Forum on Reproductive Rights planned

The right of women to control our reproduction including the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy has never been in greater jeopardy since the Supreme Court first decided Roe vs. Wade 48 years ago.

Women are invited to join Feminists in Struggle for a Zoom interactive forum Our Bodies, Our Lives on January 23, 2021 on the struggle to save reproductive rights, led by a foremother of the movement, Carol Downer.

Carol Downer has been a leader in the reproductive rights movement for five decades. She started the Self-Help branch of the Women’s Health Movement. She was tried and acquitted of practicing medicine without a license in 1972. Her group, the Feminist Women’s Health Centers started and ran abortion clinics around the country. She presently is the vice-president on the board of 3 clinics in Northern California, Women’s Health Specialists. She has written several books, and is presently studying population control by government and how it perpetuates white supremacy and class privilege. She invites inquiries by those who want to join this study project.

Other speakers include:

SPECIAL GUEST FROM ARGENTINA ON THE SUCCESSFUL ABORTION RIGHTS STRUGGLE THERE: Jimena Diaz, psychologist, feminist and women’s rights activist.

Rochelle Glickman, long-time lesbian feminist and member of Feminists in Struggle

Tickets available at Eventbrite, for $5.00. A few free tickets are also available but please pay if you can in order to help us continue to fight for women’s rights.

Open Letter from Feminists in Struggle to the Interim Steering Committee of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign USA:  A Call for Unity among Radical Feminists in the Fight to Amend the Equality Act 

The Interim Steering Committee (ISC) of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC) recently released the “Equality for All Act,” its own version of an amended Equality Act (EA). The EA is a bill pending in Congress that would add “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” as protected sub-classes under the category of “sex” in federal discrimination laws.  Radical feminists agree that the current version of the bill undermines women’s rights.  We are glad to see that the movement has come together to support the idea of amending the bill, rather than calling for a “no” vote as WoLF (Women’s Liberation Front) appeared to do in previous Congressional hearings, and that we agree on several other important points regarding how the bill should be amended or rewritten.

We are also heartened to know that virtually our entire movement including the ISC has now taken a stand in support of including sexual orientation and sex stereotyping protections, separate from sex, in the Equality Act, and everyone also supports the closing of religious loopholes to civil rights enforcement contained in the original bill. However, we feel obligated to point out that the revision of the bill that the ISC has produced is less comprehensive and actually far less protective of the sex-based rights of women and girls than FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act that pre-date ISC’s version by more than a year.  We also must object to the undemocratic process that ISC has engaged in that excluded FIST as an organization from having a place at the table,  even though FIST is an early endorser of the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, expressed its desire to be part of a U.S. Chapter, and requested to be included in these discussions.

As many radical feminists and our male allies know, the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act were drafted by a FIST committee of three lawyers and approved following discussion and vote of the democratic body of active FIST members known as the Feminist Assembly. The FAEA, along with in-depth explanation of their necessity and the changes they make to the proposed Equality Act, can be read here: https://feministstruggle.org/faea/. We have several organizations on board as endorsers including the LGB Alliance USA, the Georgia Green Party, and XX Amazons and a total of 146 signers on our website.  We have formed a coalition that we have named the Coalition for the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act (“CoFA”) which has already held several meetings. CoFA held a forum on November 14th in which more than 150 people participated, and just sent by U.S. mail a letter to all 100 members of the Senate urging them to support the Feminist Amendments.  That letter has been publicly shared at https://lgballianceusa.substack.com/p/amend-the-us-equality-act.

We believe that the approach of FIST’s Feminist Amendments is significantly more protective of sex-based rights than ISC’s draft bill for two reasons:  (1) the Feminist Amendments spell out that female-only spaces and programs do not constitute discrimination based on sex or sex stereotyping; and (2) the Feminist Amendments make robust findings about the subordinate status of women in society, the pervasive nature of male violence, and the need for women-only spaces and programs in the interests of achieving true equality for the female sex.

We want to emphasize that we do not see any principled differences between FIST’s and ISC’s two approaches to the Equality Act, only tactical and strategic ones.  We are all sisters (and brother allies) here in the same movement.  We need each other’s support, respect, and solidarity. Because to our dismay the door to dialogue between our two groups has been closed thus far, we can only speculate as to why the ISC felt compelled to create its own amendments, reinventing the wheel so to speak, as ISC’s draft bill in many respects mirrors our own, though a pared-down version of the original.  The only reasons we can come up with is our use of the word “transgender,” and the comprehensive nature of our approach that might have struck some as overly ambitious.

In our opinion, it is a serious mistake for the ISC Amendments to have failed to include a provision stating that the existence of female-only spaces and programs does not constitute sex or sex stereotyping discrimination.  Despite the fact that the Equality Act has not yet become law,  two federal appellate decisions have extended the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision to hold that it is discrimination based on “sex “ and “sex stereotyping” under Title IX to deny access to sex separated restrooms on the basis of “gender identity.”  The Feminist Amendments clearly define “transgender” (a sub-group of gender non-conforming people with a certain belief system that feminists reject) and strip the term down to size.[1]  We do not treat transgender in itself as either a class or a sub-class with special legal protections. Rather, while the Feminist Amendments do recognize the basic human rights of people who identify as transgender–the same rights that should be provided to all people who do not conform to sex stereotypes—the FAEA’s  definition of “transgender” and  inclusion of protection for female-only spaces and programs,  render the ideology harmless with respect to women’s sex-based rights under federal law.

We believe that if, on the other hand, we ignore transgenderism as the ISC does in its proposed bill, it will come back in far more dangerous ways. For example, the courts could continue to conflate sex and gender identity, decide to define “transitioning” to mean one can change his or her sex, and/or rule that denying access to female-only spaces for males who identify as women is discriminatory based on sex and sex stereotyping.

In the interests of developing greater unity and collaboration among radical feminists and our allies in the fight to amend the Equality Act, we make the following proposals:

  • That a dialogue be begun between representatives of CoFA and the ISC to explore the differences between our two proposals and whether or not it is possible to unite around the broader coalition effort supporting the Feminist Amendments;
  • If it is not possible to work together in support of the Feminist Amendments, that we discuss how best to approach members of Congress and the public in a way that is respectful of and does not undermine each other’s efforts.

In sisterhood and solidarity,

Feminists in Struggle

[1] The FAEA define “transgender” as follows:  “TRANSGENDER. –Transgender is a term adopted by a subset of people who do not conform to sex stereotypes commonly associated with their biological sex and who may hold a deeply personal sense of identity that conflicts with or denies their biological sex.”

A CENTURY AFTER WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE ERA

Don’t miss this special Zoom event on Sunday, August 30th at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time.


Feminists in Struggle hosts:

A CENTURY AFTER WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE ERA

This event will be a discussion and update on the struggle to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution. This special centennial program celebrates the 100th anniversary of the winning of women’s suffrage with a special forum on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

Get your tickets here – only $5!

The ERA was introduced by Suffragist Alice Paul in 1920 to establish constitutionally protected sex-based rights of women against discrimination. It says simply “Equal rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.”

100 years later, the ERA has been ratified by the 38 states required and feminists are fighting a court battle against the archivist of the U.S. Constitution seeking that the ERA be certified and officially added to the federal constitution.

Speakers:

Kamala Lopez is an award-winning filmmaker, actress and activist.  Kamala co-wrote and produced the documentary, “Equal Means Equal” that documented sex inequality in the U.S. and the need for the ERA. The film won Best U.S. Documentary and was a New York TImes Critics’ Pick. The film was the catalyst behind a national movement resulting in the ratification of the ERA. Kamala is a recipient of the Woman of Courage Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Natalie White is a provocative and progressive feminist and artist and a crusader for women’s rights. In 2016 she led a 250 mile march from NYC to DC to raise awareness of the Equal Rights Amendment. The day after the march, she was arrested for painting “ERA NOW” on the U.S. Capitol steps. She is co-director of Equal Means Equal Organization with Kamala Lopez.

Ann Menasche is a civil rights lawyer. radical feminist and founding member of Feminists in Struggle. She marched in NYC on August 26, 1970 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage, an event that marked the beginnings of the Second Wave of Feminism. She is dedicated to preserving and expanding the sex-based rights of women and girls.

JOIN US FOR THIS IMPORTANT EVENT ON FINALLY WINNING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN!!

FIST Forum: “Defending Women-only Spaces for Victims of Male Violence” with Speakers from Vancouver Rape Relief, Sun. June 28th

Please join us for our first FIST Forum on Zoom on Sunday June 28th at 1:00 P.M., Pacific Time, with special guests from Vancouver Rape Relief on the important topic of defending women’s spaces for victims of male violence. This is a participatory event with lots of time for questions and discussion.

Please buy your tickets on Eventbrite at: Defending Women’s Spaces for Victims of Male Violence and we will send you the Zoom link.  Tickets are only $5 plus a service charge, funds split between VRR and FIST.

The event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Feminist Salon and the San Diego Feminist Organizing Project.

FIST LAUNCHES ENDORSEMENT DRIVE FOR FEMINIST AMENDMENTS TO THE EQUALITY ACT!

Now individuals and organizations can endorse the Feminist Amendments quickly and easily on FIST’s website.  Check out our Feminist Amendments page here on our website and sign up right away as an endorser by clicking the link!

As soon as we are out of lock-down due to the Corona virus, we plan on doing public events and coordinating lobbying efforts to advocate an approach to the Equality Act that preserves and expands women’s sex-based rights while ensuring that everyone’s rights are protected, including the rights of lesbians, gay men, and all gender non-conforming people.

However, no reason to wait to get involved! Getting endorsements online can be done now from your living room.    Please help us with our Feminist Amendments campaign by spreading the word, gathering endorsements, donating to FIST,  purchasing some of our cool merchandise and of course joining us by becoming a member!

International Women’s Day 2020

Today is International Women’s Day and marks Feminists in Struggle’s 1 year anniversary!  We want to thank everyone who has joined us in the struggle to reignite a strong women’s movement in  order to finish the job First Wave and Second Wave feminists began.  We are so grateful for their sacrifices and contributions and we acknowledge all the women working for the global liberation of women around the world.

We particularly want to recognize the women of the #MeToo Movement who took personal risk to come forward to hold sexual predators accountable, the women behind the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, and the efforts of organizations like Equal Means Equal that have worked tirelessly to bring the Equal Rights Amendment to the finish line.  It was 100 years ago this year that First Wave feminists won the right to vote, and 97 years after its first introduction that the ERA reached the milestone of the 38th state for ratification!!

We look forward to many more accomplishments of present-day feminists to fight back against the enemies of women’s freedom and autonomy.  Please join us at Feminist Struggle and help us continue the struggle for the liberation of all women!

A New Way Forward for Feminism

How do feminists most effectively fight gender identity ideology as it becomes more and more enshrined into our laws, such as the female-erasing provisions of the U.S. Equality Act pending in Congress? Should we simply oppose “gender identity” as a single issue, narrowly defined?  Or should we fight to defend women’s sex-based rights while at the same time advocating for federal civil rights protection against discrimination for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and others who do not conform to stereotypes imposed on their sex?   What is the most effective strategy for fighting against the current version of the Equality Act while advancing our feminist vision for changing society? Is merging messaging with the Christian Right helpful or harmful to achieving our goals? How can we rebuild a radical feminist movement strong enough to defeat all our enemies, both the transactivists who would erase us and the Religious Right who would enslave us?

These are some of the issues that Ann Menasche, founding member of Feminists In Struggle (FIST), grapples with in her New Radical Feminist Approach to Challenging Gender Identity Ideology: The Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act” published in Redline. Menasche jumps into the debate within the burgeoning new women’s liberation movement, regarding conflicting strategies put forward by FIST and WoLF.  She argues that campaigns to defend women’s sex-based rights should be combined with a challenge to gender itself by opposing both homophobia and sex stereotyping.   She explains how the Feminist Amendments do just that, an approach precluded by WoLF’s orientation toward alliances with the organized Christian Right.

“FIST’s strategy emphasizes winning the battle of ideas within the whole society…the same strategy that won women the vote and resulted in the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States,” writes Menasche. “These victories were not gifts bestowed from on high but were won by mass struggle of millions of women. We believe that such a strategy is ultimately more decisive in achieving the changes that we currently seek as compared to a focus on lobbying politicians in the two corporate parties or playing one wing of patriarchy against the other.”

WoLF Event at the Seattle Public Library: a firsthand account of a FIST attendee

This is a firsthand account of a FIST attendee at the WoLF event, “Fighting the New Misogyny” in Seattle on February 1.

I attended this event for a few reasons:

  • First, because the world needs to see that women will not be terrorized into silence. We cannot afford to just be social media warriors in anonymity.  We must be a visible presence, fighting this war fearlessly. It is past the time for us to play it safe. We are NOT safe anyway. We never have been.
  • Second, I want to learn to BE on a panel to get the message out that being authentic is living your best life in the body you were born with. I hope to speak up for gender nonconforming women, teaching our youth that being “authentic” isn’t cutting off your breasts to pretend to be something that you can never be. You don’t have to be a man to wear clothes sold for men, love motorcycles, boxing, fast cars, sports and women. We need to be visible as women, living truly authentic lives. We have to fight for our youth.
  • Third, I wanted to support the women brave enough to put themselves in the crosshairs of TRAs’ attacks. Respect, all day long.

From the moment I stepped out of the airport I was surrounded by fabulous women. Rhoda came and picked up three of us to drive us to our Airbnb. April had booked 14 of us into two rooms at Harbor Steps, a wonderful apartment complex.  All of our food for the weekend was provided for us, including fresh catch crab for the Saturday dinner.

Friday night we all went to listen to Dominique Christina’s poetry reading. Dominique Christina is an incredibly powerful poet. If you ever get the chance, don’t miss her.

Saturday we had a women’s circle which was incredibly empowering. We had started already when a few women showed up late, having gotten the time wrong. You could feel the energy in the room spike up though. It might have been Vajra Ma, who I found to be magnificent! I bought a copy of her book, From a Hidden Stream: The Natural Spiritual Authority Of Woman. I highly recommend it.

Before the women’s circle, Thistle Pettersen performed a set for us. She was magnificent! It breaks my heart that TRAs have managed to destroy this woman’s career. Please support Thistle at Defend Feminists Let’s help her get her life back from these monsters! Show her that she is not in this fight alone. We stand with her.

One of my favorite parts of this weekend was meeting some of the social media warriors that are fighting this war. When Known Heretic (aka Amy) introduced herself we both jumped into each other’s arms! What a moment. I met three other warriors at the event.

When we arrived at the event all of the protesters were forced to stay on the opposite side of the building. They never got close to us. The Seattle Police maintained a large area for us to exit also. They kept them pushed across the street. Go Seattle PD! Thank you!

I handed out handsful of FIST’s flyers for our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act (FAEA). I was pleasantly surprised to be recognized by quite a few people from social media. I have been posting frequently about the FAEA, on Facebook and Twitter. It was great to realize that, even with only 1,300 followers on Twitter, we can make a difference. (I was wearing my FIST hoodie, represent!)

At the beginning of the first speaker, TRAs caused a disturbance in the seats. They were quickly drowned out by hundreds of voices yelling, “Let women speak!” at the top of our lungs. I remember one man saying, “Give them the mic and let them speak.” My response, “Hell no! We aren’t giving them a mic! We aren’t here for them!” Eventually the police escorted/arrested the disrupters and we continued. You can watch the presentation for yourselves at: Women’s Liberation Front Facebook page.

Each woman brought a different energy to the presentation. Towards the end there was a Q+A, and of course the misogynistic man from earlier had to be the first to the mic. He proceeded to attempt to lecture the women in the room about how we have all the rights we need. We couldn’t get him to shut up. Just as I bellowed, “You’re done!” Courtney walked over and yanked the mic out of his hands. It was excellent! She rocked it. Courtney was fearless and a blast, waving at the TRAs as we left the building. I have never met so many powerful women in one place.

If you want to become a part of something bigger than yourself. If you want to make a difference. Attend feminist events. Get involved. Make your voice heard! We are stronger together.

In summary, this was the most powerful weekend I have experienced in a very long time, if ever. There is power in standing up for your beliefs.  There is power in gathering together to combine our incredible female energies.  I came away from this weekend fully charged up to continue fighting the war.

We didn’t start this war. But we WILL end it. Solidarity!

FIST and Equal Means Equal on Joy of Resistance Radio Show

Our own Ann Menasche appeared on the Joy of Resistance show on WBAI hosted by Fran Luck talking about our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act which make a distinction between rights based on sex and rights based on gender non-conformity and sexual orientation.  Ann articulated the reasons for the feminist amendments as many rights for which women have fought would be eroded under the Equality Act.

Another very important topic was covered on the show–the ratification of THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT BY BOTH VIRGINIA STATE HOUSES TODAY, January 27, 2020!!  Kamala Lopez of Equal Means Equal was interviewed on the show who explained that there is no need to pass legislation to do away with the imposed deadlines on the legislation because no deadline was included in the legislation, it was a separate bill on which the states did not vote, that Congress did its job in 1972, and we should not get mired down in more Congressional action, as some suggest, by pursuing the passage of legislation doing away with the deadline because the deadline does not matter.

She stated that the Alabama Attorney General filed suit asserting that the archivist should not record Virginia’s 38th state ratification, even though the same archivist recorded the last two states, Nevada (2017) and Illinois (2018). Equal Means Equal has filed suit to make sure the ratification is recorded and will be pursuing various cases across the nation to make sure it becomes part of the U. S. Constitution at long last.  It will be making a Federalist Originalist argument outlined in the Constitution, which will be very difficult for the conservative court to rule against.

Kamala Lopez explained that without the ERA, we will never have equal work for equal pay and that strict scrutiny regarding discrimination under the ERA will finally be required on the basis of sex as it has been for religion, nationality, and race.  She urged listeners to go to Equal Means Equal and sign up for their newsletter and to show up in Richmond, VA on March 8, 2020, International Women’s Day and the centennial of women’s suffrage, to march in the ERA Parade to celebrate it’s ratification.

The show also briefly covered the WoLF events which were scheduled at two public libraries, Seattle and NYC, and how NYCPL cancelled their event while Seattle has refused to cancel theirs.

More about this program at WBAI

Women’s March 2020

FIST was present at Women’s Marches in Chicago and San Diego with banners proclaiming our motto, “Our Bodies, Our Spaces, Our Sex-Based Rights!” which we also chanted!  Some of us wore our new t-shirts and sweatshirts with the banner as well.