DON’T MOURN, ORGANIZE!

With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, we’ve lost an outspoken advocate for women who broke multiple barriers in the long fight to end discrimination on the basis of sex. Though she was no radical or revolutionary, she was in many ways both a product of decades of struggle for women’s rights as well as one of our most passionate proponents. And we have suffered this loss at a time when we are facing two enemies at the gate – one who will take advantage of this loss to swing the Court even more to the Right, putting in direct jeopardy Roe vs. Wade, lesbian/gay rights and the effort to finally enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment, already ratified by 38 states, into the U.S. Constitution in addition to disappearing sex as a protected class in language and in law in favor of “gender identity.”


Laws are passing in a number of states that will result in the most vulnerable groups of women–those escaping male partner violence, experiencing homelessness in shelters, or those who are in prison, having to share intimate congregate spaces with males. These women are poor, disproportionately women of color, and many have been victims of sexual and physical violence by men. Yet, women’s needs for privacy and a safe refuge from male violence and the ability to establish boundaries are being run roughshod over by an ideology that re-defines “women” and “men” as a set of stereotypes that a person of either sex can claim. Girls in middle and high school going through puberty are coming of age in a violently misogynist porn-soaked culture, are being taught that they are sexual objects that have no intrinsic value, that they have no right even to say “No,” as males enter their locker rooms and private spaces and take away their prizes and sports scholarships set aside for women and girls. No wonder so many girls decide that being female is not for them and ingest hormones and seek double mastectomies to ‘become men” or “nonbinary.”


And then there is the Equality Act that has already passed the U.S. House and is pending in the Senate that while providing long overdue statutory rights for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, would take away sex-based protections by redefining sex as “gender identity.” Even without the Equality Act, the Courts have already moved in that direction. While the U.S. Supreme Court in Bostock ruled just this past June that employment discrimination based on an undefined “transgender status” was based in part of sex, the narrowness of the ruling did not prevent two lower courts from citing to Bostock to deny the existence of sex entirely. And though Title IX regulations explicitly allow separate bathroom and changing room facilities in schools based on sex, “sex” now has been redefined to mean “gender identity, ” with the Courts ruling that two girls who identified as boys that were denied access to the boys’ facilities were discriminated against based on “sex”.

In light of these developments, the approach taken by FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act remain essential. In order to avoid confusion and end subsuming the category of sex by “gender identity,” we need a bill with clear definitions of all the terms being used, and separate provisions protecting each class of persons, rather than merging distinct protections under the broad umbrella of “sex.” Rather than the amorphous and subjective concept of “gender identity,” people who do not conform to gender role norms should be protected from discrimination based on” sex stereotyping” whether they identify as transgender or not. Most importantly, we need a federal bill to spell out the rights of women and girls to separate spaces and programs.


FIST and the newly formed LGB Alliance USA are in the process of creating a broad coalition to advance the Feminist Amendments. Please sign on as an endorser and join the campaign!


Feminists across the globe including in the United States are starting to organize once again, asserting the primacy of our own rights and needs as a sex by demanding full civil rights protections under the law. We cannot let the courts, Congress, and state legislatures erode our sex-based rights, whether by restricting or outlawing abortion, eroding lesbian/gay rights, denying us the Equal Rights Amendment, or prohibiting female-only spaces, programs, and short-lists. The purpose of securing our rights is not to perpetrate discrimination of any kind; rather, it is to advance our status in society against continued systemic oppression based on sex.


Let’s honor the memory of RBG by committing ourselves to continuing the struggle for the sex-based rights of women and girls. DON’T MOURN, ORGANIZE!

Supreme Court Ruling: Cause for Celebration and Concern

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a surprise 6 to 3 decision written by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch in three cases interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banning sex discrimination in employment, The first two cases involved gay men who lost their jobs for being gay (Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia, and Altitude Express Inc. v Zarda) and the third involved a transgender-identified male who was fired upon announcing he was “transitioning” and would be returning to work in women’s garb (Harris Funeral Homes vs. EEOC.).

First the good news. The Court held that discrimination based on homosexuality was covered under Title VII as a form of sex discrimination since it is intrinsically tied to biological sex. This means that after many decades of struggle, lesbians and gay men finally now have federal civil rights protection against job discrimination. Also, the interpretation of Title VII is so broad that sex-based dress and grooming codes and discrimination based on all forms of gender non-conformity may be successfully challenged in the future, something important to feminists.

The decision in the Harris case is far more problematic for feminists concerned abut the maintenance of sex-based rights. True, Judge Gorsuch did not fully embrace transgender ideology,; he did not deny the existence of sex; he didn’t use the popular expression among transactivists, “assigned at birth”, and instead, referred to “observed sex at birth.”, But he did refer to Stephens as “she” and find transgender status to be a form of sex discrimination.

Though the Court limited its ruling to firing someone based on homosexual and transgender status, and stated that the Court was not ruling on single sex bathrooms and changing rooms, we do indeed have to worry about the future.  Title VII law has a strong influence on the interpretation of Title IX and other Civil rights statutes. Even getting the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution as currently written will be a double edged sword, since sex and transgender status are now merged. Fighting for legislation that spells out sex-based rights to female-only spaces and programs, as FIST did in its proposed Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act, has become in light of this decision, more important than ever.

A New Way Forward for Feminism

How do feminists most effectively fight gender identity ideology as it becomes more and more enshrined into our laws, such as the female-erasing provisions of the U.S. Equality Act pending in Congress? Should we simply oppose “gender identity” as a single issue, narrowly defined?  Or should we fight to defend women’s sex-based rights while at the same time advocating for federal civil rights protection against discrimination for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and others who do not conform to stereotypes imposed on their sex?   What is the most effective strategy for fighting against the current version of the Equality Act while advancing our feminist vision for changing society? Is merging messaging with the Christian Right helpful or harmful to achieving our goals? How can we rebuild a radical feminist movement strong enough to defeat all our enemies, both the transactivists who would erase us and the Religious Right who would enslave us?

These are some of the issues that Ann Menasche, founding member of Feminists In Struggle (FIST), grapples with in her New Radical Feminist Approach to Challenging Gender Identity Ideology: The Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act” published in Redline. Menasche jumps into the debate within the burgeoning new women’s liberation movement, regarding conflicting strategies put forward by FIST and WoLF.  She argues that campaigns to defend women’s sex-based rights should be combined with a challenge to gender itself by opposing both homophobia and sex stereotyping.   She explains how the Feminist Amendments do just that, an approach precluded by WoLF’s orientation toward alliances with the organized Christian Right.

“FIST’s strategy emphasizes winning the battle of ideas within the whole society…the same strategy that won women the vote and resulted in the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States,” writes Menasche. “These victories were not gifts bestowed from on high but were won by mass struggle of millions of women. We believe that such a strategy is ultimately more decisive in achieving the changes that we currently seek as compared to a focus on lobbying politicians in the two corporate parties or playing one wing of patriarchy against the other.”

WoLF Event at the Seattle Public Library: a firsthand account of a FIST attendee

This is a firsthand account of a FIST attendee at the WoLF event, “Fighting the New Misogyny” in Seattle on February 1.

I attended this event for a few reasons:

  • First, because the world needs to see that women will not be terrorized into silence. We cannot afford to just be social media warriors in anonymity.  We must be a visible presence, fighting this war fearlessly. It is past the time for us to play it safe. We are NOT safe anyway. We never have been.
  • Second, I want to learn to BE on a panel to get the message out that being authentic is living your best life in the body you were born with. I hope to speak up for gender nonconforming women, teaching our youth that being “authentic” isn’t cutting off your breasts to pretend to be something that you can never be. You don’t have to be a man to wear clothes sold for men, love motorcycles, boxing, fast cars, sports and women. We need to be visible as women, living truly authentic lives. We have to fight for our youth.
  • Third, I wanted to support the women brave enough to put themselves in the crosshairs of TRAs’ attacks. Respect, all day long.

From the moment I stepped out of the airport I was surrounded by fabulous women. Rhoda came and picked up three of us to drive us to our Airbnb. April had booked 14 of us into two rooms at Harbor Steps, a wonderful apartment complex.  All of our food for the weekend was provided for us, including fresh catch crab for the Saturday dinner.

Friday night we all went to listen to Dominique Christina’s poetry reading. Dominique Christina is an incredibly powerful poet. If you ever get the chance, don’t miss her.

Saturday we had a women’s circle which was incredibly empowering. We had started already when a few women showed up late, having gotten the time wrong. You could feel the energy in the room spike up though. It might have been Vajra Ma, who I found to be magnificent! I bought a copy of her book, From a Hidden Stream: The Natural Spiritual Authority Of Woman. I highly recommend it.

Before the women’s circle, Thistle Pettersen performed a set for us. She was magnificent! It breaks my heart that TRAs have managed to destroy this woman’s career. Please support Thistle at Defend Feminists Let’s help her get her life back from these monsters! Show her that she is not in this fight alone. We stand with her.

One of my favorite parts of this weekend was meeting some of the social media warriors that are fighting this war. When Known Heretic (aka Amy) introduced herself we both jumped into each other’s arms! What a moment. I met three other warriors at the event.

When we arrived at the event all of the protesters were forced to stay on the opposite side of the building. They never got close to us. The Seattle Police maintained a large area for us to exit also. They kept them pushed across the street. Go Seattle PD! Thank you!

I handed out handsful of FIST’s flyers for our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act (FAEA). I was pleasantly surprised to be recognized by quite a few people from social media. I have been posting frequently about the FAEA, on Facebook and Twitter. It was great to realize that, even with only 1,300 followers on Twitter, we can make a difference. (I was wearing my FIST hoodie, represent!)

At the beginning of the first speaker, TRAs caused a disturbance in the seats. They were quickly drowned out by hundreds of voices yelling, “Let women speak!” at the top of our lungs. I remember one man saying, “Give them the mic and let them speak.” My response, “Hell no! We aren’t giving them a mic! We aren’t here for them!” Eventually the police escorted/arrested the disrupters and we continued. You can watch the presentation for yourselves at: Women’s Liberation Front Facebook page.

Each woman brought a different energy to the presentation. Towards the end there was a Q+A, and of course the misogynistic man from earlier had to be the first to the mic. He proceeded to attempt to lecture the women in the room about how we have all the rights we need. We couldn’t get him to shut up. Just as I bellowed, “You’re done!” Courtney walked over and yanked the mic out of his hands. It was excellent! She rocked it. Courtney was fearless and a blast, waving at the TRAs as we left the building. I have never met so many powerful women in one place.

If you want to become a part of something bigger than yourself. If you want to make a difference. Attend feminist events. Get involved. Make your voice heard! We are stronger together.

In summary, this was the most powerful weekend I have experienced in a very long time, if ever. There is power in standing up for your beliefs.  There is power in gathering together to combine our incredible female energies.  I came away from this weekend fully charged up to continue fighting the war.

We didn’t start this war. But we WILL end it. Solidarity!

FIST and Equal Means Equal on Joy of Resistance Radio Show

Our own Ann Menasche appeared on the Joy of Resistance show on WBAI hosted by Fran Luck talking about our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act which make a distinction between rights based on sex and rights based on gender non-conformity and sexual orientation.  Ann articulated the reasons for the feminist amendments as many rights for which women have fought would be eroded under the Equality Act.

Another very important topic was covered on the show–the ratification of THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT BY BOTH VIRGINIA STATE HOUSES TODAY, January 27, 2020!!  Kamala Lopez of Equal Means Equal was interviewed on the show who explained that there is no need to pass legislation to do away with the imposed deadlines on the legislation because no deadline was included in the legislation, it was a separate bill on which the states did not vote, that Congress did its job in 1972, and we should not get mired down in more Congressional action, as some suggest, by pursuing the passage of legislation doing away with the deadline because the deadline does not matter.

She stated that the Alabama Attorney General filed suit asserting that the archivist should not record Virginia’s 38th state ratification, even though the same archivist recorded the last two states, Nevada (2017) and Illinois (2018). Equal Means Equal has filed suit to make sure the ratification is recorded and will be pursuing various cases across the nation to make sure it becomes part of the U. S. Constitution at long last.  It will be making a Federalist Originalist argument outlined in the Constitution, which will be very difficult for the conservative court to rule against.

Kamala Lopez explained that without the ERA, we will never have equal work for equal pay and that strict scrutiny regarding discrimination under the ERA will finally be required on the basis of sex as it has been for religion, nationality, and race.  She urged listeners to go to Equal Means Equal and sign up for their newsletter and to show up in Richmond, VA on March 8, 2020, International Women’s Day and the centennial of women’s suffrage, to march in the ERA Parade to celebrate it’s ratification.

The show also briefly covered the WoLF events which were scheduled at two public libraries, Seattle and NYC, and how NYCPL cancelled their event while Seattle has refused to cancel theirs.

More about this program at WBAI

WLRN Reports on NYC Public Library Cancelling WoLF Event

Women’s Liberation Radio News (WLRN) has published an article by Danielle Whitaker on the “Evening with Cancelled Women” Women’s Liberation Front event in NYC, entitled, “Same Battle, New Misogyny” which discusses the absurdity of the event being cancelled by the NYC Public Library due to likely interference by transactivists.  The article does a very good job of outlining the current state of affairs with regard to feminists fighting to be heard over the din of those who would deny us a voice and mentions our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act.

ORDER FIST MERCHANDISE FOR WOMEN’S MARCH!

We now have FIST merchandise available just in time for the Women’s Marches on January 18th!  Order your  t-shirt, download and print the FIST BANNER, and download the FAEA brochure, which can be printed and distributed!  The brochure includes our 13 principles, links to our website and social media, and explains our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act.

WLRN Interviews FIST re FAEA

Our own Ann Menasche was interviewed on WLRN about FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act.  To listen to the interview, go to:  WLRN Interview re FAEA

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

The current version of the Equality Act (HR 5) that passed in the House and is pending in the Senate (SB 788) 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:

Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act

Comparison of Original Equality Act and Feminist Amendments.02.07.20

TrackChanges.FeministAmendments.FIST

FAEA-Power Point Presentation

FAEA brochure

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