CNM, Béal Feirste
Have you ever heard of the “Warm Bath Theory”? It was an idea published by Talcott Parsons, a sociologist who created this idea that the nuclear family prevents its adult members from behaving in dysfunctional ways and encourages them to conform to social norms. The warm bath theory suggests that a man could come home from a stressful day at work and relax into his family/wife, like a warm bath, relieving his stress.
However, as communists, we know that this theory is outdated and quite frankly, full of shit. Fran Ansley, a Marxist-Feminist rephrased it as women being “takers of shit”, in other words when men come home and try to relieve their stress from working in a capitalist system, they do so by taking their frustrations out on their wives. Even today, with alternative family structures being normalised alongside the nuclear family, this idea still exists; women in families are still taking the brunt of men’s anger from exploitation and alienation in work, whether that woman be a wife, a daughter, or sister.
We can see this if we look recently at how COVID-19 has affected our way of living. The rise in domestic violence against women can be boiled down to men taking their anger and misery out on women’s bodies. Domestic abuse calls to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) increased by 4% during the first three-month lockdown dealing with 8,302 cases, and a 25% increase to Foyle’s Women’s Aid. The “Stay at Home” message we have seen around Ireland may have seemed rational and normal to some. Though for the women who were forced to quit their jobs and to stay home with abusive men who may have also had to quit or be on furlough, this was nightmarish for them. They would have been forced to stay at home 24/7 with their abuser, who would have been harming them and taking their anger partners. With nowhere to go to get out of the house, women would have had to endure this for months on end.
With women enduring this abuse as well, they are then blamed for it. They are asked, “Well, why didn’t you report the first time he hit you?”, or “You must have provoked him somehow”. Although communists should be combatting this behaviour, it still runs rampant in left-wing organizations. Victim blaming is normalized and prevalent in our society, and we are not doing enough to prevent it. Supposedly “revolutionary” and “feminist” men will listen to stories of women comrades who have been abused and raped, yet will continue to be friends with the abuser, citing, “He’s my best mate, he’d never do that”, further harming the women they call “comrades”, by compelling those same women to defend themselves and destroying women’s trust in so-called male comrades.
For centuries, women in every country, culture, and religion have been abused by men, either in the home, at work or in public. Women deal with so much shit, and then are blamed for it. It is our duty to look out for sexual harassment and call it out, even if it is your best mate.
No woman should ever feel uncomfortable or threatened just by living their lives, the least you can do is not enable your misogynistic friends. This can be done by calling them out when they refer to woman as “easy’ or “ran through”, not only sticking up for women when you see them being harassed, but directly confronting that perpetrator. It’s the harsh truth, but men are more likely to listen to other men. Men who identify as feminists or such, should attend workshops on sexual violence and consent, to further educate themselves, no matter how educated they see themselves, and always listen to women.
Parsons T, “The social structure of the family” in Anshen, R. N (ed.), The Family: its Functions and Destiny (New York: Harper and Row,1959)
Bernard J, The future of Marriage (Penguin Books, Hannondsworth, 1976)