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.

 

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.

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.

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

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