Adopted by the Founding Congress of the New Communist Party (Organizing Committee)
For release on May 1, 2013
The women’s movement in the United States is in crisis. Many women across the US suffer from deep poverty, sexual violence, and state violence. Drawing from the years of international militant women’s struggles, we understand that only proletarian feminism can lead women toward a world free from the shackles of exploitation and oppression. The women’s struggle is integral to the class struggle, the world proletarian revolution.
Women are super-exploited in social production, oppressed in the family, subjected to domestic and state violence, and commodified on the world market. The condition of women in the US is bound up fully with the basic features of the social economy of US capitalism, such as the massive relocation of industrial production outside of its borders, the feminization of immigration from the semi-colonial countries, and the immense expansion of the consumer and service sectors made possible by the global position of US imperialism.
Women constitute an essential component of the proletariat in the US, the large group of people who own nothing and sell their labor power to the capitalist owners of the means of production to survive. They participate outside of the home to a very significant extent in waged work in the fields of social production, circulation, distribution, consumption, and reproduction. Women are a sizable majority of the workers in healthcare support, personal care and service, office and administrative support, sales and related occupations, and food preparation and serving related occupations.
They are 22.2% of the workforce in the goods-producing sectors (mining and logging, construction, and manufacturing), constituting 27.4% of the manufacturing workforce alone. Oppressed-nationality women in particular are over-represented in the lower stratum of the industrial proletariat, making up the majority of hand packers and packagers, sewing machine operators, laundry and dry-cleaning workers, and pressers of textile, garment and related materials.
Proletarian women are super-exploited, paid lower wages than proletarian men, and suffer from poor working conditions, difficulties obtaining regular waged employment, and the ever-present threat of joblessness. The patriarchal monogamous family is an institution that oppresses women. Its origins lay in the founding of class society, wherein mother right, meaning descent and kinship traced through the maternal side of ancestry, was overthrown and replaced by father right, meaning descent and kinship traced through the paternal side of ancestry.
The purpose of the patriarchal monogamous family was to transmit wealth from generation to generation, along the father’s lineage. In the process of overthrowing mother right and thereafter, women were subjugated to the family and relegated to the private sphere. The private nature of the family keeps women in captivity economically and socially. Although families are generally patriarchal, proletarian and oppressed-nationality families have also been a source of strength in the face of brutal capitalist white-supremacist oppression. So long as the patriarchal family exists, women will remain economically dependent and subordinate to the family unit. Currently, the family is changing with the feminization of waged labor.
Women continue to be unpaid for their domestic reproductive labor. At the same time, increasing masses of women participate in waged labor. There is also an increasing socialization of reproductive labor, as seen in the shift from an economy oriented toward production to one oriented toward services, and more specifically the growth in the numbers of poorly-paid domestic migrant workers. Capitalists and their agents more directly exploit and commodify women’s labor through the internationalization and commercialization of domestic, industrial, and service work, whereas in the past, husbands, fathers, and brothers were more directly the managers of women.
This commercialization is true not just for the Third World, but for imperialist countries as well. Domestic violence, the abuse that takes place in intimate relationships, is a patriarchal tool for control and coercion. The ultimate goal of the abuser, the overwhelming majority of whom are men, is to strip the victim (majority women) of autonomy and independence. The perpetrator seeks to undermine the victim’s ability to break away from him, so he uses emotional, economic, physical, sexual, and familial means to control her. Among abuse survivors, 25 to 50% lose their jobs due to domestic violence, and 35 to 56% are targeted on the job by their partners.
Women are already super-exploited for domestic reproductive labor and underpaid for their social labor; this super-exploitation is exacerbated by the economic impact of domestic violence. Violence against women is not just an interpersonal phenomenon; it is permitted and perpetrated daily by the capitalist state. Through incarceration, abuse at the hands of the police and prison guards, callous mishandling of rape cases, the reactionary restriction of access to abortion, and the slashing of welfare programs, the capitalist state is instrumental in the oppression of women.
Men have an incarceration rate nearly fourteen times that of women, but the number of women in prison is growing nearly twice as quickly as men. National oppression plays a major role in this number: black women are incarcerated at a rate three times that of white women. Every day, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds 32,000 immigrants in detention, 10% of whom are women. Since 2007, nearly 200 detainees report sexual abuse, which is a largely underreported number since the Department of Justice has excluded immigration detention facilities from coverage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act and sexual abuse outside of abusive conditions is already underreported.
Outside of the prison system, the US criminal justice system perpetuates the epidemic of rape and sexual abuse that women face daily. Over half of all rapes are never reported to the police. Only 12% ever lead to an arrest. Only 3% of rapists will spend any time in prison. A full 97% of rapists escape incarceration. Since Roe v. Wade supposedly guaranteed women the legal right to abortions in 1973, a constant, backwards, and increasingly successful war has been waged to restrict and even abolish access to abortions.
Forty nine out of fifty states (all but Oregon) now have legal restrictions on abortion that go past the standard established by Roe v. Wade. Women today are commodified, or turned into objects for sale, in the advertising, service, and sex industries. But the most brutal and direct form of commodification is in the sex industry.
It is estimated that there are 23 prostituted women out of every 100,000 people in the United States forced into prostitution as their main source of income. Women in prostitution suffer from wartime trauma symptoms caused by acts of violence against them. Of all prostituted women, 75 to 95% were sexually abused as children. Many prostituted women are high school dropouts, come from poor and abusive homes, move from place to place, and suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction.
Prostituted women, even those who enter the trade voluntarily, are driven into the occupation by poverty, addiction, and abusive histories, especially child abuse, prior sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. Women in prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the US national average. Clearly, prostitution oppresses women. We call upon revolutionary-minded women to begin constructing women’s local organizing groups, based on proletarian feminism, to study, agitate, organize, and mobilize to struggle against capitalism and patriarchy.
We call upon communists of all genders to politicize the masses of women along the line of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and develop the fullest participation and leadership by women in the struggles of the proletariat and the oppressed masses. We call upon communists who have made patriarchal errors in their lives to carry out honest accounting, self-criticism, and rectification of their mistakes. Women are especially exploited and oppressed around the globe and in the US.
Proletarian women face conditions of super-exploitation, unpaid reproductive work, commodification including prostitution and sex trafficking, sexual/gendered violence such as sexual harassment, rape, and murder, gender inequality and discrimination, oppression within the patriarchal family, and control over their reproduction by their oppressors. The enemy of women is the entire capitalist system. The people must struggle against men of all classes who oppress women.
Women of the exploited and oppressed classes must be politicized and organized into a proletarian feminist movement. A revolutionary movement of women must emerge to play a decisive role in the struggles of the proletariat and the oppressed masses, and these struggles must make themselves into indomitable weapons for women’s emancipation.