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

The current version of the Equality Act that passed in the House and is pending in the Senate 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: FeministAmendments.EqualityAct.final.FIST.09.19.19

Comparison of Original Equality Act and Feminist Amendments.09.02.19

TrackChanges.FeministAmendments.FIST.10.08.19-1

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

 

Don’t Disappear the “L” Action in San Diego

On Friday, July 12, eve of San Diego’s gay pride parade, 5 intrepid FIST lesbians sallied forth to put up stickers. The slogan was “Don’t disappear the L. Lesbians are women who love women. ” First we all enjoyed a great meal and conversation.

Then we started our stealth stickering on University Avenue in Hillcrest, which is San Diego’s version of San Francisco’s Castro. I must say this, yours truly was a bit nervous. The place was packed with revelers making merry. At times it was almost impossible to walk.

We plastered many street poles and “No Parking Pride Parade” signs. In fact just about anywhere the festivities were being advertised.

My favorite was the box giving out free “Gay San Diego” newspapers. Our stickers looked great there, an attempt to return us to the community from which we were rejected.

At the end of University was ground zero for all of this, the “Center” which houses all communities related to pride. Everyone is welcome, that is except for those lesbians who just want to be with other women. We are commonly called “terfs.”

The place was deserted of course as everyone was out at the bars and in the streets. But we left our calling cards there too.  After that we walked back to our cars, plastering the last of our stickers. Between the feeling of comraderie and subversiveness, a good time was had by all!

Reporting from San Diego, a proud radical feminist.

The 2019 U. S. Women’s Soccer Team is Remarkable for Both its Wins and its Radical Feminism

 

Members of the U.S. women’s soccer team, this year’s World Cup champions, are using their public platform to speak out about economic and racial issues, in addition to their demands for equal treatment relative to the men’s U.S. soccer team. Indeed, they sound like the radical feminists of the1960s joining all these issues together. Making clear the idea that none of us is free as long as one woman is unfree.

Amy Goodman, host of the news program Democracy Now interviewed two women about the feminist politics expressed by members of the U.S. women’s soccer team. The guests were Shireen Ahmed a writer, public speaker, award-winning sports activist focusing on Muslim women in sports and Dr. Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of history and African American studies at Penn State. Both women are involved in creating the weekly Burn It All Down sports podcast.

In discussion of the lawsuit the team has filed against the U.S. Soccer Federation Shireen Ahmend said, “So, effectively, the players of the U.S. women’s national team are unhappy, and setting an incredible precedent for women around the world to say, ‘We want equal pay. We want fairness. We want to talk about rights, maternity leave. We want to talk about healthcare. We want to talk about anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-oppression.’ That’s what they’re doing. So it’s a really important case.”

At one point in the interview Amira Rose Davis commented on the whiteness of the team. Goodman asked her to say more about that, to talk about “how the team is constituted, and [about] the women’s activism around the issue” of whiteness. Dr. Davis responded, “in the United States the access issue to soccer is vast. It takes a lot of money, very early on, in youth sports. And one of the consequences of that is that we don’t see a large amount of diversity and lower-income players represented on the team. … But this team has been very vocal about all of their intersecting identities. When asked to put names on the back of their jerseys to honor various women, for instance, Rapinoe chose Audre Lorde and said, ‘She’s an intersectional feminist, and that’s what I want my politics to be.’ Christen Press, one of the women of color on the team, said, ‘This is about pay equity. It’s about gender equality. But we also are talking about racial equity here. We’re also talking about what’s going on in terms of why Rapinoe chose to kneel.’” Davis goes on to say about Rapinoe that she’s “clear about being an ally, in saying, you know, ‘Yes, these are my fights, and I’m bringing a lot of clear visibility, and I’m talking a lot about pay equity, but I also am acknowledging the fact that I’m not policed in the same way, and I’m not dealing with relatives being shot dead in the street.’ And even when asked how she felt about patriotism, she’s like, ‘I feel deeply American, but we have to reckon with the fact that this country was founded on slavery.’”

The whole interview can be watched and/or heard here: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/8/seg_1

***

 

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.

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

Abortion is a Woman’s Fundamental Right

Our world is crying out as abortion bans are sweeping through conservative parts of the country, particularly the southeastern United States, the historical site of much slavery and the largest African American communities, as well as a stronghold of white Christian patriarchy. While some women in the liberal northeast and west coast may never experience these bans, Black and U.S. Native American women (groups who researchers say have the highest risk of dying in childbirth) as well as poor, young, and rural women (who cannot as easily access affordable health care) will be primarily impacted by these bans. In addition, the Journal of Perinatal Education states that unintended pregnancies — which abortion allows us to stop — are associated with increased likelihood of risk factors causing death in childbirth, which also happens to vary by state. Women will always attempt to obtain abortions, whether or not the abortions are legal. Women die from both unintended pregnancies and attempted unsafe abortions all over the world, and lack of access to safe abortions (caused by outlawing abortion) puts them at risk. Therefore, the bans on abortion amount to the state-sanctioned murder of women, especially those of less social privilege. All of the country is ablaze with fury and apprehension, and we are seeing even women who were previously apolitical now come forward to speak with their families and communities on the right of a woman to abortion.
The male supremacist right wing sees women as vessels to produce the working class, soldiers to uphold their various patriarchal nationalisms — and not as full human beings unto ourselves! As radical feminists, we vehemently reject this ethos. These are the hateful convulsions of an anti-abortion movement that knows many of these bans are nearly impossible to enforce. This round of bans are purposely unconstitutional, designed to force a Supreme Court case that (they hope) would overturn Roe v. Wade. But we women won’t let them. We have a vast number of sympathetic medical personnel nationwide and can end unwanted pregnancies privately during the first 9 weeks with the medications misoprostol and mifepristone.
Abortion rights have been whittled away, step by step for decades, starting with the Hyde Amendment. Because legislators couldn’t take abortion away from us immediately, they have been doing it slowly. Parental Consent & Notification laws, TRAP laws, mandated sonograms/guilt trips/”waiting periods” — an astonishing array of laws designed to deprive us of our bodily autonomy. When Donald Trump took office, his Supreme Court picks were specifically for overturning Roe v. Wade, and one of his first executive orders was an attack on abortion. As Planned Parenthood Action Fund states: “The global gag rule was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. On January 23, 2017, in one of his first acts as president, President Donald Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule. … The global gag rule prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money.”

Trump’s executive order, which was essentially an imposed sanction on women’s bodies around the world, severely hampers women’s ability to obtain abortions and other sexual health care, regardless of the legality of abortion in their own countries. It even prohibits health care providers’ ability to treat AIDS, a crisis which Trump boasted about attempting to fix. The terrible impact is felt “especially in places where maternal deaths, HIV rates and unmet need for contraception are unacceptably high. Communities have lost access to essential life-saving services such as HIV testing, antiretroviral medications, nutritional support, birth control and pregnancy care,” says Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood.

It’s a United States tradition for the ruling elite to practice human rights abuses overseas before bringing them home. This year, we are seeing a wave of abortion bans. The New York Times (pdf) has the rundown. As of May 2019, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi severely limited abortion rights to the first trimester. Alabama eliminated abortion rights entirely, even in cases of rape and incest. Utah, Arkansas, and Missouri all reduced abortion rights farther back into the 2nd trimester, away from the framework established in Roe v. Wade.

The bans are being met with fierce resistance. Kansas just added abortion protection to its constitution. New York enacted a law that will preserve access to abortions, protect medical professionals who perform abortions from being criminalized, allow medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions, and allow abortions to be performed after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or to protect the life of the woman. Vermont is about to pass a bill allowing abortions with “zero” limits, as a “fundamental right”, and prohibits government entities from interfering with or restricting access to abortion, “ensuring that any pregnancy may be terminated for any reason at any time.” Some Democrats have claimed that the Vermont bill goes”too far“! And this isn’t the first time Democrats started sounding like Republicans: in New Mexico, eight Democrats crossed party lines to defeat a pro-choice bill. Nor is it simply a matter of going “too far”. A milder law comparable to New York’s was proposed in Virginia by Kathy Tran, who immediately faced death threats, and the Republicans spread fake news that the bill was about legalizing “infanticide”. The Virginia bill removed some restrictions on abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy, allowed abortions during the second trimester to take place outside of hospitals, and made it so only one doctor would be needed to determine that pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health.

We’ve never had full abortion rights. All the ways that the patriarchy nitpicks a woman’s right to abortion into “trimesters”, “medical” necessity, conditions of rape, harsher restrictions in some regions, etc, only serve to divide women and distract us from the fundamental right that women have to abortions on demand without apology, without approval, and without being treated as criminals.

Feminists in Struggle, like the early Second Wave Feminists, insists on FREE ABORTION ON DEMAND with zero questions asked. The only condition should be the consent of the woman who is pregnant. We also demand an end to the petty restrictions and code regulations (TRAP laws) that specifically discriminate against pregnant women and abortion clinics. We won’t stop there. We demand safe abortion access for women both in the United States, where we are based, and everywhere else. But because patriarchy divides women, the women’s liberation movement is divided into various camps. The Democratic party soaks up most of women’s political energy, preventing us from experiencing our full potential as a movement.

You must be wondering: what can radical feminists do? What can WE all do about this? Especially while we are still living out the war on feminism by dominant forces in the transgender movement, positioning radical feminists as underdogs in any discussion on feminism? Ridiculous rhetoric we’ve been peddled about “pregnant people” instead of “pregnant women” is now   becoming “abortions for people” instead of “abortions for women”. We consider abortion a right of the female sex, but for us to say that in progressive circles will bring controversy and distractions that women can’t afford.

As radical feminists, we can utilize our position as the radicals and underdogs to push harder and farther than anyone else will. Our hearts are with everyday women and our right to control our bodies and lives. We will do what the long arm of the Democratic party would never do. We will demand ABORTIONS ON DEMAND WITHOUT CONDITIONS. Not to mention, free health care that includes birth control and abortions.  No forced sterilizations.  And… END THE GLOBAL GAG ORDER!  100% of unwanted pregnancies are caused by MEN, yet no one holds the men responsible for the life-threatening condition of pregnancy!

If thousands of women join Feminists in Struggle and turn it into a powerful radical feminist movement, we would be able to organize and lead marches for abortion rights and pressure legislators to secure abortion as women’s fundamental right  We would be able to all strategize together in a bottom up democratic movement. However, because our organization is young and still small what we want and what is feasible are two different things.  We will often have to join in actions called and organized by liberal feminists and other more conservative sections of the movement. But still our voices as radical feminists can be heard.

We call for united mass action in the streets. We call for civil disobedience. We call for all women to speak up about abortion. We call for you and us to join the larger marches under the FIST banner and apply pressure there for people to take up more radical positions in support of the complete liberation of our sex.

We call for teaching women en masse how to use and smuggle the abortion pill, and perform menstrual extractions. We call for you, if you live in a state that protects abortion, to consider taking direct action to provide safe harbor for women seeking out of state abortions. Bring back the Jane Collective that performed thousands of safe abortions on women in Chicago before Roe v. Wade. We want to educate women about women’s self help groups who work to keep women’s health in women’s hands. Educate yourself and others on the use of plan B, a medication you can buy at the pharmacy that is effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 48 to 72 hours following unprotected sex. Educate yourself and others on misoprostol and mifepristone, which can end unwanted pregnancies privately during the first 9 weeks. Educate women on preventing pregnancy and obtaining safe abortions. Spread the word to women affected by these bans not to sign any waivers when they get an abortion. You can also agitate and get previously apolitical women involved in the broader struggle. And of course… Join FIST and get actively involved by becoming a member of FIST’s Feminist Assembly!

Women are half the population. Women have the numbers. We will prevail!

We have a few suggested chants and slogans:

“Our bodies, our spaces, our sex based rights.”

“My body, MY CHOICE!”

“Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!

“Women’s bodies are not incubators!”

“It’s not a womb, it’s a WOMAN”

“Abortion on demand, NO APOLOGY!”

“Birth must be voluntary. Abortion is health care. Health care is a human right.”

“Free Abortion on Demand!”

Don’t Disappear the “L” Campaign

Feminists in Struggle is launching a national, “Don’t Disappear the L” campaign just in time for Pride.  Please join us! Our plan is to sticker the streets and public areas before the Pride parades, Women’s Marches, and/or other related events, in as many cities as we can.  The Pride parades take place annually in June. Will you help? Here’s how to participate!

Click on the links below to download your stickers:

Avery5783_FIST_dont_disappear_the_L

Avery5164_FIST_dont_disappear_the_L

Avery5784_brown_ten_up_woman_adult_human_female-1

For more information re printing the stickers, go to:

Sticker Printing Instructions

The Equality Act

A committee of FIST lawyers has agreed to analyze H.R. 5, “The Equality Act”, and consider proposing feminist amendments.  In case you haven’t been following this, H. R. 5 calls each of the following a form of sex discrimination:  discrimination on the basis of the “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.” The Act goes on to define ‘gender identity’ to mean “the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

We are supportive of extending anti-discrimination protections to lesbians and gays, and are heartened to see the intent to strengthen protections against pregnancy discrimination.  However, we are concerned that defining gender identity as a form of sex discrimination will have the effect of actually compromising some of women’s hard-won rights and harming some programs like Title IX of the Education Act which was intended to redress past discrimination.

The Congressional testimony of Julia Beck of WoLF and Doriane Lambelet Coleman, two feminists pointing out the dangers to the rights of women and girls inherent in elevating gender identity to a discriminated status can be heard beginning at about 24:00 minutes of WLRN podcast #36 “The Left, The Right, and Feminist Strategy  https://soundcloud.com/wlrn-media/edition-36-the-left-the-right-and-feminist-strategy