Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2429

Capitalism creates gender stereotypes that imprison us  

When my child was a baby, the first question anyone asked was, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

Sometimes I gave one answer, sometimes the other. If they thought my child was a girl they would talk softly, use gentle touch and invariably comment on the baby’s looks. 

For a boy they would speak in a “matey” way, handle the baby with more robust gestures and comment on apparent strength. 

This was not because people wished to ensure s/he was socialised into the allotted social role—but because, as Karl Marx put it, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” 

We are born with the potential to be fully rounded human beings with a whole emotional spectrum. 

But currently each gender is required to lose half of this potential to fit into the roles proscribed by the needs of capital.

We can try and provide our kids with an alternative narrative and show them how discrimination works. But we are swimming against capitalism’s tide. 

I recently went into a toy store. Everything aimed at boys was about killing or violence—termed “action” for marketing purposes. 

All those for girls were about being a “homemaker” or making one’s sexuality more marketable. 

Through our lives we tie ourselves in knots to fit into these choking tea-chests as the lids are hammered down.

The growth of an individual follows a path carved out by interaction between DNA and environment. 

Trees by the sea don’t grow as straight as their identical DNA twins inland. It is not nature or nurture, but a dialectic between the two. 

There have been societies where the ridiculous roles we have for men and women did not exist. People related as equals. It is not in our nature to live as we do now.

There are many reasons to fight for a revolution, but the crimes this system wreaks on all our children is the main one for me. 

Julie RobertsonSwansea

If Germany can abolish tuition fees, we can too

The United Nations says that everyone is entitled to an education. Who, then, can dictate the cost of a human right? 

Despite students taking to the streets in 2010 against raising tuition fees to £9,000, the ConDems did it anyway.

But grassroots movements recently forced the abolition of tuition fees in Germany. 

Lower Saxony’s culture minister Gabriele  Heinen?Kjajic said, “We do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents.” 

This is important. Most students in Britain can’t afford £9,000 a year, and resort to student loans with high interest rates. 

Tuition fees deny the working class access to university, cursing them to remain in poverty and in silence. Exactly how the Tories want us.

Rona BellNewcastle University 

Leicester is proud of being multicultural

The portrayal of a Leicester divided in Channel 4’s Make Leicester British last week could not be further from the truth. 

It described the Narborough Road area where I live as “predominately eastern European”, implying they had segregated themselves.

In fact people of as many nationalities as you could name shop and socialise there.

The documentary’s claim that Somalis chose to separate off in the St Matthews area is also untrue.

The community grew because council housing in the area was deemed undesirable, so it was easier for newer arrivals to obtain.

Kit and Suki in the programme reflect a small minority whose ideas have been moulded by the drip feed of immigration scare stories in the media.

The sad fact is that, since both of them are Asian, they would have been as vilified in the 1970s the same way newer immigrants are today.

The majority of people are proud of our diverse Leicester—vibrant, tolerant and mostly definitely united.

Jackie LewisLeicester

Chimps do cooperate

John Parrington’s article on human nature (Socialist Worker, 25 October) is right to point out that the capacity for creative cooperative labour is a uniquely human trait.

But he overstates the case when he says that for chimpanzees competition is the norm.

There is evidence that different chimp populations have developed different “cultures”.

Pygmy chimps display much more cooperative behaviour than other primates.

The notion that our nearest genetic relatives have a competitive nature can bolster reactionary theories of human behaviour.

Recognising the capacity for cooperative behaviour by primates helps us to challenge those ideas.

Anthony TingleSheffield

We're fighting back in Newcastle 

Roughly 300 people attended the all-day North East People’s Assembly event in Newcastle this month.

A highlight was the anti-racism session, where the launch of a local Stand Up to Ukip group was announced. 

While many top-table speakers were Labour councillors who have pushed through cuts, the event saw fantastic  arguments about fighting austerity.

One high point was the meeting on rebuilding trade unions.

Jack BlackettNewcastle

Get behind the firefighters

I know quite a few fire-fighters. They risk their lives on a daily basis. 

I back their reasons for striking 100 percent. They deserve to be treated properly. 

Remember the old joke (which isn’t funny). 

“The Fire Brigade are useless...until you need them.” 

John TupmanLancashire

Don’t just lay into Labour

Last week’s issue says the left in Scotland can’t rely on the Labour Party (Socialist Worker, 8 November)

Wouldn’t it be more proactive to include your thoughts on possible solutions? 

Labour may well be heading for the rocks. But what are the viable alternatives and what can we do to influence positive change?

James Griffithson Facebook

1989 is not to be celebrated

Tomáš Tengely-Evans celebrates the fall of the USSR after 1989 (Socialist Worker, 8 November).

But this was a defeat to the international socialist camp. 

Working class people in these countries now suffer at the hands of Nato and the IMF.

Benji Cienfuegoson Facebook

Mancunians don’t want a mayor

Following the Scottish referendum the Tories raised the “English Question” to subvert the political agenda.

The leaders of the ten Greater Manchester councils met with George Osborne last week to draw up plans for a “Metro Mayor”.

But Manchester rejected proposals for a mayor in a referendum in 2012. 

Liverpool and Salford did vote for city mayors who have pushed through cuts. 

We do not need devolved powers in England. 

The real lesson from Scotland is that millions can be mobilised in a movement for change.

Mark KrantzManchester

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Article information

Tue 11 Nov 2014, 15:26 GMT
Issue No. 2429
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