Happy Women’s Equality Day

Keep this handy next time someone claims that 2nd wave feminists had no race consciousness and didn’t care about children.  The graphic attached was an ad that ran in the Village Voice regarding the first Women’s Equality Day march and rally– which was called as a strike– and where 50,000 marched down 5th Ave in NYC.  Another of the ads said, “Don’t iron while the strike is hot.”

In 1971 Bella Abzug, Congresswoman from NYC, introduced the following resolution into Congress and it was passed:

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States;

and WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;

and WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights;

and WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

A Different Perspective on Abortion

Jenny Brown, organizer for National Women’s Liberation and author of Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work, presents a different perspective on the rather successful attempts to make getting an abortion– if you are poor– harder and harder.

Brown cites statistics demonstrating that U.S. women are having fewer and fewer babies, right now our birthrate is below simple replacement levels in the population.  This is of great concern to the 1% who fear there won’t be enough workers to exploit in the future.

Besides being a woman’s fundamental right of sovereignty over her own body, Brown reminds us that “The production of children, and who will pay for it, is a key economic battlefront.”

She discusses the carrot and stick methods that governments have used to increase birthrate.  The “carrot,” preferred in Europe and Scandinavia is to provide generous parental leave, good inexpensive childcare and other programs that makes having a child easier.  The U.S. has used the “stick” approach– trying to ban abortion and now going after birth control.

Read more at:https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/08/abortion-rights-strike-economic-battlefront-birth-rates

contributed by Kathy Scarbrough

The ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are Not Equal

the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not equal.  if you think they are, that means racists are equivalent to anti-racists, working class is equivalent to exploiters.  when the ‘left’ hates lesbians and all women it’s a flaw and an obstacle to unity/revolution, when the ‘right’ hates us it’s core to their program.

wish more women would read The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner and anything else that helps to make sense of these connections.  for some of us it’s not optional, and i’d even go so far as to say it’s white/christian privilege (or aspiration to it, i know there are exceptions) to think it’s unproblematic to make alliances with the right wing.  and it’s a politics of seeking male protection that is anti-feminist, i can’t see it any other way.

we’re also in a period of time where this matters more.  alliances that seemed pragmatic like the disability movement working ‘both sides of aisle’ have now become something different.

feminists have a tough road to walk when what’s called the ‘left’ (but really is mostly ‘centrist’ neoliberals, true ‘left’ space in the US is negligible) endorse the dismantling of our liberation movement and even meaningful reforms for the advancement of women and girls through gender-identity laws that prioritize male demands over our boundaries.  and when they endorse the selling of women’s sexual power and reproductive power (prostitution, pornography and surrogacy).  and when leftist men mansplain, rape, sexually harass, exploit/expect our unpaid menial and emotional labor, and more.  but who are *we* ourselves and what do we stand for, as feminists?  it’s more than a list of issues, it’s the overthrow of male domination of females and all the other forms of domination that this enables.

we can’t allow problems with male leftists and centrist neoliberals to drive us into the arms of those whose entire agenda is destruction of our liberation movement and sending lesbians back into the closet and all women subordinated to and controlled by men at every level.

for US feminists who want to join with like minded women please check out FIST- Feminists in Struggle.

and in the UK, https://womansplaceuk.org is doing amazing work.

When Women’s Liberationists Could Imagine Fighting Violence Against Women Without Relying on the Prison System

The new book, All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing and the Feminist Fight to End Violenceis a history of activism by, for, and about incarcerated domestic violence survivors, criminalized rape resisters, and dissident women prisoners in the 1970s and early 1980s.”

How Feminists Resisted Prisons and Policing in the 1970s

“Anticarceral feminist politics grew in the cracks of prison walls and at the interfaces between numerous social movements, including those for racial and economic justice, prisoners’ and psychiatric patients’ rights, and gender and sexual liberation. Through the process of building coalitions that transected these social justice struggles, the activists at the center of this study produced a broad and layered understanding of ‘violence against women’ that encompassed the structural violence of social inequalities, the violence of state institutions and agents, and interpersonal forms of violence, including rape, battering, and sexual coercion. This expansive analysis directly clashed with the “tough-on-crime” ethos of the 1970s and the mainstream women’s movement’s increasing embrace of criminalization as a frontline solution to interpersonal violence.”

All Our Trials shows how the focus on the lives of marginalized women demonstrated that incarceration was a source of further harm rather than justice and safety.  The book is well worth a read.

Don’t Disappear the “L” Action in San Diego

On Friday, July 12, eve of San Diego’s gay pride parade, 5 intrepid FIST lesbians sallied forth to put up stickers. The slogan was “Don’t disappear the L. Lesbians are women who love women. ” First we all enjoyed a great meal and conversation.

Then we started our stealth stickering on University Avenue in Hillcrest, which is San Diego’s version of San Francisco’s Castro. I must say this, yours truly was a bit nervous. The place was packed with revelers making merry. At times it was almost impossible to walk.

We plastered many street poles and “No Parking Pride Parade” signs. In fact just about anywhere the festivities were being advertised.

My favorite was the box giving out free “Gay San Diego” newspapers. Our stickers looked great there, an attempt to return us to the community from which we were rejected.

At the end of University was ground zero for all of this, the “Center” which houses all communities related to pride. Everyone is welcome, that is except for those lesbians who just want to be with other women. We are commonly called “terfs.”

The place was deserted of course as everyone was out at the bars and in the streets. But we left our calling cards there too.  After that we walked back to our cars, plastering the last of our stickers. Between the feeling of comraderie and subversiveness, a good time was had by all!

Reporting from San Diego, a proud radical feminist.

The 2019 U. S. Women’s Soccer Team is Remarkable for Both its Wins and its Radical Feminism

 

Members of the U.S. women’s soccer team, this year’s World Cup champions, are using their public platform to speak out about economic and racial issues, in addition to their demands for equal treatment relative to the men’s U.S. soccer team. Indeed, they sound like the radical feminists of the1960s joining all these issues together. Making clear the idea that none of us is free as long as one woman is unfree.

Amy Goodman, host of the news program Democracy Now interviewed two women about the feminist politics expressed by members of the U.S. women’s soccer team. The guests were Shireen Ahmed a writer, public speaker, award-winning sports activist focusing on Muslim women in sports and Dr. Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of history and African American studies at Penn State. Both women are involved in creating the weekly Burn It All Down sports podcast.

In discussion of the lawsuit the team has filed against the U.S. Soccer Federation Shireen Ahmend said, “So, effectively, the players of the U.S. women’s national team are unhappy, and setting an incredible precedent for women around the world to say, ‘We want equal pay. We want fairness. We want to talk about rights, maternity leave. We want to talk about healthcare. We want to talk about anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-oppression.’ That’s what they’re doing. So it’s a really important case.”

At one point in the interview Amira Rose Davis commented on the whiteness of the team. Goodman asked her to say more about that, to talk about “how the team is constituted, and [about] the women’s activism around the issue” of whiteness. Dr. Davis responded, “in the United States the access issue to soccer is vast. It takes a lot of money, very early on, in youth sports. And one of the consequences of that is that we don’t see a large amount of diversity and lower-income players represented on the team. … But this team has been very vocal about all of their intersecting identities. When asked to put names on the back of their jerseys to honor various women, for instance, Rapinoe chose Audre Lorde and said, ‘She’s an intersectional feminist, and that’s what I want my politics to be.’ Christen Press, one of the women of color on the team, said, ‘This is about pay equity. It’s about gender equality. But we also are talking about racial equity here. We’re also talking about what’s going on in terms of why Rapinoe chose to kneel.’” Davis goes on to say about Rapinoe that she’s “clear about being an ally, in saying, you know, ‘Yes, these are my fights, and I’m bringing a lot of clear visibility, and I’m talking a lot about pay equity, but I also am acknowledging the fact that I’m not policed in the same way, and I’m not dealing with relatives being shot dead in the street.’ And even when asked how she felt about patriotism, she’s like, ‘I feel deeply American, but we have to reckon with the fact that this country was founded on slavery.’”

The whole interview can be watched and/or heard here: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/8/seg_1

***

 

Redstockings Manifesto 50 Years Old Today

by Kathy Scarbrough

Today, July 7, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the NYC area radical feminist group Redstockings (www.redstockings.org).  The Redstockings manifesto of 1969 (click here for pdf) announced the aim of the group was to defeat male supremacy and purposefully echoed the language and organization of the Communist Manifesto, published more than a century earlier.  Redstockings called for a feminist revolution that would include a much needed economic revolution but also include a social revolution that would overthrow oppressions based on sex and race.  At first the male Left made fun of women’s liberation, then over the years the Left seemed to accept some feminist theory. However, segments of the Left today cling stubbornly to certain anti-woman and anti-feminist positions.  Therefore, it is good to come across papers within the Marxist community that defend feminism.

Zachary George Najarian-Najafi is a male radical who has read important feminist writings and connected them with classic writings on socialism in a three part series of articles called “Misogyny is Revisionism” published in Medium.com.  In this short series he debunks what he calls the “three insidious big lies that threaten the revolutionary and emancipatory foundation of the Marxist project.” These lies are, 1) Transwomen are women (on-the-lefts-woman-problem) 2) sex work is work (the-masque-of-the-red-pimp) and 3) feminism is bourgeois (in-defense-of-feminism). Najarian-Najafi writes clearly and without a lot of jargon yet seems well schooled in Marxism and cites many of the most famous theoreticians, both female as well as male. Each piece about a 10 to 15 minute read and well worth the time.

What better way to mark the 50th anniversary of Redstockings than by deepening one’s understanding of the connection between women’s liberation and socialism.

Legislative Alert!

HR5, the “Equality Act” is currently in the Judiciary Committee in the U. S. Senate.  FIST is developing a response to this bill.  Please stay tuned for proposed amendments.  To contact the members of the Judiciary Committee, go to:  https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

SB 132 – A bill in the California legislature, “an act to add Sections 2605 and 2606 to the Penal Code, relating to corrections,” would allow males who identify as transgender to be housed with the female population if it passes. It has already passed in the California Senate and is currently in the state Assembly, where it will be reviewed in the Public Safety Committee. This bill if enacted is particularly dangerous for women since the passage of SB 179 in October 2017 has allowed “. . . a person to submit to the State Registrar an application to change gender on the birth certificate . . . to conform the person’s legal gender to the person’s gender identity.” So any man may declare himself a woman and change his birth certificate, with no requirements or oversight and in total disregard of biological reality, opening the door for sexual predators of various types, from voyeurs to rapists, to reinvent themselves as female by taking on female names and identities. Add to this the reality that the majority of female prisoners have been molested, raped, sexually assaulted, trafficked, coerced or forced into pornography and/or prostitution, and the potential harm to incarcerated women and girls is greatly increased if SB 132 also passes.

FIST strenuously opposes the passage of this bill and asks everyone to call the members of the California Assembly Public Safety Committee and urge them to not allow it onto the floor for a vote as it poses a grave risk to actual women, who comprise 52% of the general population and a growing percentage of the prison population, and therefore to public safety. Also if you are in California, please contact your Assembly representative and urge her or him to oppose it as well. Here is a link to the list of the Public Safety Committee members and their phone numbers: https://apsf.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff

Reportback from the Boston Dyke March

by An Anonymous Dyke

Friday, June 7th, 2019. The Boston Dyke March. Before it began, an anonymous group of lesbians dispersed stickers throughout the Boston Common and surrounding area, site of the Boston Dyke March.

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT YOUR OWN STICKERS here at https://feministstruggle.org/2019/05/18/dont-disappear-the-l-campaign/

Going to the Dyke March again since I went for the first time a number of years ago, all the memories of the experience of lesbian erasure flooded back. It is obvious (to me, at least, as a lesbian who is indigenous to this continent) that the playbook of colonialism is being used on lesbians. I won’t say it’s 100% the same, but I can’t unsee the parallels. I saw a sign that said “all white people are immigrants”, which was a relief to see and is true: all europeans are colonizers, invaders — “immigrants” is only a euphemism, if only they were immigrants it would be so much easier. But the invaders run the show. They tell indigenous people south of the colonial border that they’re the outsiders. That the europeans are the true “natives”. This is a settler colonial state that tells indigenous people that we are foreigners on our own land, and works hard to erase indigenous people through many different means that I won’t get into here. The irony of having anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, pro-brown and pro-black signs, while promoting the colonization of lesbians by heteropatriarchy, is lost on the organizers of the Boston Dyke March. Do they think that black, brown, and indigenous lesbians don’t know what sexual dimorphism is, what female biology is? Do they want to tell us that the dinosaurs aren’t real and humanity is only 2,000 years old, too? Do they not realize that they (like many others) drive a wedge into the communities of the most marginalized lesbians? The colonization of a people (lesbians) who have existed here for thousands of years and since the beginning of time, by separating the youth from their elders and indoctrinating the youth with self-hating beliefs that promote our own eradication, encouragement of the appropriation of our cultural space and customs by straight people, enabling the rape of lesbians through compulsory heterosexuality with males “identifying” as lesbians, turning our selves against our selves, and losing touch with our selves. Gay conversion therapy in colonial form — tools of the patriarchy. Because if the patriarchy can’t convince us to stop loving women, then patriarchy does everything they can to keep us from saying no to men even if we say yes to women.

This is plainly visible when taking in my surroundings of what is supposed to be Lesbian Cultural Space. All the straights are taking over. Straight men are appropriating in the most blatant and offensive ways, but straight women are doing it too. Actual lesbians don’t feel welcome at Dyke Marches and other Pride related events. Having signs at an anti-corporate “grassroots” march that is supposed to be for you while people carry signs like “gender =/= genitals” and “terfs are lame” etc, is DEEPLY troubling for lesbians who should otherwise expect to be welcomed into that space. In reality, the word “lesbian” is rarely mentioned if at all (IT WAS NOT the first time I went!). Young lesbians coming to terms with themselves find this erasure re-traumatizing, on top of the emotional process of coming out, as this so-called “Dyke March” stigmatizes the core of what makes us lesbians: our exclusive same-sex attraction, our exclusive desire for females. I know that simply being there brought back a lot of anger and pain for me. This is supposed to be a LESBIAN march!

The Boston Dyke March reacted quickly to Boston FIST members stickering up the Boston Common and surrounding area. Calling it “graffiti”, they claimed that FIST is a “known transphobic group”, and well, I’ll let them speak for themselves:

“Hey Friends! We’re already setting up for our 24th March! As we’re getting ready for all of you on the Common, some TERF graffiti has been popping up. We are doing our best to remove any stickers and signs from FIST, a known transphobic group. If you find anything while attending The March, please inform one of our volunteers. We unequivocally believe that trans women are women. If any TERF harassment happens at the March, find a volunteer immediately and we will deal with it with the ferocity of a thousand burning suns.”

FIST — Feminists in Struggle — is a group that has lesbians as some of its primary organizers. It was lesbians who planned this intervention of our own march. We had no plans to “harass” anyone. Contrary to the Boston Dyke March’s accusations, it’s worth noting that at no point have Boston FIST members (who proudly claim responsibility for this action and hope that more new members will join us) EVER mentioned anything about trans people, at any point! Our stickers simply said: “Don’t Disappear the L! Lesbians are XX-female-symbol who love XX-female-symbol”! Two things:

  1. Our principles of unity clearly state that we want human rights for all people, including trans and gender nonconforming people! Everyone deserves basic human rights. But we want to say that lesbians matter. Do they think that we don’t love gender nonconforming lesbians, all lesbians, for existing? Do they not realize that many lesbians are gender nonconforming, aside from the fact that simply existing as a lesbian is inherently at odds with gender roles?
  2. We were talking about LESBIANS. A lesbian is a female human being with exclusive same sex attraction (to other female human beings). THIS is what the so-called “Dyke March” of Boston has claimed is “transphobia”. They want us to think it’s wrong to be a lesbian. They’re also afraid to admit this fact, and have their followers see that they took down these shamelessly pro-lesbian stickers, which is why they never specified what was on the stickers nor did they include photographs. They had to deceive their followers into thinking that what they took down was “anti-trans” instead of pro-lesbian. Their response only confirms what we already know, which is that Boston Dyke March is a HOMOPHOBIC, LESBIAN-HATING astroturf group that needs to cut out the bullshit and let real lesbians exist. Maybe even fucking celebrate our own existence, for once? Hence the need for intervention — and maybe the start of some accountability within the lesbian community. We need lesbians who are brave enough to live and love as out lesbians, in the full meaning of that word.

Where is your warrior spirit, lesbians? Are we going to let straight people take our march? Or will you join us and co-create? You can start by downloading and printing these stickers to distribute and place everywhere.