by Ann Menasche

The opinion below is that of the author and does not necessarily represent those of Feminists in Struggle.

The contemporary anti-feminist backlash is reaching far back into our nation’s history – the mid to late 19th century – to revive horrible misogynist laws that should have been long dead and buried.  These laws arose during an earlier backlash against the First Wave of Feminism, in response to women organizing against our oppression.  That was a time when women still didn’t have the vote, and could not own property.  However, the birthrate for white women had fallen to 3.5 child per couple from seven in 1800, with abortion commonplace and performed by women.  This was of great concern to the white fathers running the country including those of the medical establishment just consolidating their power.

One such “zombie law” is Arizona’s draconian anti-abortion law which outlaws virtually all abortions, recently upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.   Under this law passed in 1864 anyone who provides supplies or administers an abortion or abortion drugs can be charged with a crime and if convicted, receive between 2 and 5 years in prison.  The only exception is when the abortion is necessary to save the life of the woman.

Another “zombie law” is the 1873 Comstock Act against obscenity, a law that bans the use of mail to transport “lewd” materials.  This law was used to imprison and deport lesbian Jewish radical leftist Eve Adams in the early twentieth Century for authoring a book containing lesbian love stories. She ended up dying in the Holocaust. The Comstock Act’s anti-abortion provisions are being resurrected by the Christian Right in the case against the FDA currently pending before the Supreme Court aimed at stopping the distribution of the abortion drug, mifepristone.

But it gets worse.  The current backlash is impeding the ability to fight back effectively against this attack.  The strongest argument for abortion rights especially post-Dobbs is the equality argument, i.e., that abortion bans and restrictions discriminate against women as a sex.  This was recognized by Justice Ginsberg decades ago when she wrote, “Legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”  It has been successfully argued in states that have state ERAs such as Pennsylvania where that state’s Supreme Court opined that pregnancy is a sex based condition and abortion restrictions impact women’s status.  The sex equality approach to abortion rights would be even stronger if abortion advocates argued that the fully ratified national ERA should be treated as the law of the land and a strict scrutiny test utilized to challenge anti abortion laws as discriminatory against women.

Yet, abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation and Trust Women are helping the enemy by disappearing women from the picture, talking about “pregnant people” and “birthing bodies.”  To make matters worse, Trust Women recently force- teamed abortion rights with access to so-called “gender affirming care” the euphemism for the sterilization and mutilation of lesbian/gay and gender non-conforming adolescents and young people  through puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, double mastectomies, and genital surgeries.   This is a kiss of death to the abortion rights struggle.  As the Cass Report issued by the National Health Service in the UK documented, child transition is without a basis in scientific evidence and is far more harmful than helpful.  It is causing untold harm to a generation of mostly lesbian and gay youth who have been indoctrinated to believe their body is “wrong” and in need of these drastic medical interventions to be themselves. “Gender affirming care” has nothing to do with the right to safe legal abortion which is essential for women’s freedom and is shown to save women’s lives.

Abortion is about the fundamental right of WOMEN to decide if and when they will bear a child.  A feminist struggle is what won abortion rights to begin with and it is the only force that can win it back.


Please join us for this fascinating and controversial topic on Saturday March 30 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time!


FEMINIST FORUM : CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT – MEN IN WOMEN’S PRISONS Tickets, Sat, Mar 30, 2024 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite


Women prisoners are among the most vulnerable women in our society. They are often poor and disproportionately women of color. Many have experienced sexual and physical violence and abuse often at the hands of men. Women in prison are frequently raped and sexually abused by male prison guards. Now, under a new California law, they are being placed in even greater jeopardy: male prisoners who self-identify as women are being placed into women’s prisons. Many of these males have been convicted of raping, abusing and/or murdering women and girls.

Hear two speakers who represent the perspectives of the incarcerated women who have had this law imposed on them:

1) AMIE ICHKAWA is formerly incarcerated and a founding member and executive director of Woman II Woman. She works directly with women in prisons nationwide with a large focus on California. Woman II Woman champions the rights and welfare of sisters through advocacy and education, along with providing services for parole suitability hearings, commutation preparation, and one-on-one re-entry support, welcoming women back into the community with dignity and respect through a team who have lived the experience.

2) DR. SUZANNE VIERLING has extensive experience in higher education, mental health administration and international consultation. She is a global leader with proven capabilities for driving initiatives and programs across all organizational levels. Dr. Vierling’s expertise includes assessment and accreditation, online learning, compliance, as well as poverty, child welfare, community psychology, foster care, women & bioethics, human trafficking, mental health and juvenile detention. She is a member of Feminists in Struggle.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali: A Book Review 

Jocelyn Crawley is a FIST member who authored this review on the important topic of rape. The opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily represent the positions of FIST.

Rape remains central to the way patriarchy operates. In her important book What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, Sohaila Abdulali discusses how the ongoing reality of sexual assault impacts survivors and the communities in which they live. Reading this work provides radical feminists with fresh insights regarding why rape is still prevalent and what we should be doing about it.

The introduction of What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is meaningful for many reasons, including the presence of an important question: “How have we managed to evolve as a species that is riddled with rape? When did we give ourselves permission to become this way?” (2) These interrogations are important because they prevent us from falling into the normal mental pattern of perceiving rape as an inevitable part of life and cause us to think of sexual assault as the horrific, dehumanizing reality that it is.

One of the most compelling sections of the text unfolds in Chapter Two, where the author recounts public response to the brutal gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi. People protested by raising signs which read “Don’t tell your daughter not to go out. Tell your son to behave properly” (8). However, negative messaging and response to the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh coincided with the protests. Specifically, one of the rapists stated on film that “only about twenty percent of girls are “good.” If they go out at night with boys, they are asking for trouble. If they don’t want to be killed, they should just lie back and submit. He and his friends were teaching Jyoti a lesson, he said, and her death was an accident. (8). Here, feminists can see that misogyny is still a prevalent element of male socialization such that rape is permissible because men identify traits in women which make them worthy of their wrath.

For many years, many radical feminists have pointed out that while many aspects of rape are problematic, one of the most disquieting, discouraging realities of sexual assault is the lack of concern for the victim. The term “victim-blaming” was coined to reflect the lack of empathy and positive attention given to survivors, and Abdulali speaks to this reality by noting that “the victim remains the least important factor” (33). To recognize how this abstract impression works on the concrete level, consider Abdulali’s assertion that “Sometimes women tell but everyone acts as if they said nothing at all. One woman emailed me: “I told my parents about it and they did nothing. Absolutely nothing. I felt so betrayed. Everyone in my family knew but still he was there at each and every family function. He even works at my uncle’s shop” (18,19). Here, women who are committed to global female liberation can see the need to recentralize the holistic recovery of rape survivors when strategic acts of resistance to patriarchy are being developed.

As 2024 continues to unfold, rape must remain an integral element of radical feminist discourse and strategic work towards the liberation of women and girls from the sexual tyranny of men. Women-centered women can refer to Sohaila Abdulali’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape to obtain more information regarding how discourse regarding sexual assault unfolds and what strategies feminists can develop to resist the minimization of female experiences under patriarchy.




Feminists in Struggle presents a diverse group of feminists from the United States and Israel who all share a pro-peace perspective for a panel discussion on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and issues of war, peace and occupation as they impact women and girls.

Saturday, February 10th, 11:00 a.m. Pacific time, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.  

Tickets on sale now for only $5.00 plus service charge.



1) CINDY SHEEHAN – is an American anti-war activist, mother and grandmother, whose son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed during the Iraq War . She attracted national and international media attention in August 2005 for her extended antiwar protest outside President George W. Bush’s Texas Ranch. Her memoir, Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism, was published in 2006. Sheehan was the 2012 vice-presidential nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party and ran for California Governor in 2014. She runs a substack podcast called “Cindy Sheehan’s soapbox” and continues to speak out against war and imperialism, including against the genocide in Gaza.

2) DORIS BITTAR – Artist, writer, educator and civil rights organizer, Doris Bittar has lived in California since 1986. She was the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee West Coast Coordinator for three years, San Diego Chapter President for seven years. Bittar was born in Baghdad, Iraq of Lebanese and Palestinian parents. She is nationally and internationally exhibiting artist whose works are in collections in the US, the Arab World and Europe. She was a professor of art for 25 years at UCSD, Cal State San Marcos. the American University of Beirut, and was visiting scholar at NYU in 2017. Her current project, Colonial Colonnade premiered at the Arab American National Museum in November 2023.

3) HANNAH SAFRAN – Feminist, lesbian, peace activist and veteran of Women in Black in Haifa, Israel. She was one of the women who started the vigil with the slogan “An End to the Occupation” in March 1988, close to the beginning of the first intifada. She has been active at Isha L-lsha the Haifa feminist center and is currently involved in its feminist archive and library.  She has done research and taught in Women’s Studies in academic institutions. Her work on the history of the Jewish suffrage movement in Palestine in the 1920’s and the beginnings of the feminist movement of the 70’s was published in a book. She has also published articles on the history of the feminist-lesbian movement and the women’s peace movement. She has been actively involved in the protest movement against the war on Gaza and for the return of the kidnapped people

4) ROMI ELNAGAR – is a retired teacher-librarian with long-standing personal ties to the Middle East. She majored in Third World colonial history (modern Asian, African and Latin American histor), and has lived and travelled in the Middle East. She converted (“reverted”) to Islam more than forty years ago, has made the hajj to Mecca, and has studied the Koran extensively in English translations. For many years, she has helped families in Gaza with their basic needs. As a teacher, mother and grandmother, she is especially concerned with the struggle of Palestinian women under the Occupation, and the special challenges women face in that struggle. She is a proud member of Feminist in Struggle.

5) ANN MENASCHE is a life-long radical lesbian feminist, socialist and anti-war activist proud of her Sephardic Jewish heritage. Members of her family lived in Turkey and Greece under Ottoman rule and some were murdered in the Holocaust. While in college, she rejected the Zionism she grew up with and came to advocate peace, justice and equality between the two peoples living in the holy land and an end to occupation, discrimination, and apartheid. She is horrified at the genocide going on against Palestinians in Gaza and believes “never again” means for everybody. She works as a Civil rights attorney for low income tenants and unhoused clients. Ann is a founding member and member of the Coordinating Committee of Feminists in Struggle.

THIS IS A WOMEN-ONLY EVENT. Male allies are welcome to watch our zoom videos on Youtube.

More Witch-hunting in the Left

By Ann Menasche
(This is the opinion of the author alone and does not represent the views of FIST as an organization.)

As a lifelong anti-war activist, a couple of months ago I threw myself into the political work of stopping the genocide against the people of Gaza (overwhelming targeting women and children) by rejoining the San Diego chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. I attended rallies, spoke at one of them and initiated plans for a Hanukkah event that would light the Menorah and call for a permanent ceasefire and a just peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

I didn’t say a word about my gender critical views. The topic simply never came up. But some folks decided to do their homework on me, starting with posts in my X account and leading to my role in FIST. So, it came down as expected. I was told that I either needed to recant my views Orwellian style and “apologize” for my thought crimes, or I couldn’t even attend the event I had planned (I was supposed to be a speaker), because of the risk my very presence posed to the “safety” of trans members. When I refused to recant and said I would attend the public event anyway, they changed the location at the very last minute and made sure I wasn’t informed of the change.

Of course, folks know I never go quietly into the night. When I was fired from my job after asserting the biological fact that only females of the species get pregnant and need abortions – defined as “hateful bigotry” by my former employer – I filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination (still pending). See https://defendfeminists.net/the-feminists-we-defend/justice-for-ann-menasche

When I was effectively expelled from JVP through being excluded from participating and attending their events, I began circulating an open letter that will be published shortly with signatures of anti-war activists, authors, and journalists from around the country. Renown individuals like Cindy Sheehan and Chris Hedges have signed on.

To my Leftists comrades who think feminists like me should be excluded from the movement: You don’t own the Left, you just think you do. Radical feminists are part of the Left, whether you like it or not. If you are serious about stopping war and genocide, stop witch-hunting out some of your best activists and doing the work of the IDF and the Pentagon for them.


Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite for our Saturday December 2nd forum, 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time, 2:00 p.m. Eastern time,on fighting gender identity indoctrination going on in our public schools.

To the horror of many, children in public schools are being indoctrinated to believe that some people are born in the “wrong” body; that biological sex, to the extent it exists at all, is “assigned” and can be changed; and that if a child or teen doesn’t conform to sex stereotypes or if they are same sex attracted, their body is “wrong” and they may need to medically “transition.” Girls, lesbian and gay teens, autistic children and anyone who is “different” are particularly vulnerable to this message. Children are being “socially transitioned” – treated like they are the other sex (or neither sex) in school – often behind their parents’ back. This sets these children on the path to puberty blockers, cross sex hormones, removing or surgically modifying healthy body parts resulting in sterilization and other permanent harms to their long term mental and physical health, often while they are still minors.

To begin the discussion on how best to fight back against the indoctrination of school children into gender identity ideology and the promotion of child transition by our public schools, FEMINISTS IN STRUGGLE presents two women who have been leaders in this struggle:

CAROL DANSEREAU is an advocate, organizer, singer, feminist, mother and grandmother. She spent decades advocating for environmental protections, including for farm worker families exposed to highly toxic pesticides for which she and her organization received the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association’s Public Justice Award. Carol has been fighting Gender Identity Ideology since 2019, most recently at her local school board, and sees the movement we are building on that issue as central to achieving the system change needed for a just and sustainable world. Visit caroldansereau.substack.com for her articles, reports and videos on Gender Identity ideology, environmental issues, immigration and other topics.

ERIN FRIDAY is a licensed California attorney, mother and wife. She is also a lifelong Democrat whose daughter used to believe that she was a boy . Erin co-leads the Western Region of Our Duty, an international group of parents and allies who are fighting to protect children and vulnerable adults against gender ideology. She is on the executive committee for Protect Kids California https://protectkidsca.com/, that is promoting a 2024 ballot initiative to stop gender interventions on minors, prevent males from competing in female sports and entrance into female spaces, and stop schools from socially transitioning students without parental knowledge or consent. She also leads a local branch of Parents of Rapid-Onset of Gender Dysphoric Kids. She has authored articles in the Wall Street Journal, Daily Signal, the Ohio Press, the Epoch Times, Our Duty Substack, Post Millennial and for Parents of Inconvenient Truths about Trans. She is frequently found in Sacramento fighting bills that erode parental rights and force parents to subject their children to gender interventions.

FIST’s Feminist Forums series are interactive and organizing events. At our forums, women have an opportunity not only to hear interesting speakers on a variety of feminist topics but to meet each other, make comments, ask questions of the presenters and discuss feminist politics together. We also usually tape the events so they may be viewed later. Persons in attendance are free to shut off their cameras and mute themselves, should they prefer to do so. If you prefer to remain anonymous within the group, or plan to sign in under a different name from the name you have used for registration and purchase of your ticket, please contact the organizer prior to the event. Thanks.



Photo from Jewish Voice for Peace protest in Grand Central Station, New York, 10/27/2023

By Ann Menasche

This is the opinion of the author alone and does not represent the position of Feminists in Struggle.

The targeting of civilians in war, whether in the name of “resistance against occupation” or “defense against terrorism”, whether from bombs thrown from the air onto crowded residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and places of worship or attacks with guns, knives, explosives, or other violent attacks from the ground, means the brutal deaths of innocent women and their children at male hands. It is a particularly egregious form of mass femicide, this time, not directed against their “own” women – the women of their nation or ethnic group – but the women of the demonized “other”, the “enemy.” Because in virtually all contemporary societies, men are the large majority of combatants and the civilians are women, children and the elderly.

It was not until 1949, the aftermath of World War II, a war that resulted in over 38 million civilian deaths that international law in the Geneva Conventions legally defined war crimes or crimes against humanity. And it was not just Nazis that caused those deaths during World War II, though they caused a lot of them. The estimate of deaths from the allies’ firebombing of Dresden which were justified as an attempt to shorten the war and save soldiers’ lives, is at least 25,000 to 35,000 civilians; the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki immediately killed 214,000 Japanese civilians, not counting the later premature deaths of countless others from radiation. But the victors don’t usually get charged with war crimes. That slaughter was justified on the same grounds, but according to primary source I read in college, the U.S. was well aware that Japan was about to surrender; however, they wanted to show the Soviet Union their new powerful weapon, as the Cold War was just being launched.

Rules of war established after World War II have almost always been honored in the breach, with the U.S. having quite a lot of civilian blood on its hands, again mostly women and children. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, justified by 9/11 and the “war on terror”, 280,000 to 315,000 Iraqi civilians were killed by the violence, not counting the life-threatening damage to civilian infrastructure that caused even more deaths. The bombing of Vietnam during the Vietnam war resulted in between 30,000- 65,000 civilian deaths. The Vietnam government estimates the total civilian deaths from the war to be 2,000,000 people. Again, we are talking about the wanton mass murder of women and children.

Of course, one reason the U.S. hesitates to criticize Israel as it indiscriminately kills thousands of Palestinian women and children in Gaza through its bombs and threatens more lives with its tightened blockade preventing clean water, food and energy from entering, and letting only a trickle of humanitarian aid in, is because the U.S. does the same thing. The U.S. government’s refusal to support the international call for a ceasefire in the Israel/Gaza war is criminal and makes our government complicit in the extensive war crimes going on right now.

War and peace are feminist issues because, among other reasons, war allows men to murder women and our children with impunity. Feminists, whatever side we may be on in a conflict, should never justify or support the deliberate targeting of civilians or the callous indifference to civilian lives so that men will sacrifice any number of innocent women and children to get the “bad guys.”

As feminists we should care about the lives and wellbeing of our sisters around the globe, including both Israelis and Palestinians. We should never excuse the crimes of the men on “our side” of these wars. No more femicide in my name.

As feminists, we should also know that only justice and equality can establish a solid ground for peace and safety for all the peoples of this planet.


By Ann E Menasche

This opinion is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminists in Struggle.

On September 15 to 17, 2023, I attended the WDI USA national conference. “Accelerating the Women’s Liberation Movement” along with 100 of my sisters (including several FIST members).  I stayed an extra day to participate in a non-violent direct action in front of San Francisco’s City Hall.  I was one among twenty women dressed in white participating in the action that had as its focus the rights of lesbians.

The conference was inspiring, the women speakers and attendees a fascinating, thoughtful bunch.

But my experiences with the Trans Rights Activist protesters were deeply surreal and even frightening. Outside the conference and at Monday’s demonstration, masked men, some in drag, others with black masks and “antifa” garb, repeatedly hurled ear-splitting yells at us, called us “fascists” and threatened us with death for the “crime” of our feminism.  Signs read, “Millions of dead TERFs”, and “I eat TERFS for breakfast” while the crowd chanted “no TERFs, no KKK, no fascist USA”, “no TERFs on our turf.” and of course the ubiquitous “F*** TERFS!”

In the midst of this mayhem, there were calls for “Revolution”, and there was one sign at the Hotel supporting abortion rights (there was no disagreement between the two sides here). A few TRA protesters near the hotel ended up scaling a locked gate separating the Hilton from a Chinatown Park, punching a hotel manager in the face, defacing the sign in front of the Hilton with various obscenities and chasing down Meagan Murphy and de-transitioner K Yang, who were lucky to escape unharmed. Later, the TRAs sprayed graffiti in front of the entrance to a building hosting a feminist art show featuring the art of de-transitioning women that many of us had attended earlier that evening.

At Monday’s demonstration at City Hall, the TRA counterdemonstration drowned us out so we couldn’t hear the speakers, even though the organizers of our event had obtained rally and sound permits ahead of time.   As time went on, TRAs got more and more riled up and police had to set down a second barricade next to the first.  Meanwhile, we women remained completely peaceful and orderly as we had been trained to do. When we called our rally to a close, we all escaped quickly into two rented U-Haul’s as we had planned, to ensure that we would get safely back to the hotel. We did not want to risk assault while waiting to order Ubers or catch the BART.  Though we laughed about it in the van as the TRAs wondered how we had managed to disappear so quickly, part of it wasn’t funny at all.  The TRAs had reduced us to the status of a bunch of criminals escaping a crime scene, though we were guilty of nothing more than exercising our rights of freedom of speech.

I’m not crazy about police.  San Francisco cops have a sordid history of rioting, and beating up patrons at gay bars, and Black citizens for minor or non-existence infractions.  I doubt it’s all better now, especially regarding the treatment of the disproportionately Black unhoused population.   But if it wasn’t for the police and hotel security guards providing basic protections, on top of our own detailed planning, and sheer luck, some of us could have been seriously injured or even killed.

All this in the very heart of San Francisco.  What happened to the City I had lived in, organized in, and loved for so many decades?  The same City that was a cultural hub of the lesbian community, dotted with women’s coffeehouses, bookstores and bars, the City where 5,000 women marched at the head of Lesbian and Gay Pride in 1977, the City that year after year held International Women’s Day protests in Golden Gate Park called Day in the Park for Women’s Rights? The same City, the same location where I had marched along with 30,000 women and male supporters for abortion rights during the March for Women’s Lives in the 1980’s and joined with Holly Near and Judy Fjell who led feminist songs from the stage? The same City where I had founded a lesbian feminist organization, Lesbian Uprising, that lasted into the 1990’s, and worked in coalition with Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and others?   The same City where hundreds of thousands of folks on the Left, when “Left” meant something, marched together up Market Street to the Civic Center to protest imperialist war, whether in Vietnam, Nicaragua, or Iraq?

And what happened to that Left?  For all the faults or contradictions of our male comrades, once the Second Wave had kicked in for a few years, blatant misogyny was no longer fashionable among either men or women in this milieu, until now. Virtually everyone who was a progressive, socialist, anti-war activist and/or involved in organized labor understood that the struggle for women’s rights/women’s liberation, was on OUR side/the workers’ side of the picket-line.  The Labor movement helped fund women’s rights protests just so they would have an opportunity to express their solidarity with the feminist movement.  They considered it an honor.

Not so for the TRAs in the U.S. and elsewhere. Nor for much of the current labor movement for that matter, which in Canada opposes parents who don’t want their (mostly female, mostly lesbian) teenagers sterilized and mutilated.  Feminists. along with parents having legitimate concerns of child safety, have somehow, in the minds of the TRAS, metamorphosized into the “enemy.”

The TRAs’ delusions thus go far beyond thinking men can be women, some women have penises, and men can be lesbians.  They also are deluded into thinking that they are being “progressive,” even revolutionary, by gathering a group of men together, yelling obscenities at women and threatening them with violence for peacefully protesting or attending a conference together. And worse, they think that women rallying for women’s rights as a sex (always the subject of feminism from the time of the First Wave) and talking about the rights of lesbians as a sexual orientation, are “fascists.”

This is the most dangerous of delusions, as the truth is just the opposite. In every place that fascism has come to power, it has restored the rule of the father, and destroyed feminism.  Feminist organizations were dissolved during the period between the two world wars in fascist Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal and their members forced into hiding or exile.  European Feminisms in the Face of Fascisms | EHNE  In Nazi Germany, “[w]omen experienced the rapid erosion of their rights in every sphere…Women were told to give up their jobs for men…Independent women were ruthlessly attacked and driven out of the public domain. Many feminists were jailed and some paid with their lives.” Feminism-under-Fascism

So please, boys, open up your history books before hurling epithets whose meaning you know nothing about.   I’m not sure what you were taught in school besides pronouns, but better late than never.

The next time you are tempted to call a group of independent minded feminists who refuse to defer to you, “fascists” a little soul searching first would be in order.  Threatening women in an attempt to silence us is not progressive.






First-hand report from WDI conference in San Francisco

by Javiera Sobarzo-Zepeda

This opinion is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminists in Struggle.

On September 15-18 I attended the second annual WDI conference held in San Francisco CA.

It was a great conference with many topics ranging from reproductive technology, desisted and de transitioned women, women’s studies and academia, the rise of queer policies and the effects on our politics, consciousness raising circles, the work WDI has done in legislation, feminist language and many more. I also participated in the non-violent direct action, which was an experience all its own. We were yelled at and taunted, but we persevered.

I got involved in the radical feminist movement this past year, joining WDI and FIST. I grew up on the west coast in a liberal and progressive area and I was in the camp of “transwomen are women” and “sex work is work” for many years, without thinking much about what these sayings actually meant. It wasn’t until I became a mom to a daughter that these mantras began to unravel for me. I want her to grow up in a safe world that honors her for who she is and respects her body as her own.

This conference was the first conference I have been to where I was with other likeminded women. As a baby radical feminist,I found it inspiring to hear from women who have been in this fight for female sovereignty. I feel a renewed strength to stay in this for my daughter. It was encouraging to see other women my age as well, I am in my early 30s, I think a lot of my generation is starting to see through the veil. We want to protect our children, our friends children from these manipulative forces.

I am looking forward and have great hope for what is to come. Women are waking up. We are speaking and being heard. I know we will find a way and it may look different, but through community and working together, we will preserve female sovereignty.


This opinion piece is from an individual FIST member and does not necessarily represent the views of the organization as a whole.  However, FIST is on record in support of affirmative action.

The Supreme Court decision this past June in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard,  finding race based affirmative action in college admissions an unconstitutional violation of equal protection https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/20-1199_hgdj.pdf, not only struck a blow to Black people trying to break free from centuries of oppression and racist policies. It is also an impediment to women’s advancement as a sex in our own struggle against male supremacy.

Race blindness, like sex blindness, is an exceedingly bad idea when discrimination and/ or the institutionalized remnants of past discrimination still exist.  Discriminatory intent is hard to prove but if all the staff at the local car repair shop is all white and male, chances are that sexism and racism played a determinate role. And race or sex conscious remedies are necessary.

Like in the case of abortion rights, affirmative action wasn’t gotten rid of all at once but was slowly eroded by the courts until the recent death blow was struck.  The Bakke decision in 1978 marked the beginnings of this downward spiral.  https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/regents_of_the_university_of_california_v_bakke_(1978)

Though most women now work in the paid labor market and women have broken into certain professions, like law and medicine, previously mostly barred to them, the workforce remains highly sex segregated.  There are still “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs” even if advertisements that spelled this out have been banned for decades under civil rights laws.  Women, though highly educated, are still relegated to lower paid, lower status positions, including even within the same field or profession.  Women lawyers, for example, are concentrated in the non-profit world or work for the government (with the few men there disproportionately found in top management) and are rarely owners or partners of successful private law firms.  Moreover, fields where most women work are underpaid and undervalued, despite the level of skill and education required or the importance of the work to society.  Nursing and teaching come to mind.

Women of all colors benefited from affirmative action especially when it was more robust in the early years, i.e., at a time when it included quotas and/or goals and timetables.   For example, women broke into the trades in the 1970’s, the first time since the government implemented its own affirmative action program bringing women into the war industry during World War II.   For a fascinating documentary of this period, I recommend “the Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081053/

So, in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s women worked as car mechanics, carpenters, gardeners, plumbers, electricians, engineers, and construction workers. However, by the 1980’s, women were forced out of the trades, not because they weren’t interested in the work or too weak or lacking in the skills needed to do the job well, but due to the hostility of male co-workers and managers who engaged in severe sexual harassment and violence against the female newcomers. See https://socialchangenyu.com/review/toward-gender-equality-affirmative-action-comparable-worth-and-the-womens-movement/

Affirmative action’s impact on women’s status in the workplace was limited because it wasn’t strong enough.  The number of women brought into male fields was small and the women were left isolated and far more vulnerable to harassment.  If women had been recruited in large numbers or ideas such as all-women teams implemented, women would likely have stayed.

Affirmative action is a vital measure for achieving equality for both people of color and women of all colors.  We need to create a movement strong enough to bring it back.