Response to MIM critique of Soledad Brother

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 65]

Response to MIM critique of Soledad Brother

I don't agree with the idea of Jackson being a homophobe by stating that unmarried white women are left to become prostitutes, nuns, and/or lesbians; I don't find it derogatory either. I don't agree or disagree with his statement. I actually have no judgement on that idea. I don't understand why MIM says it's homophobic and derogatory.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The MIM review of Soledad Brother we sent this comrade with a copy of the book includes this critique:

"The first part of the book, mostly letters to his mother and father, is not very political. Jackson uses many sexist stereotypes in this section, often to criticize his mother for failing in his brother's and his own education. He says, for example, that unmarried white women are left to become prostitutes, nuns and lesbians (p. 45). While it is true that economic forces put more pressure on unmarried women (the fastest growing population in poverty are women and children), Jackson's stereotype is homophobic and derogatory.

"Much of what could be criticized as sexist in Jackson's writing is left as ambiguous. He says that 'The white theory of 'the emancipated woman' is a false idea' (p. 46), which is an economic reality of Amerikan capitalism, but no context is given. To his credit he does explain that Black women are the backbone of the family (p. 74)."

The George Jackson reference is as follows:

"In the society of our fathers and in the civilized world today, women feel it their obligation to be ever yielding and obedient to their men. Life is purposely made simple for them because of their nature, and they are happy. When the women outnumber the men in the black societies, the men take as many wives as they can afford, and care for them all equally. In the white for some nebulous reason the men can take only one... the rest are left to become prostitutes, nuns, or lesbians."

The beginning of the quote is perhaps the more damning part, positing that wimmin have a simpler nature than men and therefore are happy serving them. We hope you don't agree with that part. The homophobia is perhaps more subtle, but Jackson is clearly pointing to these three options as being not good, and praising Black men for saving Black wimmin from such fates — having sex in exchange for money/things, not being able to have sex, or having to have sex with wimmin instead.

The grain of righteous truth in the Jackson quote is that white society had more fully succumbed to capitalist individualism, so that wimmin are more often left to fend for themselves in situations that are not conducive to meeting their needs. But Jackson contrasts this with the paternalist assumption that wimmin need to be taken care of by husbands in order to survive, suggesting that polagamy is a selfless sacrifice by men. The unique struggle of wimmin under capitalism is a result of the intersection of the patriarchy and capitalism, not about wimmin needing husbands to survive.