Let us renew the struggle against male supremacy

BY:Bennett Shoop| March 21, 2024
Let us renew the struggle against male supremacy


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

In the aftermath of the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the rise of reactionary attempts to push women back into the home, redefine the family upon a reactionary and regressive basis, and legislate trans women out of existence, it becomes an essential task of the Communist Party to renew the struggle against male supremacy, both within the organization and in society at large. There area few key areas in which we must do this work: we must expand our study of Marxism on women’s oppression, work to incorporate the social reproductive sphere into our work, strengthening and expanding structures and campaigns to tackle internal male chauvinism, to build unity in this fight, and enhance our role in the struggle for women’s liberation.

In order to tackle these tasks, the first avenue of struggle is further developing our theoretical knowledge of women’s oppression. In response to the long exclusion of working women’s perspectives and leadership within broader women’s movements, the CPUSA focused its theoretical attention on the exploitation of women on the job. However, working women’s shifts do not begin and end with waged work. Most women’s work continues for untold hours in the home, unpaid and undervalued. This is not simply an interpersonal inequality, but a structural element of capitalism, which relies on this unwaged labor to reproduce the working class generationally, physically, and emotionally. Thus having a continual supply of workers ready to be exploited.

The absence of sustained attention to this issue poses a major problem for our Party if we are to rise to the challenge presented in this moment. We must revisit the work of women in our Party’s history and devote to it the same attention we have given other topics of study in Marxism. Additionally, we must push this study further, investigating the ways in which this work needs to be updated, expanded, and reconfigured for the present period. What issues are working class women facing today? What is the structural relationship of women’s oppression to capitalism and fascism? How is the struggle for reproductive justice and the liberation of trans women related to the struggle for socialism? How does racism compound all of these issues?

Following from this, a key obstacle to both our theoretical work and our internal structures is the weakness of our attention to the social reproductive sphere. For most of its history the Party made it clear that women’s equality was tied to the struggle against women’s relegation to housework in the home. What was missing was an understanding of the framing above, that this is part of the design of capitalism, rather than just an outdated mode of living. Thus we must seek to prioritize this sphere within the work of the Party by renewing the struggle for free childcare, strengthening our demands for the expansion of welfare, and investing ourselves wholeheartedly in the struggles of super-exploited women, mostly women of color, who are domestic workers.

Further, this requires we reinvigorate our organizational campaigns against male chauvinism. Male comrades must interrogate the ways in which we reproduce the structural inequalities women face in society within our organizing. We live in a male supremacist society, and this male supremacy infects the working class as well. Just as our Party reflects our working class, so should we expect that these harmful practices and ideas will be reflected in our Party. Communist men must do honest self-reflection and ask the following questions of themselves and their comrades. Who is doing what work in the Party? Do we have gendered expectations about who is doing what work? Do our subconscious biases about gender impact the way our clubs and districts function? Are women involved in Party leadership, and are women represented proportionally in the club? If they aren’t, why not? Are we taking an equal part in social reproductive work (i.e. cooking, cleaning, childcare responsibilities, emotional labor)? Are women doing certain kinds of work because they want to, or because they feel obligated to?

This last question is of particular importance due to the fact that many times women in organizing spaces reluctantly take up social reproductive work because men either do not volunteer to do this work, or because they simply do not think about it. It is essential for men to not only reflect on these questions, but be proactive about addressing the inequalities that lie at their core. Male comrades must work to build a Party, district, and club which provides space for these issues to be addressed, and for criticism of male chauvinism to be able to happen openly and be taken seriously. This work must also be done to build unity in the movement for women’s equality. There is a key difference between taking leadership from our women comrades and viewing this fight as “women’s work.” Men must be active participants in the struggle for women’s liberation, not passive observers. This also means that work for women’s equality must be a part of every struggle and every issue we take up as a Party. Because, plainly, without half the population, we cannot build a winning movement.

Lastly, in this critical moment, it is imperative that the Party prioritize struggle for women’s liberation. We must expand the amount of literature we have covering women’s issues in the International Publishers catalog, produce Party pamphlets and literature which illustrate the Party’s investment in this fight and the answer that socialism provides for women’s liberation, and double and triple our participation in women’s liberation movements. We must be at the forefront of the struggle for reproductive justice, for gender and bodily self-determination, for women’s access to healthcare and jobs, for the struggle against the triple oppression of women of color, for the leadership of women, and women of color in particular, in the labor movement.

If the Party hopes to tackle the threat of fascism in the current political moment, it must take up these tasks, prioritize women’s issues more than ever, and renew the struggle against male supremacy.


    Bennett Shoop is an activist and historian of feminism, the Left, and LGBTQ+ movements from the Washington, D.C. area.

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