Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Women’s Detachment

Monogamy, Prostitution, and the Family

First Published: Red Star, No. 5, March 1971
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The fourth and final form of the family, which co-exists in society alongside classes during the entire historical period of civilization, is the monogamous family. The most reactionary expression of the family is the patriarchal family common to both barbarism and feudal society. Male supremacy is not only co-incidental with civilization, it is componently bound up with the emergence of class society. If we wish to speak of it scientifically, male supremacy or the subjugation of the female was brought about through monogamy, which was the first form of the family based on private property, and the first expression of the class struggle.

Marriage is the key to the family, where we find in germ all of the contradictions inherent in society. A marriage is not a family, in the modern sense, until a child is born to them, bringing into being the most alienated social unit, the living cell of a dying society, the Monogamous (the so-called “nuclear”) family. All forms of the family reflect not only the struggle of the female against the male, but also of the young against the old: wives are pitted against husbands, children against parents. These questions arise in relation to reproduction; the procreation and maintenance of the human species and are the expression of a contradiction qualitatively different from the class contradiction which emerges in the relations of production. The contradiction, between the young and the old, is the struggle of the new against the old. While it is a law that the new is bound to overcome the old which passes away and in turn the new becomes the old to be overthrown by the new. Such qualitative leaps are the law of society, it is revolution. The contradiction between the male and the female is of a different nature and the male can never be transformed into the female. During the historical period of civilization this contradiction is antagonistic.

The struggle of youth against age must have appeared very early in savagery at the same time the first form of the family, the consanguine family arose, superseding the general sexual promiscuity of the period of the transition from ape to human. The consanguine family proscribed one generation from marrying with another, fathers could not marry daughters or sons marry mothers. It is also quite probable that this stage of pre-historical culture with its low level of production necessitated infanticide and abandonment of the aged, with the predominance of the husbands and wives over the grandparents and children. The world was sparsely populated it this time. The higher the level of production in each successive social system the larger the population could grow, until now there are many more young persons than ever before in society. Historically, the mass movements of the women and youth rise up at the same time.

The second development of the family also occurred during savagery and led into early barbarism. This punuluan (from the Hawaiian) family prohibited the marriage of brothers and sisters, but it did not give the males domination of the females. The principle of the family at this stage, which like the first is a form of group marriage, is sisterhood. Each clan then traced its line through its mothers. This was not “matriarchy”, but matrilineal descent.

The pairing, family was the next step toward civilization, but not yet male supremacy. While group marriage amounts to simultaneous polygamy (many wives) and polyandry (many husbands), pairing marriage is individual marriage. Pairing marriage appears during the middle and upper stage of barbarism, the old society based on kinship about to give birth to society based upon class. Here the husbands basically retain polygamy, though this privilege is the practice of only the wealthy men, and women are severely punished for sexual relations outside the marriage though both partners can dissolve the marriage at any time. Along with the appearance of pairing marriage, a qualitatively new kind of contradiction is emerging in society and private property like a power over society.

Each successive form of marriage has cast the dark shadow of prostitution or hetaerism (hence “heterosexual”) as the first form of sexploitation. It was not so widespread or institutionalized during barbarism as it became in the course of civilization, but there was a bartering of women between tribes. Prostitution was first sanctified through primitive religion and came into practice as a substitute for human sacrifice. In order for women to free themselves of the social obligations of entering into pairing relation with an individual man, they had to ritually pay their dues so to speak by selling their bodies through the temple-brothel to the magician-priests. This was patriarchy without male supremacy, and it remained for monogamy to throw married women into prostitution alongside the “hetaira.” Prostitution-monogamy is not unlike slavery. Monogamous marriage in practice means the wives are bound to their husbands with husbands still in access of unmarried women. Ultimately this means that men are virtually given license to rape, and the wealthiest males in the ruling class are in possession of harems. With the establishment of monogamy, which appears simultaneously with classes, mother-right (matrilineal descent) was shortly overthrown in favor of father-right (patrilineal descent), with the line of inheritance and the family name passing from father to son, with all females disenfranchised. Slavery is class struggle plus monogamy, which evidences the total hypocrisy of the whole system, since in actuality it is “monoandry” (one husband) for the wife, not one wife for the husband.

The feudal ruling class is the aristocracy of families, with the royal patriarchs retaining all the privileges of the polygamous pairing marriage well into the “middle ages” by the practice of “jus primae noctis” the right of the first night by which they claimed possession of the virginity of all females under their domain. Sometimes the propertyless serfs could buy back their wedding nights by forfeiture of a sum of money, today you buy a license from the state. The contradiction between men and mourn reached its most antagonistic point during feudalism and is approaching a similar level of violent struggle during the final crisis of imperialism. Whereas in 10th century feudal Europe, Jesuits and chivalrous knights burned 9 million women alive today in pignation the ruling class has given orders to unleash a new wave of male-chauvinist reaction in the form of a homosexual-fascist movement. Throughout the whole culture and super-structure there is increasing evidence of the souping up of a feudalistic fascist movement which is directed against the struggle of revolutionary women. Depraved and bestial sexual degenerates are being given free license to attack, rape, and murder woman and the number of sexual molestations of children is mounting. Horrendous crimes of this nature are covered up and the crimes against women are never solved precisely because it is sections of the ruling class who indulge in such monstrous acts. It is know that the murderer of many London prostitutes, Jack the Ripper, was the Duke of Clarence, nephew to the King of England.

It has been the historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat that in the semi-feudal countries, with the patriarchal monogamian family, prostitution, but not marriage or the family, can be abolished in a very short period once the masses of workingwomen exercise political power with guns in hand. Prostitution, like marriage, assumed several earlier forms before it reached the stage of the monogamous family. Prostitution can only co-exist in society with marriage, Not until civilised monogamy could the males consolidate their victory over the females and prostitution totally permeate every relation between women and man. Monogamy took away what rights the women had retained in pairing marriage such as the option of divorce by the wife, but most significantly it overthrew mother-right in favor of father-right, inheritance passing in the line of the males now that there was property to inherit. Marriage is the only alternative to prostitution, two major forms of the enslavement of women, which, in exploiting society, cannot exist without each other. The bourgeois laws against prostitution are total hypocrisy with the marriage and divorce statutes constituting a veritable penitentiary for woman binding them to lifelong domestic and sexual servitude. Alongside the husband stands the pimp, who leases the prostitute to a succession of customers, many of whom are married men seeking to exercise their perverse sexual fantasies upon the abused body of a woman who is not reserved for the reproduction of his children.

One of the first tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the elimination of prostitution and enforcement of equitable marriage laws favorable to women, the immediate execution of pimps, and the eradication of all reactionary male-chauvinist elements. Prostitution is the curse of the family, and when it is removed, marriage upon which the family is founded will wither away in the course of the transformation from a socialist to a communist society.