In the communist movement historically, the default position on the so-called “Women Question” has been a male chauvinist one. Great strides were certainly made in past socialist projects toward ameliorating the conditions of women and empowering them to some extent politically. Nevertheless, women’s liberation has fairly consistently been considered a “secondary” struggle within the communist movement and communists have generally stopped short of interrogating the very division of people into men and women in the first place. That is, the most radical demand has often been “equality between men and women”, with the tacit assumption being of course that these “eternal” categories of “man” and “woman”—categories emerging from an oppressive relationship—will continue to exist.
Both of these errors are very much still present in today’s communist movement. The reason we say they are symptomatic of male chauvinism is because typical feminist discourse among communists does not get to the root of patriarchy, it distracts from the extent to which the very position of “man” is predicated on the oppression and exploitation of women, and it obscures the fact that the very division of people into gender categories is rooted in an economic relationship that must be abolished. Thus, in failing to address the root of the problem, today’s communist movement gives space for the domination of women by men to continue to exist, both in their organizations and in their vision of a future society.