Struggle, vol. 14, #2-3, Summer-Fall 1998:


Fiction about Women

by Tim Hall


. Most of the stories in this issue of Struggle are about very young women, girls actually, but I think the stories manage to illustrate some of the problems working-class women face in capitalist society: restriction or denial of the right to abortion (in the story "They'll Kill Me If They Ever Find Out"), the difficulty of raising children as a single parent as the Democrats and Republicans slash the safety net (in "At Baron and Baker"), sexual harassment on the job (in "Max's"), racial/ethnic discrimination (in "Too Many Cooks") denial of creativity in the inhuman capitalist workplace (in "The 21-year-old revolutionary graduates from college" and "The Teacher and the Crapinter"), the crushing of girls' spirits at the time of puberty (in "Cousin Lila"), and straightforward class oppression in the consumerist society (in "Properties").

. The barbaric and inhumane treatment suffered by women and especially working-class women today shows the hypocrisy of the claims of our society to be democratic. Lip-service is given to motherhood, equality and diversity while male violence against women is everywhere, is usually viewed as a personal matter and is often ignored. Equality of opportunity is proclaimed but working women still disproportionately occupy lower-paying, less-secure jobs than working men. It's proclaimed as an advance when a few females make it into the capitalist boardrooms and management, but these climbers only help the male bosses exploit and oppress all workers, while the lot of working women in general worsens. Working women are saddled with most of the housework and the labor of raising children. The right to abortion (which often affects the stability, timing and size of the family) is increasingly restricted for working-class women while the "right-to-lifers" offer no help with supporting and raising unplanned children. "Motherhood and apple pie" and "family values" are proclaimed by the lying politicians, but the mother is frequently raped, beaten or killed, is worked like a mule for little pay in the workplace and for nothing in the home, and if she speaks up she is labelled a "bitch," that is, she, your sister, lover, wife, your mother or grandmother, is called nothing but a common street dog. And add to this the racism which attacks all people of color but makes a special target of women.

. Capitalist America is a barbaric place. Women will certainly continue to battle this inhumane treatment. The working-class movement, which is showing signs of reviving, must inscribe women's rights prominently on its banners. And male workers must come to the aid of female workers to end anti-women verbal and physical violence and fight for equality, not only because it is the moral, human, right thing to do, but also because it is absolutely necessary so that working men and women can break down the walls of mistrust and unite against our real enemies--the rich capitalist bloodsuckers who are driving us all into the dirt.

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Last modified: October 15, 2001.