Social Scientist. v 13, no. 149-50 (Oct-Nov 1985) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

A SEPARATE and distinct women's movement on women's issues per se is certainly of recent origin in our country. Women of course had participated in large numbers in the anti-colonial and anti-feudal struggles and this participation had been mediated through separate women's organisations, which had also taken up several women's issues; but these issues had been taken up in order to facilitate women's participation in these struggles. Women's problems as such were never the focus of attention of these organisations of women. Likewise, while within the trade unions and other similar organisations, there have been struggles relating to demands of say, women workers, struggles not confined to such general questions as wages, but encompassing specific issues which arise from the fact that the workers concerned were women, these struggles too fall into a different category altogether from struggles over women's issues as such. The growth of a separate movement, a separate set of organisations, dealing with the latter class of questions implies a recognition of the existence of this class of questions as a distinct entity,, that there are such things as women's issues as opposed to issues involving women workers, or women agricultural labourers, etc.

This is an important development, which enjoins upon the Left and democratic movement the responsibility inter alia of equipping itself theoretically to come to terms with these issues. There is no gainsaying the fact that a movement organised by women on women's issues cannot make much headway without being integrally linked with the Left and democratic movement; similarly however, the advance of the Left and democratic movement requires that it relate itself to the movement on women's issues, and for this a correct theoretical perspective on women's issues is essential. That there is much theoretical haziness in this terrain even in advanced capitalist countries, where there have been lively and intense discussions on women's issues for some time now, is obvious. Eveyi among Marxists in the West, who not only are far removed from the tendency which accords primacy to gender-based exploitation over class-exploitation, but are also free from the opposite view of simply subsuming women's struggles under class-struggles and denying them any separate identity, important differences exist on practical issues, e.g., the demand of "wages for housework", which are rooted in major theoretical differences. Angela Davis' book Women, Race and Class for instance, argued that "wages for housework" is based on a wrong theoretical premise and that the housewife is not a secret worker inside the capitalist production process, an argument which many sharing Davis' general outlook, have found unconvincing.

This of course, is not to suggest that ttiese particular issues are necessarily going to become issues of practical importance for us; the point is simply to underscore the theoretical haziness which surrounds discussion, even among Marxists, on women's issues. For some clarity to be acquired in



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