A Message to the New York City Public Library

To:  The New York City Public Library

From:  Feminists in Struggle

 

We are a national group that fights for women’s rights, with members from across the United States.  We are appalled by your recent decision to cancel a planned event by the group Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). By denying one group access to the Library, you have not only violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but have, in effect, become censors, in direct contradiction to the core principles of the history of your own institution!

 

The American Library Association, the oldest U.S library professional organization, has stated in its Library Bill of Rights: “VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”

 

Even during the “communist witch-hunt period” of the 1950’s the Library Service stood its ground and refused to bow to enormous and intimidating pressure from Senator Joseph McCarthy, et al, by refusing to remove library books deemed “subversive” by his committee. Your recent decision flies in the face of this proud tradition of defending the rights of public library users to be exposed to a diversity of opinion.

 

Recently, the Seattle Public Library, when faced with a similar decision, regarding this same group (WoLF), made a decision opposite your own. Their statement reads as follows:

 

These values are easy to stand by when we agree with the viewpoints being shared, but when viewpoints challenge us in uncomfortable ways, it certainly becomes more difficult. It is in these difficult moments we must stand particularly firm in supporting the right to free speech in order to preserve that right for everyone.

 

We strongly urge you to follow their lead and look forward to your rescinding this terrible decision and replacing it with one that is more in line with both the proud history of the U.S. Library Service and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution!

ERA JUST GOT RATIFIED IN THE 38TH STATE!!

We are thrilled to learn that on January 15th, 2020 the Virginia legislature has voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment!  It’s about time, Virginia, but thank you for finally acting on behalf of the women of the United States to end our second-class citizenship!

The Equal Rights Amendment reads as follows:

“Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Equal Means Equal and other groups were there to ensure that the Virginia legislature did not forget its promise to vote to ratify the ERA nearly 50 years after it was introduced in the U. S. Congress in 1972 and almost 100 years after it was first introduced in 1923 as the Lucretia Mott Amendment.  Many of us marched for the ERA and were disheartened when it did not reach the critical 38 states in 1982, but some of us never gave up the fight.  We wish to thank our sisters for their hard work and perseverance in pursuing ERA ratification!

Though there are still a few hurdles to its being enshrined in the Constitution as the 28th Amendment, it is way past time that women’s rights be fully recognized!  We will continue to fight until that happens!!

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.

Chilean Women’s Protest

 An extraordinary protest by our Chilean sisters– now also picked up in Brazil and in countries around the world!

And a translation posted on Monthly Review online:

Patriarchy is a judge
That judges us for being born
And our punishment
Is the violence you see

It is femicide
It is impunity for my killer
It is disappearances
It is rape

And the blame wasn’t mine
Or where I was
Or how I dressed

The rapist is you
They are the cops
The judges
The state
The president

The oppressive state is a macho rapist
The rapist is you
‘Sleep well innocent little girl, without worrying about bandits; your sweet dreams and smile will be watched over by the policemen who love you’.
The rapist is you

The context of the lyrics are explained further here in a post from the Radical History Review by Margaret Power.  The protest started in Santiago to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  Power remarks,”In just a few short weeks, the powerful lyrics, catchy tune, and dramatic moves that comprise the hymn have become a global symbol of women’s anger and their repudiation of the misogynist violence and gendered discrimination that permeate the world. However, the performances do more than denounce male violence; the choreographed movements, chorus-like singing, and collective spirit also embody and promote women’s solidarity. They tell women they are not alone and alert the perpetrators to beware – they will not escape the fury of women’s justified outrage.”

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.

Why Do Young Women Today Like This 47 Year Old Book?

That a novel by Alix Kates Shulman, first published in 1972 is being embraced by young women today seems to suggest that we’ve made little progress on the issues like sexual harassment, job discrimination, the sexual double standard, rape, abortion the beauty standard and the impact of marriage and motherhood on women. Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen was a controversial book, excoriated by reviewers of the mainstream media when it first came out. Although much of the terrain covered is now well understood, young women today are chuckling with recognition of the same struggles that the protagonist waged in the 1950s.

Some victories haven’t been reversed but the backlash has whittled away at many women’s rights, according to Shulman in this interview on National Public Radio’s “All of It” https://www.wnyc.org/story/memoirs-ex-prom-queen-reissue/.

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)

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