by Daphna Whitmoreiwd

On International Women’s Day let’s spare a thought for the women in powerful positions today. Those in government such as Hekia Parata, Paula Bennett and Judith Collins, and those women who are CEOs of corporations, nearly all would be at home wiping down their kitchen benches if it wasn’t for trade unionists, the communists and socialist women’s liberation movements. The radical origins of the March 8th celebration for women’s equality can be seen in its earlier title International Working Women’s Day.

Where were the right-wing women in the struggle for voting rights? It was communists like Sylvia Pankhurst who were at the forefront. What about childcare so that women could do paid work? Once again communists, socialists and trade unionists led the way.

What about contraception rights which enabled women to have a life beyond childrearing? While the right-wing were in favour of eugenics, those who wanted contraception to free women were the radical socialists and communists, such as Elsie Locke in New Zealand and Margaret Sanger in the US. Paid parental leave and equal pay (we’re not there yet), all originated in socialist thought and have been fought for by left-wing movements.

When it comes to addressing inadequate paid parental leave, or the gender pay gap or the continued criminalisation of abortion in New Zealand right-wing women have no programme to advance women’s equality. Nor do Labour’s MPs have grounds to be proud. Throughout the decades they have failed to really address these key concerns despite having a woman leader who was Prime Minster. While Helen Clark parades around as a feminist, in her nine years of being PM she failed to reverse the benefit cuts of 1991, failed to repeal the abortion laws and said that employer-funded paid parental leave would be introduced “over my dead body”.

One third of New Zealand’s parliamentarians are women. Do they speak up for the most disadvantaged women – those migrants and their families treated as illegals and thrown out of the country? Or those who end up in detention camps in Nauru, Australia, Papua New Guinea? They are mostly silent on these appalling human rights abuses.

National’s most prominent women have shown they have what it takes to front the attacks on housing, education and benefit rights. These ungrateful whingers not only have no sense of history they have nothing to contribute for progress for women.

For a selection of articles on Redline about women’s liberation and Marxism, see here.  The selection includes several pieces on International Working Women’s Day.

See also: The working class militants who took International Women’s Day to Australia

 

 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Phil F says:

    Bourgeois women, like their male counterparts, always think they’ve got to the top by dint of their own abilities.

    They skip over the fact that it was forces on the left that battered open the doors in the first place. Without that, their abilities wouldn’t have gotten them anywhere.

    Yet today there is a whole sector of right-wing women in positions of power, screwing over the working class and helping themselves to what they feel entitled to as members of the ruling class or, in the case of right-wing female political commentators, hacks for the ruling class.

    Phil

  2. Jason K says:

    Brilliant example… of myopia. What about those right wingers who smashed through glass ceilings within organisations. Oh, right, they don’t count because names like Margaret Thatcher are uncomfortable. Nice one.

  3. Phil F says:

    Jason, Margaret Thatcher’s rise came *after* the women’s liberation movement.

    It’s highly unlikely she would have gotten to be Tory leader unless there had been a whole prior period of fighting for women’s equality, a period which changed wider social views about the position of women.

    That fight was carried out entirely by the left. The position of the right was that women should be wives and mothers and not aspire to careers in the professions and politics.

    The myopia therefore seems to be yours. You can’t seem to see the changes that needed to have taken place in people’s views in order for women like Thatcher to succeed. Indeed, you have just given us an example of what was mentioned in the first comment here: that right-wing women (or their male counterparts, like you) think their success is due to themselves, they simply can’t comprehend it actually required previous battles around women’s rights, fought entirely by forces on the left of politics.

    And, of course, when Thatcher got into power she surrounded herself with less-talented men and didn’t even do much for other bourgeois women, let alone for the mass of women.

    It’s an indication of how the left won the culture war that so many people who identify as being on the right simply take women’s access to the professions for granted and are blissfully unaware that it was the left that fought all the battles for expanded opportunities for women.

    It’s like the Condoleeze Rice case. Rice identifies as being on the right, but pretty much the entire right of US politics opposed the civil rights movement. Yet without the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, Condoleeza Rice would never have been able to enjoy the career she has had. Before the civil rights movement it was impossible for a black man, let alone a black woman, to rise to be secretary of state. And the civil rights movement was a movement of the left. Moreover, Martin Luther King, of course, identified publicly as a democratic-socialist.

    If you want to be right-wing, that’s fine by me. But at least be a well-informed right-winger and be able to give credit where credit is due.

    Phil

  4. duen says:

    Those ungrateful intersectional b**ches, Why can’t they just stfu?
    ………….
    “It was communists like Sylvia Pankhurst”
    Pankhurst, like many of the suffragettes, came from the bourgeois middle class. She trained as an artist and didn’t know any working class women until she started painting them.

    …………
    “Where were the right-wing women in the struggle for voting rights?”
    In the thick of it?
    Many of the suffragettes were right-wing, they were white supremacists and supported imperialist war. Pankhurst represented the left wing of a bourgeois movement.

    I see you have no trouble using ‘right wing, bourgeois and feminist’ interchangeably. You have a workerist view of the world, where feminism is a 4 letter word and a diversion from the “real” struggle.

    • Admin says:

      Duen said: “I see you have no trouble using ‘right wing, bourgeois and feminist’ interchangeably.”

      Not only is this totally untrue, but the word feminist was never used in the article!!!

      Moreover, the article never said anything about intersectional feminists, let alone that they should “shut the fuck up” or anything evenb vaguely resembling that.

      If you want to comment on what the article does say, fine. But don’t make stuff up.

      • Thomas R says:

        well technically it (the word ‘feminist’) was used once about Helen Clarke. but I don’t think duen cares too much

      • Admin says:

        Cheers for the correction Thomas. I should have checked more closely.

        However, Duen’s post still misrepresents the article. Moreover, she sent an email around a bunch of people in which she militantly defended right-wing bourgeois women and slagged off Sylvia Pankhurst even more than in the comment she made above.

        Last year she took great umbrage at an article by an Irish gay activist who critically reflected on the issue of gay marriage. Apparently it was “homophobic” of us to run an article by a gay activist saying something that she disagreed with!

        I don’t know whether she also tried to contact the gay activist who wrote the piece to yell at him that he was a “homophobe” too. . .

        It’s a whacky world out there. . .

  5. Daphna says:

    Duen my article specifically criticises right-wing women. Of course women from the bourgeoisie joined the struggle for equality, some became socialists, some communists, but they were not right wing women. The progress women have made has been led by left wing movements (personally I think the communist movement made the greatest contribution – but that’s a different debate) and right wing women have benefited without regard for how they got where they are today. Far from being workerist you may note that some of the right wing women I name come from working class backgrounds.
    Sylvia Pankhurst’s left wing credentials are actually pretty damn good.
    I don’t use the term feminist because it spans left and right of the political spectrum and I don’t find it that useful. Of course today most of the labels we use are losing their conciseness because movements and society change.