February 9th, 2013
(Picture translation: There is slavery, violence and death within the family institution)
As women, our lives began in the family as girls in a “bed of roses.” We got accustomed to know our place, to obey, to comply, to be chaste and always altruistic, to stay inside the home, and to be invisible when outside in the streets. What they called “family ties” were in fact a web of inequalities in which we were trapped. Before we knew ourselves, before we became women, we learned how to serve men, to become a mother, to care for children, the sick and the elderly, and to do housework. We did not have sexuality; our primary role was to bear and to rear. Whom we loved, how we loved and made love, our labor, our body, our identity, all our life was determined by patriarchy and by its most basic institution, the family. They made us believe that there was no life outside the family!
Is family really a safe haven for women? Violence against women is something we face every day. Women are murdered most often by men who are closest to them: men in their families. We are subjected to violence in the family when we don’t do the service we are expected to do, when we say “No!” to the roles imposed upon us. The pressure to be the good wife and the perfect mother wears us away. While we do all the service and the care, men appropriate our labor and grow more and more powerful. What is more, is the tyranny of the State! A State who wants us to give birth; who doesn’t provide for children, the sick and the elderly; who doesn’t protect the women from violence; who instead attempts upon our lives. This is a huge system built upon the alliance of men, the State and the capital, stealing our paid and unpaid labor!
Family today is imposed upon us by the State more than ever. The AKP government, biggest proponent of the male dominant system, brings forth all the threatening policies to seize our bodies and to appropriate our labor further. “Strengthening the family” is its strongest weapon! AKP’s misogyny extends from insisting on “minimum 3 children per family” to omitting the word “women” from the title of the ministry, from launching educational programs on family and housewifehood to attempts at banning abortion. The “Family Ombudsman Program” imprisons us in the family even when we are subjected to violence. Under the neoliberal conservatism of the AKP, family turns into a social policy instrument which restricts women’s freedom and subjugates them to the power of men and the capital.
We reject the idea of the family that is based on labor slavery, lifelong care taking, violence and oppression! Such a family organization cannot be the only legitimate and desired form of life! If the sacred family is where women are murdered, doomed to marriage and to procreate for the state, we revolt against it!
We don’t want “help” from men; we want men to take an equal share of responsibilities. Housework and care work at home shall not be exclusively the responsibility of women. We want the state to provide free, universal and qualified care services. Day care should be provided at every workplace with 50 or more workers regardless of gender. State crèches should be free, 7/24 open, and without age limit. Similarly, adult and elderly care should be free and 7/24 open, with %50 quota for male workers. Birth control programs and the abortion-regulation should be such that every child who is born is a desired one. Sperm banks, just like birth control, should be free and accessible equally to everyone.
Divorce should be made easier in order to break free from the violence, exploitation and oppression of the family. We urgently need divorce support programs, not ombudsmen to convince us into marriage! We want unconditional subsistence allowance for women after divorce and that their life safety is ensured. For divorced women, we want vocational training that will not reproduce traditional gender roles, right to free housing, primacy and quota in employment. We want women to have individual social rights without being dependent on their families; individual women should have access to social security and to unemployment pay as soon as they are searching for a job.
We women are not doomed to the reproduction-oriented heterosexist family. We know there are other kinds of relationships, there are other forms of living. We know that there is love, solidarity and freedom outside the confines of the family within which we are oppressed.
There is life outside the family!
Socialist Feminist Collective