Question: Is This Really About "the Fury" of Women?

btc_sm.jpgby Mike Ely

For many years, the RCP,USA has raised the slogan: “Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!”

This slogan was later adopted by the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, and for a while by some other Maoist forces around the world.

The slogan has some obvious strengths: It denounces the ancient patriarchal "chains" of women's oppression (echoing the words of the Internationale "No more tradition's chains shall bind us.) And it situates that struggle against women's oppression as a powerful component of the great revolutionary process that is needed across the globe.

I have always heard three major objections raised to this slogan (by quite a few women at various times) and have never heard any real discussion of such issues from the RCP. So I would like to pose those questions here:

1) First and most important: When revolution requires the intellect, consciousness, determination, work, creativity, invention, subversive power of women, why focus so singlemindedly on their "fury"? Doesn't that major focus on "the FURY of women" play into the ancient depiction of women as emotional (upset, hysterical and so on), and not analytical beings?

2) The use of the word "unleash" (in some Maoist politics) implies a great deal of spontaneity -- as if the positive power of people is merely "leashed" and just needs to be "unleashed" to work its magic. Is that really what the task is, in relation to the oppression of women, to "unleash" their fury? Where do the other tasks come in: like raising consciousness to the point where we "know the world to change the world"?

3) Who is this slogan addressed at? Who is supposed to do this "unleashing"? This is obviously not a demand against the ruling classes (which is fine). It does not seem to be a slogan for the people themselves to adopt and raise -- i.e. it does not speak in their name, from their conditions. It seems unfocused in its direction. If we are going to rally people (and especially women) in a revolutoinary struggle to end the oppression of women -- does this capture and concentrate the most advanced sentiments and understandings that people have?

I note for example that in the accompanying post from revolutionary women of Iran and Afghanistan they write "We women of the world must break our chains and unleash women as mighty force for this epochal change." Notice an absence of special attention toward "fury."  Notice that they make explicit who the unleashing is to be done by.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Maz

    On a similar tip, isn't it about time we update the whole concept and style of the slogan? By this I mean the snappy sentences (always with exclamation marks) that follow every statement, often in groups of 3-10?

    long live mlm!
    march brightly along the path forged by...!
    glory to the immortal memory of the martyrs!

    I've always often thought it truly bizarre when long live is applied to deceased people, or even an ideology. After all, we don't want MLM to live long do we, don't we want it to be superceded eventually? Likewise, the use of 'glory' when describing war has always struck me as being particularly out-of-touch, if not outright bloodthirsty.

    Aside from sign-writing at rallies and marches, what purpose do these sorts of slogans serve? Often they can be useful concentrations of line, and demarcate different trends. For example, "jobs not war" is really tightly bound up with nationalism and a naiveté about how the system works (as if war is just a budgetary decision). So slogans can be revealing, it's true, but are they that effective anymore?

    Maybe I'm just internalizing some post-modern ennui and cyncism so present today, but I gotta think there's a fresher way out there to get our basic ideas across.

    Overcome any obstacle to update and develop the slogan form for the 21st century!

  • This question is very important:

    <blockquote>1) First and most important: When revolution requires the intellect, consciousness, determination, work, creativity, invention, subversive power of women, why focus so singlemindedly on their “fury”? Doesn’t that major focus on “the FURY of women” play into the ancient depiction of women as emotional (upset, hysterical and so on), and not analytical beings?</blockquote>

    First, the tendency to view women as more emotional does harm in a lot of ways. Women experiencing mild heart attacks often end up with diagnosis of Anxiety and other problems, this leads to a higher morbidity from heart attacks in women than in men. Women are also taken less seriously when reporting pain than men and less likely to receive adquet pain control.

    Second, men are just as emotional as women but are trained heavily to not show that emotion or address it. Emotions are seen as irrational.

    Third, emotion should not be viewed as a bad thing. It is part of what does make us human and should inform our thinking. Without emotion what is left but the cold and calculating - I believe that is why there is so much negativity toward emotion in this society - that is because capitalism needs cold and calculating and fuck you if you should think to cry about the countless pains of the people you are using up and throwing away. The bad attitudes toward emotion need to be addressed along with addressing the gender issue - the way that the emotional is used to degrade the significance of what women have to say.

    It can be extremely hard to get men in general into discussions of emotional issues with a woman, on the other side of this it can be very hard to engage men in a theoretical discussion with a woman. There appears to e to be discomfort on both sides of this. I've experienced this as almost as hard as pulling teeth at times. This is not to get down on men but rather to point out something that is a socially created gap between men and women and one that leads to women having a hard time breaking into more theoretical areas. (this does not exist in all cultures - for example in Romani (gypsy) culture the emotional is highly valued and equally expressed by both sexes.) Organizationally this can lead to women being tracked into women's work within the movement with little attempt to train women in theory or for women to push through the barriers and attempt to learn to work with theory.

    Anyway.. thats a few thoughts

    Rosa Harris

  • Guest - anton

    I think the full range of human emotions needs to be consciously brought to bear (among men as well as women) to make revolution and liberate women.

  • Guest - Anon

    "Emotions are seen as irrational."

    Well, that's because they are. Rationality does not involve emotional criteria.

  • Emotions are non-rational, but women are not. That's kinda the point, right?

  • Guest - zerohour

    Anon -

    "“Emotions are seen as irrational.”

    Well, that’s because they are. Rationality does not involve emotional criteria."

    This style of argumentation is not helpful. Instead of reading her statement in context and addressing the substance of it, you criticize her formulation. This is the sort of literalism is more about "winning" than understanding.

    But on the point you're making, that's not necessarily true either. Often an emotional response is the rational one. Whether a loved one does something special for you on your birthday, or something terrible happens to that same loved one, a "non-emotional" response would be seen as irrational, or at least inappropriate. A dispassionate [that is implied in your statement] response might temporarily downplay certain emotions but cannot shed them completely and is partially driven by them.

    Scientific work has been done to investigate the role that emotions play in rational thought: <a href="/;s=books&amp;qid=1204311592&amp;sr=1-2" rel="nofollow">Descartes' Error</a> that is refuting the 19th century mechanical idea that reason and emotion are two separate and discreet activities.

  • Guest - land

    Break the Chains - Unleash the Fury of WOmen as a Mighty Force for Revolution!

    I never had a problem with the fury or women as a mighty force for revolution.

    I did not think it meant that women were emotional and not analytical people.

    There are lots of emotions - love, fear, feeling overwhelmed with what is happening to people every day.

    There is a real fury of women against their opppression. What I never liked was the the word unleash. And linking unleash with revolution.

    It is too mechanical. Almost like crossing a street.
    It cuts against the complexity of what people need to understand - both women and men.

    At one time it was maybe enough to have a movement of strong women. Today we need a revolutionary communist movement.

    We need the practice of a real communist movement to bring out the numbers of women who are missing today. I don't understand why they are missing. The generation today is different. The sexuality is more complex. The families are not something one even recognizes.

    I don't think there is going to be one slogan for women in the 21st century.

    Maybe one will come out of the struggle for revolution.

  • Guest - Kasama on Women’s Libera

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  • Guest - Joy

    Let's just be real about the essence of what is being said here. That women should not be angry about their conditions about being raped, molested, depicted as second class citizens and if they are angry, " it means that women are 'emotional (upset, hysterical and so on)'

    This is disgusting and mike is male chauvinist pig.

  • Guest - nando

    [moderators note: this comment has been posted as its own self-standing post.]

  • Guest - saoirse

    I always found the slogan spontaneous and for lack of a better term poetic. The RCP and many of its mass organizations often took a very conscious ( i thought) approach to language that attempted to bring in something modern, poetic and culturally relevant. It sometimes fell on its face but here I thought it somewhat struck a chord. I also think there is a thread of...populism in some maoist discourse that I actually think is right on.

  • Guest - Abandoning Dialectics: Declari

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  • Guest - Arthur

    Slogans are the primary means of conveying a political message in pre-literate societies. They are are dressed directly to the masses and crystalize the political line conveyed by agitators in agitation as opposed to the more complex explanation provided to agitators by propagandists in propaganda. Both are of course quite distinct from the theoretical work that develops the line to be put forward in propaganda and agitation on the basis of analysis and synthesis from experience in struggle (including both theoretical struggle and feedback from the masses in the course of agitation).

    A rough modern equivalent of slogans in literate societies might be "sound bites".

    Even when agitation is directly aimed at immediate insurrection it is unlikely to include the word "revolution" in a slogan, but will use more concrete, implementable phrases that can be acted on, like "All power to the councils". (Especially unlikely to use words in foreign languages like "soviets" instead of "councils" or to be put forward in the absence of actual councils seriously contending for power).

    The phrase <b><i>“Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!”</i></b> is not a slogan addressed to any section of the American masses. It is unambiguosly directed at RCP, USA followers as an expression of RCP,USA phrase mongering. It has no connection whatever with any actual agitation about anything and reflects the lack of any actual orientation concerning women and struggles related to or involving women.

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