Author, activist talks about using socialism and Marxist ideas to fight for women’s rights

Nancy Huang

Dismantling capitalism is the only way for women to have full equal rights with men, an author and activist said in a talk in Mezes Hall yesterday. 

Author Sharon Smith discussed the intersection between feminist and Marxist ideas in her book, “Women and Socialism.” The event was sponsored by International Socialist Organization.

“It is accurate to describe society today as promoting rape culture, porn culture and generalized misogyny,” Smith said. “All of these things are the cultural symptoms of the disease, not the disease itself.”

Smith said American capitalism is intrinsically linked with patriarchal values.

“Capitalism has become so dependent on the existence of the family,” Smith said. “On the reproducing of labor power within the family, that it will not be possible to get rid of women’s oppression without getting rid of the capitalist system.”

Smith said women are oppressed in different ways depending on their social class.

“Women of color face racism on a daily basis,” Smith said. “LGBTQ people have to deal with homophobia and transphobia on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the list of oppressions in capitalism is a very long one.”

“Black feminism has been a powerful political force since the time of slavery,” Smith said. “. Since that time, black feminists have insisted that the role of racial segregation in the United States has prevented the development of a unified women’s movement.”The nuclear family model is partially responsible for women’s lower wages, Smith said.

“Most working mothers struggle on a daily basis to keep up with the daily demands of home and work,” Smith said. “In this process, women are reduced to second-class status in society as a whole. This is why women are systematically paid lower wages than men.”

Elizabeth Dean, linguistic and Russian studies junior and ISO member, said the organization advocates for socialism to improve societal conditions.

“We hope to show how Marxists view women’s oppression and how the oppression of women is connected to the larger system of capitalism,” Dean said.

Siqi Jiang, history and Asian American studies senior, said she thinks socialism is a good approach because it includes non-Western ideas. 

“I think it was a good talk,” Jiang said. “Talking about women’s liberation in terms of socialism is just the most all-encompassing and liberating for all women, not for some women.”