Draft Programme of the RCP, USA 

Draft Programme Part 2

The Proletarian Revolution 
and the Emancipation 
of  Women

Throughout the entire revolutionary process, in order to create the conditions for communism, the struggle must be continually waged to overcome and uproot the inequality and all the oppressive relations and traditions that shackle women. The class-conscious proletariat won’t stand for anything less than the complete emancipation of half of humanity.

The oppression of women is a great outrage and a hindrance to the all-around development of human beings and society. And for the first time in the long history of class society, human beings now have within their reach the ability to overcome the age-old divisions that keep women in a subordinate position. WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY!

Women and Capitalism

The dominant social relations between men and women in this society perfectly mirror the economic relations—exploitative. While it has been a hundred years or so since women in the U.S. were quite literally the property of their husbands or fathers, in many ways these property relations still exist. Traditional morality, the “right” of the husband “to be the boss” in his own home, the inequities of divorce laws, and spousal abuse laws stacked against women are all examples of this.

Rape and physical abuse are forms of violence used to exercise power and control over women—one in four women in the U.S. will face some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. Today the most dangerous place for a woman is, ironically, her own home.

“Size zero” beauty standards, starvation thin bodies used to sell the “Amer­ican dream,” and futures that hang on being a successful sexual commodity leave most women with such a sense of worthlessness that eating disorders and other self-destructive illnesses are now epi­demic among young women. The di­min­ishing access to abortion and restrictions on women’s overall control over reproduction—all this shows how little women in this society control, even in relation to their own bodies.

Women now make up close to 50 percent of the workforce, and the overwhelming majority of women will work at some point in their lives—suffering discrimination in pay, job classification, opportunity for promotion, coverage of health plans, etc., as well as sexual harassment on the job. Most women, in effect, also work another job…at home, taking care of family and domestic burdens.

The Family under Capitalism

The nuclear family under capitalism is a basic unit of society. It is key to maintaining social control and cohesion and existing property relations: caring for and reproducing the next generation; doing much of the socializing of children; passing down property and propagating traditional values. A woman’s traditional role is the linchpin of keeping this social and economic unit together, which is why the idea that a “woman’s place is in the home” is so sacred to the ruling class and reactionary movements.

Over the last several decades, the “model” traditional nuclear family has significantly broken down. Most women are now working and are no longer full-time housewives. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Immigrant families must often exist across borders. Many family households are now headed by women, and one of three children is now born “out of wedlock.”

The changing role of women and the family and the need of the imperialist world economy to draw more women into the labor force are more and more coming into conflict with the imperialists’ need to enforce traditional values and maintain the cohesion of the family. These changes and contradictory needs of capitalism are like two plates of the earth’s crust colliding—capable of producing major earthquakes and upheaval.

Reactionary movements to drive women into submission and obedience to the authority of men are arising out of this mix. But so too is the outrage and rebellion of women throughout society—and the emancipatory struggle of the proletariat, which can and must unleash the powerful fury and potential of women as a mighty force for revolution.

A Measure of the Thoroughness and Success of Any Revolution Is the Degree to Which It Mobilizes and Emancipates Women

Upon seeing the powerful role of women in the Paris commune—the very first proletarian revolution—a terrified bourgeois of the time cried, “If the French nation were a nation of women, what a terrible nation it would be.” The proletariat is the first class in history in whose interest it is to fully unleash the fury of women as a force for revolutionary change—and the proletariat will act on this, in a way that the bourgeoisie never can and never would.

The woman question—that is, the position and role of women in society, and more specifically the abolition of the op­pression of women—is much more than a mere question of democracy and equality. It does involve the need for equality, and the proletarian state will set about accomplishing this from the first stages of the revolution. But the liberation of women reaches far beyond, is much more deepgoing than, the achievement of democratic rights.

The subjugation of women is central and fundamental to the division of society into classes. It is bound up with the whole history of antagonistic class relations, and it is a fundamental aspect of the oppressive divisions of labor throughout human history. The liberation of women is bound up with the elimination of all this—and the attainment of communism. It is that fundamental a question.

For this reason, the struggle to emancipate women will not be confined to any one realm, but will go on throughout society. In every sphere—from employment to culture, from the revolutionary army to sports, from education and science to positions of responsibility in the new state—this question will be raised and will be the source of ongoing struggle in order to ensure the full equality of women in the socialist society. The role of women and the struggle to liberate them will play a great and central role in the proletarian revolution. It will be a great source of strength in carrying this revolution forward all the way until communism is achieved.

Basic Transformations Upon Coming to Power

Upon coming to power, the proletariat will carry forward the struggle to break the chains which hold back women from a full role in society. There will be an immediate ban on discrimination of any kind against women, including in work and pay as well as in every other sphere of society.

At the same time, special measures will be taken to deal with particular problems and needs of working women—such as pregnancy. Birth control will be encouraged so that women can avoid unwanted pregnancy, but birth control will not be the sole responsibility of women. Attention will be paid to developing methods of birth control that do not endanger or unduly burden women. The right to abortion will be guaranteed, and the capitalist policy of forced sterilization, directed against poor women and particularly women of the oppressed nationalities, will be ended.

Physical abuse of women and children will not be tolerated. Rape will be severely punished but more fundamentally—through the policies and firm action of the proletarian state and through education, ideological struggle and transformation, and the mobilization of the masses of women, and men—the conditions will be brought into being in which rape will soon become a rare occurrence and ultimately will be eliminated altogether.

Methods of really eliminating spousal abuse will now be possible: relying on political struggle and education that brings this problem into the light of day, while also mobilizing the intervention of the community with the backing of the proletarian state. Women will be able to carry out their daily lives free from sexual harassment, and to walk the streets at night without fear.

The demeaning of women in popular culture and advertising—which treat women as commodities and use sexual imagery to sell things and ideas—will be banned. Pornography, prostitution, and sexual molestation of children will be forcibly abolished and their reemergence not tolerated. Former prostitutes and others victimized by this degradation will be given productive work and freed from the immediate source of their oppression, while education will be carried out broadly in society to expose capitalism as the source of this degradation of women and to counter the tendency to blame or look down on the victims.

Key to achieving these transformations is relying on and unleashing the conscious dynamic role of the masses, women and men, in challenging male supremacist institutions and practices. This will require mass movements to create new solutions and new socialist relations. Women, and men, will be mobilized to raise criticism of and struggle against ideas, policies and actions that keep women in an inferior status.

As a general principle, it will be necessary—and possible in a way that it is not in capitalist society—to sort things out and deal differently with different types of social problems. This will involve making distinctions between persistent and/or pathological criminal behavior, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, backward ideology and practices that represent contradictions among the people. The first type of problem will be dealt with by more coercive means, and the second will be dealt with mainly through struggle, criticism and transformation.

Women will play leading roles in every sphere of society, from the revolutionary army of the proletariat to the Party and government. In all those spheres where women have previously been excluded and their role and abilities denigrated –- from combat and sports to the most complicated of intellectual pursuits—the proletariat will settle once and for all that women are the equals of men and hold up half the sky.

The Family under Socialism

The family will be recognized for what is: not something holy or sacred to be preserved for all time. The family, like the state, is an institution that came into being as a product of human social development and it will someday go out of existence, through future leaps in social development. On the other hand, under socialism, the family is an institution that generally corresponds to the level of society. This is because for some time to come there will still be remnants of capitalism, including the need for obtaining many necessities and some social services through the family. For this reason the family will still play an important role in socialist society, including in raising children. But the family will increasingly become a secondary form—even more so than under capitalism—for the rearing and upbringing of children.

Childcare will be provided, connected to either neighborhood or work, so that caring for and socializing children becomes a task of the whole society, in an environment where their health, well-being, and ability to reach their potential are ensured.

For the proletariat, people are the most precious resource and children are the future. In the new society, both the joy and the responsibility for raising the future generations will not just be the province of the mother, nor even just the parents. Society as a whole will be concerned with this. New and pathbreaking collective forms will be created to allow for and give expression to this—including for people who cannot, or decide not to, have children—so that everyone can have the chance to participate and be closely connected to what is new and arising.

While parents will still have significant responsibility for their children, this does not mean they are “theirs,” and struggle will be carried out to prevent parents from imposing old values and non-revolutionary thinking on their children. Young women will not have to have babies to get some measure of respect or love. People will be encouraged not to have children too young—so that they, and in particular women, are not burdened with the responsibility of child-rearing before they have had a chance to give full play to the energy of their youth and to play an active and vital role in the revolution.

The family under socialism will be radically transformed. The things people seek in their family relations—like security, safety and love—but which are often denied and even mocked by the brutal reality of the family under capitalism, will increasingly characterize relations between people in society as a whole. The traditional division of labor in the family will, step by step, be transformed. Taking these measures to break down the traditional division of labor are essential to ensure that women can focus their energy and attention on participation in the broader transformation of society.

Women will no longer be stifled by the narrow confines of household work. Not only will men be struggled with to equally share the burden of this, but the proletariat will, relatively quickly, be able to involve people in various societal solutions—like collective laundries, kitchens, and different kinds of facilities that can provide healthy and affordable prepared meals.

Different kinds of collective living arrangements for people who have been homeless, who are single, widowed, or orphaned, and among families who want to share responsibilities and resources will be established in the context of new collective forms being developed in neighborhoods through struggle and experiment. The elderly and disabled will be looked upon as a valuable resource in society and will not be shut away or left with only family to depend on for care.

Intimate and Sexual Relations

Upon coming to power and throughout the revolutionary process, the proletariat will promote a morality and create the conditions for personal, family, and sexual relations based on mutual love, respect, and equality. No longer will women be objects of sexual conquest, or be prizes or trophies put on display; no longer will women be held to a hypocritical double standard; no longer will sexuality and human emotion be treated as commodities to be bought and sold.

The right to divorce will be upheld to strengthen the free and voluntary character of marriage. Under socialism people will increasingly cast off the burden of traditional property relations that oppress women and that frustrate and distort the most intimate relations between human beings. Women and men will be increasingly enabled to forge relationships based on mutual love, warmth, and closeness—in sexual relations but also as comrades and friends.

Sexual and intimate relations between men and women in bourgeois society are largely reflective of and dominated by the ideology of male supremacy and “male right”; they exist within and are influenced by the overall framework of social relations in which the oppression of women is an integral and fundamental part. All this is something that the proletariat will be mobilizing the masses to radically transform in the process of uprooting the oppression of women and all oppression and exploitation. In the realm of intimate relations, socialist society will encourage people to strive for standards that are consistent with and contribute to uprooting the oppression of women.


Under socialism people will not be stigmatized because they are homosexuals or because of their sexual orientation. Discrimination will not be tolerated, and the repression and violence against homosexuals that has been so prevalent in capitalist society will be firmly opposed and dealt with.

At the same time, it is important to grasp that same sex relations do not escape and do not exist outside of the prevailing family and sexual relations and the corresponding ideology of male supremacy that oppress women in this society. In many ways the outlook that characterizes male gay culture in bourgeois society is not a departure from—and in fact there are elements in which it is a concentration of—male right. Lesbianism is in many ways a response to the oppression of women in class society, but in and of itself it is not a fundamental solution to this oppression.

The outlook that one partner in an intimate relationship must be devalued, dom­inated, abused, or owned is a reflection of the oppression of women in society; and forms of male right, in both ­hetero­sexual and homosexual relationships, will be targets of criticism and transformation.

New Standards

In the sphere of intimate and sexual relations, as in all relations between human beings, the proletariat will strive to implement and further develop a new proletarian morality: a morality based on the struggle to put an end to the oppression of women, and based on ending all oppression and exploitation.

The morality of the new society will not tolerate misogyny (hatred of women), and misandry (hatred of men) will also be struggled against.

The old traditional gender roles, which have the weight of thousands of years of tradition behind them and which are based on an oppressive division of labor between men and women, will be broken down and transformed. People will no longer have to put up with the ridiculous and unscientific notions that women who are aggressive, independent, outspoken, or athletic are “too masculine”; or that men who aspire to be creative, sensitive, or nurturing are “effeminate.”

These qualities in human beings will be appreciated and fostered among people of both sexes, and children growing up will not have to feel that they don’t fit into gender definitions that are already obsolete and objectively a hindrance to the development of humanity to a whole new stage in history. The mission of the socialist revolution is to create an entirely different kind of society and morality so that someday people can look back and wonder how such things as these “traditional gender roles” ever existed.

* * * * *

With the unfolding of the socialist revolution and the advance to communism, worldwide, people will be genuinely freed, for the first time in thousands of years, from the subjugation of half of human­ity—which has stamped and corrupted social and sexual relations ever since the rise of private property and, along with it, the subordination of women to men.

“In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corre­sponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe ‘just a little bit’ of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between fighting to end all op­pression and exploitation—and the very division of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this.”

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA

This is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online:
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Este artículo se puede encontrar en español e inglés en La Neta del Obrero Revolucionario en:
Cartas: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Teléfono: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497