My lovely boyfriend has been subjected to my mad rants about how women are not as free and liberated as everyone thinks they are, he had to put up with me for over three hours on the way back from Cork! So on Wednesday he dug out some pamphlets he had on the socialist view of the liberation of women. So this morning while my baby slept in the car I read ” The Struggle For Women’s Liberation” by Elane Heffernan, I actually really enjoyed it! I have read a lot of feminist literature over the years, but to be honest as I got older, had kids, I realised that a lot of feminist literature was bullshit! If you live as a childless single woman you can go some way towards living an equal life, but if you are married or you have kids then you are doomed by biology to always be at a disadvantage to our male peers.

Now the booklet addresses where sexism comes from, that it is a product of capitalist societies, where the modern family unit is what drives a consumerist way of living, life was so hard for working class people 200 years ago, all the members of the family, from 4 upwards were expected to work 12 to 14 hour days, it became essential to have a member of the family (the mother) at home to make sure that children and old people were taken care of (the other option was the workhouse) they made sure that the other members of the family went into work well cared for.

So basically most feminist literature I’ve read says that men have oppressed women, and difference here is that the socialist say it’s not the working class men but the elite who have oppressed women, but not only women, also the working class men.

Now, the socialist solution…

“The new ideas of liberation will be given force and coherence as privatised reproduction id=s supplanted by a new system of communal living.

When childcare becomes not the responsibility of individual women, but the whole of society, the basis for believing women’s biology makes them somehow weaker and more emotional than men will be undercut.
When house work is not the burden of individual families, when people aren’t forced to live in units that fit into a two up two down house, the path will be opened for women to play a full and equal role in every sphere of life”

It just doesn’t work for me, I really want it to, I want after all this time to have discovered a system of living that would make sexism a thing of the past, but I just can’t make that leap. I don’t think I’m idealistic enough to believe that a socialist utopia would work any better than capitalism, I think human beings are fatally flawed and their anger and selfishness would corrupt any system. I also wouldn’t like to live in a system that replaced the (ok, dysfunctional) modern family unit of mum dad and 2.5 kids, for a more “communal” way of living, I love the idea of living in a more traditional extended family unit, and to most of us today our friends fill that role, but I don’t want to share the raising of my children or eat in a communal kitchen…..sorry!

Then there is the silly issue I have with socialism, I see it as grey and uniform! I see communist block Russia, I see people looking uniform, no celebration of the differences between men and women. While reading the booklet there was a total dismissal of make up and pretty apparel for women, apparently women wanting to look attractive is all the capitalist societies fault. I find that quite patronising. I like to be pretty and colourful, and while the outside but is only packaging for our real selves, it’s still a bit I like to decorate as much as possible!Now I’ve been assured that this uniformity is just propaganda from the capitalist elite, but I don’t know? Did communism produce much great art or music? I don’t know. I am gonna read the second booklet asap, I will post again about my discoveries….bet you can’t wait!

I’ll never be a socialist will I?


5 thoughts on “Utopia?

  1. Meh. None of us are free,check out “The trap” by Adam Curtis, or his equally excellent “The century of the self” (the latter can be found on google videos). Oppression is ubiquitous, as you say due to the flawed nature of the human being. Now there are too many bloody people in the world and it ain’t getting better any time soon. That said apparently Denmark has struck a nice balance between socialism and capitalism.

  2. Very interesting post Midge. I agree with all of ye. A) socialism although a pretty ideal never has fit human nature; b) capitalism has many many flaws but for now it appears to be the best on offer; c) oppression is indeed ubituitous; d) the best art was created under dicatorships; the communists totally stifled art; which is why all famous 20th Russian art was created in the West.

    But at end of the day I think the Soviets shot themselves in the foot in so many ways. They left a legacy that communism is only possible with oppression, no art, no diversity; when it didn’t necessarily have to be that way.

    Re women, there’s a million ways to be oppressed. You know I believe we still have a latent social hierarchy where the only success for a woman is marriage and babies. It’s the irony that an engagement ring is a symbol of both oppression and ultimate success. But at the end of the day, women in this side of the world have it 4 zillion times better than those in Africa and the muslim world so we’ve no right to complain.

  3. Sweden had forced sterilization also, and they have what they call the “folkhemmet” or social democratic society all inclusive. It’s bullshit really some of the richest capitalists in Europe live in Sweden, still I voted for the Socialists last time, at least you have some hope of “socialist” policy with them, if you vote for the Liberals & Conservatives well then you can’t expect much.

  4. I think it’s dangerous, but all to common, to associate the Russian system with Socialism. It wasn’t. It was a Stalinist Dictatorship and bore no resemblance to the societies written about by Marx of Lenin. Just like the Labour Party today, it has nothing to do with socialism.

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