Why patriarchy is not enough (as a conceptual framework): Mariana Podesta-Diverio

The ongoing struggle for women’s liberation is by no means secondary to the struggle of the working class. In fact, the two things are inextricably connected.

I have much more in common with male members of the working class than I do with Julia Gillard. I share not her politics nor her economic affluence. On some levels Gillard is still subjected to the oppression that all women in our society face, including the scrutiny of her image, and the delegitimisation of her political choices purely because of her gender. Yet, I would never consider her a comrade of mine in the feminist fight.
In fact, what of the millions of working women she allegedly represents?
What of the perpetually unaddressed devaluation of unpaid domestic labour and care work (nursing, childcare)? What of the high levels of casualisation of the Australian female workforce? Of single working mothers with inadequate welfare payments?
Industrial capitalism has always relied on the unpaid work of childbearing women in order to reproduce and maintain the next generation of workers, so the true root of women’s oppression lies in the abhorrently unequal economic structure of the society in which it thrives. Believe it or not, it doesn’t lie in the catcalls, the misogynistic dickheads, or the interruptions halfway through a sentence because a man has started speaking. All of these things are shit and need to be fought against, but they are merely flames atop a giant bonfire that has long been burning. By failing to make significant reforms to improve the lives of the working and welfare classes and attain equality – for women, trans* people and men alike – Gillard has failed us as a leader. But my beef doesn’t lie solely with Gillard. The Prime Minister’s gender is irrelevant when they are elected to protect the interests of capital (which structurally oppresses women). We need to look beyond bourgeois feminist frameworks that fail to consider the economic circumstances of people for whom the movement is inaccessible.
That being said, the ongoing struggle for women’s liberation is by no means secondary to the struggle of the working class. In fact, the two things are inextricably connected. So in order to understand and challenge the nature of women’s oppression, we have to challenge the idea that men, albeit benefactors of male privilege, are the problem. And that’s that.
There’s also some cool stuff happening in the world, like bees on caffeine, demons in cats and Chicks on Speed. In addition to female empowerment, the loose theme this week is the exploration of notions of our bodies in space and breaking down the barriers – whether they be in art, media discourse or body-shape ideals – that constrict us to orthodoxies.
I await your angry letters with a Hole album playing in the background and a fierce determination to see change in my lifetime. In any case: kiss my fat arse.

Filed under:
Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

Michael Spence

Michael Spence: the fair controller?

The Vice Chancellor has been in the role for almost a decade; his drive to reshape the University seems to have only grown.