In Chapter 9, Angela Davis outlines the relationship between class and gender on the suffrage movement. In the Civil War era, white women began working outside their homes more than ever despite the still present male supremacy in the labor movement. Black workers created a black labor organization to separate themselves from the “white fellow citizens” who practiced exclusionary policies. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were greatly involved in women’s labor struggles through publication of Revolution to publicize grievances, strategies, and goals. However, they never accepted the principle of trade unionism due to their failure to prioritize black liberation in the movement over the interests of white women. Davis exposes the truth to the racist roots of the suffrage movement in their anti-black and bourgeois perspective and argues that the working class women and black women are linked to their men by the exploitation of their social class and racist opression. Davis recognizes the factors of sex, class, and race and how they influences the suffrage movement but confirms the deep rooted racism that hindered black suffragists. Even after the victory of the women’s suffrage movement, women of color were continued to be turned away from the ballots and faced discrimination.
In Chapter 10, Angela Davis speaks on the role of women in Communism and its link to the women’s movement. From a historical perspective, women seemed to be absent from the socialist movement. Women became attracted to the struggle for social change and began to be influenced by Marxism as they supported the battle for women’s equality as well as women’s suffrage. Like Davis argued to Chapter 9, their was little to no acknowledgement of black oppression and racism but their were key players in the black liberation movement. Lucy Parsons, a black woman involved in labor struggles in the socialist labor party who was arrested for initiation of radical speeches regarding the “racism and sexism that is overshadowed by the capitalists overall exploitation of the working class. Ella Reeve Bloor and Anita Whitney were allies of the black liberation movement as a communist who supported the working classes’ struggle to end racism among the socialist cause.
In Chapter 11, Angela Davis address the correlation between rape and racism’s role throughout history. Davis introduces the myth of the black rapist, that concerns the incidicents of rape of a black women by her white employer or maser without any justifiacation or repercussions from the law. She emphasizes the continued pattern of abuse of black men and women and reinforces slavery and racist morals. However, Davis also touches on the idea that men of color are prone to commit sexual violence agaisnt women. Susan Brownmiller claims that “black men’s historical oppression has placed many of the legitimate expressions of male supremacy beyond their reach in which they resort to violence”. Davis immediately shuts down Brownmiller’s argument to say that these stem from racist ideologies and is disproven by rape reprot statistics of women being assualted at the hand of a slave. She also claims the dangers of the myth and how the instiution of lynching expressed racist terror that instilled fear and also made it easy to place blame on the victims.
Angela Davis in Chapter 12 writes about the campaign for reproductive rights that began with the demand for birth control that affected women of all classes and races. Davis exposes the racist premises birth control movement was built upon that can provide an explanation for the absence of racially oppressed women in the movement. People of color were highly suspect of the birth control movement due to its correlation to sterilization that was an extreme case of racism. Women of color have historically poor success rates with abortions and have experiences linked to sexual abuse under slavery. Abortions are acts of desperation and Davis argues the presence of class-bias and racism in the birth control movement. Women of color who have less than ideal working condition turn to abortion so that they do not have to bring another life into the world to continue the cycle of oppression. The distinct perspectives from a middle class white woman who won’t support anti-sterilization and women of color who are being urged to become permanently infertile. Davis argues that white women fight a struggle for reproductive rights while ignoring the issues at hand that affects racial oppressed women.
In the final Chapter, Angela Davis discusses housework or the chores that are stereotypically given to the females of the household. The women’s movement worked to liberate themselves from “women’s work” and redistribute housework equally to men and women. To transform these ideals Davis focuses on “desexualization of domestic labor” but the capitalist economy that framed housework to be the inferior position created many struggles. For black women and the working class the negative notion of housework can be shifted with socialization of childcare and other domestic labors. Davis argues the idea that housework falls solely on women is vital in women’s liberation. Working women are therefore advocating for the struggle for socialism but under capitalist industries leaves work for more transformation of society.
Angela Davis exposes the reality of the deep rooted racism and oppression in women’s movements involving suffrage, reproductive rights etc. that are failed to be mentioned when being taught historically. Why is it important to acknowledge the struggles of black or lower class women in regards to women’s liberation?
In chapter 11, the myth of the black rapist has many layers, but how can the stigma behind sexual violence and black men be dismantled?
Were white women benefitting from not supporting women of color in their work to end sterilization? How can white women expect women of color to support the birth control movement when they are not liberated from the freedom of their own fertility?