“The entire party and country should hurl into the fire and break the neck of anyone who dared trample underfoot the sacred edict of the party on the defense of women’s rights.”
– Enver Hoxha, 1967
Possibly the first example of class stratification and exploitation in human history was the subjugation of women. In primitive communist society, there were no class distinctions, and women typically enjoyed the same respect and rights as men. The dawn of agriculture led to the subjugation of women and the rise of patriarchal society. Along with this came the division of humanity into classes, exploitation, and class struggle. For thousands of years, and in many parts of the world today, women have been, and often are, considered to be property. Even in some of the most progressive bourgeois nations, women face discrimination, super-exploitation, and objectification. Whether we speak of arranged marriage in those countries still languishing in near-feudal relations, or sexism in the most advanced nations, one fact remains, a fact which stands as an indictment of capitalist society for its utter failure to bring about equality and justice. That fact is simply that in almost any part of the world, being born female is to be born at a disadvantage, not a disadvantage decreed by nature, but by society.
Those who live in the liberal democracies of the West have often been guilty of focusing on the sexism which occurs in developing countries while ignoring their own faults, and apologists for some of the stricter varieties of Islam have often pointed out that the West does not respect women, instead it strips them of their dignity and turns them into commodities. In reality, both of these arguments are true.
In the West, open sexism seems even more prevalent than instances of open racism, and what is worse is that it is more likely to be tolerated. There are many people fighting and even risking their lives to bring about female equality in their own countries, and while we express solidarity with many of them, we Americans must also look to our own society and root out sexism wherever we may find it. Should we fail to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our working sisters, we will have given up at least half of our strength.
In the interests of creating an environment of gender equality within the Party, the American Party of Labor has issued the following statement:
1. The Party strongly condemns discrimination against women in any form.
2. The Party also strongly condemns misogyny and the use of misogynistic language in reference to women.
3. The Party recognizes International Women’s Day, the 8th of March, and seeks to have it recognized as a national holiday of a socialist America.
4. We demand women’s right to organize militant feminist caucuses in the trade union movement, for the right of all our working class sisters to defend our interests as a class and as women.
5. We demand that women’s right to organized self-defense be respected and strengthened in the light of the rise of fascist paramilitarism.
6. We demand that all attacks on women community leaders cease immediately and that all political prisoners be freed, including, but not limited to, the cases of Chelsea Manning, Assata Shakur and Rasmea Odeh.
7. We fully support the movement to defend and expand access to women’s healthcare, including, but not limited to, the defense of Planned Parenthood, maternity rights and LGBT health centers.
8. We demand an end to police violence against queer women and oppressed nationality women; we support the defense and extension of democratic gains including, but not limited to, the defense of the Civil Rights Act and the struggle for community control of the police which has its roots in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.
9. We demand a withdrawal of all U.S. military bases in foreign countries in the interests of all peace-loving women of the world. We stand in unconditional solidarity with the revolutionary women of Palestine, Colombia, the Philippines and all other communities besieged by U.S. imperialism. We demand the liquidation of all “visiting forces agreements,” “labor export policies” and all other policies that facilitate imperialism, occupation, human trafficking and the domination of monopoly capital over the working women of the world.
10. The American Party of Labor wholeheartedly reaches out to working women from all over the world to join us in the struggle for the liberation of all humanity. The struggle for justice is inherently bound up with the struggle for gender equality. Our goal is a world in which we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder in equality, working for the common good of humanity.
Long Live International Women’s Day!