PASSWORD RESET

Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Have women always been oppressed?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Nine out of ten nurses are women. They also make up more than two thirds of fast food workers and supermarket workers. On top of this women still bear the burden of housework and childcare. A 2017 study found that 72% of all unpaid work in Australia is done by women.

Covid-19 has revealed who the real essential workers are in our society. And despite how vital the work that women do is, their jobs are often the lowest paid with the worst working conditions.

Women often become nurses, cleaners and teachers. They are employed by those who need the services that women often perform unpaid in the home. These jobs are seen as typically female jobs because they require care.

Care is not seen as work. It is expected to come naturally from women. These jobs are not seen as real, requiring decent wages, because women are expected to do them out of natural goodwill.

Before societies divided by class arose women were equal. For most of human history women have not been oppressed. But now women’s oppression is seen as the natural order of things because the ruling class promotes it for their own benefit.

Before class society the work that people were doing in the home was equal to the work that was done outside of the home. The division of labour was not as clear as it is today.

This changed when people started to produce a permanent surplus of wealth. The economic unit became the monogamous family headed by a man. With the introduction of private property and surplus wealth it was important to keep women faithful in order for a man to pass on his riches. The man became dominant because the division of labour put him closer to the creation and distribution of surplus wealth.

But today working class men do not benefit overall from having a wife who is oppressed in the workplace and then oppressed in the home. Capitalists benefit from this double oppression.

Capitalists benefit from the unpaid labour of women in the home which maintains the working class. And they benefit from the underpaid labour in the workplace which produces profits. We need a classless society where wealth is shared and equality is guaranteed regardless of gender!

By Charlie Taylor

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