Rescue International Women's Day from its Communist roots

Joy Zavalick is research assistant for the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Examiner on March 8, 2022.

There is nothing new under the sun — especially when it comes to communism. As Russia, a country historically steeped in Communist influence, has set the world on edge by violently invading Ukraine, it is high time for the United States to purge the evil influence of communism wherever it may be found.

International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, is a modern celebration that unfortunately has Marxist influences. The immense irony of a Marxist country founding this holiday is that the only aspect of womanhood that communists celebrate is its ability to be exploited. Those seeking to celebrate International Women’s Day should defy the holiday’s Communist past and highlight the sanctity of women’s lives rather than their mere productivity.

2016 article from a leading socialist publication remarks, “This Valentine’s Day, the life of Jenny Marx reminds us of the love it takes to be a revolutionary socialist.” Jenny Marx was abused, cheated on, and left destitute by her husband Karl Marx, the “father of communism.” So yes, you could indeed say she is representative of the Communist ideal of perfect womanhood: subservient to the state, even to the point of immense suffering for herself and her children.

Women have never fared well under Marxist ideology. The so-called “liberation” of women under communism came at the expense of the abolition of the nuclear family and total government control over reproduction. In Soviet Russia, women were unable to consider financially supporting more than one child. The children they did have inevitably ended up in state-run daycare so their mothers could serve the economy in the workforce.

The modern domestic abuse epidemic in Communist-influenced countries is evidence communism is as bad for women today as it was during the Soviet era. In Russia, where domestic abuse was decriminalized in 2017, police estimate 600 women are killed in their own homes each month. Women also receive no legal protection against domestic violence in Cuba.

Despite the immense evidence communism harms women, some modern progressives persist in promoting Marxist ideals as the pathway to women’s empowerment. When the contemporary abortion lobby chants, “My body, my choice,” they echo the Marxist mantra, “Your body belongs to you.” However, when a Communist regime has the power to restrict reproduction, women’s bodies do not actually belong to them at all.

In China, a nation run by the Chinese Communist Party, forced abortions and sterilization are not only commonplace in the concentration camps where they actively commit genocide against the Uyghur population but also among the general population, where family size is controlled by the state. Due to China’s declining birth rate, the state is now incentivizing having more children, thus demonstrating another side of the same coin of state reproductive control. The value of women in Communist countries is dependent on what they can do for the government.

It is the women who have stood up against this idea who should be celebrated on this International Women’s Day.

Whittaker Chambers is now known as the heroic Soviet informer whose testimony was vital to the Alger Hiss trial. However, it was his wife Esther who inspired their family to escape communism.

When Esther discovered she was pregnant, the couple was ordered to abort the baby to focus on serving the Communist Party. In Whittaker’s 1952 memoir Witness, he details the moment when his wife bravely suggested she defy the order to undergo an abortion: “‘Dear heart,’ she said in a pleading voice, ‘we couldn’t do that awful thing to a little baby, not to a little baby, dear heart.’”

Despite the imminent danger, the couple turned their backs on communism. The valor of Esther Chambers provides a poignant vignette of the dilemmas women under communism face when they must choose between obedience to the state and obedience to their consciences.

Communists have repeatedly used female empowerment as a disguise for human rights violations against women. To reclaim International Women’s Day from its Marxist roots, we must celebrate women like Esther Chambers, who valiantly fought to protect the life of her child from the evils of communism. Likewise, we should carry on her legacy by advocating for those women suffering under communism today with no option of escape. Finally, let us never fall prey to the idea Marxism empowers women. On International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate women for who they are, not for what they can do for the state.