MARXIST ANALYSIS OF SEXISM
Marxist, ideology views sex inequality as an aspect of class exploitation and asserts that sexism cannot be ended without a socialist revolution [Ostrander, 1973; Reiter, 1975; Syzmanski, 1976; Eisenstein, 1977J. But the early Marxist revolutionists viewed women's rights as trivialities which should not divert them from the serious business of revolution. They, were always hostile to the feminist movement, before and after the Russian Revolution [Clements, 1979; Farnsworth, 1980; Porter, 1980]. More recently, the Soviet Union's first feminist magazine, The Womclllll1d Russia, ended its short and troubled life with the arrest and exile of its editorsin 198Q [Tim.e, Aug. 4, 1980, p. 41].
The Russian Revolution did bring women so~e kinds of legal equality, especially, in rights to education, property, marriage, and divorce. Women entered practically 'every occupation and now form a major fraction of the professions and the bureaucracy [Deck-' ard, 1979, pp., 223-246]. But many writers have taken too uncritically the official claims of sex equality. This, writer,' in his travels through several Communist European countries, has noted how nearly all menial tasks visible to tourists are' done. by women -,You can practicaUy depend on it that, the person driving the tractor ..will ,be mille; while the person ielding the hoe will be.female. For' the vast majority .ofRussian. women, the gift of the Russian Revolution.was a double work load. Men's roles were virtually unchanged, while an outside job was added to women's home responsibilities. Women still do the housework and most of the shopping, a very time-ccnsumlng task in the Soviet Union [Gordon and Klapov, 1975~ pp. 73- 76]. Practically all women in the Soviet Union . hold jobs, and most of them hold menial jobs [Sacks, 1976, 1977J. The male/female income gap is reported to be ,bout the same as the United States. [Lapidus, 1978]. .
A Polish sociologist (now in the United States) concludes that "available statistical data do not give evidence. that women's situations in capitalistic and socialistic countries are substantially different" [Horoszowski, 1971, p. 180]. The Marxist rhetoric of sex equality, whatever its intent, had the effect .of "freeing" women to fillip jobs. It is possible that increasing the labor force, instead of achieving sex equality, may have been the primary goal of Communist policy in the Soviet Union. and its satellite states [Sacks, 1976]. It should be noted that many Marxist scholars today do not view the Soviet Union and its satellites as truly Marxist societies but as traitors to Marxism. Thus they may sharply criticize the Soviet Union and argue that nothing that happens in the Soviet Union or its satellites tells anything about the truth or error of Marxist doctrine.
It is clear that socialist revolution carries no guarantee- of sex equality. The Marxist theory that sex equality and economic equality must go together is flatly contradicted by the experience of two of the world's most successful examples of economic equality. The Shutters, comprising a number of religious agricultural communities, provide perhaps the world's most perfect example of complete economic equality, yet they are one- of the most completely male-dominated societies in history [Hosteler, 1974]. The Israeli kibbutz sought to establish complete economic and sexual equality in their agricultural communes. While achieving economic equality quite successfully, the trend in recent years is away from sex equality, replacing an originally
equalitarian system with increasing sex role differentiation [Mednick, 1975; Tiger and Shepher 1975; Gerson, 1978; Spiro; 1979J