Don’t say ‘mother’! Speech code is blow to fight for women’s rights

By Maggie Trowe
April 19, 2021

Liberal social engineers are striking blows to women’s rights as they push laws and regulations that eliminate the word “mother.” This is the latest front in their drive to deny women’s oppression under capitalist rule and to hide the long struggle for women’s equality that has made gains and strengthened the working class.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives approved a code of conduct Jan. 5 that establishes “gender-inclusive” terms as the recommended official language of the legislative body.

Legislators are now instructed to replace “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father-in-law or mother-in-law” with “parent, child, sibling, spouse or parent-in-law,” and to replace “himself or herself” with “themself.”

“Visionary” was how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbed to the changes.

Manhattan’s Grace Church School— where tuition is $46,030 a year — is urging use of similar terms. School authorities say words like “mom,” “dad” and “parents” should be eradicated as they make “assumptions” about the students’ home lives, and should be replaced by “grown-ups,” “folks,” or “guardians.”

Manchester University in the U.K. announced March 6 new guidelines that replace the words “mother” and “father” with the “gender-neutral” terms “parent” or “guardian.” And Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust has new guidelines that replace the term “breastfeeding” with “chestfeeding.”

All of this is bad for the working class.

It’s false to deny that human beings belong to the class of mammals, and are therefore divided into two sexes: males, and females who have a uterus and mammary glands. But that’s what is being done in the name of fighting discrimination against people who don’t identify with their sex.

What’s worse, these anti-scientific thought police try to erase the existence of women, deny the history and current reality of the fight against women’s oppression, and bigot-bait anyone who doesn’t agree.

A friend of mine who went for prenatal care was referred to by a medical professional as a “pregnant person,” because a transgender “man” can have a baby. At a public forum in Louisville, Kentucky, on a woman’s right to abortion one of the invited speakers lectured participants that we should say “a person’s right to abortion” for the same reason.

Some good news: female human beings give birth to 385,000 babies in the world each day. That’s how the human race continues to exist. If a few of the mothers don’t identify as women, that’s their prerogative and they shouldn’t face discrimination, but it doesn’t change reality.

Fight for women’s rights today

For the working class under capitalism, the lion’s share of the financial, emotional and practical responsibility for child rearing falls on children’s mothers, including shopping, cooking, and keeping up a clean and decent place to live, usually while holding down a job. In the U.S., 40% of babies are born to unmarried women. Nearly 16 million children lived with a single mother in the U.S. in 2019. Many working-class women have difficulty obtaining family planning and prenatal and postnatal care. Women earn on the average 81% of what men earn.

But these facts and the fight to change these conditions don’t count for much among woke liberal ideologues who say the main thing is fighting for the freedom to decide one’s own gender.

The social layer pushing these notions is based in academia, liberal think tanks and the media. They increasingly make up whole layers of government regulatory agencies and act in the interests of the wealthy capitalist rulers by hiding the oppression of women.

Women’s subjugation developed with the rise of class society. Under capitalism the rulers use it as a central way to divide working people and to superexploit women, driving down the wages of all workers.

But those pushing “gender-inclusive” terms say the problem isn’t capitalist society and the necessity to fight for women’s emancipation as part of the working-class struggle to take political power into our own hands. They think the working class is backward, racist and transphobic and that we are duped into thinking there are men and women. They want to nudge and bully us into thinking and talking right. Most workers reject these efforts to regulate us.

Pretending that the existence of two sexes can be dismissed and replaced by each person choosing their “gender” and inventing themselves is a pipe dream of middle-class radicals who seek to deny science and the class struggle. Women’s oppression will not be eradicated by women refusing to be women, but by deepening the fight for women’s rights and other struggles in the interests of the working class.

That starts today by supporting workers’ fight for higher wages, safe working conditions and dignity at Amazon, Marathon and ATI steel. It requires demanding the prosecution of the cops who killed Breonna Taylor and pointing to the example set by women and men who have taken to the streets in Argentina and Poland recently to fight for abortion rights — a fight that needs to be emulated here.

Campaigning broadly among working people, Socialist Workers Party candidates find a welcome response to our program, which starts from the capacities of working people to join together to change our conditions and to advance our self-confidence and class consciousness— the opposite of identity politics. A good reason to join the SWP campaigns!