The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Banning Pride Flags, and Other Attacks on Gender Equality

Jun 26, 2023

The city council of Hamtramck, Michigan banned Pride flags—rainbow flags celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, or LGBTQ—from city property. The city council and the mayor of Hamtramck are all men and all Muslim.

Make no mistake, Hamtramck is not alone in its attack on the LGBTQ community. This year alone has seen over 540 anti-LGBQT bills introduced in state legislatures—a record high. Over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, also a record number. Forty-five anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted so far this year. It’s not just conservative Muslim politicians.

These attacks against LGBTQ people are an attempt to enforce rigid gender roles and the hatred and oppression of women in this society. LGBTQ people’s existence calls into question the whole notion of rigid gender roles. This is threatening enough to male-domination to create the reaction we are seeing today.

The enforcement of male domination can be seen everywhere in this society, starting with attacks on women’s bodies: domestic violence, rape, taking away the ability to decide to end a pregnancy. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant group in the United States, just barred women from becoming pastors and voted overwhelmingly to expel two congregations with women pastors. Their rationale is that women cannot have authority over men! It’s not only Southern Baptists; Roman Catholics, Mormons, and the Orthodox Church also forbid women from being ordained.

In fact, this enforcement of strict gender roles and suppression of women is an inherent part of capitalist rule. They use this division to control women and exploit the entire working class.

Women, we are told, are supposed to get married, have children, take care of the housework and children, care for their elderly parents and so on. Men are supposed to go to work and bring home enough money to live on.

The reality is that since the very beginning of capitalism, women and children have worked in factories—the textile mills in Manchester, England, for example. Working class women have had to go to work precisely because families need two incomes. This is more true today with inflation. Women are still expected to take care of everyone, and the house, and punch the time clock.

Reactionary forces want to keep women down. But the working class has means to put women on an equal footing with men.