FEMINISTS IN STRUGGLE (FIST) LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR FEMINIST AMENDMENTS TO THE EQUALITY ACT

The current version of the Equality Act that passed in the House and is pending in the Senate is a double-edged sword for women. On the one hand, the bill expands civil rights protections for lesbians, gays and bisexuals, a cause for which feminists and lesbian/gay activists have struggled for many decades. The bill also adds protections against discrimination for some–transgender individuals–but not all people who do not conform to gender norms or stereotypes for their sex.  That too, is a good thing though it doesn’t go far enough since it fails to protect gender non-conforming individuals, including gays and lesbians and many feminists who do not consider themselves transgender.

On the other hand, the current legislation conflates sex with “gender identity” which effectively eliminates sex-based protections for women and girls.  It also explicitly requires that transgender identified males–any male who claims to be a woman–be admitted into women’s facilities including bathrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms.  That aspect of the current bill is equivalent to the self-ID law that was recently defeated in the UK.  It is extremely harmful to women and girls.

The harm of self-ID provisions is a result of the fact that women and girls are still oppressed and discriminated against as a sex class in our society.  We need programs for women and girls including under Title IX to redress past wrongs and equal the playing field, so that those of us born female have an equal opportunity to develop ourselves and pursue our dreams.   We also need female-only spaces and refuges for reasons of privacy and safety, especially because male sexual and physical violence against women and girls remains pervasive.

Feminists in Struggle are calling for the Equality Act to be amended rather than defeated. We demand a better bill that protects everyone’s rights and does not pit one group’s rights against another.  Our legal committee has drafted a Model Bill that incorporates Feminist Amendments into the Equality Act.  The Model Bill has been approved by the democratic body of our active FIST members, the Feminist Assembly.  Our version of the Equality Act preserves women’s sex-based rights including the right to female-only spaces and programs while adding strong prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex stereotyping. For example, under FIST’s bill all sex-based dress codes would become illegal.

Please join our Campaign for Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act! Let us know of your support.  And spread the word to all your contacts.  We know this is not going to be an easy struggle but neither was winning the vote. We in FIST believe that sisterhood is powerful and that together we can fight for our sex-based rights and win!

You may download a copy of the following documents: FeministAmendments.EqualityAct.final.FIST.09.19.19

Comparison of Original Equality Act and Feminist Amendments.09.02.19

TrackChanges.FeministAmendments.FIST.10.08.19-1

for more information on the FAEA (Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act)

The Death of Discourse: Silencing Dissent

The transgender lobby is well-known for its de-platforming, harassment, threats, violence and other attempts to silence anyone who voices any opposition to transgender ideology, but equally reprehensible is how organizations, educational institutions, media, etc. are caving into these strong-arm tactics.

Derrick Jensen, environmentalist extraordinaire and longtime feminist, has had his most recent book, “Bright Green Lies,” written in conjunction with Lierre Keith and Max Wilbert, outlining the falsehoods perpetuated by the mainstream environmental movement that has been co-opted by industrial capitalism, dropped by the publisher.  Why?  Because he has been slandered by TRA’s because of his gender-critical feminist views.  To quote Derrick, “This is the cult-like behavior of the postmodern left: if you disagree with any of the Holy Commandments of postmodernism/queer theory/transgender ideology, you must be silenced on not only that but on every other subject. Welcome to the death of discourse, brought to you by the postmodern left.

Here is their eloquent statement on their views regarding gender, complete with links:

“We are part of a global, multi-generational feminist struggle that is critical of gender. There are many aspects to this political tradition, one of which is criticism of modern gender identity politics.”

“To make clear our position:

  • We believe that physical reality is real. This includes biological sex.
  • We believe that women–adult human females–have been oppressed under patriarchy for several thousand years.
  • We believe that sex stereotypes–aka gender–are social constructions. There is nothing biological that drives women to wear high heels and makeup, and drives men to fail to show emotions. Those are created by society to keep men on top and women subordinate. Sure, it’s perfectly fine if men want to wear makeup and high heels, but a desire to do so does not make them women.
  • We believe that people should be allowed to dress however they want, love whomever they want, have whatever interests and personalities they want. And of course they shouldn’t be discriminated against or subjected to harassment or violence. But these fashion choices, sexual preferences, and personality characteristics do not change anyone’s sex. Insisting that they do is reactionary. The whole point of feminism was that both women and men have full human capacities and shouldn’t be constrained to half of our human potential. The catchphrase of the seventies “free to be you and me” has become its polar opposite, where a little girl who likes trucks must really be a boy and hence may be subject to profound and life-changing medical alteration.
  • We believe that the modern gender identity movement is resulting in concrete and widespread harm, such as via dismantling hard-won protections like Title IX, private bathrooms, separate prisons, women’s sports, changing rooms, scholarship programs for women, women’s events and groups, etc. And of course it is causing harm through the destruction of discourse by the systematic silencing of anyone who disagrees with any portion of the gender identity movement.
  • We believe, as did Andrea Dworkin, that “Those of us who love reading and writing believe that being a writer is a sacred trust. It means telling the truth. It means being incorruptible. It means not being afraid, and never lying.” We believe the same holds true for publishers. Or used to. Or should.
  • We believe that there is a crisis in publishing and in public discourse, brought on by what has been named “the regressive left.” This movement bears no relation to the historic left that has spent decades fighting for a just and sustainable world. The historic left believed in the power of education and the free exchange of ideas as the foundations of democracy and as bulwarks against authoritarianism. The regressive left has instead based itself on harassing, threatening, deplatforming, and/or assaulting–that is, silencing–anyone who dares to disagree with any of its dogma. We are certainly not alone in noticing this. It has been remarked on by everyone from Noam Chomsky to Ricky Gervais. This regressive left has embraced authoritarianism, and has empowered both petty tyrants and smug cowards. It is not an exaggeration to say that we are deeply chilled by the regressive left’s rise to power. The values necessary for civic society to function and the institutions whose job is to embody and protect those ideals are eroding, and, with a few brave exceptions [for example, the above mentioned Chomsky, Gervais, various comedians, various old-school lefties like Chris Hedges; as well as The Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago, FIRE, Heterodox Academy, and Bret Weinstein], not enough people seem willing to stand and fight. Probably because when we do, regressive lefties threaten our careers, our livelihoods, and our very lives. They deplatform us. They get us fired. They void our contracts. Many threaten to rape and kill the women, and to kill the men. This has become routine. The new orthodoxy is anti-intellectual, anti-democratic, and fundamentalist in its mindset. Its tactics of bullying, deplatforming, stalking, severe social censure, and violence will never create a just and sustainable world. It will only create autocrats, self-righteous quislings, and in the case of gender identity, a generation of children who have been sterilized and surgically altered. Children are already being harmed by this project. Some of those young people are speaking out, and we urge you to listen to them:

For the entire post, please see:  Letter to a Publisher

 

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.