There can be no feminism without socialism, and no socialism without feminism

The Manifesto of the Socialist Forum’s Socialist Feminist Committee

The Socialist Feminist Committee is a new committee formed by the Socialist Forum at the beginning of September 2016 to respond to the need for a space and framework within the Forum to cultivate socialist feminist politics and discourse. This manifesto presents our political and practical orientation, in the hope that we can start a wider debate on the type of feminism and socialism we desire.

  • We consider the existing capitalist system to be, in its very nature, a patriarchal system, which aims for and reproduces patriarchal hegemony in its attempts to promote class exploitation. We thus believe that we cannot politically separate these two components of the system that rules us. Any political action or organization that takes socialism as its starting point needs to prioritize the fight against patriarchy in its struggle. Socialist feminism is the basis of our struggle. To unite workers in their struggle against exploitation, we should struggle against patriarchy and capitalism as a front. There is no feminism without socialism and no socialism without feminism.
  • We believe that the road to the end of patriarchy must pass through a break with the capitalist system. However, we are aware that our actions as individuals and organizations are influenced by sexist ideas and practices, which will not disappear with the dismantling of capitalism alone. Therefore, the left might speak of socialism, as a slogan, but will remain sexist nonetheless if it does not fight patriarchal tyranny, whether in its organizational structure or on the level of ideological discourse and political practice. Thus, we believe in the importance of subjecting leftist structures, tactics, and internal dynamics and patterns to continuous feminist scrutiny.
  • We support the comprehensive and unconditional liberation of persons with non-conformist gender identities and sexual orientations. We stand against all forms of oppression imposed by the heteronormativity of the patriarchal, capitalist system, which leads to a permanent reshaping of society into a place devoid of sexual plurality and thus, promotes heteronormative identity as the only legal and natural choice. We struggle against this system and its legal, social, and medical institutions that attempt to control and regulate our sexuality and gender. We fight against sexual and gender hierarchies and attempt to dismantle them, according to our political, social, and cultural realities. By following this approach, we seek to engage with different groups and segments of society that are active in this struggle, as true partners in the process for change.
  • We believe the self-organization of women and all groups marginalized by patriarchy to be necessary inside a wider movement towards socialism, since it is necessary to create a safe space and a political environment that can allow us, as women and individuals marginalized by the patriarchal system, to build positive ties, make collective decisions, and develop our discourse and skills. Our work will lead to the integration of the needs, aspirations, and struggles of women and persons with non-conformist gender identities and sexual orientations inside the Socialist Forum, all political movements, and society as a whole.
  • We believe that the sectarian system in Lebanon leads to the deepening of class exploitation and the absence of social justice to the benefit of political-sectarian parties and political forces controlling the regime. The sectarian system, which by its nature is based on patriarchal power, leads especially to the oppression of women and the appropriation of their bodies in all sects, through personal status laws and religious courts that grant men absolute authority within the nuclear family. Thus, we see ourselves as part and parcel of all anti-sectarian movements calling for secularism and social justice.
  • We reject all forms of oppression, whether related to gender, race, nationality, sexuality, sect, religion, class, ability, and other categories. Through our experience and political work, we recognize that these forms of oppression are intertwined. Thus, we strive to build a movement that recognizes, first, the different forms oppression can take and, second, a common strategy to confront them, which does not prioritize one issue over another.
  • We stand in solidarity with all liberationist and progressive movements in the region and around the world. We believe in the importance of building solidarity and links, as well as learning from the experiences of those involved in similar struggles and committed to similar values and principles.

Published first in arabic on 7 March, 2017