FAMILY AND WOMEN’S ISSUES
“There can be no real mass movement without the women “ - Vladimir Lenin
Women’s rights affect not only women, but men, children, the disabled, and the elderly, too. Though we commend much of what the bourgeoisie and left parties did in the 1960’s and 1970’s in helping women gain greater equality in the workforce and over their reproductive rights, we equally understand there was much that not been addressed.
In the struggle for women’s rights, many left parties following bourgeois formations like National Organization Women (NOW), narrowly defined working-class women and failed to realize women are not just workers, but also mothers, sisters, daughters, caregivers, and just plain human beings. The same can be said of men.
Thus, the PCUSA calls for a new women’s agenda. Unlike many other parties we understand that we cannot deal with women’s issues without adequately discussing the family and its class base. In the past, disability used to be the leading cause of poverty in the US; today it is having a child. Therefore questions relating to the high rate of inflation along with the rapid increase in automation (that have made the 40 hour work week superfluous) also need to be addressed. The high cost of living has created a situation where all working people are overworked, burnt out, and incapable of becoming fully realized human beings with free time to devote to themselves, their partners, or their extended families and friends. This situation is especially harmful to small children. How can a parent, male or female, provide any proper emotional or physical care if they are forced to continuously work, and are devoid of any free time? Bad as the economic situation is for men, it is worse for women.
Whereas, in the past, a major stumbling block in the fight for women’s equality may have been the inability to enter the workforce, today the situation is completely opposite. Not only do women work, but they work more than ever; often working two full time jobs – one paid outside the home and the other working off the clock doing unpaid housework, which includes childcare, and oftentimes eldercare.
Even when women are not working, they are so busy trying to find a job or hustling for money, and so stressed out that they might as well be working full-time. This represents a radical shift from the 1950’s. Women in American society unlike their European counterparts are not covered by federally mandated maternity leave, childcare, eldercare, and sick days to take care for children or other family members. All of this has contributed to a breakdown of society, and high divorce rates.
The situation for women today is further aggravated by the fact many American families are headed by one parent. Predominately, women in a capitalist society are trapped in a cycle where one income is often not enough to sustain a household. The Social and Economic Impact on women, men and the family creates tremendous stress. Working women are seen in our society as second class citizens. The women do the domestic work and child care. When women work outside the home it is presumed that they will perform the majority if not all of the housework and childcare in the home. Domestic work in the home is never acknowledged as work in Capitalist society. The raising of children represents the future. During the 1950’s and 1960’s a man’s wages covered the costs of raising a family.The rate of unionization of workers and the standard of living for the working class was higher. Corporations paid taxes at the rate of 58% in 1954. Today this burden has shifted from large corporations to the family itself. Devaluation of service-centered and domestic work performed by women in the home has had a disastrous effect on the economy and society. As we have moved from a robust industrial manufacturing economy to a service economy, women have replaced men in the workforce, as women are seen as workers that are easier to exploit. Employers know that women, especially single women with children will take low paying Mc Jobs to support their children. In order to maintain a low-wage worker pool, divorce is popularized on TV and the media, making it easy for men to walk away from marriages without paying child support. Reactionary legislation makes birth control and abortion more difficult to access. Men find it impossible to gain custody of their own children. Today women comprise 2 out of 3 minimum wage workers and still earn an average of .77 cents for every $1 a man earns. Minorities and women of color suffer even more from income inequality. Corporations like Walmart for example, have used the devaluation of women’s work to shift the burden of paying women a fair wage to taxpayers who is subsidizing Walmart by providing SNAP and Medicaid benefits. The lack of acknowledgement that domestic work in the home is work has led, not only to a lack pay, but also a lack of child-rearing and eldercare tax credits. Our Demands: The capitalist system pits workers against each other in order to have groups fight for the lowest wages. Until Capitalism is replaced with Socialism, a system based on human need not corporate greed, PCUSA makes the following demands:
1 Guaranteed 20 hr/week employment with full medical, retirement, vacation, and sick leave benefits, which includes sick leave to take care of other family members.
2 Passing the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.
3 The right for a woman to control her body which includes access to free birth control and the right to terminate pregnancy; free of government interference, such as mandatory waiting periods.
4 Guaranteed maternity & paternity leave at full pay of at least 4 years.
5 Recognition and guaranteed financial assistance for housework; which includes childcare of both small children and disabled children, and eldercare.
6 Access to free childcare and Head Start.
7 The expansion of Title IX guaranteeing equal financial support for women’s sports, which should include support in economically disadvantaged areas of the country.