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Archive > Is gender equality only possible in democratic and capitalist societies?

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message 1: by Alris (last edited Oct 11, 2016 02:16AM) (new)

Alris Chan | 4 comments According to Emma's definition, gender equality is when male and female have equal rights and freedom to make their own choice, without feeling guilty or pressured.

Is gender equality really only possible in democratic and capitalist societies? How does gender relate to different modes of production and political systems?


message 2: by Gerd (new)

Gerd | 428 comments I'm not sure, from what I tend to hear from the working system of the former German Democratic Republic (wich inspite of its name wasn't a democracy) used to be far more advanced when it came to gender parity than our West German system.


message 3: by Alris (last edited Oct 11, 2016 04:32AM) (new)

Alris Chan | 4 comments Gerd wrote: "I'm not sure, from what I tend to hear from the working system of the former German Democratic Republic (wich inspite of its name wasn't a democracy) used to be far more advanced when it came to ge..."

Hi, Gred. How's it? What makes you say East German's gender parity is more advance than West German system?


message 4: by Gerd (new)

Gerd | 428 comments For example better conditions for mothers to return to work after pregnancy, like for example a better child care system than ours. In theory in Germany the firm has to take you back after maternity leave, but our child care system is terribly underfunded. So while in theory you could return, for many that is a non-option because because they can't get a place in child crib.
You apparently have to secure a Kindergarten place years in advance, which is yeah... ludicrous.

Also, as I understand it the GDR offered shortened working hours - like for example a four-day week or or half-days work for mothers before we started this over here.

Equal pay, too, though in a socialist system pay isn't as relevant I guess.


message 5: by Alris (new)

Alris Chan | 4 comments Gerd wrote: "For example better conditions for mothers to return to work after pregnancy, like for example a better child care system than ours. In theory in Germany the firm has to take you back after maternit..."

Oh, I see I see. I never heard about that, thank you for your reply! I'll search that up and try to find more about East German's policies.


message 6: by Laure (new)

Laure | 390 comments Alris wrote: "Is gender equality really only possible in democratic and capitalist societies? How does gender relate to different modes of production and political systems? "

That's an interesting question :-)

I think by definition there's no need for democracy to get gender equality (in the strict sense) in a country. The government in power would just have to make it happen by force ;-)
As I understood, in communist dictatures (China (at least in the time of Mao Zedong), USSR) women and men were considered equal, all working for the "greatness of the country". However, women were still expected to be the carers of the family.
But I don't see how we can get women rights without human rights, so... democracy always wins ;-)


That's funny that you associate capitalism and democracy in your question. Although I believe democracy is required as a basis for human rights, I also think capitalism usually plays against human rights. My view might be biased because of the situation nowadays (especially the extreme globalization), but I cannot imagine capitalism without oppression of the workers and poverty. So to me, capitalism as it exists today is antagonistic to equal rights- or the level of regulation required to make that possible would prevent it to fit in the definition of "capitalism".


message 7: by Laure (new)

Laure | 390 comments Gerd wrote: "For example better conditions for mothers to return to work after pregnancy, like for example a better child care system than ours. In theory in Germany the firm has to take you back after maternity leave, but our child care system is terribly underfunded. So while in theory you could return, for many that is a non-option because because they can't get a place in child crib.
You apparently have to secure a Kindergarten place years in advance, which is yeah... ludicrous.
Also, as I understand it the GDR offered shortened working hours - like for example a four-day week or half-days work for mothers before we started this over here.
Equal pay, too, though in a socialist system pay isn't as relevant I guess. "


I'm not sure I got this right! Are the rules for maternity leave and working time the same in whole Germany now? Or are there still differences between the Länder from the former GDR and GFR?

Some political discussions in Germany about childcare are very interesting, for example some political parties would prefer increase the numbers of Krippen and Kindergarten, while others would prefer to directly give more money to families, to let them a choice. (I'm in favor of the former: there's anyway not really "a choice" if it's not possible to get a place for the child in Kindergarten ;-) )


message 8: by Tim (last edited Oct 15, 2016 07:31AM) (new)

Tim I'm glad this question was brought up. Personally, I don't think that there can be true gender equality in the capitalist system we live under. I don't think capitalism is inherently anti-feminist BUT capitalism has always had a mutually beneficial relationship with patriarchal values. Some weeks ago, one Dr. Marika Rose (PhD in theology at Durham University; if any of you have Twitter I recommend you check her out) provided me with a quote on this matter by Silvia Federici, which goes into the link between capitalism (including the income inequality that is inherent to it) and the subjugation of women in the household. It reads as follows:

[...] the poorer the family the higher the enslavement of woman, and not simply because of the monetary situation. In fact capital has a dual policy, one for the middle class and one for the proletarian family. It is no accident that we find the most unsophisticated machismo in the working class family: the more blows the man gets at work the more his wife must be trained to absorb them, the more he is allowed to recover his ego at her expense. You beat your wife and vent your rage against her when you are frustrated or overtired by your work or when you are defeated in a struggle (to go into a factory is itself a defeat). The more the man serves and is bossed around, the more he bosses around. A man's home is his castle... and his wife has to learn to wait in silence when he is moody, to put him back together when he is broken down and swears at the world, to turn around in bed when he says 'I'm too tired tonight,' or when he goes so fast at love-making that, as one woman put it, he might as well make it with a mayonnaise jar. (Women have always found ways of fighting back, or getting back at them, but always in an isolated and privatised way. The problem, then, becomes how to bring this struggle out of the kitchen and bedroom and into the streets

TL;DR This passage from Wages Against Housework (written in 1975) essentially explains that, aside from private companies benefiting from things like gender wage gaps and body standards as a means of being able to pay less and sell more (thereby maximising profit further), the power dynamics of patriarchal families within working class households do a good job at compensating the power dynamics that the (male) worker is put through when he is on the job. The worker is, to one extent or another, made to subjugate to the authority of a boss. As such, he will seek out to bring the scale of his psyche (or, rather, his ego) back into balance by projecting his own authority in the household, not only as the husband (and father), but also as the 'provider'/'caretaker'.

So, I re-iterate: capitalism benefits greatly from patriarchy (as feudalism did before) but it is not, in my opinion, inherent to it. As for capitalist feminism itself, however: even if the gender wage gap is solved along with all the other elements of patriarchy, I don't think it's worth much when it comes to the existing pay gap between the average female CEO and the female worker, and it certainly won't stop poor women from starving* nor will it save the countless women who have fought and/or died in wars that were spearheaded by and/or in favour of private companies.

Sorry for the long post; do be sure to give any feedback you want to give.

*NOTE: I consider poverty (or the threat thereof) to be inherent to capitalism, because under almost any form of capitalism, the means of survival are privately owned and therefore need to be paid for with money that can only be accumulated by selling goods and services or (as is the case for the vast majority of the population) selling one's labour to someone who owns a place where goods and services are sold or produced. And so we find it that poverty is essentially a mechanism for those with private property to make those without obey them. To put it in George Carlin's words (as I might have done one too many times here):

"The poor are there, just to scare the shit out of the middle class."


message 9: by Sascha (new)

Sascha | 391 comments I don't think that it's so simple. Democracy offers more opportunities for women to fight for emancipation, that's for sure. But you have also powerful women's movements in dictatorships. Just take a look at Iran where many women struggle with the repressive gender norms of the Islamist regime.
Or even in Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes worldwide that violates women's rights on a massive scale, the resistance against sexism and patriarchy seems to be on the rise.

On the other hand, it does not necessarily mean that women have more rights when the political system is democratic. There used to be a pattern in history: always when there was a war, then women were granted more rights and women made progress getting more autonomy because as men went to war, women were needed in the factory. But as soon as the war was over, this progress was cancelled and men soon returned to the factories and women were urged to go back to do the household and care for the family. And this pattern used to be valid especially for democracies, for example during the first World War.

Or another example: in Switzerland, where they even have a more direct form of democracy, there is the canton Appenzell-Innerrohden where women got the right to vote as "soon" as in the year 1990 because the population blocked any progress until 1990.

So I guess you can't make any "absolute" statements on this issue. There are many shades of grey. And the relationship of patriarchy and capitalism is even more complex.


message 10: by Colten (new)

Colten Stokes | 7 comments I don't think that you can have real gender equality under capitalism. The profit system survives on women’s unpaid labor in the home and low-waged labor in market place. Their inequality is solidified like concrete in a perverse arrangement where owners and employers profit off of women’s second-class status and misery.

This is why both men and women have a stake in changing their unequal relationship. The subjugation of females lays the basis for ruling class exploitation of poor and workingclass males of all races, nationalities, abilities and sexual orientations. The profit system, and the oppression of women which keep it afloat, must be overthrown for women, children and men to be free of economic insecurity and discrimination. Working class men who are feminists know that when they fight for women's rights, they are making a stand for all the exploited--including themselves!

Early hunter-gatherer societies, which humans have lived in for much longer than they have lived under feudalism or capitalism, were much more egalitarian and many were even matriarchal. If one looks at Native American societies before the coming of Europeans, they were communal and women played a primary role in the economic, social, cultural and political life of those communal societies and the egalitarian relationships that characterized them. It was only with the introduction of capitalism that women began to bear the brunt of the poverty, suffering, deprivation, wars and environmental devastation the profit system creates.


message 11: by Gerd (last edited Oct 12, 2016 01:18AM) (new)

Gerd | 428 comments Laure wrote: "Gerd wrote: "For example better conditions for mothers to return to work after pregnancy, like for example a better child care system than ours. In theory in Germany the firm has to take you back a..."

The system is now the same for all parts of Germany, i.e. the inhabitants of the region formerly making up the GDR have now the same problems to secure childcare.

Pay is now more unevenly distributed than before, too, with employers legally having to pay less overall than they would in the former west, and there's now a higher percentage of unemployment compared to the rest of Germany.


Laure wrote: "Some political discussions in Germany about childcare are very interesting, for example some political parties would prefer increase the numbers of Krippen and Kindergarten, while others would prefer to directly give more money to families, to let them a choice. (I'm in favor of the former: there's anyway not really "a choice" if it's not possible to get a place for the child in Kindergarten ;-) )"

Not having children of my own, I do not follow that discussion as much as I probably should, it does however _feel_ to me, that those which advocate the more money for the family solution are advocating the classic family ideal alongside with it too.
It's a sort of taking out the "need" for women to return to work idea.

Personally I would rather see them trying to implement a solution that can work both ways - thus giving families, mothers, single parents more choice.
Because as you point out, money alone will not create "choice".


message 12: by Alris (new)

Alris Chan | 4 comments Laure wrote: "Alris wrote: "Is gender equality really only possible in democratic and capitalist societies? How does gender relate to different modes of production and political systems? "

That's an interesting..."


"I don't see how we can get women rights without human rights" This is so true!!! Like!

Hmmm, does capitalism usually plays against human rights? Idk, i thought it just meant minimal government intervention and let the market runs the economy.


message 13: by Laure (last edited Oct 17, 2016 05:19AM) (new)

Laure | 390 comments Thanks for the infos on the German system, Gerd :)

Alris wrote: "Hmmm, does capitalism usually plays against human rights? Idk, i thought it just meant minimal government intervention and let the market runs the economy. "

I think "free market" isn't a reality, mostly because of speculation.

In my opinion, capitalism helps a few people to take advantage of existing inequalities. In our globalized world, this leads to exploitation of people living in awful conditions or who should not work (children), in many countries.


message 14: by Tim (new)

Tim Laure wrote: "Thanks for the infos on the German system, Gerd :)

Alris wrote: "Hmmm, does capitalism usually plays against human rights? Idk, i thought it just meant minimal government intervention and let the ..."


I second that. The notion of a free (capitalist) market fails to account for far too many factors. Among which:

-The mutually beneficial relationship between states and capital
-The inherently unstable nature of markets, which are controlled by and for an elite minority of people
-The fact that it literally leaves no obstacle for people with enough resources to go so far as to effectively privatise the atmosphere (laugh it up, but remember: water, land and food are already privately owned; why not oxygen as well?)


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