- “Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle” by Rosa Luxemburg
- “Women, Class, and Race” by Angela Davis
- Supplementary reading: “Wages Against Housework” by Silvia Federici
- Ask everyone to take out a piece of paper and write down the words “exploitation” and “oppression”. In groups of two, brainstorm these words’ meanings through a mindmap. Then, discuss all together the following questions – What is “exploitation”? What is “oppression”? We recommend that a facilitator writes down people’s answers on the board.
- Critics of the socialist project say that socialists only talk and care about stuffy things like “exploitation” and not enough about “oppression”. Discuss.
- What are some similarities between socialism and feminism?
- In 1912, Rosa Luxemburg said in a speech at the Second Social Democratic Women’s Rally in Stuttgart, Germany, “Aside from the few who have jobs or professions, the women of the bourgeoisie do not take part in social production. They are nothing but co-consumers of the surplus value their men extort from the proletariat. They are parasites of the parasites of the social body.”
- Luxemburg is pointing to an important antagonism among women. How does class shape the struggles experienced by women? Give examples.
- Case study: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is a white woman hailed as a brilliant example of breaking through the glass ceiling. Yet months after taking her new position, Mayer canceled the work-from-home program for all employees just before installing a private nursery in her office.
- If numbers allow, divide the group into two smaller discussion groups, one composed of cis-men and the other of non-cis-men. Discuss the following questions, writing notes of the ideas that are generated, and then reconvene as a larger group to talk about what was discussed:
- How does women’s oppression at home affect women’s oppression in the realm of work?
- How does women’s oppression in the realm of work affect their oppression at home?
- What do Davis and Federici mean by housework being “invisible”, and how does this invisibility help sustain patriarchy and capitalism?
- Think about other forms of work that are invisible in your school. In what moments are these made visible?
- Domestic work has not always been invisible, and in fact, is very visible for some sections of the working class. What is Davis’ historical argument about the privatization of domestic life, and why is this historical analysis important to her argument about the socialization of housework?
- What is her argument about the different roles that middle-class White women and Black women have held within capitalism and why is this important?
- Davis and Federici disagree about the socialist feminist response to housework and the domestication of women. In sum, Federici proposes pushing for women’s domestic work to be recognized as work through a fight for monetary compensation (“Wages for Housework”). Angela Davis proposes pushing for the socialization of housework (e.g. meal preparation, childcare) and encouraging women to join the struggle for decent jobs for all. Discuss these two approaches.