The Case For Socialist Feminism

The Case For Socialist Feminism 

Thursday 8th October 1pm



Guest Speaker: Laura Fitzgerald, Activist with ROSA (A pro-choice and Socialist Feminist group in the South)

Through struggle women have won certain freedoms such as the right to vote, receive an education and avail of limited maternity leave – but this is not enough.

Sexism still remains an integral part of capitalist society. Issues such as domestic violence, the lack of reproductive rights, high levels of women in poverty and wage discrimination remain. This shows the struggle for real equality has only just begun.

We're not breaking the glass ceiling...we're tearing the whole rotten house down!


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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

19 comments to ''The Case For Socialist Feminism "

  1. ... the lack of reproductive rights...

    Really? How about if a man wants his ex-partner to abort their unborn child and she doesnt, it has no bearing and he has to pay maintenence costs until the child is 18. Yet if the man wants to abort the same child but the woman doesnt, again,he has no input in decision, and the baby is for the blender. Does this represent equality?

  2. Daithi

    If the female is to have autonomy over her own body then males have to drop their supremacist attempts at enforced retention of the foetus.

  3. ....Which is not my point at all HJ. Im pointing to the glaring contradiction that says a man is a factor in one course of events, but not the other.If its the females body, then the man should have no obligations.
    As with most items on the equality agenda these days, its more to do with special privileges open to the select few.Denying them privileges is now supremacist.

  4. DaithiD,

    it seems more a case of special privilege when rights over another person's body is demanded. As they say if men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament. I imagine equality means equal rights over one's own body and having the personal autonomy to exercise that right.

    I do think you have a point that a woman should not be allowed to make a decision that affects another adult's entire future, in this case depriving him of financial autonomy through obligatory maintenance when he was denied all powers of decision making. That sounds like slavery to me.

  5. AM, we agree, must be a first!
    If I could leglislate on this, I would propose in broad terms,that a woman pregnant by a man (perhaps unless already legally/civically together) get some consent form to agree if she has the baby, he is willing to pay maintenance until the child becomes adult.If this is not agreed beforehand, then no monies are due. The woman retains the rights to abortion with no male input as is law now.That to me is 'equality'.

  6. Maybe I still misunderstand you Dáithí but your proposed scheme seems for the largest part to maintain the status quo whereby the cost of most cases of irresponsible fatherhood is socialised.

    It appears to me that you wish to legitimise the placing of all the responsibility for procreation on the female and legitimise the irresponsibility of males.
    The 'de facto' consummation contract works good enough unless of course there is some form of provable entrapment.

    (I do take it the second paragraph of AM's comment was tongue in cheek).

  7. Nothing tongue in cheek about it

  8. Henry, Ive said it pretty clear a few times, without wishing to repeat myself. You guys have the abortion debate sown up, a womans body is her own blah blah blah. Ok. Im interested in the equality aspect, and seeing it through to its natural conclusion ,that is : the female is sovereign throughout both sequences.Not just the one that benefits her most.If the male has no input in the post coital abortion option, he shouldn't have an input (monetarily) in the post coital screaming baby option.

    Socialising the costs of irresponsible parenting can occur in households with fathers too,but its not really the point.

  9. AM

    you presented your argument in such absolute and catastrophic tones ... 'a decision that affects another adult's entire future ... depriving him of financial autonomy ... when he was denied all powers of decision making.'

    Articulated as such a pervasive catastrophe it seemed tongue in cheek to me.

    Sure, such events do have a significant effect on a man's life but to suggest his 'entire' life is affected is rather alarmist and doesn't allow for possible positive impact.
    There will be financial implications no doubt but not necessarily as catastrophic as to deprive him permanently of financial autonomy. Its equally possible such events could be the catalyst or motivation for developing increased earning capacity, maybe through up-skilling or education.
    That the male and female couldn't agree on his preference to terminate doesn't exonerate him from the responsibility of the decision he made when he had sex with the woman ... nor from the possibility of responsible actions to ameliorate his new found circumstances and role.

    Life is unpredictable and continuously throws up choice points. They can't be avoided. Our responses, our decisions for action or our decisions for inaction have consequences. Which likewise can't be avoided

    What sounds like slavery to you, sounded like victim-hood or avoidance to me. Hence my assumption that your comment was perhaps tongue in cheek.

    All that said, I believe I can understand the hypothetical shift that Dáithí poses but I can't see the societal shift required, that acknowledges copulation as primarily a recreational activity with any intention for conception clearly contracted, as happening any time soon.

  10. Henry Joy,

    yes "entire" if taken to mean the totality of life would indeed be inflated. Not what I meant despite the validity of your observation, pedantic or not. At the expense of sounding pedantic I would clarify it as effecting his entire life but not the entirety of his life. Much in the same way as my republican history has affected my entire life but not the entirety of it. Hopefully not the semantic distinction it sounds. And if you accuse me of it I'll simply take refuge in commenter's licence!

    The arguments about opportunities for skill can be applied to any slave as well. There have at times been arguments made for the positive impact of slavery. Even if there are positive impacts the issue that interests me is one of individuals having the autonomy to choose the action that might have that positive impact rather than have it imposed upon them by someone else because that someone else thinks they not you have the right to decide what is positive for you. My views on this are perhaps rooted in the difference I see between a strategic state (which I endorse) and a nanny state (which I oppose).

    This is really the substantive difference I think between our positions:

    That the male and female couldn't agree on his preference to terminate doesn't exonerate him from the responsibility of the decision he made when he had sex with the woman

    I think as a person he must have the right to choose and not be penalised/disadvantaged by the choice of another being allowed to trump his choice. The woman has the right to choose to abort or not. He has no rights in that matter. But her right to choose cannot deprive him of the choice to make a decision that will impact his future. His choice to reverse the consequences of an action at a point where it is reversible should be a right that should not be subverted by the choice of another.

    It seems to me to be the most fair and just way to do it. In terms of equality I think it is the closest we will get to it in this particular circumstance.

  11. AM

    commenter's licence acknowledged.

    Whereas I can get the gist of the principle you articulate, and don't as such strongly disagree with yours or Dáithí's overall position on this, I can't get my head around much potential for successful and functional application when it comes to paternity responsibilities. It seems to me that though perhaps ideologically sound of itself it lacks coherence when placed in the context of gender development and needs. It also lacks coherence when aligned with the preferred tendency for stability of a functioning society. Stability depends on functioning agreements as expressed in custom or law.

    If 'no man is an island' then surely this requires submission of some wants, desires and 'individuality is supreme' type freedoms of choice in service of a greater and common good. Unless of course that there's an anarchistic bent to one's thinking?

  12. Henry JoY,

    the paternities issue is much wider in society than the space this type of scenario takes up. The decision making process that caused a child to come into the world rather than the biological act of screwing per se is where I would start looking. A man cannot compel a woman to become a mother against her choice. That to me should be a human right. The equal human right that a man should have is that a woman cannot compel him to become a father against his choice. These should be human rights not specific gender rights. The woman who makes the decision can also decide how the child should relate to non biological paternity given that the man has exercised his right at a point where the process is still reversible to relinquish any intention to be a father.

    If a child should be brought up by two parents rather than one because of some societal functional imperative (although I am far from sure that you are actually arguing this) the responsibility for that should lie with the decision maker not the person who found his decision making ability disempowered by having any ability to decide marginalised. The woman taking the decision alone and against the wishes of the man should therefore consider the options in terms of the child's future.

    To allow a woman to compel a man into fatherhood but deny the man the right to compel the woman into motherhood seems an act of disempowerment, is anything but equality and strikes me as very unjust.

    And of course if the man feels he is suicidal because he is being compelled to father a child against his wishes ...

    Certainly not an easy issue and I suppose it is through exchanges like this that we think our way through or around them. Three days ago, if asked cold, I could not have told you what I thought on it one way or the other.

  13. AM

    I agree paternity issues could be best explored and addressed in the wider context of responsible family planning and global population growth. Maybe a day is foreseeable, where females who have ready and free access to 'the morning after pill' and all other contraceptive options, could reasonably be challenged on paternity maintenance.

    That boat might float if presented in, or parallel to such a bigger context. I doubt it'd float if solely presented as an equality issue. It would be better framed as having some greater social good rather than just one of equality rights or an individualist right to choose.

  14. Henry JoY,

    I think we are talking not about the availability of the morning after pill but about what to do when a woman decides to have a child regardless of the availability of options which would permit the termination of pregnancy and in contravention of the expressed wish of the partner.

    It might not float in a world that does not view the extension of the same rights to all humans as constituting the social good.

    I think an argument can always be made to delay rights extension (not rights introduction but an extension of a right already there) in the name of the greater social good just as it can be used for the suppression of existing rights.

    I don't think it is the best perspective to adopt because all too frequently some greater good has been used by some dictator of the proletariat to set up some committee for public safety with the resulting effects.

    My argument is not an anarchist one but one based on a belief that the social good comes from society allowing greater rights for citizens particularly when many citizens already have those rights but appear to want them for themselves.

    Tommy Gorman once said of anarchism that the anarchists called a meeting and anybody who turned up was suspended.

  15. AM, this articulates in a way I wish I had :

    ...To allow a woman to compel a man into fatherhood but deny the man the right to compel the woman into motherhood seems an act of disempowerment, is anything but equality and strikes me as very unjust. ...

    Its devastatingly succinct, and I dearly wish to have seen the reaction at the talk had this been raised.

  16. Daithi

    Should we go long or short on Durex stock then so?

  17. Henry JoY,

    size doesn't matter - We are not Dickist !!


    it came to me as I wrote it. As I said to Henry JoY, the issue was not something I thought about until you brought it up. This is one of the values of writing and commenting on the blog. We don't always come to the keyboard with what we think, but while at it find out what we do think. I have often stressed about comments in general amounting to nothing more than unsworn testimony. People use them to try out ideas. They float opinions and observe how far they fly and what brings them down.

  18. HJ,they may be an alternative to carrier bags now supermarkets in the UK have started charging for them,indicating a buy. Never bought them myself mind,my swivel eyed rants were enough to ensure I impregnated nobody.

    AM, its also one of those subjects that it does us no favours socially to go against the trend.

  19. DaithiD, yet as Maryam Namazie points out in the piece currently leading the blog - freedom is for the dissenter.


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