Jerri Winters, Gabby Petito, Shauna Witt, Shaunya Green, Faith Lindsey, Lisa Brooks, Whitney Taylor, Kaliyah Brooks. These are just a few names out of the hundreds of women killed each year in the United States, women with their stories and dreams stolen from them. At first glance, it may appear that men, as the culprits, are the source of this violence, and therefore the main enemy to be defeated. However, the true adversary here is capitalism.
In capitalist society, the dominant contradiction is that between labor and capital, between the working class and the capitalist class. In capitalism, both men and women in the proletariat suffer from significant exploitation at the hands of the bourgeoisie, which exploits all workers regardless of gender. The bourgeoisie imposes its ideological belief that women’s productive work is inferior to that of men. This false narrative is thus a tool used by the bourgeoisie to pit the proletariat against each other based on their biological sex.
Thus we arrive at the countless forms of violence against women, the common denominator of which is class violence: human trafficking; kidnapping; recruitment and use of girls and women, almost all of whom are proletarian, for sexual exploitation and forced labor; the deprivation of maternity rights and child care; and the issue which is the focus of this article: femicide or feminicide.
Data on Femicide in the US
The US is often hailed as the “land of the free” and, therefore, a bastion for womens’ rights, justified with all sorts of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois currents proposing the emancipation of women. They ignore, of course, that the real emancipation of working women can only occur through the overthrow of capitalism, eliminating the material conditions that perpetuate their exploitation and oppression. Yet none of these currents propose socialism as a solution, even in the face of the fact that of all the dominant capitalist powers, accounting for all cases of the murder of women, 70% are committed in the United States.
Femicide, the violent murder of women – which bourgeois institutions currently designate as femicide or feminicide – expresses not only an ideological position that considers women as objects, but is also strongly related to forms of capital accumulation such as prostitution, human trafficking, organ trafficking, and modern slavery, all of which the bourgeois state is a co-participant in and beneficiary of, the victims coming mainly from the proletarian classes.
In 2020, there were over 2,000 reported cases of women being murdered in the US, averaging nearly 5 women killed per day. Alarmingly, close to 3 women per day lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner. When we consider the global context, the U.S. is ranked 34th in intentional female homicides, with a rate of 2.6 killings per 100,000 women. We can compare the data from the US to that of Mexico, a country often labeled by the bourgeois media as one of the most dangerous in the world for women. At least 975 women were killed in Mexico in 2020, while the most recent available governmental data reports 2,991 women were murdered in the US in 2019. Yet the US is about three times larger than Mexico, meaning femicide rates in both countries have actually been similar in recent years. Therefore, we see that it is not the country, the culture, or the people which are responsible. This violence is intrinsically linked to the system.
A quick review of newspaper records of women who have been murdered demonstrates a common thread: they live, work, or study around the outskirts of cities, in industrial zones, populous neighborhoods, or especially rural areas, particularly on or near indigenous reservations. Many of them are Black, immigrant, or indigenous young women of a proletarian background.
The most recent data shows that the highest rates of murder occur in Alaska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Kentucky. Most of these states are home to a significant proportion of indigenous peoples. Some estimates suggest that roughly half of indigenous femicides are unrecorded in FBI data, meaning that the already sparse data on femicide in the US is even less comprehensive for these communities. The severity of femicide against Indigenous women and girls is so under-explored that it is rarely accounted for in femicide reports. Additionally, most data leaves out the survivors and those women who suffer in silence. Despite all this, the data we do have shows that femicide is the third leading cause of death for of Native women in the US.
In a distressing pattern, certain cases tend to gain notoriety, albeit briefly. In these cases, femicides or disappearances are often linked to men who are close to the victims, such as husbands, boyfriends, or acquaintances. However, from a statistical perspective, another prominent factor emerges: the significant presence of gangs and criminal organizations that have “diversified” their operations and considerably expanded their reach. In this, the development of criminal operations is notable in the states with the highest femicide rates, particularly on reservations where poverty, misery, and corruption expose indigenous peoples to the mercy of organized crime. What remains consistent throughout is the troubling lack of action, the indifference or even complicity of law enforcement and judicial authorities.
The Communist Approach and Our Role in the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
For communists, the Women’s Question is inseparable from the general social question, that is, from the struggle to put an end to capitalist exploitation. The politics of the communists in this regard are focused on releasing the strength of working women to fight for their emancipation as inseparable from that of the working class as a whole.
The situation of women, as half of the exploited class in society, is inextricably linked to the structure and organization of the given mode of production in each and every phase of social development. The deprivation of rights, the forced dependence of women are not explained by any specific natural or congenital characteristic, but by the nature of the work that is assigned to them by capitalism.
There is no single person responsible for violence against women, it is not just the government in power. It is the capitalist system, the power of the monopolies. Women’s inequality emanates from capitalism, because it allows the rate of exploitation and the extraction of surplus value from proletarian women to increase above that of men.
Sexist violence is a matter not only of sex but of class. It is closely linked to the capitalist system that exploits and oppresses working women. Women in situations of greatest risk are those who have witnessed or been victims of violence in their childhood, who suffer or have suffered social isolation due to their class status, or who are economically dependent and have a low educational level. In other words, working class women are not only at greater risk of suffering from sexist violence, but do not have access to the same economic, social, and educational resources as bourgeois women.
Thus, the violence that women in the US experience every day is serious and unconcealable, and no government campaign or strategy will resolve it. Its causes are structural, they are embedded in the roots of the capitalist society in which we live. None of the bourgeois parties are capable of offering any real program that makes effective the emancipation of working women from exploitation, discrimination, violence, and mistreatment.
The reconstitution of revolutionary forces in the United States, with the aim of regrouping the Communist Party, is a crucial element in the effort to eradicate the material conditions that perpetuate the sexist ideological framework and violence against women. Against the variety of ways in which violence and oppression against women are increasing, the communist strategy does not consist of utopian promises. We communists ask ourselves about all of this while trying to weave each problem into a proposal to definitively overcome the violence, against women and others, that is generated in the capitalist system.
The communists, organized in a fighting force, make it possible for the class which produces everything to take over the means of production that now squeeze and subject it to all forms of tyranny. We are convinced that only through revolutionary struggle can we advance toward the emancipation of the working class and, by extension, women. Together, we fight and demand our rights, for the end of violence against women in all forms.