"The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it."

--V.I. Lenin, Izvestia, Nov 20, 1918



Marx, Engels, Lenin, and all Communists stand for the complete emancipation of women. This may seem remarkable when one considers that American women, considered the most advanced of all the democratic nations, didn't even win the vote until 1920 and continue to lack full rights and equal pay even as this is written 92 years later.

The Communist Party, USA, continues the fight for full rights for women

Education Committee Chairperson Dee Miles wrote in 2002, "Male supremacy has many purposes: the main one being extra profits and the domination and control of women. We cannot claim to be steadfastly opposed to bourgeois ideology yet embrace and promote male supremacy in any form. We cannot claim the goal of freeing the working class without working to win to the side of the working class all of the forces who seek freedom as well. To begin the process of freeing humanity from exploitation and oppression is the task of socialism. Socialism can not be allowed to fail women. It will not work; it cannot be done; it will not last!"

Why Are Women Oppressed?

Women were not always oppressed, and their oppression today has nothing to do with their physical differences. The historical roots of women's oppression were revealed in Engel's classic work, Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, which is summarized here in this school.

Engels explained that women were subjugated when private property began. Specifically, men who owned property wanted to be certain who were their heirs and thus invented monogamous marriage and the subjugation of women. Through the ages and today, women have been held to a strict standard of monogamy while men are allowed considerable leeway.

How Will Women Achieve Full Emancipation?

As women take a full role in the production of wealth, they free themselves from degradation and servitude. This has been true even under capitalism and is quite noticeable in the improvement of women's rights in America since World War II. But their full emancipation, like the general emancipation of all, awaits the end of capitalist rule.

The Fight for Women's Rights Is Unique

While the women's movement resembles other movements, it has unique characteristics. For one, it is potentially the largest of all movements against a particular form of oppression. Unlike civil rights struggles, though, where most of the participants are working class, women activists may be of any class. This mixup of class interests, especially among women leaders, can lead to some confusion.

How Do Communists Treat Specific Questions?

V.I. Lenin deals with specific questions related to women's emancipation in the pamphlet, "The Emancipation of Women" with "Lenin on the Woman Question" by Clara Zetkin/ Preface by Nadezhda K. Krupskayha. International Publishers, NY, 1966.

Two years after the Bolshevik revolution (11/22/19), Lenin said, "We in Russian no longer have the base, mean and infamous denial of rights to women or inequality of the sexes, that disgusting survival of feudalism and medievalism which is being renovated by the avaricious bourgeoisie... in every other country in the world without exception."

The program of Lenin's party stopped employers from using women in jobs that were injurious to their health. Full maternity leave, before and after birth, were mandated. Prostitution was forbidden. Lenin wrote, "...as long as wage slavery exists, prostitution must inevitably continue. Throughout the history of society all the oppressed and exploited classes have always been compoelled (their exploitation consists in this) to hand over to the oppressors, first, their unpaid labour and, secondly, their women to be the concubines of the 'masters'."

Women could divorce their husbands without impediment. Lenin objected to thinking of abortion as a method of population control, but affirmed support for "unconditional repeal of all laws against abortion or against the distribution of medical literature on contraceptive measures." He advocated better pay for women. Their right to vote was uncontestable. There were to be no legal distinction between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" children. He recommended that women serve in the militias that were to replace police and standing armies in the Soviet Union.

In the pamphlet, Lenin made it clear that he had no countercultural illusions about "free love," which he said was misunderstood by many. He objected to men and women who attempted to implement socialist ideas in their private lives instead of fighting for socialism for all.

Women Are Essential to the Revolutionary Movement

Lenin's call for "Abolition of all restrictions without exception on the political rights of women compared with those of men" was a fundamental part of his overall revolutionary strategy. He said, "Unless women are brought to take an independent part not only in political life generally, but also in daily and universal public service, it is no use talking about full and stable democracy, let alone socialism."

Can one imagine a successful revolution that ignores the rights of half the population? Can one imagine that subjugated people will join a revolutionary struggle without being certain that it will result in their own emancipation?


If you have finished all the modules in the ABC section, you might look over the "Economics" section next.





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