More than equality: reasons to be a feminist socialist

Wainwright, Hilary

Publisher:  Transformation
Date Written:  07/12/2015
Year Published:  2015  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX18515

Equality? Feminist socialism has something better in mind: using power to transform hierarchies.



Looking back, feminism provided me with the tools to work toward a new kind of socialism.... I think feminist socialism hasn’t been realised, and yet I also think that it's so obvious!

I'm repeatedly shocked by the fact that the relevance of feminism for the rethinking of socialism hasn't been taken on board, and that the left has trudged on as usual, making its usual mistakes, pretty much as if feminism had never really done more than 'put women on the agenda'. The left adopted policies towards women, but has not carried out a fundamental rethink of socialism, which is what I felt feminism was enabling us to do.


Then there's power as transformative capacity: the power to change things, to do things. Sometimes referred to 'power to'. That was the kind of power the women's movement was illustrating, transformative power and capacity, and I think that’s a very useful concept now.


This recognition of a transformative capacity that lies amongst the mass of people completely changes the nature of socialism, which has most often been based exclusively on the idea of power over - when you capture the means of power over production, over resources, and deliver it in this paternalistic way, without any recognition of the kind of power people actually have in their own capacity to refuse, and to change. Without any recognition of the dependence of existing power structures on actual people as knowledgeable and creative human beings.


The women's movement was about individual realisation; we were there as individuals, because of our own personal pain, oppression and feelings; but we understood very quickly that in no way could we realise our potential as women without a social movement, without a power - often in alliance with other social movements - without changing the structures that underlie those oppressive social relations.
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