The Breath of Fresh Air from Patricia Arquette and the Foul Stench of Reactionary Haters
The Need for Largeness of Mind and Generosity of Spirit in the Struggle for Liberation!

by Sunsara Taylor | March 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


When Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in Boyhood, she used part of her 90 seconds on stage before tens of millions to speak about something much bigger than herself. She said, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

This was a breath of fresh air. It is an outrageous part of the overall oppression faced by women that they still earn less for the same work than men do, even as they are often left to care for children alone. Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez joyously leapt out of their seats to cheer. Millions of viewers shared the sentiment.

Almost immediately, the backlash began. In a world with such venom against women, it is not surprising that some opposed her—even viciously. But what made this backlash particularly appalling and shameful was that those attacking Arquette most fiercely call themselves feminists and progressives.

These haters seized on—and significantly distorted—a statement Arquette gave back stage. After compellingly explaining that, despite the loud claims to the contrary, women in America do not have equal rights, Arquette said, “It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Rather than recognizing that by mentioning specifically “women,” “men who love women,” “gay people,” and “people of color” Arquette was clearly making an effort to include the great diversity of people who have a common interest in women's equality, these haters claimed that by mentioning these categories individually she was excluding gays and people of color from the category of “women.” They outrageously and wrongly accused her of speaking and being concerned about “only white women.” From there they went on to howl that she had “no place” to call on gays or people of color to fight for “white privileged women like herself.”

Many of these haters claimed this was a “teachable moment.” They are right. But not in the way they meant it. It is NOT a moment to learn so-called progressive or feminist rationalizations for distorting and tearing down women—white or otherwise—for daring to speak against oppression. It is a moment to raise our sights to the kind of outlook, morality, spirit and real solution needed to finally get free, to bring into being a world without all the degradation and horror that is part of daily life today for billions.

In reality, there is no legitimate basis to claim that Arquette was speaking only for “privileged white women like herself.” She used her time to talk about all women, and she said so. Further, all women—no matter how much “success” they achieve—face oppression as women, and all this oppression must be opposed.

Everyone who hates oppression ought to applaud Arquette, even as we encourage her—and others who were moved by her remarks—to go more deeply into the roots of the inequality and oppression faced by women and what it will take to put an end to it once and for all. That will take an actual revolution—a communist revolution aimed at liberating women and emancipating all of humanity. One of the places you can learn about this is in the pamphlet, BREAK ALL THE CHAINS! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution.

Finally, in the fight for liberation, we need largeness of mind and generosity of spirit. Eagerly searching for—and even inventingshortcomings in the approach of people who step forward against oppression is reactionary and wrong. It is part of the outlook of this system that sees advancing the interests of a few by tearing others down. It puts a chill on others who would step forward and fosters small-minded pettiness. It has no place in the fight for a world of actual liberation!

Instead, we need to direct our political fire at the real enemy. When people take a courageous and controversial stand, we need to have their backs. We need to struggle honestly, vigorously, and substantively over differences that truly matter with an approach of lifting everyone’s sights and sorting out differences in the context of how we get free. We need to learn from each other, help each other, and go forward together.

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