Women in 2012: The Horrible Fate of Half of Humanity Under Capitalism-Imperialism
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
These are just some of the stories, only a few examples, of the millions of different ways women are oppressed in the United States and all over the world:
January 1, 2012, 1 a.m. An abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, is engulfed in flames, most likely a case of arson. No one is hurt, but this fire cripples the ability of an already overstretched community of abortion providers to meet the very real and urgent needs of women in western Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi for abortion care. Such attacks on abortion clinics are viciously aimed at those most courageous individuals who knowingly risk their lives every day to provide women with this absolutely essential, completely moral, remarkably common, and medically safe procedure all across the U.S.
You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can't say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.
This was by no means the first time an abortion clinic, its staff, or its patients have been the victims of extreme violence. In Pensacola alone, several clinics were fire-bombed on Christmas Day back in 1984 in what those convicted described as "a gift for Jesus on his birthday." It was there that Dr. David Gunn, the first abortion doctor to be murdered, was assassinated outside his clinic in 1993. In 1994, John Britton, along with his security escort James Barrett, were also gunned down. In Wichita, Kansas, in 2009, abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered as he attended church on a Sunday morning.
States across the U.S. have introduced and passed bills to allow institutions to opt out of paying for birth control through their insurance coverage. At the same time, dozens of states made efforts to restrict abortion rights with the goal of outlawing abortion altogether, in many cases criminalizing doctors. For example, Georgia's anti-abortion bill HB 954, called "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," places all of the emphasis and value on the fetus and leaves the woman completely out of the picture. The bill, passed at the end of the 2012 legislative season and scheduled to take effect in January, cuts the time for elective abortions by six weeks (from 26 to 20), except when doctors determine the fetus has a defect so severe it is unlikely to live or to protect the life of the woman (a change made by the Senate before the bill was approved). It requires any abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. This would mean doctors who are involved in abortions past 20 weeks that do not meet the bill's restrictions could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison. The bill, commonly referred to as the "fetal pain" bill, says that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, therefore the state has an interest in protecting it. In March close to 500 people, mostly women, protested this bill at Georgia's State Capitol. On December 21, a judge issued an injunction that temporarily prevents the law from going into effect in January.
It is a scientific fact that fetuses are not babies and abortion is not infanticide. But hundreds of women in Mexico (as well as in Nicaragua, El Salvador and other countries) are imprisoned for "murder in their capacity as parents" for having an abortion (whether spontaneous or induced). Because of the outlawing of abortion, every year an estimated 1,500 women in Mexico and between 65-70,000 women around the world die from unsafe procedures.
When abortion was decriminalized in the Federal District of Mexico City in 2007, Pope Benedict declared that abortion is "a grave moral disorder" and the Vatican sent Cardinal López Trujillo to spearhead a campaign against it, while the Mexican Church hierarchy threatened to excommunicate the members of parliament who approved the reform. The Vatican and the Catholic Church in Mexico launched a campaign for anti-abortion constitutional changes that have already been adopted in 18 states in Mexico and many other countries. In a statement in early 2012, the Pope called on women to "protect their irreplaceable mission as mothers and primary educators of their children." [A World To Win News Service, April 12, 2012 (Revolution #265)]
December 28, 2012. A young woman dies in Singapore. On December 16 she had been gang raped and beaten in New Delhi, India. She and a male companion were attacked on a bus by a group of men who then threw both of them out of the window and left them for dead. The young woman sustained multiple injuries to her head and body, underwent several abdominal surgeries as a result of the rapists having used a metal rod during the attack, and went into cardiac arrest a number of times before dying. This horrific incident sparked angry protests all over India. Protesters took to the streets for many days demanding more protection of women and punishment against those who carry out such attacks.
CNN News reports that according to official figures, the number of rapes in India went from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. New Delhi alone had 572 rapes reported last year and more than 600 in 2012.
October 8, 2012. A flier is posted in a men's bathroom in a coed dorm at Miami University, a state university in Oxford, Ohio. The flier, "Top Ten Ways to Get Away With Rape," spews out horror after horror against women such as "Rape rape rape college boys live it up!" "If a woman's window is unlocked sneak in and rape her to teach her not to do it again," "Practice makes perfect: the more you rape the better you get at it," "If you are afraid she will identify you, slit her throat," and six more of the most misogynist shit you can imagine.
Millions of young women and children are kidnapped, or sold by their starving families, or lured with promises of employment and then sold across borders into a sex-slave trade on a scale never seen before in history. This is happening in a world dominated by the capitalist-imperialist system where everything and everyone is transformed into a commodity.
The extreme sexual violence of the global sex trade is embedded in the culture of reactionary armies, including the U.S. military, which treats women as prizes of war and objects to torture in the brothels around military bases throughout the world. Fundamentally, an army is a concentration of the society it fights for. The army of U.S. imperialism uses the objectification of women and pornography as a cohering force and reward, from the barracks to the brothels to the battlefields.
- Early December 2012. During a night raid on a village in Chahar Bolak district in the Balkh province of Afghanistan, U.S. military forces attack and rape a large number of women in the village. They then threaten more retaliation if villagers reported these attacks.
- October 2012. A woman is attacked and raped by two U.S. soldiers stationed on Okinawa, Japan. This is not the first time American soldiers have attacked and raped women and girls on Okinawa. For example, in 1995, two U.S. Marines were convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl. Tens of thousands of Okinawans at that time took to the streets demanding that the U.S. leave the islands.
In the U.S. military: women are raped and sexually assaulted by male soldiers at nearly twice the rate as in civilian society; nearly 1 in 3 women soldiers will be raped and assaulted in the short span of 2-6 years while serving. Women soldiers are more in danger of being raped by a fellow soldier than of being killed by enemy fire. Because of the element of betrayal, rape and sexual assault contribute more strongly to developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than combat-related stress. The long-term consequences for these women are severe PTSD and lifelong problems with depression, alcohol abuse, and chronic illness.
A 25-year-old white working class woman from a small town in Illinois testifies at a SlutWalk rally in Chicago: "I came here because I am a rape victim myself. I was actually raped by a cousin at 4 years old and it continued till I was about 10 years old! I came here to support my best friend who committed suicide my junior year in high school because this happened to her! By her own father. Since she was two years old. Her father did not go to jail. Because he knew the police in my town. And when I see the police here today, hemming us in, I say, 'Fuck the Police!'"
Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten. Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. About 25 percent of women are raped or physically assaulted by their spouse or partner in their lifetime, with women between the ages of 20 and 24 the most likely to be subject to domestic violence and 3 million children witness domestic violence every year. 1 in 3 women who are murdered are killed by their current or former partner. Over a million women are stalked annually in the U.S.; 77 percent know their stalker and 59 percent are stalked by an intimate partner.
October 9, 2012. Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani activist who championed education for girls, is sitting in a bus returning home from school and is shot in the head. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying the teenager's work had been an "obscenity" that needed to be stopped. In 2009, during Pakistani army operations to crush a Taliban insurgency that had taken hold in the Swat Valley, Malala had written an anonymous blog for the BBC about what was happening, including the burning of girls' schools. She had also talked about how she wanted to set up her own political party and a vocational institute for girls in her area.
November 24, 2012. 121 garment workers die and at least 200 are injured in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Ashulia, an industrial suburb outside Dhaka, Bangladesh. The nine-story building had no fire escapes, the ground floor exits were locked. Tazreen is part of the larger Tuba Group, which makes apparel for top global retailers like Carrefour, Walmart, H&M, Tesco, Ikea, C&A, Gap, and Sainsbury's. In Bangladesh, about 600 workers have been killed in fires like this since 2006. Two million workers, mainly women, are employed in the country's 4,500 garment factories. Among the lowest paid in the world, Dhaka's garment workers sometimes earn less than a dollar a day.
October 21, Brookfield, Wisconsin. A woman who had been physically abused and terrorized by her estranged husband, and who had repeatedly sought police protection and a restraining order, was hunted down at her job and shot dead by him. Two other women were murdered by this man and at least four other women were shot and sent to the hospital. These four women had no personal connection to the killer—their "crime" was simply being female in this world where men are trained to view women as disposable and worthy of punishment. The response of the mayor of Brookfield, Steven V. Ponto? He said, "Today's action was a senseless act on the part of one person... Try as we might, these can't be avoided."
In other words, Ponto asked people to ignore the fact that every single day in this country three or four women are killed, most often by men they consider their most intimate partners; that every 15 seconds a woman is beaten; that one in every four women will be raped or sexually assaulted; that the celebration of violence against women is a cornerstone that shapes the outlook of men in this culture—from the increasingly brutal and humiliating nature of pornography to the TV news and crime shows that titillatingly recount stories of stalking, rape, and murder to the video games that give points for beating or killing prostituted women and more. Ponto asked people to ignore the fact that for centuries women have been treated overtly as the property of men such that the notion, "If I can't have you, I'll make sure no one else can," is so common that most women are killed precisely when they are trying to leave their abusers. Ponto then promised, "Try as we might, these can't be avoided."
As Sunsara Taylor said, "This is not acceptable and we should refuse to accept it. While these things 'can't be avoided' under this system, they can be avoided—and ended for good—through making revolution to get rid of this system!"
In today's world, whether you live in the so-called "enlightened democratic" West... where women are systematically discriminated against and turned into sexual commodities; where prostitution, pornography, and strip clubs are "just part of the culture," where the patriarchal relations of the family mean women are brutally beaten, even murdered by their husbands and boyfriends. Or whether you live in a country where feudal traditions and backward religious strictures mean women are required to cover themselves head to foot, not even allowed to be seen, where they can be given the death sentence for choosing whom they want to marry or deciding they want to get an education...
The capitalist system has engulfed the entire world... the system of imperialism turns everything and everyone into a commodity... this system has created a situation where all over the world, half of the population is systematically denied their humanity.
The workings of this system produce laws, courts, and prisons which punish women for exercising the most basic right to decide if and when to have children; militaries that carry out rape as a component part of invasions and occupations; a whole culture and economy of pornography and prostitution where women are nothing more than objects for the pleasure and violence of men; angry mobs, or husbands, who brutalize and kill women for the "crime" of rebelling in any way against traditional relations in society where women are subordinate to men.
This must be ended together with and as a part of ending all the horrors that capitalism wreaks on people all over the planet. And it will take nothing short of revolution to do that. It's not yet time to go all-out to seize power in the United States. The capitalist rulers aren't yet deep enough in crisis, divided up and fighting against each other. And the people aren't yet ready to put it all on the line to fight to bring a totally different society into being. But... a situation in which these conditions exist could come together. And now is the time to be getting ready for revolution. Those who want to see all the horrors this system inflicts on all of humanity ended once and for all need to throw their all into building a movement for revolution and as part of that need to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. This means building resistance in a way that calls into question the legitimacy of the current order and brings forward a totally different and far better way society could be organized and run, not as some far-off ideal, but as something to be actively fought for today.
The outbreaks and outpourings of protest and rebellion, in different countries and in response to different incidents, against the oppression of women are tremendously important. And it is critically important that these continue and grow—that women and men including those who aren't won to revolution (or at least not yet won) not sit back and be silent, but increasingly find many different ways to fight back and express determination to get justice for all the women who are victims of this patriarchal system.
Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In "modern" countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this "new world" where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways.
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