This past March 21st, the opportunist clique—sitting on the Central Committee of an organization which falsely claims to be the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR-RCP)—published the document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” (in its English version only) on its website (pcrrcp.wordpress.com), a document that had been prepared by the activists of the Revolutionary Proletarian Feminist Front (RPFF) and by women members of the RCP in the Quebec District. The same day, the opportunist clique also published the documents “Break with Old Ideas” and “Statement of support for the Central Committee”.

The publicization of the first document, “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women”, was in pace with the campaign of vilification waged by the opportunist clique against the Quebec District. The clique hoped this document would constitute the irrefutable proof of the transphobia of the Party’s Quebec members. The maneuver was a shocking one, firstly since it consisted in the public disclosure of a document that was intended to remain internal and for Party members only, but also, since it consisted in the widespread sharing of a document without asking the permission of the authors. Never before had a betrayal of this type taken place so cavalierly in the Party.

The opportunist clique claim they promulgated this text “to give context for the ongoing line struggle.” As we already mentioned, despite being part of the issue, the question of proletarian feminism taken on its own does not allow one to measure the true breadth of the abyss separating us from the opportunist RCP. It is above all, and rather, the questions of revolutionary action and of revolutionary strategy that triggered the break with the former comrades. This said, our conception of proletarian, revolutionary feminism takes root in our concern for the central position of the working class. This concern namely demarks us from the opportunist RCP. It is unsurprising that the opportunists should mask the deeper reasons for the split within the PCR-RCP with crass accusations such as that of transphobia.

Not only did they erase reality, the opportunists consciously omitted to appropriately contextualize the writing and internal sharing of the document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women.” They merely wrote that “this document was submitted to the Fourth Congress of the PCR-RCP in November 2016 by some comrades from the FFPR Montreal” and added that it was rejected by Congress. The opportunist clique did this because it was a shortcut. In the present document, we will undertake to properly situate the appearance of the document in question for the benefit of readers exterior to the Party. We are obliged, however unfortunately, to share the content of these internal documents (both in English and French, this time) so as to finally shed light on the hypocrisy of the opportunist clique who has been obfuscating Maoist web users for several months − particularly on the forum “Communism 101”, the clique’s main propaganda tool—in order to disguise its revisionism.

“On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” was published in the second of a series of three pre-Congress bulletins (collections of documents presenting proposals to be debated at the Congress, as well as contributing to general reflection upon the coming debates of the Congress agenda). The document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” was not published alone, but was indeed paired with another document titled “On Prostitution” which the opportunist clique avoided publishing on their website. This detail is an important one since the opportunist clique and their supporters sought to hide their inner divisions, so they could better wage their caricatural onset against the Quebec District. The truth is that certain elements of the opportunist clique endorsed the theses contained in “On Prostitution” at the PCR-RCP’s latest Congress, but as they are very well aware that these theses would not be welcomed by a significant chunk of its academic membership and they thus shunned openly pronouncing themselves on this question. The opportunist clique maintain in this way the illusion of unity between two movements in its bosom. They are also fearful of adopting a position that could fail to obtain unanimity among external activists. The opportunists are embarrassed to admit that they in fact support violence against women by asserting that prostitution is a form of work like any other. This is why the opportunist clique and their supporters did not reject “On Prostitution” at the latest Congress with as much resentment as they had wrought out in the treatment reserved for “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women.” This being said, the clique sitting on the supposed CC is quite aware that they will one day need to risk their base or else compromise themselves with yet more postmodernism, turning their back even further on the liberation of the women of the proletariat, just as any other revisionist group naturally would.

Initially, “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” and “On Prostitution” have been written and internal published as replies to a document called “Critiques of Chapter 8” which had been circulated in the first pre-Congress bulletin. This document was also withheld from public disclosure by the opportunist clique on their website despite it having been written by some of its own members. Unaware of this text, it is difficult for the reader to understand what the women of the RPFF were attempting to reply to in “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” and “On Prostitution.”

“Critiques of Chapter 8”, put together by part of the opportunist clique and their supporters, lists six criticisms of the eighth chapter of the PCR-RCP Program, “Women of the proletariat: Left behind for a long time, now at the forefront!”. It is in response to four of these criticisms that the documents “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” and “On Prostitution” are focused.

• ”Absence of investigation into conditions of all those who have an interest in fighting capitalist patriarchal oppression including proletarian trans women, non-binary people, and, to a certain extent, queer people.”

• ”The two objectives section no longer totally encompasses the way we organize against patriarchy since the formation of Proletarian Feminist Fronts.”

• ”Use of the word ‘prostitute’ which is generally used by feminists who take an abolitionist approach to sex work, which is not a proletarian line. Many sex workers also consider it dehumanizing.”

• ”There is a denial of the impact of patriarchy on Canada found in a few places including: claims that patriarchy does “not play a decisive role in the social organization of capitalism”; leaving out exploitation in the list of remaining patriarchal expressions; and agreeing that the bourgeoisie has “put an end” to patriarchy.”

These criticisms emerge from a collage of radical feminist theoretical perspectives with post-modern theoretical perspectives. The end effect is in complete dissonance with feminism that is proletarian and revolutionary. This is why the women of the RPFF made an epistemological effort to define conceptions upheld by “radical materialist feminism”, of “queer feminism” and of “proletarian feminism” regarding certain issues, and to eliminate the latent confusion in the debate underway in the Party.

More precisely, the authors of “Critiques of Chapter 8” detail how they aim to resolve the problems they find in the said chapter. Under the header “Gender & Queerness”, they write:

“Change the name of the section ‘Women’s Oppression under Capitalism’ to ‘Patriarchal Oppression under Capitalism’.”

“Add in a new section about the oppression of trans women and non-binary people.”

“Also add in a section on the oppression and liberation of queer people.”

“Change the language of the chapter when talking about ‘women’. We should absolutely not make it gender-neutral, but we need to make sure the terms we use encompass all the people we mean who face patriarchal oppression and exploitation so we are accurate and do not alienate these people (who are by and large proletarian).”

Playing on words to mask their opportunism is a common trend for our former comrades. In 2016, one of them had come to Montreal to present a public forum on an initiative called “Anti-Colonial Action”. During the question period, someone in the room asked if any indigenous women had joined the initiative. The former comrade replied: “There are gender-oppressed people in the group.” In other words the answer was “no”, but instead of replying honestly, he preferred to underline that the group contained people who, probably like himself, superpose, in their mind only, without it being at all externally perceptible, a “gender identity” alternative to their masculine sex. In short, the reply displayed the total indifference of the opportunists with regards to the women of the proletariat.

Under the header “Call to Action” within the document “Critiques of Chapter 8”, the opportunists speak out on the fact that “we will create a more welcoming space to their [the women’s and gender-oppressed people’s] participation” and that “by prioritizing building the leadership skills and strength of proletarian women and other gender-oppressed people, we will counteract this tendency”, and also that “we will put measures into place in the party and the organizations we work with that let women and other gender-oppressed people fully participate in political life”. We agree that the participation of women must be favoured by special measures. These calls are already formulated in the eighth Chapter of the PCR-RCP Program; only they are worded differently. If we are quoting the opportunists in this way, it is not that we disagree with them on this issue. It is rather to help demonstrate the incongruities between their words and actions. Indeed, at the opening of the latest Congress, the opportunists proposed to derogate from the usual procedure of the Party—that of holding two lines for speakers, thus giving priority to women for speaking turns. Trying to avoid losing as precious a gain as this, we tried to make a compromise with the opportunists… in vain. They rejected the trade-off of keeping a two-line system while allowing “other gender-oppressed people” into the women’s line. Moreover, they opposed themselves to the compromise of using three lines: one for “cis men”, one for “cis women”, and one for “other gender-oppressed people”. Everything that the Quebec District comrades had proposed to them in good faith, trying (too nicely) to account for their supposed discomfort was rejected en bloc. The only thing which satisfied the opportunists was the holding of a single line of speakers in the name of “the liberty to not have to identify oneself with a gender”. What this actually resulted in was that the women of the RCP were disadvantaged in speaking turns and that this whole process engaged by the opportunists of rendering women invisible had participated in the maintaining of proletarian women in the blind spot of political struggle. It was one of the most patent displays of the opportunists’ anti-feminism.

Still under the header “Call to Action”, the opportunists write that we will “struggle and win against patriarchy and capitalism […] by fighting against repression of proletarian sex workers and supporting the organization of sex worker revolutionary unions; these are necessary to make a stand against exploitative pimps and the oppressive state”. They go on to write, under the header “Sex Work”, “Remove the word ‘prostitute’”.

In a section devoted to the patriarchy, the opportunists write:

“The chapter draws a binary of conclusions: bourgeois feminism says these facts mean patriarchy is oppressing us, but revolutionary feminism tells us these facts mean capitalism is oppressing us. Both of these conclusions are wrong. Patriarchy is part and parcel of capitalism; so the fact that women and gender-oppressed people are underpaid and overworked is a symptom of patriarchal capitalism. To only call it patriarchal ignores the fact that these issues stem from class society; and to only call it capitalist ignores the fact that these issues disproportionately affect different genders. This statement should be changed to show our understanding of patriarchy as being completely tied into class society.”

The 2016 Congress was originally to be held with the intent of validating and reinforcing the leading group and propaganda and not that of making changes to the program. The women of the RCP were thus taken off guard by the reading of “Critiques of Chapter 8”. Observing the mistaken orientations of the proposals put forward by this contribution, they nonetheless went quickly about writing “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” and “On Prostitution”, and submitting them. The documents were endorsed by a great majority of the Quebec members of the PCR-RCP, and they were integrated into the second pre-Congress bulletin.

On the Congress floor, it became clear that the second bulletin, which contained “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” and “On Prostitution”, had not been distributed to all Party members outside of Quebec, and therefore, had not been preliminarily studied by the whole Party. It is the opportunist clique whose mandate was to distribute the preparatory documents throughout their territory. It is thus they who obstructed the established process of debate. However, all Party members under the responsibility of the opportunist clique seemed convinced that members of Quebec cells were transphobic and anti-feminist. Serious study of all Party members’ contributions had been, beyond any shadow of doubt, replaced by peddling.

The debate on the question of proletarian feminism at Congress was waged by the opportunists in the most conceitful way against the proletarian women of the Party. All of their argumentation aimed to expose the state of backward consciousness of the women who produced “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women”. The opportunists unceasingly wrung out their indignation at the use of the term “berdache” despite it having been a simple error of French-to-English translation − the translator being unaware of the term “two-spirits” − and since “berdache” is the only existing French translation of “two-spirits”. Let us note that the opportunists, faithful to their postmodern revisionism of Marxism, like to believe words determine reality. To be irreproachable in one’s language is for them to be a good revolutionary. The wrap-up of the lamentable scene that was the Congress’ debate on proletarian feminism was the moment when an opportunist with a man’s physique (wearing make-up and a pink hat) interrupted a woman who was shyly speaking at the microphone, stood up from his seat and started shouting “Transphobe!”, “Revisionist!”, “If you don’t know what you’re talking about, shut up!” and “Self-criticize!”. A Montreal comrade then accurately retorted that he was a misogynist. The opportunist in question then replied “I am a woman! I am a woman!”.

The opportunist clique and their university recruits holding the slight majority at Congress, the document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” was rejected in totality. For the opportunist clique and their supporters, there was no question that it could even be added to a study list within the framework of an inner-Party project of revision of the Chapter 8 of the RCP’s program. A good deal of the Party’s women were thus, unsurprisingly, muzzled.

It was not the first time the Party’s women beheld a demonstration of class contempt directed towards the proletarian women of the organization. In the Winter of 2015-16 in a RPFF meeting in Montreal, they received the visit of an anti-Party identifying as “non-binary”. She was a member of the Ottawa section before moving to Montreal to begin her wrecking work. Arriving at the organizational meeting, this anti-Party began by taking offence to the fact that a retired proletarian woman of a certain age had awkwardly, but well-intentionedly, welcomed her, commenting her extravagant outfit. She also expressed shock at having been “misgendered” despite no-one knowing her personally. Later in the meeting, she tried to make the meeting adopt a resolution to change the group’s written propaganda so as to erase “gender binarity”, and to replace the group’s logo with a transgender communist cross. The meeting was unbearable for all the women of the group, upon which the anti-Party tried to cast shame. The anti-Party showed up again a week later at a Montreal gathering in memory of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. There, she was scandalized to see that none of her dogmatic instructions had been followed by the women of the RPFF: the term “women” had remained in the written propaganda and the organization’s banner bore the feminist hammer and sickle. It was then that she began harassing comrades for months from the sidelines, on social media and by email, endlessly insulting and belittling them.

It is amid this remarkably hostile context dominated by the opportunist clique’s quest for leadership of the Party that the document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” was received by the RCP in the rest of Canada and later publicly broadcasted in the pursuit of humiliation. Moreover, the opportunist clique has been aiming for a long time to liquidate the RCP’s line on the question of women to replace it with a Maoism-revisionist line combining the most anti-Marxist radical feminist conceptions with postmodern conceptions in every way anti-materialist.

To dispel the fog around the document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women”, we decided to take our turn publishing it, in French and in English, accompanied by its extension “On Prostitution”. We believe that, along with context in which they are situated, these two documents bring important clarifications to inescapable questions. Being that they were submitted for study within the Party, they include small imprecisions that we will try to clarify by the following. Far from following the opportunists’ path, our clarifications will, notably, have the effect of further antagonizing them, which is a blessing. The line of demarcation between opportunism and us is a clear and unambiguous one.

The document “On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women” states that according to proletarian feminism, “sex is socially constructed”. Historical materialism teaches us though that it is in function of the differences in sex that the first appearances of division of labour arose. This difference of sex lies in the anatomical differences that are the reproductive functions manifest in women (pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding) and a muscular force generally lesser than that of men, with a few exceptions. The sexual division of labour is however not intrinsically oppressive for women. It becomes oppressive when men commandeer all productive labour and women takes care of unproductive labour. Through the history of humanity, the introduction of private property accelerates the process with which women are cut off from productive labour, by detaching the domestic economy from the homogenous community economy, confining it in this way to private family economy. But the same development of productive forces which, at a certain stage of history, allowed for the inferiorization and subjugation of women, also later brought about the possibility for their full liberation. What the document aims to affirm is that in capitalist society, with the massive influx of women into the labour market, as well as with the mechanization of production, the sex roles that subsist in people’s minds are “social constructs” (in other words cultural and ideological vestiges of pre-capitalist modes of production) that must be toppled. Women’s participation in productive labour under capitalism, accompanied by the end of paternal Right, considerably reduced the inequalities between them and men. Especially, it created the conditions necessary to women’s struggle for their emancipation, an emancipation which, for proletarian women, is possible only through socialist revolution, without which they will remain exploited, exactly like their masculine homologues in fact. Also, capitalism is unable to fully respond to the specific needs of proletarian women, (breastfeeding at work, accomodations at work for pregnant women and for women shortly after childbirth, total job security for women on maternity leave, authorization of leave for menstrual pains, easy and free access to abortion, to pregnancy checkups and/or to any particular form of healthcare, respect of their physical capacities in production, etc.), for the same reason that it is unable to respond to the needs of the proletariat in its entirety. Likewise, capitalism seeks to maintain private family economy in order to assume a part of the reproduction of labour power, which is currently particularly harmful for the women of the proletariat who continue by habit to assume the greater part of domestic and educational chores for children. It is also important to note that capitalism does not care about the sex and sexual orientation of the people who assume reproductive labour as long as it is greatly assumed privately. This is why it is not surprising that the bourgeois States of advanced-capitalist countries are able to launch a multitude of campaigns against sexism, homophobia, and also against transphobia, all of this even if at this moment, the contradiction between women and men still exists and still generates all sorts of discriminations.

The document “On Prostitution” stipulates that bourgeois feminism (second or third wave, radical or postmodern) is a feminism “that serves the interests of the ruling class”, “that responds to the needs of bourgeois women”. These affirmations, despite being correct, are capable of veiling the progressive aspect of feminism in general. Feminist struggles of all sorts can and do bring improvements to the lives of proletarian women, and proletarian women often participate in them. However, these struggles are “bourgeois” − or non-revolutionary − when they do not aim for seizure of power by the proletariat, the end of the exploitation of labour power and the abolition of private property. Otherwise, it would be necessary to claim, as the opportunists do, that sexism is inherent to the current mode of production, in other words, that capitalism is patriarchal. Feminism of any kind thus becomes revolutionary, since it would shake the foundations of bourgeois power. This is not the case, and this is why it is indispensable to define revolutionary proletarian feminism and to clarify the contradictions between it and other feminisms, in other words with progressive bourgeois feminism. This being said, there does also exist an anti-proletarian bourgeois feminism, namely the feminisms that divide the working class: either by rejecting class struggle to the benefit of war of the sexes (the treating of the contradiction between men and women as a principal or antagonistic), or by rejecting class struggle to the benefit of an inarticulate anti-oppressive struggle (considering everyone to be the oppressor of someone else, and since everyone has privileges someone else doesn’t, there can be no solidarity between people without them oppressing each other, without appropriating the oppression of others, all the while confusing oppression with exploitation and considering all contradictions to be equivalent).

Finally, the document “On Prostitution” displeased a fringe of the opportunists, certainly since it directly attacks their petty-bourgeois interests and their small-entrepreneur mentality, perfectly demonstrating in what way they are not communists − at best, verbal revolutionaries. Indeed, certain elements among the opportunists claim to be sex workers. Their wage-earning activities have nothing to do with that of prostitution among proletarian women: they choose their clientele, their workplace, their conditions, etc. They are simply self-employed individuals or co-op members, but refuse to acknowledge it. Socialism, by mobilizing all women for productive labour and by supplying them with everything they need, will eliminate the sale of their bodies, will abolish prostitution. Those who will want, under these circumstances, to continue such trade in the name of their economic and sexual liberty will be treated in the same way as any small capitalist, and as people who, further, participate in the perpetuation of sexism by promoting the idea of women’s bodies as a buyable commodity.

Before jumping into the fray and beginning to read the two documents, which were produced and endorsed by comrades from Montreal and the surrounding areas, let us specify that if the PCR-RCP devoted an entire chapter of its program to the oppression of women, it is because this oppression took root in primitive society, because it continued throughout history until today and since it is still part of the existence of one half of the world population. The oppression of women is not the deed of the identitarian free will of individuals. It imposed itself to every woman, and did so independently of the subjective perception each woman had of herself. The oppression of women is universal, and so will be their liberation.

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ANNEX 1: On the RPFF and the Oppression of Women

The analysis of the specific oppression of women is historically crossed, in theory and practice, by two irreconcilable conceptual currents: the materialist current and the post-modern current (queer). These two currents do not identify the same social contradiction at the root of women’s oppression: materialists highlight the contradiction between men and women, while queer feminists consider the contradiction between the individuals who perform gender normatively and individuals who perform gender in a transgressive manner.

Proletarian feminism is a theoretical and practical materialist framework. However, as Marxists, proletarian feminists do not address the oppression of women from the same analytical framework as that used by radical materialists feminists, which conceived the contradiction man / woman as a relationship between a exploited class and an exploiting class. On the contrary, proletarian feminists believe that women’s oppression does not benefit men as a whole, but rather it benefits the ruling class, and that the contradiction man / woman is subordinated to the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

The Proletarian Feminist Front (PFF) adopts a proletarian feminist conception of the oppression experienced by women. The existence of this small movement generated by the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), based on the firm belief that the seizure of power by the working class cannot occur without the participation and the leadership of women, who make up the majority of the working class, and that women’s liberation is inseparable from the socialist revolution.

These arguments will be developed in the arguments below. First, radical materialist feminist conceptions will be considered and opposed to postmodern conceptions (queer). Then the proletarian materialist feminism – which, being materialistic, also rejects queer conceptions – will be distinguished from materialist radical feminism. Finally, once the theoretical foundations of the proletarian feminism will be exposed, the purpose and the tasks of PFF be recalled.

A) Radical Materialist Feminism VS queer feminism

1. Radical materialist feminists as queer feminists reject “sexual difference” based on biological essentialism. In fact, science has shown that human behavior escapes the biological determinism, both at the neurological level and the hormonal level  [1].

2. Radical materialist feminists, like the queer feminists, analyze gender as a social construction. But, the latter introduce the concept of gender, a heteronormative social construction that is superimposed on sex and, by extension, supplants it’s in their analysis. According to their understanding, gender is chosen individually and freely, either by accepting the binary standard, either by transgressing voluntarily this standard. This means that to be a man, a woman, or belong to a gender group that does not fall into this binary division, depends on agency.

3. On the contrary, radical materialist feminists believe that being a woman or being a man is the result of an inculcation made throughout life that is called socialization.

4. For radical materialist feminists, this socialization is the product of social gender relation, within which the class of men exploits the class of women. This operation is induced by the existence of patriarchy, understood as a mode of production.

5. For queer feminists, what determines gender identity is its performativity, that is to say, repeated practice of gender norms. Gender is not the product of a social relation, but rather a relationship of power. Indeed, in the post-modern paradigm, power is not concentrated in a class or in the state apparatus of this class. It is rather distributed diffusely across all institutions and individuals who make up society. Power is what both produces and represses subjects. For example, the heteronormative family is a unit of power that usually produces men and women called on to maintain heterosexual relationships, which traps these individuals in rigid gender roles of male and female. On the other hand, these individuals are in turn power units that choose to either comply with the standard or subvert it by transgressing the rules in order to transcend the repression of their own subjectivity. This last process is what is called agency or self-practice. For queer feminists, it is the study of the standard (the norm) that allows individuals to have a normative or transgressive performance of gender, regardless of the socialization to which they have been exposed.

6. Thus, queer feminists put the contradiction between the normative performance of gender (cisgender women and man, heterosexuals women and men) and the transgressive performance of gender (transgender women and men, queer, gay women and men, bisexuals, pansexual, non-binary people “gender neutrals”, “gender fluid” berdaches, drags, etc.)

7. For radical materialist feminist, the contradiction is rather between two separated and hierarchized social groups called man and woman. The perpetuation of male dominance is caused by a socially constructed order. They consider that the male / female division was established on the basis of the anatomical difference between the sexual organs as perceived at birth and reproductive functions (biological and social) that are distinct and systematically associated with them. The body is constructed by the social world as a gendered reality that finds its ideological justification “in the natural order of things.”

8. Radical materialist feminists believe that work is the main object of gender differentiation and prioritization. Indeed, it is the domestic work which is the economic and social base of the patriarchal oppression of women. The sexual division of labor organizes the distribution of wealth and social status in favor of men. For example, domestic vwork assigned to women is disqualified compared to paid work.

9. For queer feminists, labor is not the main object in the issue of the oppression of women, or rather, people oppressed by gender. For them, it is sexuality that is relevant. Here, sexuality includes the construction of gender identities which are indivisible of sexual orientation and sexual practices. Male domination, as social gender relation, is then replaced by the heteronormative prescription as gender power relation. In this sense, for the queer feminists, heteronormativity deletes natural similarities between individuals designated as male or female strength and forces the repression in men of their “feminine” traits and women, their “masculine” traits these traits (physical or behavioral) corresponding to the idea we have of what masculinity and femininity.

10. In contrast, radical materialist feminists, when they address the issue of sexuality, still analyzed it through the prism of the sexual division of labor. Sex is designed as a work done by women and owned by men. Femininity instilled as an expression of vulnerability and the subjugation of women in order to meet the sexual desires of men. With respect to heteronormativity, it derives from the sexual division of labor that assigns different tasks to men and women and who wants them to be “naturally complementary.”

11. While the radical materialist feminists want to abolish gendered roles established on a socially constructed binary, queer feminist favor the multiplication of categories of persons not covered by gender norms, and therefore the perpetuation of the differentiation that inevitably behind a hierarchy.

12. The radical materialist feminists do not linger in philosophical discourse on subjectization, but rather on the observation of social practices and material conditions in which women evolve.

13. For queer feminists, it is sufficient to define oneself and to have a constantly performed activity in correspondence with this self-identification to reverse the gender norm. This is an individualistic approach.

14. On the contrary, for radical materialist feminist, the class of women must collectively wage a political struggle against the class of men.

B) Proletarian materialist feminism VS Radical materialist feminism

i) Points of convergence

15. Proletarian feminism, as radical feminism, rejects queer theory because it derives from postmodernism. Its articulation with materialism cannot occur without tension because it is intrinsically idealistic. Materialists and postmodern approaches are, in many respects antagonistic. The Queer theoretical perspective is alien to Marxism and is expected to remain so because it is bourgeois.

16. Proletarian feminism, as radical feminism, identifies a contradiction between men and women, and rejects the idea of a contradiction between individuals with a gender normative performance and individuals with a transgressive gender performance. As radical feminism, proletarian feminism conceives gender as a social construction. The latter is generated by a differentiated and hierarchical socialization between men and women. Socialization is based on the appearance of the genitals observed at birth.

17. Proletarian feminism, as radical feminism, is interested in labor as being at the root of women’s oppression.

18. Finally, proletarian feminism, as radical feminism, pursues the goal of the abolition of gender roles, unlike queer feminism which by liberalism, calls for the proliferation of gender identities and individual freedom to choose one here and now.

ii) The divergence

19. The Radical feminist analysis as a whole, is not compatible with Marxism, because it conceives the present society as patriarchal, that is to say as being controlled by men as a whole, or at least, to be managed in the interest of all men. On the contrary, Proletarian feminism argues that the oppression of women, as important as it is, does not benefit the people as a whole, but to the bourgeoisie. If male dominance in society is undeniable, it is wrong to claim that all the men hold power.

20. Marxism analyzes the capitalist mode of production from the point of view of material interests of different classes. Radical materialist feminists wanted to give a materialistic basis, modeled on Marxism, to the theory of patriarchy by claiming that there is a domestic mode of production. All women, regardless of their class affiliation, constitute a single class including domestic work would be despoiled by the class of men.

21. Proletarian Feminists believe that the relationship between men and women cannot be considered analogous to the relationship between capitalists and workers. Exploitation and oppression are two different phenomena. Domestic work done by the proletarian women does not allow their proletarian comrades to accumulate capital. In wage labor, every minute saved by workers is a minute lost for the profits of the capitalists. In domestic work, men do not require of women to prepare more meals and do more laundry as they have the physical ability to do more. In wage labor, machines that could improve the lot of the workers but do not serve to increase profits are not introduced in the work process. In domestic work, the introduction of machinery and new products that improve women’s living conditions is not fought against by men. Time spent on education and care of children is not a job that benefits the proletarian men; the absence of a man does not reduce the workload of the many single mothers who raise their children alone. It is capitalism that imposes, by the privatization of this work, long grueling hours to women. Those who benefit from the work of women are the same who benefit from the work in general: the capitalists. This work of reproduction allows them to have workers fed, bleached and healthy, ready to get to work each day. The capitalists do not socialize all the work of reproduction because it would hurt their profits by causing considerable costs. To facilitate the reproduction of labor power, the bourgeoisie has retained an existing institution, the family—in which women were considered inferior—while transforming and subordinating its relations of production. Thus sexism is reproduced in the present society and generates inequalities between men and women, particularly with respect to the sharing of domestic tasks.

22. Some radical feminists do not separately analyze class relations and gender relations. But they analyze conjointly the individual interest of every man to be served at home by a woman and the collective interest of the ruling class to perpetuate the sexual division of labor—which assigns to women the majority of domestic duties and their extension in the wage world.

23. For proletarian feminists, domestic work does not represent an antagonism of interests between men and women of the working class. To be less exploited than women does not mean exploiting them. The proletarian men do not have a vested interest in maintaining the privatization of reproductive work. They would lose nothing with socializing this work.

24. Radical feminists argue that the patriarchal mode of production is also socially structuring, if not more than the capitalist mode of production. Proletarian feminists, as Marxists, believe that this analysis is wrong.

25. Indeed, one might say that the family, the root of domestic work, has the same historical weight, political and economic that the capitalist market? The market and the accumulation of capital done and redone and all aspects of the world in which we live; have caused wars and famines, literally transformed the landscape, created cities, destroyed and recreated monarchies, dictatorships, democracies; created the conditions for the mass entry of women in industrial work; created education and universities. The family did not have in world history this dynamic of progressive and in the same-time-that-destructive role. Rather, it is an institution that contributes strongly to the survival of capitalism, without constituting one of its reasons for being. The organization and carrying out of domestic tasks depend on the prior existence of industrial production, its products and its impact on the division of labor. When the needs of capitalist accumulation change, major changes may take place in the family, while the reverse is not true. The expanding capitalist economy needs the female workforce—and now millions of women join again the strength of labor. Capitalism needs a more educated workforce?—The children all go to school instead of going to the factory. In periods of crisis, it is even more striking. In peacetime, bourgeois ideology states that the family home is the only place where you can develop balanced human beings. Arrive a world war and capitalist send men per million in the killing fields and women by the millions to the factory to replace the work of men workers. The family as life is destroyed until the end of the war. In short, capitalism needs the family, but the family in last ultimately subordinated to it. [2]

26. Proletarian feminism, unlike radical feminism, analyzes the man / woman contradiction as a non-antagonistic secondary contradiction, a contradiction among the people. Proletarian feminism considers that the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is the main social contradiction. The oppression of women is subordinate to the class struggle.

27. Unlike radical feminists, proletarian feminists therefore consider that there is no possible unity between the proletarian women and the bourgeois women, but there is one among the proletarian women and proletarian men, despite the persistence of sexist attitudes among the people. It is in the interests of the proletarian men to participate in the struggle against sexism and women’s oppression. In all countries, women make up a significant portion of the workers. The very idea that the proletariat can take power and leave in place the oppression of women is nonsense. This idea suggests that millions of workers, having engaged in a struggle without mercy to overthrow the bourgeoisie—struggle involving all the transformations of consciousness that arise from this kind of experience—subsequently decide to maintain the oppression of women. A takeover by the workers if the majority of the proletariat is ignored is not one. This does not mean that after the seizure of power, the millennia gender bias and contempt towards women will disappear suddenly. It only means that the elimination of the material basis of oppression, coupled with the revolutionary consciousness of millions of women and men, will weaken this oppression will begin its rapid decline to disposal. [3]

iii) For a proletarian feminist small-movement

28. PFF was formed on the basis of the recognition of the objective existence of a contradiction between men and women, and the need 1) to organize proletarian women for revolution, and 2) combating sexism now in order to form a genuine alliance between the men and women of the proletariat.

29. The fact that the PFF is for women—the oppressed group that justifies its existence—does not reproduce the oppression of minorities that are also oppressed, categories that have a material existence in society (gay, trans people, racialized people, etc.), or whether strictly ideological categories, such as those advanced by the queer. The fact that only the word “women” is used in chapter 8 of the RCP program and in the Manifesto for a proletarian feminism is in nothing problematic. There is no need to add phrases from the queer feminism like “people oppressed by gender,” “non-binary people” or “non-male”. That would betray the mission of PFF. Indeed, queer feminism occults the oppression of women. It claims that by changing the words and ideas, we change the material world, denying that gender roles continue to exist objectively. The queer feminism, through the promotion of agency, ends up erasing the need for the collective struggle for emancipation of proletarian women.

30. Proletarian feminists recognize the objective existence of trans people, but understand their situation as being determined by the man / woman contradiction, and not an imaginary contradiction between normativity and gender transgression. Socialization engenders gender roles through all the ideological apparatus of the bourgeois society. However, this socialization is not performed consistently and uniformly on all individuals, since the pressure of the different social environments is not the same everywhere. Trans people do not violate or do not subvert gender or gender roles; they simply change sides. Note that men are also subject to the requirements of the roles associated with their dominant sex that was assigned at birth. This can cause serious malaise that can explain men transsexuality, causing them to expose themselves to gender-based violence experienced by women.

31. The oppression of trans people by supposedly cisgender [4] women is a divisive invention of the bourgeoisie. Even a woman who would match perfectly the female gendered roles would still be a dominated woman who would not have chosen her sex, but for which society would have assigned one that would maintain her in a inferior position. That said, there are no women or men in perfect correspondence with the gender roles incumbent on sex because sex is socially constructed.

32. This to say that the PFF considers the oppression experienced by trans people and homosexuals, while conceiving these oppressions as arising from the contradiction between men and women. Homophobia and transphobia are extensions of sexism.

33. PFF says that the revolutionary organizations and the revolutionary people must also act against the effects of the oppression of women in daily or organizational life.

34. In conclusion, the PFF advocates for the emancipation from the sexualisation of bodies and gender roles that result from it. Communist classless society will be marked by genuine equality among individuals who will not be placed in categories of sex and will be able to freely express their preferences.

35. The RCP, as communist vanguard, gives to proletarian women’s movements (against sexual exploitation, sexism, etc.) its full support, while placing this support in a political work to make these movements aware of their natural surroundings—that is class struggle—and thus to qualify them for the revolutionary struggle. [5] What should be the attitude of the communist vanguard vis-à-vis the bourgeois and petty bourgeois feminism, queer feminism and radical feminism? An uncompromising criticism of their anti-proletarian character.

PFF Comrades from Montréal

NOTES:

[1] We rely on the writings of theorists like: Catherine Vidal, Joëlle Wiels, Gaid Le Maner-Idrissi, Pascal Picq, IE Sommer et al, KM Bishop and D. Walhsten, SJ Gould, D. Benoît-Browaeys, etc.

[2] Extracted almost entirely taken from the text “Do we live in a patriarchal society? Who benefits oppression? “By John Mullen.

[3] Idem.

[4] According to queer feminism, cisgender people are those whose gender identity matches the gender that was assigned at birth based on the appearance of their genitals. In other words, it is the great majority of individuals.

[5] Excerpt almost entirely with the text “La flèche et la cible” by the prisoner’s collective of the Fighting Communist Cells (CCC).

* * *


ANNEX 2: On Prostitution

1. We adhere to proletarian feminism, that is to say, a feminism that is interested in the liberation of women who have no means of production and who have no other choice but to sell their work force to survive. This feminism is opposed to bourgeois feminism that serves the interests of the ruling class.

2. Proletarian feminism (hereafter PF) is based on a materialist analysis framework. Philosophical materialism was employed by the 2nd wave feminists to analyze what they termed “gender relations”. However, proletarian feminism rejects the radical feminist conceptions according to which there is a patriarchal mode of production. Rather, PF defends the idea that the capitalist mode of production, which is dominant today, is made of social relations of production that ensure that the bourgeoisie takes advantage of the oppression of women.

3. On the issue of prostitution, prohibitionism appears with the 1st wave feminists, the egalitarians. Egalitarianism is a type of feminism that meets the needs of middle-class women. It condemns prostitution and prostitutes for moral and hygienic considerations.

4. Abolitionism, meanwhile, appears with materialist feminist. They consider prostitution in the prism of economic and sexual exploitation of women.

5. The pro sex work position (PSW) or regulationist position, appears later in feminist literature. This is a position that is often defended by 3rd wave feminists, or queer, in the name of the right to self-determination of individuals (agentivity).

6. As proletarian feminists, we consider that the PSW position does not meet the proletarian women affected daily by economic and sexual exploitation. For its part, the most widespread abolitionist position, although materialist, as flaws that the proletarian feminism must correct.

7. Initially, the PSW position or regulationist, is problematic because it refuses to see prostitution as structured by sexism. This is a liberal position, stamped with bourgeois ideology, promoting individual freedom to bargain what we want.

8. Indeed, PSW wrongly believes that women living from prostitution sell sexual services and therefore, freely dispose of their bodies. But in fact, women living in prostitution rather lease the right to dispose of their bodies to customers.

9. Prostitution is not the ordinary sale of labor power; it is not about labor exploitation of a person, but the absolute exploitation of a person. Prostitution is not the sale and consumption of sexual services: what is sold and consumed, it is the direct domination over a person. It is this domination that is the use value of the commodity “prostitute”, while for wage labor in general, dominance is rather a condition that allows the exploitation of the labor force. What the sex industry showcases and brings to the market is not only the sexual body, but also, and especially sexist violence: Prostitution being the most complete expression of this violence.

10. To consider that prostitution is a job like any other, is to strengthen the notion that sexuality is a task, one of responding to sexual-needs of a man. Materialism teaches us that men and women are subject to a differentiated and hierarchical socialization. This socialization makes men see their sexuality as a necessity, something that is their due. People who enter in a sexual relation with them are doomed to meet a supposedly “natural” need—which is rather a socially constructed need. In return, the socialization of women leads them to conceive their sexuality as a response to the overwhelming desire of men, and therefore as a duty to satisfy them. In the satisfaction they can provide, women are forced to measure their value as people. The PSW position participates in the reproduction of inequalities, and therefore violates the sexual development of women.

11. Let us add that the free consenting, which is an essential condition of sexuality, is not peculiar to a prostitution market relationship. Indeed, when the livelihoods of women depends on its purchase by man, which is the case of the proletarian prostitutes, who constitute the majority of prostitutes, there is no mutuality in the choice of partners and the choice of actions taken in the relationship. So we can not talk about sex, but rather of an institutionalized rape.

12. Furthermore, as Marxists, one can not help but denounce the liberalism of the PSW position that invisibles the exploitation—say overexploitation—of women from the most vulnerable layers of the proletariat (racialized, mothers, immigrants, indigenous, metis, First Nations, under-educated, minors, drug users, unqualified, etc.) by bourgeois who derive huge profits from the sex industry, and also benefit as customers-johns. It is therefore interesting to ask who benefits from the regularization of prostitution.

13. As internationalists, we must analyze the phenomenon of prostitution also taking into consideration how it is lived in the dominated countries. As our Maoists comrades in India, Nepal and the Philippines, we condemn vehemently the international sex industry characterized by sexual tourism and trafficking in women and children. The industry benefits greatly from the impoverishment of those countries; it is an essential component of imperialism.

14. Also, do we stand against PSW regulationism, we do not fully adhere to the most widespread abolitionist position. Although we-endorse what we consider the overall just analysis that prostitution is not a job like any other, we are opposed to the solutions put forward by abolitionists. Indeed, these solutions are bourgeois because they seek to end the sexual exploitation of women’s bodies by introducing legislative reforms implemented by the security forces and supported by bourgeois politicians: the criminalization of customers and pimps. Yet we know that the judicial system is only at the service of capitalists, that the police is none other than the armed wing of the ruling class and that we live under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. We know that class collaboration does not meet the needs of the proletarian women. A section of the bourgeoisie has a vested interest in maintaining the system of prostitution. Above all, the bourgeoisie as a whole has an interest in maintaining the material conditions that pushes part of the proletarian women in prostitution.

15. As Marxists-Leninists-Maoists, we aim to meet the material needs of the proletariat. It is not sufficient to criminalize pimps and customers in order to release the proletarian women from prostitution. We must also, and above all, completely transform the material conditions of life of women so that they no longer need to sell themselves in order to meet their basic needs.

16. We therefore reject the abolitionists who refuse to recognize the need for a communist revolution to fully liberate the proletarian women. To be consistent, abolitionism should lead to revolutionary positions, since capitalism perpetuates poverty and the specific oppression of women (as well as other forms of specific oppressions) which prostitution feeds on. Under capitalism, the material conditions that generate prostitution will continue.

17. With our perspective of annihilating the bourgeoisie and popular power, prostitution will inevitably be abolished. Indeed, socialist transition will be the gradual abolition of all market relations. People will be able to meet their needs without having to sell their labor power, let alone their sexual body and their submission. In communist society, without classes and without exploitation, everyone can actively and worthily contribute to production and will be sure to see all needs met. This means that the sexuality that will remain, will be a sexuality in the context of free association between people who appreciate and respect each other.

18. Of course, before we get there, we will have to fight many battles in order to get rid of the contradictions amongst the people that may remain after the seizure of power, among others, the contradiction between women and men, which is a determining question for prostitution. We will have to wage a relentless struggle against sexism a legacy of millennia oppression.

19. Some PSW militants criticize any comrade with an abolitionist position by claiming that they decry and reject sex workers. That is not truth of the proletarian feminists. We stand in solidarity with the proletarian prostitutes just as communists struggle in unity with struggling workers while denouncing their exploitation and their exploiters.

20. These PSW activists often accuse abolitionists of stigmatizing other with words. We choose knowingly to employ the terms of “prostitution” and “women prostituted” because they describe an objective reality. In contrast, those who use the terms “sex work” and “sex workers” claim to change reality by changing the vocabulary, while it is not. Moreover, these terms convey the idea that prostitution is a job like any other.

21. Sex workers’ unions cannot make real trade union work, because prostitution is not only based on a contract between the prostitute and the pimp, but also on a non-contract between the prostitute and the client (the john): the sale of the self and, by extension, the full disposition of someone self by another.

22. The unions, on prostitution, would involve: a) the recognition of prostitution as a job like any other, b) the negotiation of the sale price of the work force of prostitutes with members of organized crime, which would require a coercive power that will only be achieved only during the PWW, c) the ability to contract with all customers agreement on “sexual services” rendered, which is unworkable, and that would contradict the nature of prostitution or the purchase of domination.

23. Existing “unions” such as Stella in Montreal, are in fact bodies that are trying to impose a liberal political leadership on the proletarian women, as well as some abolitionist organizations trying to establish a reformist political hegemony in this area.

24. We would rather work in order for the revolutionary proletarian feminist Front (PFF) to continue, in words and in practice, to gather the workers and to exercise a revolutionary political leadership on the women’s liberation movement, and this, while supporting the just demands of prostitutes and helping to organize to overthrow the bourgeoisie and end sexism.

Adopted by the Montréal cell.

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