A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO SAFE, ACCESSIBLE ABORTION ON DEMAND

While our Afghani sisters face an uncertain future under Taliban rule, we women in the United States have our own Christian fundamentalist version of the Taliban with which to contend. The goals are the same – to keep women barefoot, pregnant and locked in our houses, under the unquestioned rule of our husbands, fathers, and brothers, enforced by the coercive combined power of fundamentalist religion and the state.


The U.S. fetus fetishists’ latest monstrosity is the Texas anti-abortion law that prohibits all abortions after six weeks (before most women know they are pregnant) and that provides for vigilante enforcement, deputizing anyone in and out of Texas to seek $10,000 in bounty, plus attorneys’ fees against abortion providers, or anyone else assisting a woman in obtaining an abortion. By letting this law stand as part of its “shadow docket” (without benefit of full briefing or oral argument), the U.S. Supreme Court may have effectively overturned Roe v Wade or at the very least, signaled its intentions to do so.


Though this turn of events has frightening consequences for women in Texas and elsewhere around the country, for many women, abortion rights was already hanging by a thread or practically non-existent. Abortion has not been accessible to poor women on Medicaid since 1977 with the passage of the Hyde Amendment, a mere 4 years after the ruling. As predicted by radical women’s liberationists who regarded Roe as an inadequate compromise, women’s right to abortion has been whittled away little-by-little until what we are left with today is largely an empty legal right, unavailable to vast numbers of women living in this country. In the 1980s, Marion Banzhaf of the Abortion Rights Movement (A.R.M.) argued that feminists needed to take a stronger line than “pro-choice.” She said, “Being pro-abortion means going on the offensive to answer the attack on abortion rights. Being pro-abortion means that the woman is more important than the potential life– the fetus. It really is quite simple. The pro-abortion movement puts the woman first.”


The Biden administration and the Democrats in Congress are hardly blameless regarding the state of affairs brought about by the Texas anti-abortion law. They could take effective action to protect women’s right to abortion, yet so far have not done so. President Biden could instruct the archivist to register the Equal Rights Amendment, already ratified by 38 States, into the U.S. Constitution tomorrow, thereby placing sex-based protections into the Constitution, which would strengthen the legal grounds for abortion rights. Instead, the Biden Administration has fought feminists in court who sought this very result, while feigning outrage at the Texas law’s assault on women’s “constitutional rights.”


Additionally, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats could work with all deliberate speed for passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act (HR3755 and S1975), federal legislation first introduced in 2017, that would secure the right to provide and receive an abortion, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion from other medical procedures. They could also act decisively to re-configure the Supreme Court so far-right justices no longer dominate, which should have been done before the Texas law took effect, if protecting the right to safe, legal abortion were a priority. Though the Justice Department has just filed its own suit against the Texas law, this is far from sufficient to solve the crisis women face.


If we have studied our history, we know that women have never had our rights handed to us by men in power or by male-dominated institutions. Rather, we have fought tooth-and-nail for them, from winning suffrage, the right to manage our own financial affairs, civil rights laws against sex discrimination in the workplace, to achieving legal abortion. Much is yet to be won.


We are therefore heartened that the Women’s March and other mainstream women’s groups have finally called for actions in support of abortion rights on October 2 in cities across the country.  FIST plans to be there and we urge other feminists to join us. We will demand that not only Roe be upheld and the Texas law defeated, but that the Equal Rights Amendment be enshrined in the Constitution and that unimpeded access to abortion be guaranteed to all women everywhere in the country via passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.


To fight effectively against those who would strip women of our reproductive rights, we need at the same time to challenge the erasure of women as a sex through language and public policy. Gender identity can no longer be allowed to override or supplant sex. As the abortion issue should make clear, women’s oppression is based on our biological sex, regardless of the degree to which we may conform to or reject a set of society-imposed stereotypes about how women are supposed to use make-up, dress, and behave. Women–adult human females–are half the human race. Only women–females of reproductive age–have the capacity to get pregnant and give birth. Only women need abortions. Control over our own reproductive capacities, sexuality, and labor is absolutely required for the liberation of women.


So, using terms like “pregnant people,” “chest feeders” and “menstruators,” rather than being inclusive, actually undermines the struggle for women’s liberation by obscuring the source of our oppression and makes it more difficult to re-build our movement. It would be like refusing to recognize the racist nature of policing by rejecting the slogan “Black Lives Matter” in favor of “All Lives Matter,” as we’ve seen in the right wing backlash against the current wave of activism combating police brutality. Black people and their allies rightly struggle against such language. Women and our allies should be similarly willing to stand up for strong, clear language that abortion is about the rights of women.


It is time for women to fight back proudly as women for our sex-based right to control our own reproduction. We demand a WOMAN’S right to abortion without apology or impediment!
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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF FIST ABORTION STATEMENT

After Georgia: Charting a Feminist Path Forward for the Left

For those feminists and allies involved in the year-long defense of the Georgia Green Party for its gender critical feminist positions (endorsement of the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights and FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act), the overwhelming vote by the National Committee of the Green Party to revoke the accreditation of Georgia (119 yes, 17 no and 6 abstentions) was extremely disheartening.

So were the undemocratic, even Orwellian, tactics used against Georgia and its supporters: guilt by association and constant smears and name-calling (“Bigots”, “fascists”, “transphobes”, “transmisic”, “supporters of the Proud Boys, etc.) directed at life-long socialists, peace activists, union leaders, and Greens who raised even the slightest questions or mild disagreement with gender identity ideology. This created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, making others afraid to speak out. There was also a complete refusal to follow democratic process:  the Georgia Party was deprived of the ability to properly defend itself, cross-examine witnesses, or present evidence to the Accreditations Committee, which was stacked with members and supporters of the Lavender Caucus, the complainant in the case. The Secretary of the Georgia Party was even excluded from the Zoom hearing room when the LC provided testimony against Georgia. Members of the National Committee that took Georgia’s side were silenced by biased moderators or removed from the NC before the vote.

But there was also great courage and fortitude shown by defenders of Georgia, who met weekly on Zoom in what we called our “war room” to collectively plan strategy. These include dozens of women and men who came out of the woodwork to contact us from all over the country. One example of such courage was the sole dissenter on the Accreditations Committee, won over during the course of the struggle. He wrote a scathing minority report which the AC attempted to suppress, though we were nonetheless able to get into NC hands. This brave individual was one of the people removed from his NC position, even though he had months left to serve out his term.

Georgia and its allies produced a voluminous amount of evidence and arguments in defense of gender critical feminist politics, including video-taped testimony from Hilla Kerner of Vancouver Rape Relief, Amparo Domingo from Women’s Human Rights Campaign, and by two trans-identified females who have been outspoken in opposition to child “transition.” This evidence was mostly ignored with the TRAs proclaiming “there is no debate.” The evidence can be found on the Dialogue Not Expulsion website. https://www.dialoguenotexpulsion.org/nlc-vs-ggp/pleadings.

How could this happen in a Party that claims support for grassroots democracy and feminism and seeks to create a just society? What does this mean for the future of “the Left”? And where do we go from here?

First, it should be recognized that gender identity ideology and the “cancel culture” that is imposing these misogynistic and individualistic ideas through authoritarian means, is not the product of a genuine independent radical or socialist left. Rather, it is thoroughly “establishment,” arising from a patriarchal neo-liberal capitalist order, into which the tiny weak Left has been unfortunately fully assimilated. This ideology has been promoted by the corporate-run Democratic Party, including by the Biden Administration (who is fine with killing the ERA while instituting gender identity nationally through his executive orders), and by private corporations, state legislatures, the courts, and even the Pentagon.

This form of “identity politics” on steroids, branded by corporate trainers as “diversity, equity and inclusion,” keeps people divided and focused on etiquette, language, tokenism, and on constructing individual and small group identities at no cost to the system. Not only does it ignore sex-based oppression now overridden by “gender identity,” it does virtually nothing for Black people, people with disabilities, immigrants, lesbians, or gay men (also defined out of existence) or other truly disadvantaged and oppressed groups nor for working people as a whole, facing increasing levels of impoverishment and homelessness. It is both a highly profitable endeavor (keeping women down and making profits for Big Pharma) and a fraudulent substitute for grassroots organizing and mass struggle like the ones that won women the vote, dismantled Jim Crow, and legalized abortion, movements capable of presenting real challenges to political structures of oppression and creating genuine systemic change.

Second, we are living through a period of deep backlash against the gains of Second and even First Wave Feminism. The existence of a Third or Fourth Wave is a myth. Instead, what has been called feminist waves is mostly backlash, and at best, no more than a small ripple. That backlash in the U.S. has two faces – that of the female and lesbian and gay erasure of the transgender “movement;” and the attacks on abortion rights and lesbian and gay rights coming from the Christian Right. Both faces pose extreme dangers to our sex. In the late 1960’s, Robin Morgan wrote an essay, “Goodbye to all that” about the sexism of the Left of that time. But the rise of the Second Wave changed that dynamic, made the Left, though imperfectly, a far friendlier place for feminism. Sadly, that has changed once again as a result of this backlash as can be seen in the U.S. Green Party.

Third, we need to create a gender critical pro-feminist Left, that can become a political home for those betrayed by the two corporate parties and now the leadership of the Green Party. Veterans of the Georgia Green Party struggle are already moving in that direction with the formation of the Green Alliance for Sex-Based Rights (GASBR), under a majority female/feminist leadership. There can be no Left worthy of the name, one that can effectively fight against war, for housing and healthcare, to end poverty, or to save the environment from the unfolding disaster of global warming, except under the leadership of conscious feminist women.

Finally, and most importantly, we must build our independent women’s liberation movement. Feminists in Struggle is part of that effort as are other groups such as the Women’s Human Rights Campaign. Our job, in a nutshell, is to turn this feminist ripple into a real wave for our sex.

FEMINIST FORUM: The Other Side of Transgender: the Story of De-Transitioners

FIST is excited to be sponsoring a forum featuring the stories of three de-transitioning women on Sat. July 10th at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time.

Tickets available at
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-other-side-of-transgender-the-story-of-de-transitioners-tickets-160330686399

Speaking on the panel:

Sydney – a 20 year old woman who transitioned medically as a child.

Rachel F., a 30 year old lesbian, de-transitioned 3 years ago after living as a transman for 5 years.

Carol F – a de-transitioned lesbian, detrans advocate and cofounder of detransvoices.org

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 tape the public events. Women 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.

While some of our events are open to both men and women, THIS IS A FEMALE ONLY EVENT. We ask that our male allies respect our right to meet together as women.

Defend Feminists – Important Update

We wish to share an important update re defending feminists in the wake of the threats made against women and the library at the Seattle WoLF event.  The threats against Thistle Pettersen had subsided, but now have escalated again at of all things, a meeting of an anti-war coalition, supposedly dedicated to peace.

We wonder why those on the Left are going along with this outrageous behavior directed at gender-critical feminists and when they are going to stand up against it?!  The so-called “activists” and others in official capacities in Madison, Wisconsin have a lot to answer for when they turn a blind eye and deaf ear towards criminal threats.

Please see:  Inciting Violence Has No Place on the Left

Statement to SPL re Fighting the New Misogyny Event

To:  Seattle Public Library Board of Directors and Chief Librarian

From:  Feminists in Struggle (FIST)

Feminists in Struggle (FIST) https://feministstruggle.org/ urges the Seattle Public library to resist the pressure to cancel the talk entitled “Fighting the New Misogyny: A Feminist Critique of Gender Identity” scheduled for February 1st at your library.  Free speech is a bedrock principle of our Constitution. Public Libraries in particular should be beacons of intellectual freedom, and the free exchange of ideas. To censor opinions on controversial issues such as whether policies related to gender identity may infringe on the rights of women and girls, violates your own library’s intellectual freedom policies and your obligation as a public entity to preserve our First Amendment rights. Please stand firm in defense of free speech and refuse to cancel this event.

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)

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

 

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.