The Feminist Caucus Working Group
Membership of the Feminist Caucus of Organise Aotearoa requires agreeing to the following kaupapa, and approval by the Caucus Coordinator in consultation with the existing membership of the Caucus. This method was deemed to be better than a biologically essentialist or identity-based requirement of entry, as both could conceivably exclude people who are affected by feminised structures of oppression under capitalism. Furthermore, we believe strongly that the emancipation of all those affected by patriarchy is fundamentally tied to the emancipation of all people, and the principle of solidarity means anyone can contribute to its destruction. A caucus, with the full responsibility and agency that this structure entails, is a necessary means of developing specific theory and strategies to defeat capitalist patriarchy.
1. All socialists should be feminists.
Feminism is a movement for the economic, social, and political equality of all genders. It is not opposed to the struggle for socialism, and should not be considered a distraction from it. These movements can inform and complement each other.
2. All feminists should be socialists.
Patriarchy has been shaped by capitalism, and the downfall of these two structures are inherently linked. As long as capitalism remains in place, it will continue to manifest new forms of gendered exploitation and oppression.
3. Patriarchy is class exploitation.
Patriarchy is a distinct structure of oppression. Under capitalism, it organises specific forms of labour by gender and confines women into realms of domestic, emotional and sexual labour, and childcare. Women are punished for failing to perform this labour.
4. Women’s liberation is not compatible with capitalism.
Feminism is compatible with the struggle for socialism. However, women exist in every economic class and experience misogyny in distinct and different ways. Women of different backgrounds often have different interests and different visions of what their advancement might look like. We’re opposed to a feminist methodology that seeks compatibility with capitalism. This only results in ruling-class and capitalist women being empowered to exploit others.
5. We are concerned with the struggles of poor and working-class women.
Our methodology is not concerned with the individual interests of ruling-class women, but with empowering and organising poor and working-class women to collectively fight for true economic, social, and political equality for everyone.
6. Our feminism is intersectional.
Race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and many other factors intersect with and intensify women’s experiences of patriarchy. In order to eradicate patriarchy, we must be actively against racism, homophobia and transphobia, ableism, and all other forms of prejudice and bigotry.
7. We stand in solidarity with Māori women against colonisation.
Patriarchy was imposed on Māori people through the process of colonisation. Māori women today suffer disproportionate economic deprivation and abuse compared to Pākehā women. In order to overcome capitalist patriarchy, we must be actively anti-racist, resist ongoing colonisation, and decolonise Aotearoa.
8. We stand in solidarity with transgender and nonbinary people.
Transgender and nonbinary people exist and experience patriarchal oppression, especially transgender women. All of our current scientific understanding affirms this fact. We all have the right to make informed choices regarding our bodies, health, expression of sexuality and gender, and how we plan our lives. The liberation of trans and nonbinary people is not opposed to the liberation of cisgender women. Neither can be fully achieved without the other.
9. We stand in solidarity with sex workers.
Sex workers’ struggles to have control and autonomy over their working conditions have been consistently undermined by the political Right and Left alike. This is due to moralism and misguided, paternalistic attempts to help sex workers by depriving them of the capacity to work and receive an income. We support individual sex workers who wish to leave sex work, as well as those who would rather stay and organise for safer working conditions, and control against those who extract profit from their sexual labour.
10. Feminism benefits men as well.
Patriarchy hurts men. It limits men’s capacity for healthy emotional expression and empathy, and punishes them for gender nonconformity. Patriarchy isn’t based on inherent traits of men and women; it is man-made. Therefore, people of all genders are capable of unlearning our conditioning and deconstructing patriarchy.
11. Women are capable of reinforcing patriarchy.
Although men are significantly more likely to perpetrate abuse, all people are capable of perpetrating and enabling abuse, sexual violence, and reinforcing patriarchy. It is only through political struggle and solidarity, constant mindfulness, education, and empathy, that we can overcome this.
12. We demand reproductive justice.
We should all have the right to choose when and whether we have children. This extends not just to the medical system, as both forced pregnancy and sterilisation deny us bodily autonomy, but also the economic system that forces many people to put off having children for the sake of financial stability, and frequently punishes single parents and their children with poverty.
13. We must end domestic violence.
Gendered violence is a systemic issue: Aotearoa has abhorrent rates of gendered violence, most of which is perpetrated in the household by someone close or known to the victim. We recognise that the primary cause of domestic and gendered violence is rooted in the economic and social oppression of women. Nobody should ever be economically dependent on an intimate partner.
14. Prisons and police are not our allies.
The capitalist state, prisons, and police cannot be relied on to end gendered violence. These institutions use rituals of domination and control, as well as sexual, physical, and psychological abuse as forms of punishment. This reproduces a culture of victim-blaming, and also separates victims from intimate partners who they were economically dependent on, exacerbating their economic inequality. We need to develop alternatives to the criminal justice system that hold harmful people to account and break patterns of sexual and domestic abuse.
15. We must prevent gendered exploitation and abuse in our own organising spaces.
It is common for socialists to exploit and take for granted the work of women to sustain revolutionary structures and movements, as well as engage in abusive and non-consensual behaviour. All socialists, especially men, must work to overcome this conditioned misogyny and entitlement. We must prevent violence and exploitation, support the needs of victims, be self-reflexive, and hold perpetrators and enablers of abuse to account in our organising spaces.
Some recommended readings:
Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, Nancy Fraser. Feminism for the 99 Percent: A Manifesto. 2019.
Tithi Bhattacharya. Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression. 2017.
Angela Y. Davis. Women, Race & Class. 1983.
bell hooks. Feminism is for Everybody. 2000.
bell hooks. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity & Love. 2004.
Estrella Roja. Biology and the Oppression of Women. 2018.