made by women have been eroded or are under attack… On a global scale women are being assaulted, raped, and even killed.” — United Nations, Ending Violence Against Women: From Words to Action, Study of the Secretary General, 2006.
The epoch of social revolution is bringing about an overall offensive against women worldwide. While some might see it as an attack on women’s civil rights only, or as a gender war, the new attack on women is the outcome of their revolutionary actions. Women are leaders in the revolutionary process as humanity is at the edge of paramount societal change — the transformation of society from a capitalist mode of production and distribution to a mode of production and distribution based on cooperation. This transformation can only happen if the laboring masses understand their role in history and move to make it happen. Here lies the answer to the rising violence of the State against women today.
This rising State violence against women is rooted in the historical and continued oppression of women under capitalism. From this oppression derives culture and customs amplified and asserted by the ruling class propaganda machine. But a new form of State violence — physical and economic — is rising.
While the form is still brutality, rape, burnings, mutilations, and killings in the hands of criminals protected by the State, and in some cases by the hands of the State, the content of this violence is different. Though linked to the historical relations of oppression and exploitation of the capitalist system, it’s different because of the epoch of social revolution enveloping the globe, the social destruction being witnessed, and the growing fascist culture being propagated by the ruling class.
The rising violence against women is part of the overall State’s offensive on the new revolutionary class. Women, because of their economic and social position in society, are objectively a key component of this revolutionary class. The ruling class aims to disarm women leaders and make them examples to hold back the social revolution. This new trend of State violence against women can be defined both as crimes directly perpetrated by State forces (police and military) and as economic, i.e. a regressive agenda and draconian fiscal austerity actions by the State.
As Women Stand Up, Regimes Strike Back
Women led the teachers’ strike in Chicago and are leading water struggles in Detroit and the fight against foreclosures in the U.S. In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, they’re fighting against the brutality and ineptness of a State that can’t or won’t stop the killings of young girls and women. In the Middle East they led rallies and marches during the Arab Spring. These are working class leaders who have no option but to throw their lot in with the fight to change society. As a result, they are in the direct line of fire between the State and the new masses of poor.
Susana Chavez Castillo, a writer and a leader against the femicides in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was found dead in December 2011. She was strangled to death and her right hand cut off. Social activists did not fail to see the symbolic dismemberment of her right hand as a political action to silence her and others. Those behind the murderers aimed to send a message: “If you speak out or protest, you will be next.” Susana was killed because she dared to use her pen to denounce the complicity between the Mexican government officials, the drug cartels, and the murderers of young girls and women.
In 2011, the world watched in shock as the Egyptian military police dragged a veiled woman protester while beating her senseless and ripping off her abaya — her robe — in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. What was her crime? She dared to take part and protest during the Arab Spring. Her beating was a warning to all protesters who attempt to stop these attacks. A man and a woman, who ran to assist the veiled woman protestor, were met with the pounding of billy clubs, kicks, and rifle butts that caused them to be hospitalized.
On October 17, 2012, police and Secret Service seized Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein and Vice-Presidential candidate Cheri Honkala as they attempted to enter the Presidential Debate in New York. Taken to a warehouse and handcuffed to a chair for eight hours, they were released at 11:15 at night and thrown out on to the streets.
These candidates were seized because if they could have spoken at the Debate they would have presented a program to confront the growing poverty and the looming threat of war and fascism. If this can happen to nationally and internationally known candidates, it can happen to anyone. This is a step on the path towards fascism.
Poverty as a State Crime
On the economic front the State’s actions are just as cruel and deadly. The State’s attack on women’s standard of living is leaving millions homeless and in abject poverty. In the world, 925 million people are undernourished. Women represent a disproportionate percentage of the world’s poor. The UN Development Fund for Women in its 2005 report, “Progress of the World’s Women: Women, Work and Poverty”, described it as “the burden of poverty borne by women, especially in developing countries.”
Here in the United States women are not faring better. Women are poorer than men in all racial and ethnic groups. Recent data shows that 26.5 percent of African American women are poor compared to 22.3 percent of African American men; 23.6 percent of Hispanic women are poor compared to 19.6 percent of Hispanic men; 10.7 percent of Asian women are poor compared to 9.7 percent of Asian men; and 11.6 percent of white women are poor compared to 9.4 percent of white men.
Ruling Class Ideology
The new trend of State violence against women is part of the ruling class strategy to disrupt and thwart the political formation of the new class of workers. The attack on women is surrounded by an ideology of male supremacy — a centuries-old cluster of ideas on women — that uphold and perpetuate a patriarchal society. Given this ideology the perpetrators of State violence rejoice and vent their fury and frustration, as they attack, push and manhandle women protestors in demonstrations, rallies and marches.
The ruling classes use the particular weapons of history such as the ideology of male supremacy, just like they use white supremacy, in their favor. With bourgeois ideology they aim to keep the workers divided and under their fold. But let’s not be fooled, the ruling classes are aiming their fire at everyone — regardless of gender or color — who represent a clear and present danger to their power.
Women’s Historical Oppression
The end of “primitive communism” brought the end of mother-right. Frederick Engels in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State called this, “a revolution over the family.” In the earliest stage of human society all was owned in common by the entire clan or tribe. The only division of labor was between the sexes. Man fought the wars, hunted, searched for raw materials for food and had the tools to do so. Woman, in charge of the house, prepared food, washed clothes, sewed and weaved. Man and woman were each masters of their own domain, each owner of their instruments, and what was made in common was used in common; it was common property of the tribe or gens.
The division of labor within the family had regulated the division of property between men and women. While the division of labor remained the same, and it had guaranteed women their supremacy in the house and family, it had become a fetter as production increased. Domestic labor did not count against the gain of the necessities of life that produced the surplus of goods. Women’s labor became the private property of the men.Women became the first slaves.
Surplus of goods gave rise to the division of society into classes. Classes gave rise to the State. The State rose with private property and private property rose with the division of society into classes. Through history the State has been the State of the oppressor classes. It became the State of the slave owner to keep down the slaves; it became the State of the feudal nobility to keep down the peasant, serfs and bondsmen, and it’s the State of capitalists to exploit and control the masses. The nature of the State has not changed. Its pillars continue to be the police, a standing army, prisons and, institutions of coercion of all kinds.
The key to women’s emancipation is in their joining social productive labor. This happened in the U.S. during World War II. While men were fighting the war at the battlefront, women were encouraged to join the labor force in the home front. But after the men came back home women were pressured to go back to their traditional roles at home. However, millions of married women in the 1950s continued to work and millions more entered the workforce in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This trend has continued through the years. By 2009 almost 60 percent of U.S. women ages 16 and older, or about 72 million women were active members of the workforce, according to U.S. Census data. The increase of women in the workforce was also due to the need for families to have additional income in order to have a decent standard of living.
Yet today, the maturing of the electronic revolution is turning back the progress achieved by families in the past period. The ruling class’ solution to the economic crisis is to force a closer unity of the corporations and the government. Their solution to the growing social misery and instability is a full-blown police state and fascism. The 21st century is seeing a new form of State, a corporate/market State to enforce austerity and the destruction of last century’s social contract.
Women Leading Fight for New Society
Society is at the end of one epoch, the private ownership of the means of production, and confronted with the possibility of the means of production being owned in common by society. The introduction of labor-replacing technology is objectively presenting this opportunity with the rise of a new class of workers — the majority of which includes contingent, below-minimum wage and part-time workers. Increasingly driven out of the relationship between worker and capitalist, they are forced to fight for a new society where society owns the means of production and the social product is distributed according to need. Women are at the core of this new class. The actual program of this new class is to abolish private property.
We are living in an historical moment where the full emancipation of women and the laboring masses is objectively at hand. But only if the class that has “nothing to lose but its chains” acquires the consciousness to seize this historical moment.
The ruling class recognizes the danger of the new class becoming politically conscious. As a result they’re doing everything within their power to stop the new class from becoming conscious to move as a class. We revolutionaries who understand this moment are doing everything within our power for the class to become conscious. We recognize that humanity is at the threshold of a new world. History has spiraled to a higher stage of development, from primitive communal property to 21st century communism. This new world can be based on communal cooperation and organization with distribution according to need. The plethora of abundance produced with the new tools of electronics will rid human societies of scarcity and want forever. Women are objectively leading the fight for the whole of society.
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011