American Communism & the Making of Women's Liberation
October 3, 2001
Few realize that feminist dogma is Communist
in origin, and represents subversion.
by Henry Makow Ph.D.
"Rape is a violent expression of a pattern of male supremacy, an outgrowth of age-old economic, political and cultural exploitation of women by men."
Does this sound like the utterance of a radical feminist from the 1970's or 1980's? Guess again. It is taken from a pamphlet entitled "Woman Against Myth," by Betty Millard published in 1948 by CPUSA (the Communist Party of USA.)
In a new book, Red Feminism: American Communism and the Making of Women's Liberation, feminist historian Kate Weigand states: "ideas, activists and traditions that emanated from the Communist movement of the forties and fifties continued to shape the direction of the new women's movement of the 1960s and later."(154) Weigand, a professor at Smith College, writes, "second-wave feminism stands as an excellent example of a 1960's movement that blossomed from the seeds that Communist women germinated thirty years earlier." (156)
In the late 1940's, CPUSA leaders realized that their primary constituency the labor movement was becoming increasingly hostile to Communism. They began to pin their survival on women and African Americans. They hoped that addressing the problems of "male supremacy" would "bring more women into the organization and into the fight against the domestic policies of the Cold War." (80)
Women Communists, who made up 40% of the party membership, had long complained that their domestic responsibilities prevented them from attending meetings. After the publication of "Women Against Myth" in 1948, the CPUSA began to address the problems of "male chauvinism" in the Communist Party. They initiated a process of "reeducating" men, that 50 years later, we recognize only too well.
Professor Weigand follows this process in the pages of the party newspaper The Daily Worker. Feminists began a campaign against "male chauvinism" and "sexism." For example, a Mrs. Kutzik from the Bronx complained that showing women in bathing suits was demeaning and racist. "What would we think if 90% of the pictures of Negroes in our newspaper showed them in zoot suits?" A writer was roundly criticized by woman readers for a story that suggested that his wife and four daughters spent much of their time worrying about their clothes: "The editors and the author owe the readers an apology and themselves a critical evaluation of their understanding of the woman question." (92) The caption of a photo of a man with a young child read, "Families are stronger and happier if the father knows how to fix the cereal, tie the bibs and take care of the youngsters." (127)
The Party disciplined men who didn't take the woman question seriously enough by ordering them to complete "control tasks involving study on the woman question." In 1954 the Los Angeles branch disciplined men for "hogging discussion at club meetings, bypassing women comrades in leadership and making sex jokes degrading to women." (94)
The CPUSA tried to promote these values in the decadent capitalist culture. A film Salt of the Earth, which Pauline Kael called "Communist propaganda", portrayed women taking a decisive role in their husbands' labor strike. "Against her husband's wishes, Esperanza became a leader in the strike and for the first time forged a role for herself outside of her household... [her] political successes persuaded Ramon to accept a new model of family life." (132) Portrayals of strong assertive successful women became as common in the Communist press and schools, as they are in the mass media today.
Communist women intellectuals formalized a sophisticated Marxist analysis of the "woman question." The books In Women's Defense (1940) by Mary Inman, Century of Struggle (1954) by Eleanor Flexner and The Unfinished Revolution (1962) by Eve Merriam recorded the history of women's oppression and decried the prevalence of sexism in traditional customs, mass culture and language. The founder of modern feminism, Betty Frieden relied on these texts when she advocated in The Feminine Mystique (1963) that women downgrade their role as wife and mother and instead make career their first priority. With the exception of Inman (who left the Party over a doctrinal dispute) these women (including Frieden) all hid the fact that they were longtime Communist activists. When their daughters ("red diaper babies") encountered "male chauvinism" in the 1960s New Left, they had everything they needed, including the example of subterfuge, to start the Women's Liberation Movement.
Weigand has shown that modern feminism is a direct outgrowth of American Communism. There is nothing that feminists were saying and doing in the 1960's-1980's that wasn't prefigured in the CPUSA in the 1940's and 1950's. Communists pioneered the political, economic and cultural analysis of woman's oppression. For example, in 1940, Mary Inman argued that child-rearing methods "manufacture femininity" and the "overemphasis on beauty" is used to keep women in subjection (33). Communists pioneered women's studies, and advocated public daycare, birth control, abortion and even children's rights. They originated key feminist concepts such as "the personal is the political" and techniques such as "consciousness raising." The main contribution modern feminism made was to try to eliminate heterosexuality and the nuclear family altogether. The CPUSA would never have tolerated the man-hatred and the homosexuality of second-wave feminism.
Feminism's roots in Marxist Communism explain a great deal about this curious but dangerous movement. It explains:
- Why the " woman's movement" hates femininity and is obsessed with imposing a political concept like "equality" on a personal, sexual and mystical relationship.
- Why the "women's movement" also embraces equality of race and class.
- Why they want revolution ("transformation") and have a messianic vision of a gender-less utopia.
- Why they believe human nature is infinitely malleable and can be shaped by indoctrination ("education") and coercion.
- Why they engage in endless, mind-numbing theorizing, doctrinal disputes and factionalism.
- Why truth for them is a "social construct" defined by whomever has power, and appearances are more important than reality.
- Why they reject God, nature and scientific evidence in favor of their political agenda.
- Why they don't believe in free speech, refuse to debate, and suppress dissenting views.
- Why they behave like a quasi-religious cult, or like the Red Guard.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that feminism is Communism by another name. Having failed to peddle class war, Communism morphed into a movement dedicated to gaining power by promoting gender conflict. The "diversity" and "multicultural" movements represent feminism's attempt to forge "allegiances" by empowering gays and "people of color." Thus, the original CPUSA trio of "race, gender and class" is very much intact but class conflict has never been a big seller. Feminists wish to destroy a Western Civilization that is dominated by white men who believe in genuine diversity (pluralism), individual liberty and equal opportunity (but not equal outcomes). We have seen this destruction begin with the dismantling of the liberal arts curriculum and tradition of free speech and inquiry at our universities.
Many feminists are embarrassed to discover they are Communist dupes. They try to point out the differences between themselves and Marxists but these differences are matters of emphasis. Their embarrassment, however, is nothing compared to ours when we acknowledge that we have been subverted. They have taken over our minds. Feminists dominate the mass media and the education systems (both primary and secondary) and use these for indoctrination. They have great power in the legal system, many parts of government, and are currently subverting the military.
The evidence is everywhere. The term "politically correct" originated in the Communist Party in Russia in the 1920's. We use it everyday to refer to adherence to feminist dogma. Recently here in Winnipeg, Betty Granger, a conservative school trustee running for national office, made a slip of the tongue. She talked about an increase in house prices in Vancouver due to "the Asian invasion." Granger was pilloried mercilessly in the press. People sent hate letters and dumped garbage on her lawn. At a meeting of the School Board, it was acknowledged that she is not a racist. It was acknowledged that Asians have married into her family. Nonetheless, she was censured because, and I quote the Chairperson, "appearances are more important than reality." I was at the meeting and couldn't believe what I was witnessing. Betty Granger repented and voted in favor of her own censure. The atmosphere was charged. The people there were like a pack of wild dogs ready to set upon an injured rabbit. These were the champions of "tolerance." [Granger resigned from the election race but still got over 3000 votes.]
These rituals of denunciation and recantation, typical of Stalinist Russia or the Maoist Cultural Revolution, have become commonplace in America. They are "showpieces" designed to frighten everyone into conforming to political correctness. We have "diversity officers" and "human rights commissions" and "sensitivity training" all designed to uphold feminist shibboleths. They talk about "discrimination" but they freely discriminate against whomever they like. "Sexual harassment" is something they use to fetter male-female relations and to purge their enemies.
In 1980, three women in Leningrad produced ten typewritten copies of a feminist magazine called Almanach. The KGB shut down the magazine and the women were deported to West Germany. In the USSR, feminism had always been an export product. According to Professor Weigand, her "book provides evidence to support the belief that at least some Communists regarded the subversion of the gender system [in America] as an integral part of the larger fight to overturn capitalism."(6)
Last weekend, a Canadian feminist leader, Sunera Thobani advocated that women resist the war on terrorism. She said America has "more blood on its hands" than the terrorists. She is the former head of the government sponsored National Action Committee on the Status of Women. How nice of her to make my point. Can there be any doubt? Communism is alive and well and living under an assumed name.
Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at