“True feminism. Only when a woman ceases to see herself in context of man. Even in conflict with a man. Then even the word feminism will cease.”
Shekhar Kapur @shekharkapur 28 Nov
This reminds me of the theory of class struggle as propounded by Karl Marx. One of his most famous quotes is –
” The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. ”
Herein he only talks of the oppressor and the oppressed as classified on the basis of their means of earning livelihood. I believe his theory could also be used with reference to gender injustice. This is how-
THEORY OF CLASS STRUGGLE
- Marx sees society evolving through stages. He focuses on dialectical class conflict to control the means of production as the driving force behind social evolution.
- According to Marx, society evolves through different modes of production in which the upper class controls the means of production and the lower class is forced to provide labor.
- In Marx’s dialectic, the class conflict in each stage necessarily leads to the development of the next stage (for example, feudalism leads to capitalism).
- Marx was especially critical of capitalism and foresaw a communist revolution.
- The bourgeoisie try to preserve capitalism by promoting ideologies and false consciousness that keep workers from revolting.
- Marx predicted that eventually, the proletariat/the oppressed would become class conscious—aware that their seemingly individual problems were created by an economic system that disadvantaged all those who did not own the means of production.
- Once the proletariat developed a class consciousness, Marx believed, they would rise up and seize the means of production, overthrowing the capitalist mode of production.
- Marx believed that the socialist system established after this proletariat revolution would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, abolish the exploitative capitalist, ending their exclusive ownership of the means of production, and introduce a system of production less vulnerable to cyclical crises.
- In Gender Injustice too, the conflict in each stage leads to the development of the next stage. ( From being subject to discrimination at home – being subject to discrimination at the workplace )
- There have been instances especially in the Indian society where men have promoted ideologies and false consciousness that help maintain the status quo of women being the weaker sex. ( Ex- Manu says “Balye pitorvashay…….” – 5/151. Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently. )
- Well, we have attained a consciousness with regards to our secondary status in the society.
Now, when Shekhar says that only when a woman ceases to see herself in context of man. Even in conflict with a man. Then the word feminism will cease. I agree with him. But I doubt whether we can reach that stage directly.
This is where I was reminded of Marx’s theory. He being a conflict theorist challenged the status quo and encouraged social change. The Utopia of Karl Marx – a classless society, he said could only be achieved by a social revolution.
Based on this, I’ beg to differ with Shekhar. I believe that it is necessary for women to see themselves as being in conflict with men for a while. Somehow, like Marx, I feel it would be essential for women to dominate once by means of a social revolution. Only after that can we gradually metamorphose into a society with gender equality.