: Now you are right to say that a fundamental reordering of economic relations (ie socialism) would help in overcoming entrenched prejudice and obtaining equity for women.
: I am not sure i see how it would deal with the another problem though- women being entrenched into certain forms of work (women being nurses, secretaries, teachers, etc). It seems to me that with this socialism would have all the same problems of overcoming entrenched prejudices and social roles that capitalism has. It's not easy to reorder society's established social relationships.
Let me remind us of a few confirmed facts on human history - anthropological ones. In his book "The Origins of Family, Private Property and the State", Engels 'speculated' from the (then) recent archaeological discoveries on three kinds of people - the early Celts, The Germans and the Iroquoi indians - that the turning point of the social status of a man and a woman was actually a 'recent' event concerning the history of the human race. Now, more archaeological facts and anthropological research confirm Engels' assumption. The small pre-historic mass of people evolved into towns, cities, nations due to the ECONOMIC discovery of farming, and the introduction of this "1st Revolution" formed a new social hiearchy ruled by men.
The Economic efficiency of farming deconstructed the social status of women as the root of "life, birth and prosperity", and placed them in the status of the "child-maker". Farming required laborers, and women were the means of reproduction. The efficient collective farming methods needed large numbers of slaves and workers, and these were provided by wars. Wars needed soldiers - strong men, and from there evolved centralized nations based on the hiearchy of men.
I'm sure you know this, and that most everybody know this. This fact suggests to us that it was not the physical superiority itself that put men on highgrounds. Rather it was the social system which required physical power and authority, and the economical reallity which gave birth to the that social system. This - in a way - proves that the theories of the historical materialism is also to be applied on explaining women's social status. Each existing system and mentality has a economic drive which brought it forth.
I agree when you said this:
"They remain unequal mainly i think because it is so ingrained in our social system that they are not equal. There are entrenched power structures and prejudices that have to be oversome before they can be truly equal."
I couldn't have said it better. But if that is true, then, what power engraved these tendencies so deeply into our minds? And how were these power structures created? What enforced these prejudices into our minds? And from there we can find answers to "why women were treated unequally", and how we will set that right.
You see economics as a reflexion of social relations, but I see it the opposite way around - social relations are the reflexion of economics. (Of course, some people tend to think that this means every social drive is automatically determined by economics. But of course, that is not true. Surely economics are the heaviest factors determining the social relations, but there are more to society than just economics.)
You said Socialism would deal with one part of the problem- it would provide women with equal pay. And you also said that capitalism can provide that too. And you are right to some extent.
The social structure of a man and a woman came a long way down history until the Feudal ages met its end. The revolutionary introduction of capitalism freed women from their long shackles. As women began to take up postions as workers their social status achieved a certain extent of equality.
In the early periods of lassaiz-faire capitalism, the introduction of human rights abolished the social inferiority of women. But in those eras, the feudal mentality of bourgeoistic aristocracy still existed, and with it the need to pass down the wealth and capital within the family - capital accumulation. So the result is the sort of family order we can see in the Victorian ages of England(Or maybe the movie "TITANIC" might be adequate in explaining this).
Currently the Western world has met a new stage of capitalism. The early process of capital accumulation is now finished, so western women no more feel themselves suppressed within the "Victorian family". But now, their exists the more "capitalistic" problems, but I won't mention it here.
Capitalism brought forth a new reallity and freed women from one thing, but tied them up in another thing.
Socialism is more than just "equal pays". I know what you are thinking. And I too, think achieving a socialist society WILL NEVER automatically ensure womens equality. But a socialist society is not only supposed to give what workers deserve, but also demolish the systematic production and circulation of certain types of prejudices by demolishing the material reallity behind that prejudice.
I live in a country where the labor movement has begun only decades ago. And believe me, I have seen quite many cases where the most progressive and militant male workers are at times even more conservative than Confucius himself when it comes to women and family matters. After all, feminism and socialism might share a common interest or insight, but they ARE different things.
"Your activities inspire more people on abolishing prejudice than a load of feminist books"
"But it is not as much as it was meant to have been. Everytime we try to liberate women by establishing new forms of life and survival we are halted by a same obstacle over and over again - The devastated economical status of Russia."