Letter: Women’s Freedom
While there is a local branch of your party here, one finds the movement a little impersonal. It is easier for local people to get elected to the council than for any of them to discuss Socialism in the true sense. This town, a potential beauty spot, has had to become a “workers paradise” of cars and motorway systems, and for whose benefit I cannot find out, having little need of a private vehicle, yet travelling about a good deal.
It would be futile to ask whether you have yet successfully sponsored women advocating to serve the community on local councils, for this attitude seems to attract tremendous opposition from the working class. So if there is seen lo be a need for a non-monetary society, there is also a greater need for a non-discriminatory society. The laws discriminate so powerfully against women that it is only because their husbands keep them in absolute comfort that prevents them from standing up to be elected onto councils. The distress in wives who finally must take their freedom from the marriage bond, is actually measured in cash terms. If misery were money, most ex-wives would be tremendously rich from the experience.
So what do you do towards relieving women of their onerous position as carrier of the family burdens, but reaper of no rewards for it?
H. Ibrahim, Stevenage.Herts.
H. Ibrahim is concerned about local issues—motorways etc.—and wants us to sponsor “women … to serve the community on local councils”.
We do not sponsor candidates to help run capitalism at national or local level. This is a task for a reformist party, like Labour, not for The Socialist Party of Great Britain. All the problems facing local councillors and MP’s derive from the nature of capitalism—a society where motorways and cars pollute the land and endanger the people, not because this is the best means of transport, but because it suits a system of production for profit.
It would be wasted labour for Socialists to exhaust themselves mending the scars of a profit-seeking society and healing its self-inflicted wounds. Our job is to abolish it, and our candidates both men and women, stand for world Socialism, not a better bypass.
H. Ibrahim is particularly distressed by the position of women in capitalist society. There is, indeed, legal and financial discrimination against women of the working class, 97 per cent of women. (We will leave out the Jackie Kennedys from this discussion as the wealthy do not suffer hardships of this sort.)
Marriage is a bondage. The wife is “tied” to the kitchen sink and the drudgery of daily chores. Going out to work simply means two jobs, not one, as she still has the chores to do. The housewife has no fixed hours of leisure, no holidays and no prospect of retirement. She often does not get a dinner break and usually works overtime unpaid.
Yet work in the home is not counted as work. A recent BBC discussion led off with the remark that “At present around 25 million people are at work” — this on a Monday morning! The 25 million or so housewives then engaged in laundry, cleaning up after the weekend and getting dinner for the kids; their work was not paid so did not count. In capitalism people are supposed to work only for rewards — wages.
However, even under capitalism, the family is still organised in a socially co-operative way. No one, male or female, expects to get paid for helping in their own home. The family functions almost on the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”—the same principle which will operate in Socialist society.
Only when we have a society without wages, only then will women cease to demand “rewards”. Only then will they and their husbands feel secure enough to break up a bad relationship, without worrying over the mortgage and probable hardship for the children. Only then will men be relieved of money worry. Only then will love be free and marriage ceases to be a bond.
The emancipation of the workers will involve, necessarily, “the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex”—and this does include women.