December 8, 2012

Against Misogyny and CAFE, for Full Equality!

Statement of the YCL-LJC Central Executive Committee
November 2012

The Young Communist League of Canada calls on all democratic-minded youth and students to redouble theirefforts to defend and extend women’s rights for full equality and expose the misogynistic “Canadian Association for Equality” (CAFE).

We call for an end to their anti-women campaign of disinformation, lies and even hate promoted through so-called “Men’s Awareness” groups.

The claim of these groups is that men and boys are facing equity issues due to ‘misandry’. In fact, the main danger young men face is not at all from pro-women policies and feminists – which help young men – it is from big business and the Harper Conservatives, whose capitalist system has created mass unemployment, rising tuition fees, environmental crisis and poverty -- while spending billions on wars and corporate tax cuts.

What is needed is solidarity and for the youth to reinforce the links between their struggles and those of the labour movement and the working class. We must not blame the victim. When the youth and student movement deepens its unity with the women's movement and feminism, linking full equality with our struggles against corporate power, reactionary governments and war, it helps workers of all genders to win demands like better work, better pay, more accessible education, unionization, and also prevents them from being used as cannon fodder in imperialist wars like the war in Afghanistan

This kind of sexist and homophobic backlash against the women’s movement, feminism, and our sisters and mothers has long been promoted by capitalism.  However, the current offensive on campuses comes at a time when the economic and climate crisis and war are being used by the ruling class to attack everyone – especially women:

• Women, often the ‘last hired and first fired,’ have been hit hard by mass layoffs globally;

• Wars like the US-Israeli bombing of Gaza right now also disproportionately impact women and girls;

• In Canada, the federal Harper Conservatives are cutting funding to women’s groups, turning a blind eye to the 500 missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada, attacking women’s reproductive rights like abortion, and attacking the unemployed by further restricting Employment Insurance.

Despite gains from struggle, sexism, homophobia, racism and misogynistic ideologies are still alive and well in 21st century Canada:

• Women work the majority of low-paid, casual, and part-time work, making 70% the wages of men on average for the same work and experience. This wage gap has remained largely unchanged since the 1970s despite an increasingly educated female workforce and despite increasing numbers of women on the job;

• Women continue to perform the majority of repetitive household chores, carry the burden of raising children, and elderly care;

• Women are excluded from political life – the current Canadian Parliament, for example, has less than 35% women;

• Over half of Canadian women have faced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 16. Violence against women is the natural outgrowth of the sexism inherent in the capitalist system;

• Women and girls face sexist and male chauvinist attitudes every day at work, school, on the street, and in the family – reinforced by laws, the police, and the corporate media and the entertainment industry, which promotes an unhealthy, disempowering, unequal, and racist view of women that justifies violence against women and oppressive gender roles as well as promoting macho and divisive notions of “maleness” that manipulate some men into participating in a system of divide and rule.

Unless there is a strong, powerful and united fight back by young people of all genders, we cannot change this situation. The Quebec student uprising last spring sent a powerful message of resistance and showed that only through mass united struggle on the streets by the 99% can we make gains in the parliament`s of the 1%.  Hundreds of thousands of young women activists, as well as the Quebec women`s movement, helped lead and confront sexism in society (and in the movement itself – see the latest issue of Rebel Youth magazine).

We cannot wait for the next election, count on the increasingly tepid demands of the NDP, or limit our strategy to lobbying or isolated confrontations. The youth and student movement needs to forge our own version of a broad and mass strategy, united with projects like labour’s Ontario Common Front --  if the progressive forces don’t, we can expect not just fake and misleading ‘men`s rights movements’ but more populist right-wing tea-party style groups and even fascism.

The YCL also supports the demand for a Charter of Youth Rights, including the right to full equality, which could bring together the youth and student movement with a demand for a better world.

The YCL demands that all forms of gender discrimination like pay inequity be made illegal and for full equality between women and men. It isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a class issue. Sexism divides and weakens the people’s fight back.  Men suffer from this sexist system as well.  This includes a downward depreciation of everyone`s wages caused by a lack of pay equity. As long as women are oppressed, men cannot be free.

Democratic struggles are a vital part of revolutionary struggle as they show that what is blocking social progress is not only a lack of legal rights – it is the capitalist system. Without struggling for full equality we cannot effectively fight for a system that will allow the social and economic basis of all forms of oppression to be removed as well as ecological sustainability and peace, with the working class majority in charge, not the capitalist elite. In the YCL we call this socialism! Now is the time to join the movement!

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