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.

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.