ICC's position on feminism

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Emanuel Santos
ICC's position on feminism
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I was reading through the ICC's article on International Women's Day 2008 and I came across a line that argued that prostitutes lived off men's sexual impoverishment. That thought was never really elaborated on in this article, and I was just wondering what exactly was meant by that. For reference, here is the article in question: https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2008/apr/international-womens-day

Apologies, I found this

Apologies, I found this lurking in the spam queue. It's now published. I'm afraid I can't offer a response at present, so if someone else wants to have a bash ...

In an article "The

In an article "The transformation of Social Relations" (1996) on this site Bordiga is quoted as follows below. I think this may contribute a little towards an answer to the  question posed above by to Thehoney badger. . 


For marxism, however, just as the political seizure of power by the working class is only the first step towards the inauguration of a communist society, so the destruction of commodity relations and the collectivisation of production and consumption, in short the "economic" content of the revolution, merely provides the material base for the creation of qualitatively new relations between human beings.

In his "Commentaries on the 1844 Manuscripts", Bordiga eloquently explains why this must be the case in a society that has completed the alienation of human relations, not least sexual relations, by subordinating them all to the domination of the market. "The relationship between the sexes in bourgeois society obliges the woman, starting from a passive position, to make an economic calculation each time she accedes to love. The male makes this calculation in an active fashion by making a balance sheet of a sum allotted against a need satisfied. Thus in bourgeois society not only are all needs expressed in money as in the male's need for love but, for the woman, the need for money kills the need for love" (Bordiga et la passion du communisme,Spartacus, 1972, p156). There can be no supercession of this alienation without the abolition of the commodity economy and the material insecurity which goes with it (an insecurity felt first and foremost by the female). But this also requires the elimination of all the social-economic structures that reflect and reproduce the market relationship, in particular the atomised family household which has become a barrier to the real fulfilment of love between the sexes: "In communism without money, love will, as a need, have the same weight for both sexes and the act which consecrates it will realise the social formula that the other's human need is my human need, to the extent that the need of one sex is realised as the need of the other. This cannot be proposed simply as a moral relationship founded on a certain physical connection, because the passage to a higher form of society is effected in the economic domain: the care of children is no longer just the concern of the two parents but of the community" (ibid).

can't buy me love

Perhaps Bordiga was being polite when he talks of "the male's need for love" above, because prostitution is only about sex is it not, and love doesn't really come into it except in fantasy. To say that for a woman, even a prostitute  "the need for money kills the need for love" is preposterous. In a prostitute (female or male) a need for money doubtless  "kills the need for sex" as a pleasurable pursuit, because a prostitute is engaged in selling sex as  a commodity only. But that doesn't effect the need for love, and  prostitutes need love as much as the rest of us do.  

Unfortunately for humanity LOVE cannot be bought and sold.  Not even the richest capitalist can buy it, though he may be conned into thinking he has.  The bourgeoisie has reduced the concept of love  to its lowest common denominator in that under capitalist rules and capitalist alienation love  is now equated mainly with the sex act.

 Love generally never enters into all the buying and selling we spend all  our days  engaged in mercilessly and thus lay waste our lives. Profit rather than love  is what we pursue. Love has no place in business.  

Perhaps we don't even know what love is anymore. Perhaps this is why so many books, films, songs, paintings and the like take it as their subject. Because we all long for it so much, and long to discover anew what it is -  assuming that our long-distant ancestors had love in abundance in primitive communism, else how did  they survive? 

But prostitutes need love  as much as the rest of us do.  And unfortunately  we are all prostitutes now.  We all have to  sell ourselves to the highest bidder.  We have no choice. It's called work. We are compelled to work or suffer unemployment, and what we sell is our labour power.

Those in the sex trade are no different from the rest of us and may even in some cases be more usefully employed than many of us in our pointless jobs, in trying to deal with the anxieties and strains of sexual impoverishment and loneliness for  which they are paid like therapists. 

Not so simple

I'm not sure how to explain more or better the term Honey Badger is asking about (prostitutes living off men's sexual impoverishment). It seems fairly clear and explicit to me, maybe HB could come back on this?

I'm not sure I agree with Fred though. True, we all need love (a basic human need), but can love and sex be so easily separated as he seems to think (Freud certainly didn't think so). Capitalism separates them by introducing the cash relation into even the most intimate, fundamental human relationships of which the sexual relationship between men and women is one certainly.

Thinking about this put me in mind of Jacque Brel's heartrending "Au Suivant", whose words you can also find, together with an English translation.