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.

Legislative Alert!

HR5, the “Equality Act” is currently in the Judiciary Committee in the U. S. Senate.  FIST is developing a response to this bill.  Please stay tuned for proposed amendments.  To contact the members of the Judiciary Committee, go to:  https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

SB 132 – A bill in the California legislature, “an act to add Sections 2605 and 2606 to the Penal Code, relating to corrections,” would allow males who identify as transgender to be housed with the female population if it passes. It has already passed in the California Senate and is currently in the state Assembly, where it will be reviewed in the Public Safety Committee. This bill if enacted is particularly dangerous for women since the passage of SB 179 in October 2017 has allowed “. . . a person to submit to the State Registrar an application to change gender on the birth certificate . . . to conform the person’s legal gender to the person’s gender identity.” So any man may declare himself a woman and change his birth certificate, with no requirements or oversight and in total disregard of biological reality, opening the door for sexual predators of various types, from voyeurs to rapists, to reinvent themselves as female by taking on female names and identities. Add to this the reality that the majority of female prisoners have been molested, raped, sexually assaulted, trafficked, coerced or forced into pornography and/or prostitution, and the potential harm to incarcerated women and girls is greatly increased if SB 132 also passes.

FIST strenuously opposes the passage of this bill and asks everyone to call the members of the California Assembly Public Safety Committee and urge them to not allow it onto the floor for a vote as it poses a grave risk to actual women, who comprise 52% of the general population and a growing percentage of the prison population, and therefore to public safety. Also if you are in California, please contact your Assembly representative and urge her or him to oppose it as well. Here is a link to the list of the Public Safety Committee members and their phone numbers: https://apsf.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff

Failing to get Favorable Court Rulings, Gender Activists Go After Vancouver Rape Relief’s Funding

Feminists In Struggle urges all supporters of feminism and of democracy to support Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter in their continuing fight to preserve spaces for natal women alone.  According to VRR, gender activists have now convinced the city to discriminate against women in the name of inclusivity.  In the defense of their woman-only policy they raise some interesting comparisons to indigenous, ethnic, disability and other struggles. In their statement they note that many grants by the city of Vancouver are given to other organizations that serve other specific groups, but that “rightfully, none of these groups have been challenged with the demand that they demonstrate “accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all ages, abilities… and ethnicities,” as it would undermine their mission. However, this is precisely what they are doing in the case of VRR. The Vancouver City Council is ignoring previous court decisions affirming VRR’s right to offer some services to only natal females and attempting to force them to change this policy.  For more information on what has happened, go to their statement.

The Collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter