Cancel Kavanaugh! Walkout October 4th!

CANCEL KAVANAUGH. WALKOUT AGAINST PATRIARCHY
WE ARE SURVIVORS, BELIEVE US.

 

Join a National Walkout from all work, waged and unwaged, on Thursday, October 4 at 4:00 pm to protest the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court (FIND LOCAL ACTIONS HERE).

 

In the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation process to the Supreme Court of the United States, we have listened with distress to the women who have so bravely come forward to make public his assaults against them.

 

We have watched with mounting alarm the Senate hearing where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford shared her traumatic account of assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh and the dismissal of her suffering by those who are bent on moving forward with a lifetime appointment of Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land.

 

The outrageous response to Dr. Ford and other assault victims who have come forward have reminded us of our own assaults and brutalization and we have found solace and hope in the bravery of the survivors who have spoken up.

 

But the condescension and disrespect with which Dr. Ford and other survivors have been treated by politicians underscores for us what we have known all along: that the current political system, far from promoting the welfare of women, tries actively to harm us.

 

This is not a ‘partisan’ issue in the terms the Democrats and Republicans are framing it: as a struggle for power in the electoral arena. This is a universal issue as it regards hearing the voices of those who speak out against gender violence, investigating charges against abusers, and holding them accountable for their actions. Most importantly, the issue involves challenging and undoing the power structures that systematically keep most women at the bottom so they can be over-exploited, underpaid, easily abused, raped and deported. The system is designed such that that their testimonies can never challenge the claims of innocence and ‘good name’ of powerful men.

 

This is a critical  issue for political equality and full freedom for women at a moment when women, youth, lgbtq+ people, workers both waged and unwaged, all people of color and immigrant communities are saying “Enough is enough!” This is a key issue for  all  of us in the US, and around the world, who are daily oppressed, humiliated and dismissed, whose suffering and pain often doesn’t matter, all these millions of people who can relate to Dr. Ford’s testimony, and have responded with narratives of solidarity.

 

This appointment must not happen. It jeopardizes the future of countless women, our reproductive rights, civil rights, and even the most basic sense of safety that all women, and people, ought to be entitled to.

 

On October 4 we call on all women, and those who believe our stories, to walk out of work, school and housework at 4:00 pm and show the world that since our labour runs the world, when we are denied dignity and safety, we can stop the world from running.

 

You can endorse the action HERE

 

Please email us to internationalwomenstrikeus@gmail.com with the information of your event and we will post it on the website.

 

NATIONAL ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS:

 

International Women’s Strike US
Women’s March
Democratic Socialists of America
International Socialist Organization
Socialist Alternative
Party for Socialism and Liberation
Worker’s Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores
National Lawyers Guild
Black Women Blueprint
Organization for a Free Society
Campus Antifascist Network
March for Black Women
Red Bloom Communist Collective
National Women’s Liberation
Viewpoint Magazine
International Marxist-Humanist Organization
New Politics
Socialist Viewpoint
BAMN (Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary)
Socialist Organizer
Economics for Everyone
Red Wedge Magazine
African Human Rights Coalition
Socialist Rifle Association
Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation

 

UNIONS:

 

AFSCME 3299, University of California
UC Berkeley Student Workers Union – UAW 2865
Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT)

 

LOCAL CHAPTERS AND ORGANIZATIONS:

 

Women’s March San Francisco
NARAL Pro-Choice California
Kanawha Valley DSA (West Virigina)
Socialist Workers Alliance of Guyana
The Woman Project
Minnesota State University
Rally Cry Screenprinting
EBDSA Socialist Feminist Caucus
CUNY Struggle
Bucknell University, History Alumni
Women’s March Oakland
The Women’s Building San Francisco
Local Sprouts Cooperative – Portland, Maine
San Francisco Women’s Political Committee
YDSA UW – Madison
Dept of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA)
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
Cuba Cultural Center, Inc.
Younger Womxn’s Task Force of Greater Lafayette
BuxMont DSA
Boston Democratic Socialists of America
Worcester Socialist Alternative
Syracuse DSA
Central Indiana Democratic Socialist of America
Oaklandsocialist
KY Young Democrats
Socialist Alternative Seattle
Nightshade PGH
Blind Field: A Journal of Cultural Inquiry [editorial collective]
DSA Peninsula
Indivisible San Francisco
Colectiva Feminista Sur
Socialist Feminism Working Group
YDSA Purdue
LAGAI-Queer Insurrection
ACT Yakima
San Francisco Women In black
DSA SF
DiaspoRicans DiaspoRiqueños
University of Washington
Women’s Action Team
Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America
South Beach D6 Democratic Club of San Francisco
Social Equity Educators (Seattle)
DSA Muncie
Students for Reproductive Justice DePaul
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Washington
The Geek Initiative
March and Rally Los Angeles
QUIT! (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism!)
Oscar Romero And Simone Weil Catholic Worker House (Hayward, CA)
People without Borders Justice Temple (Hayward, CA)
Geneva Women’s Assembly
Seattle Clinic Defense
Coalicion de Derechos Humanos
The Emotional Labor Union
Guilford College
New York Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Worcester DSA
It’s Vapor Wisconsin
Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America
Colorado Springs Socialists
Feminist Flag Corps
Bowdoin Climate Action
Institute For Figuring
Southern Maine Workers’ Center
Bay Area Women Against Rape
Progressive Portland
Graduate Women’s Project (UC Berkeley)
The Phoenix Project
Berkeley High School Women’s Student Union
Mainer’s Against Kavanaugh
Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party
350 Bay Area
Old Men for Justice for All
Citizen Action of New York
D’Vine Crush
SRJ DePaul
Missoula Rise with Western MT DSA
Philly Socialists
DSA New York
SRJ DePaul
Missoula Rise with Western MT DSA
Bowdoin Labor Alliance
A Bookkeeping Cooperative (ABC)
Baron Eco-Art
Strikecorps
Holos Institute: Ecopsychology Counseling and Education
Informacion es Poder radio KIQI 1010AM
Socialist Alternative Bay Area
Interfaith Center Oxford, Ohio
Family Violence Law Center
DSA Santa Cruz
Women’s March Los Angeles

International Women’s Day Strike and Rally in Geneva

Geneva, NY – In Geneva on March 8th, over two hundred women and their supporters walked out, went on strike, and rallied in front of FLX Live on Exchange Street in solidarity with women across the globe. From Madrid, to London, to Buenos Ares as well as across the United States, women took to the streets in opposition to sexual and racial violence, economic inequality, aggressive policing and endless war. This is the second year that Geneva women have joined this international demonstration.

The March 8th event continued the energy that has been building all over the US in the #Me, Too and Time’s Up movements of women against sexual harassment. The demonstration in Geneva highlighted women’s work. Women brought items or made posters representing their work and hung them on red clotheslines displayed inside FLX Live.  Tamarie Cataldo, of Geneva, brought hair-curlers, an apron, and a page cut from a 1950s women magazine from the 1950s titled, “I Hate Being Pregnant and I Hate Sex.” She explained, “I brought the magazine cut out to show how far we’ve come in sixty years but also how things have remained the same. Women still have to plan the meals and stock the cupboards. We engage in an endless stream of household chores and still can’t achieve the flawlessly decorated and spotless homes that society expects. The capitalist machine banks on women performing these invisible tasks without for free.” The women’s collective art project will be on display at the Geneva Historical Society from March 15 till April 10.

Rather than featuring well-known speakers, the Geneva event opened the mic to anyone who wanted to share why she was on strike. Maggie Maclean, who came all the way from Buffalo to attend, said, “I strike because as an autistic woman I experience discrimination every day. I strike because as an advocate for people with disabilities my work is too often unrecognized by other activists. I strike because the Trump administration is trying to roll back the Americans with Disabilities Act. I strike because health care for those with disabilities is a feminist issue.”

Melissa Rodney, of Geneva, performed her spoken-word poem celebrating radical women like Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, and Assata Shakur. The poem’s last stanza says:

Today we don’t mourn, we celebrate.

Our presence

here and now

and the anger, frustration, that lives at our core

keep it . .  .remember it . . . . USE IT

Geneva, they told me to sit down, shut up and stay still.

Look cute.

My voice is not needed here.

I said, “Our voice . . her voice .  .my voice . .

Its just the beginning, you have no idea what is to  come . . . . .

The event concluded with an announcement of a new initiative to end sexual harassment of restaurant and service sector workers in the Finger Lakes. Between seventy and ninety percent of restaurant workers have experienced sexual harassment. Over half of that harassment comes from customers. Finger Lakes Against Sexual Harassment (FLASH) is building a solidarity network of customers, community members, workers, and neighbors who can be counted on to support and defend workers who report harassment and discrimination in their workplace. For more information, go to fingerlakesagainstsexualharassment.com.





 

Workers at the Stamford Hilton Hotel walked off the job Thursday March 8

Workers at the Stamford Hilton Hotel walked off the job Thursday March 8 to show their determination to get a good contract. They crowded the main hotel entry way for nearly 2 hours chanting, “No contract, No Peace.” Prominent on the line were housekeepers who had already proclaimed their solidarity with the women expected to march in other countries around the globe on International Women’s Day. 

International Women’s Strike Connecticut joined the picket line in solidarity. The new group, inspired by The IWS US Platform, made the clear connection between the Stamford union fight and millions of women marching in the streets on International Women’s Day demanding better wages, working conditions, an end to sexual abuse, immigrant rights, an end to racism, healthcare, and jobs. 



The Feminist Horizon – An Interview with Jodi Dean about the International Women’s Strike

By Maximillian Alvarez

Reposted from The Baffler

AS THE ORGANIZERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S STRIKE(IWS) have declared, March 8, 2018 will be “a day of feminism for the 99 percent.” One year ago to the day, International Women’s Day, women and their allies around the globe participated in the first International Women’s Strike, which was billed as “A Day Without a Woman.” Building on the international momentum from the Women’s March earlier in 2017, strikers took to the streets and demonstrated from Tokyo to RomeIstanbul to Mexico CityManila to Los Angeles. In the United States, school districts in multiple states were shut down, demonstrators filled city centers and university grounds—even some elected officials in Washington, D.C., showed solidarity.

As any movement will, the IWS received its fair share of criticism, and the longer-term success of the 2017 strike remains up for debate. But what does “success” actually entail in this case? After “A Day Without a Woman” last March, things seemingly went back to “normal”—Trump was still president, racism and patriarchy continued to run rampant, the exploitative machinations of capital hummed along merrily, drowning out the cries of a world in pain. In the hyper-mediated swarmof our eternal political present, anything short of instant, spectacular gratification—or anything shy of immediate, tangible gains—feels like a failure. In this sense, the mere fact that IWS is back for a second year is already a significant achievement. But the women and allies driving the new feminist movement behind IWS have set the bar much higher. One could hardly look back at the dramatic and widespread efforts to dismantle patriarchal power over the past year and suggest that this movement hasn’t become a formidable force. The real question is: what next?

Like last year, the IWS on March 8 is slated to be a “political strike”; that is, a strike whose concerns are not limited to the workplace. The IWS organizers take a wider view of all the forms of women’s paid and unpaid labor within interlocking, global systems of discrimination, exploitation, and violence. In the words of Tithi Bhattacharya, one of the national organizers for the IWS in the United States, “the reason people strike is because of the poor conditions of their life. It’s not necessarily that they strike because of their job. . . . A political strike gives a wider, deeper context to the meaning of struggle and the gains to be had from struggle and solidarity.” And, indeed, it is in movements like the IWS that “the meaning of struggle” is being rewritten for a new age.

The notion of left internationalism in the twenty-first century has felt, more often than not, like an outdated fever dream. Limping toward the quarter-century mark, one would have plenty of reason to believe that ours is a leftist political scene riven with irreparable divisions, that ours is a political era where the potential for broad solidarity has splintered among conflicting camps of innumerable allegiances, concerns, and identities. It is in this sense that one cannot help but see the international feminist movement driving IWS as a kind of circling of the wagons. Reading the IWS organizers’ platform, one is struck by the breadth of the issues they are striking against: sexual violence, racism, economic insecurity, destruction of the climate, the erosion of the social safety net, mass incarceration, imperialism, police violence, and border controls, etc. But one is struck with even greater force by the way that the IWS corrals these seemingly disparate issues into a singular, infinitely demanding rejection of the systemic conditions of life itself, around the world, for the women of the 99 percent.

If not a new proletariat itself, the IWS and the movement it represents is still harnessing the forces of proletarianization in everyday life under global (racist) capitalism. In response to the many, irreducibly diverse kinds of pain and struggle this totalizing system imposes on women around the globe, women are forging expansive, flexible forms of solidarity without which a better world can’t be imagined, much less realized. On March 8, this solidarity will manifest once again in an international political strike, but it will by no means end there. I sat down with Jodi Dean, activist, author, and member of the IWS National Planning Committee, to get her perspective on the strike and what it means for feminism and the future of leftist politics.

 

So, the International Women’s Strike is back. Last year’s showing was really impressive but, clearly, it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. What does this tell us about the political movement driving IWS?

It tells us that women are fierce, mobilized, and radically unwilling to let corporate white liberal Democratic Party celebrity feminism steer the movement.

The IWS in the United States is in an interesting place. On the one hand, International Women’s Day is a big deal all over the world. There are intense preparations going on in Argentina and the UK, for example, mass assemblies and rallies to prepare for the international women’s strike. And this is part of a long tradition. Many countries observe IWD with rallies and marches and other events (some places seem to me to not get it quite right as they observe it by giving women flowers). IWD even had a role in the Russian Revolution. China Mieville brings this out beautifully in his fantastic book, October. IWD helped ignite the February Revolution. After multiple meetings and rallies, speeches and celebrations, detailing the conditions of women, criticizing the war, and emphasizing the unbearable cost of living, women poured into the streets of Petrograd. Crowding into the most radical working-class districts of the city, they shouted for men to join them. Soon 90,000 were in the streets calling for bread, an end to the war, and an end to the monarchy. Strikes, marches, and demonstrations continued over the next week and led, ultimately, to the overthrow of the tsar. Anyway, my point is that the United States has been a sad outlier from the international recognition and celebration of International Women’s Day. Considered from an international perspective, the energy in America around the women’s strike last year and this year is us playing catch up.

On the other hand, there is something specific and exciting about the way that the International Women’s Strike caught on last year and is building this year. The outpouring of opposition to Trump last year in the January 21 demonstrations and this year in the January 20 demonstrations shows women protesting at a scale that we haven’t seen in the movement in a very long time. Women are mad. Fed up. Many are inspired by the #MeToo#UsToo, and #TimesUp campaigns that have resulted, finally, in holding men at the top of the food chain accountable.

For many women, these marches are the first time they’ve participated in mass demonstrations, the first time they’ve protested. For some, this is not an easy step: they move from understanding themselves as good citizens and from understanding politics as voting to something new, to a sense of themselves as activists and to politics as requiring radical change. Their new vocabulary helps reinforce their new political identity—Per-sisters and Nasty Women, terms used to denigrate Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton that newly politically energized women have embraced. So even if the shift here is from pantsuit to pussy hat, it needs to be commended—and recognized as absolutely necessary if there is to be anything close to progressive change in the United States.

Last year’s demonstrations were primarily about outrage—anti-Trump and despair over Clinton’s loss. This year’s January 20 protests were more ambiguous. Anti-Trump was still a feature, but so was the sense of power from #MeToo as well as a new and growing emphasis on using the electoral process at multiple levels to try to change the system. We saw in the January 20 protests, then, both a great deal of effort to push women into electoral campaigns and a sense that the deep problems in the U.S.—the racism and white supremacism, the militarism and imperialism, the violence against women and sexual minorities, the hostility toward immigrants, the carceral system and aggressive policing, the refusal to deal with climate change, and, of course, the ever intensifying economic inequality—won’t be solved through elections. The work of Black Lives Matter, the Standing Rock Sioux, long-standing radical feminist organizing going on below the radar, and the efforts of many other fighters made this realization possible. In sum, because of their work we also saw in the January 20 protests large groups of organized women refusing to be sheep-dogged into electoral politics and already heading in a more radical direction.

These are the energies driving the International Women’s Strike in America. Last year, committed socialist women with years of movement experience formed a national organizing committee as a way to bring a concrete political vision to the rapidly growing struggle. Like last year, a key goal of this year’s strike is building and giving voice to a Feminism for the 99 percent. This is a feminism that refuses to let the success of one rich white woman detract us from the real conditions of most women’s lives—conditions of racial inequality, of gender violence, of economic exploitation and inequality, of workplace sexual harassment, of a police and criminal justice system designed to protect the rich and kill the poor, of inadequate health care, education, and housing. These are all women’s issues. In effect, these are all elements of a single struggle against racist capitalist patriarchy and for a society of the many.

On the crest of the #MeToo/#TimesUp moment, with the IWS, the Women’s March, etc. looming large in the landscape of political resistance over the past year, would it be wrong or naïve to say that, as far as the future of the left is concerned, women are in the driver’s seat?

It would be correct! Now here’s the tricky part: does this mean that left men are finally acknowledging the work that radical left women have been doing for years? Does this mean that women are doing the work we’ve always done? That we are taking care of everything, arranging everything, etc, just like we do in the domestic sphere and the men are coasting along and benefitting, perhaps finding ways to capitalize on our labor or getting more leisure time while we end up spending countless hours organizing? Are left men being driven around by women chauffeurs, or are they working with us as comrades in emancipatory egalitarian struggle?

Maybe another way to approach this question is to consider what’s changed. Is it the case that men are learning to listen and to follow? Have men on the left stopped trying to dominate everything—and have the last thirty-odd years in the neoliberal wilderness actually led to some concrete changes in gender relations on the left such that men have learned to make some space? Is it a generational shift such that younger men are less likely to think that theirs are the only voices in the room?

Or have men essentially been forced to acquiesce to women’s leadership and, if so, has this force come from left women or from the determinations of capitalism? A materialist analysis would draw out the concrete changes in the composition of the labor force, in college education, etc., and this would direct us to the way that larger numbers of women throughout the paid labor force (although of course not every sector is the same; some remain gendered in ways others do not) combined with the various hits men have taken have generated conditions where women’s leadership is necessary for survival. (This dynamic is already a long-standing feature of the lives of many African-Americans.) From this angle, it appears that changes in women’s educational and economic circumstances have put us in a position of more opportunity and capacity for leadership. Women are taking the lead in so many sectors of the movement. It feels to me like we are filling a vacuum.

I really like the way you flipped the question. I think doing so leads us to reframe not only what’s happening with politics from below, at the grassroots, but also what is happening at the highest echelons of power. It’s easy to despair and see the Trumpian takeover of the political scene as a world-historical repudiation of the values IWS stands for (Trump himself would probably be the first to say so).

In response to this world-historical shift, the left has been scrambling to repair and adjust, to point fingers, to locate and get rid of the supposedly poisonous parts of our politics that many argue have led to our current defeat. But as I listen to you, and look at these massive mobilizations of feminist energy, a different, more encouraging picture emerges. That also seems to be the case if we think more broadly about the kind of solidarity and action we’re seeing with teens across the country in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting—to say nothing of the fact that the millennial generation has shown itself to be way more receptive to socialism than any other. These shifts make me wonder whether the Trumpian rebellion really is a sign of the world-historical rejection of the things the left fights for. Maybe it instead represents the violent thrashing of interlocking systems of patriarchal, racist, exclusionary, exploitative power that are threatened by the rumbling from below. Stripping away as much naïveté and groundless optimism as possible, never once losing sight of the dire state of things, would you say that the left currently has more potential than many, including lefties, realize?

Yes, yes, yes! We have to look at the “Trumpian rebellion” as a reaction. I want to say it indeed marks a reaction to left power, but, to be honest, that might slide too far into groundless optimism even as we must recognize that there is nonetheless a certain truth to it. The right really does react to left power. In fact, the right sees the left as more powerful than the left sees the left! The right excoriated Obama as a communist—which is awesome because it means that they think the left is so powerful that we can get a communist in the White House! (There was a stupid song and video by Victoria Jackson from SNL called, I think, “There’s a communist living in the White House” that came out soon after Obama was elected.) The NRA presents any step toward even the slightest regulation of guns as socialism—again, good for us, because it presents us a powerful force. And, you probably saw that Steve Bannon recently said that the anti-patriarchy movement is going to be bigger than the Tea Party. “Time’s up on ten thousand years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real!” Right-wing hysteria, then, provides some pretty good grounds for left optimism.

But, if we want to be a bit more measured in our analysis of the objective conditions, we can say that the “Trumpian rebellion” is a reaction to a set of different and combined developments. Yes, there are the forces of extreme inequality and the failure of the left to maintain a vigilant, widespread, and clear vision of socialism, together with a decline in white men’s sense of their life chances, that is, in the likelihood that their lives will be better than their fathers’ lives and the sense that Hollywood and Democratic elites are mocking them. We also see an allied fear of the increased economic and political presence of heretofore marginalized groups: a fear compounded when they see the power of people standing up and fighting back, like with Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and the movements against aggressive policing, fossil fuels, debt, eviction, and deportation—all of which were going on under Obama.

So, yes, the left has more potential and more capacity than we realize, and we should understand “realize” here both as “recognize” and as “make real.” Our capacity has to be realized in practice, that is, through organizing, which is exactly what the IWS intends.

In Fortunes of Feminism, Nancy Fraser contributes to the deeply uncomfortable but necessary effort to confront the history of second-wave feminism’s often unconscious susceptibility to being absorbed by and serving the needs of capital “in the shift from state-organized capitalism to neoliberalism.” This is, of course, a subject you’ve addressed yourself on many occasions, and it certainly seems to be a self-conscious staple of the movement behind IWS—and not just because Fraser herself is on the National Planning Committee. What really stands out, though, is when Fraser suggests that, in the wake of neoliberalism’s structural crises—from the Great Recession to the Trumpian takeover—feminism might yet emerge as something radically reformed, in both the sense of a concrete social movement but also as  “an empty signifier of the good (akin, perhaps, to ‘democracy’), which can and will be invoked to legitimate a variety of different scenarios, not all of which promote gender justice.” Is this how we should be trying to understand what’s happening with IWS and, more broadly, with feminist politics today? What kind of shift does that require in how we think about and live feminism?

Super interesting question. My first impulse was to say that it was Clinton’s feminism that functioned as an “empty signifier of the good,” that it is the mainstream white liberal capitalist carceral feminism of “progressive neoliberalism” (Fraser’s apt term) that circulates effortlessly through popular culture as a soft marker of the woke. It functions ideologically to reinforce capitalism, to provide capitalist brutality with a woman’s face. So, we get Lena Dunham feminism, Katy Perry feminism, and the reduction of political struggle to personal self-advancement. This is what immediately came to mind with feminism as an “empty signifier of the good” invoked to legitimate a variety of different scenarios.

But then of course I would not want to associate IWS with this kind of feminism! Part of the issue is the utility of a concept like “empty signifier.” I don’t think it tells us very much. In the instance of feminism, the different uses of “feminism” don’t point to the emptiness of “feminist” as a signifier. “Feminism” always signifies a politics focused on improving women’s lives. The different uses or understandings come from the real political divisions over what improvement entails. The tension or difference is around what is to be done, the diagnosis of the problem and the recommended solution. The signifier isn’t empty. Rather, the politics necessary for realizing it are contested, divergent, at odds with one other. Put in the old-school terms of 1980s women’s studies: there are different feminisms, liberal feminism, radical feminism, socialist feminism, etc. IWS’s Feminism for the 99 percent is anti-racist socialist feminism. Rather than thinking that feminism can be reduced to liberal emphases on access and opportunity, anti-racist socialist feminism seeks to overturn the structures of women’s oppression—white supremacy, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, the carceral and imperialist state. It recognizes that these are a single formation and that the politics they mobilize are different fronts of a common struggle.

My second impulse, though, went in the direction of thinking about why exactly feminism is at the vanguard of contemporary politics. The answer involves the renewed attention to feminist social reproduction theory as in the work of Silvia Federici, Mariarosa Della Costa, Selma James, Maria Mies, and others. Tithi Bhattacharya has an excellent new edited volume of work in this area, and Viewpoint magazine published an issue devoted to social reproduction a year or so ago. The UK-based activist group Plan-C has made social reproduction a focal point of their organizing. Canadian feminists have also been working in this area for a while now. Social reproduction is even becoming a force for organizers in small cities and rural communities. For example, the Geneva Women’s Assembly in Geneva, New York, (where I live) has placed social reproduction at the center of our strike organizing and political work.

Fraser herself has written a couple of excellent articles on the current crisis of social reproduction. As I see it, social reproduction is the most exciting area of theoretical and practical work for feminists and socialists alike. It names the kind of inquiry that current conditions demand: how can we go on collectively, given the dramatic increases in inequality, militarism, and incarceration, and given the decrease in life expectancy and crumbling infrastructure such that basics like drinking water, schools, bridges, and roads are contaminated and decayed? Likewise, given the collapse of families, communities, and social institutions—and given the floods, fires, hurricanes, droughts, and other signs of climate-based catastrophe—how do we conceptualize the basic goals of our social order? Social reproduction focuses on the labor through which society reproduces itself. Much of this labor is unpaid. Much of it is done by women. All of it is necessary and all of it is under threat.

Can you say a little more about how social reproduction frames what we’re seeing with the movement behind IWS?

Traditional Marxist labor politics emphasizes organizing at the site of production because that’s a place where the contradictions of capitalism are concentrated. The bosses want more work for less pay and the workers want more pay and less work.

The sphere of reproduction is also a site where capitalist contradictions appear. Consider everything that goes into the reproduction of the labor force: workers have to be born, cared for, housed, clothed, fed, educated, and transported. In contemporary capitalism, most households that include children do not also include full-time caregivers. The adult or adults in the family work full-time. Childcare is very expensive. The school-day and the work-day often don’t correspond. There is a tension here, a contradiction between the conditions of labor and the conditions that produce laborers.

We can go further and note the absence of adequate and affordable housing in urban centers. The result is that more and more people face long commutes. But the transportation infrastructure—like most public services—has been left to decay. So, commutes take longer and are less reliable, which is very hard on parents who may then have to pay overtime for their childcare providers and even risk losing their spot in daycare because they haven’t picked up their child on time. Let’s add in the problem of adequate drinking water from lead contamination that plagues the United States, the over-crowded and under-funded schools, the extreme expense of health care, and, why not, the opioid epidemic and decline in life expectancy because of the rise of diseases of despair. These problems are crises of the social, crises that impair the capacity of society to reproduce itself. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the 1 percent is a genocidal class. They want the rest of us to die. They have fought to eliminate (imprison and murder) black and brown people, and now their willingness to kill off the poor, the bottom quintile, is the thematic core of their politics. When markets determine everything, only the rich survive.

A women’s strike brings to the fore the invisible labor that has sustained the system and that is under threat. It makes us all take notice of how much work is required just to survive and how the capitalists do everything to dispossess us of everything—social lives, time with friends and family, health, leisure, a future. The IWS platform calls for full-social provisioning, which means meeting social needs and securing the means of life. This call arises out of an analysis of social reproduction.

So, it’s kind of obvious, but still important to note that the very makeup of twentieth-century popular labor movements helped to reify common notions of what did and didn’t count as work, who the workers were, and also, as a result, where worker solidarity began and ended. This is something that IWS is addressing head on. There’s a really powerful line in the IWS Platform: “As working women who hold up half the sky we refuse to be divided over the kind of labor we perform, whether skilled or unskilled, formal or informal, sex work and domestic work.” The stated refusal to be divided is kind of a double gesture, looking backward at past divisions at the same time it’s looking forward towards a horizon of solidarity. What does—or what should—solidarity really mean here? Can we still call this a kind of class solidarity or is it something else?

IWS is building class solidarity through feminism. I am reminded here of Claudia Jones’s insight into black women’s triple oppression—as black, as women, as workers. The analysis of triple oppression is what enables us to see how different workers are connected, how the capitalist system deploys racism and patriarchy to divide the working class, keep wages suppressed, supply some workers with little advantages over others that they can enjoy (the man who comes home to a wife, the white woman able to boss around the black woman cleaning her home). The little advantages are the ways the capitalist system tries to inoculate itself against a strong and united working class. Anti-racist socialist feminism organizing demonstrates that this trick is a means of oppression and exploitation, that it is no substitute for actual equality. Under capitalism, class struggle permeates every aspect of our lives. When money buys freedom, when money is necessary for the exercise of one’s liberty or rights, only the rich are free.

Women are at the forefront of the new working-class politics, the politics unfolding across the social field, from workplaces and neighborhoods to prisons and pipelines. We see it in the initiatives of hotel workers, domestic workers, restaurant workers, teachers, and nurses. We see it in the struggle against the carceral state. We see it in campaigns for environmental justice. All of these are fronts in today’s class war. The bourgeoisie, the ruling class, the 1 percent don’t have to amass in the streets. Corporations own the political system. Rich people don’t protest; they buy the politicians they need (just ask Charles Koch and Rebekah Mercer). The widespread work of radical women organizers hammers home the fact that women have always been part of the working class, whether they were working in the factories or managing consumption in the domestic sphere. Marx knew this even as some twentieth-century labor organizers forgot it. Working-class struggles always exceed union struggles—just think of tenant organizing, hunger marches, CPUSA’s anti-lynching campaigns, anti-war work, not to mention the social and community support work necessary for labor strikes to endure and succeed. Today’s crisis of social reproduction is not felt by the 1 percent, with their offshore accounts, private schools, private planes, and multiple houses. It’s felt by the proletarianized, by the people as the rest of us.

Under capitalism, solidarity isn’t automatic. It doesn’t follow spontaneously from the fact of shared conditions. It always has to be built, sustained, renewed. Strikes are of course a key training ground for solidarity—they require it and they inspire it. Workers have to stand together; they have to support each other to remain united even in the face of the real material hardship of striking.

And strikes depend on the families and communities of the workers as well—the workers need to see others seeing them as fighting the good fight. Solidarity, then, is unity in struggle—standing together and having each other’s back. It means not letting the capitalists with their ideologies of individualism and competition divide us. With respect to the broad terrain of today’s class war, solidarity demands commitment to collectivity, to collective struggle and collective solutions. People have to keep their eye on the enemy, the racist, patriarchal, capitalist system, and not let themselves get sidetracked into moralism, sectarianism, and what have you.

The IWS represents a broad, multi-tendency left politics that recognizes the multiple forms and sites of work and the interlocking nature of oppression. It aims to make women’s work visible, oppose the deep and varied forms of violence that pervade our society, and push us toward the reorganization of society such that “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

Jodi Dean is an author and academic living in Geneva, New York, where she organizes with the Geneva Women’s Assembly. She joined the U.S. IWS organizing committee this year.

Solidarity with West Virginia Teachers’ Strike

International Women’s Strike USA (IWS) stands in solidarity with striking teachers in West Virginia, and looks to their struggle for inspiration.  More than 20,000 teachers launched a strike for higher wages and for fully funded health benefits, that lasted into its fifth day; teachers in the state make the fifth lowest salaries in the nation, at an average of $45, 240, behind Oklahoma where teachers were recently reduced to four day work weeks so they could supplement their pay with retail and other part- time work. Teacher solidarity successfully closed all of West Virginia’s public schools, putting power behind their demands for up to a 10% wage increase, accessible health care and an end to the attacks on public education by charter school privatization.  

The strike in West Virginia goes beyond a struggle for a living wage for teachers; teachers there see their role as educators and defenders of public education as crucial supports for students and communities in one of the USA’s poorest states. Prior to striking, teachers organized replacement lunches for a students, in a state where 25% of children live in poverty and many rely on free lunch and breakfast programs to eat regular meals. CNN reports that some lunches were even personally delivered by picketing teachers early in the morning before long days on line and at rallies in the state capitol. Cuts to education do not just impact teachers, but whole communities.  Strikers, who are mostly women, are fighting back as working teachers, but also as leaders in their communities, as breadwinners, and as educators.

This week, women in WV are also facing attacks on abortion access including a bill to ban Medicaid funding of abortions, and an amendment to make this bill constitutional. We stand with West Virginia women’s right to reproductive control of their bodies and lives and against these attacks. This demonstration of the power and importance of social reproductive labor, and of women’s leadership and broad based solidarity in the fight against inequality, austerity and rapacious rule of the elite is exemplary of International Womens’ Strike’s vision of reviving the strike. We stand with West Virginia teachers and ask our friends, comrades and allies to support them by raising awareness and funds for teachers. With support, teachers can strike to win; with the inspiration of their victory, we can spread the movement.

https://www.gofundme.com/wv-teachers-strike-fund

The Impossibility of the International Women’s Strike is Exactly Why It’s So Necessary

BY CAMILLE BARBAGALLO

The international women’s strike is impossible. Really, it is. But let’s be very clear – the impossibility of the women’s strike is precisely why it is one of the most important things that needs to be done. The impossibility of the women’s strike is not because the women’s strike is not a ‘real’ strike (you know, when blokes in unions walked out of factories); nor is it impossible because apparently it’s only for ‘privileged’ women, or because unprivileged women cannot strike. The impossibility emerges when we confront the reality of women’s work and what striking means today.

The timing of the international women’s strike to coincide with international women’s day is a powerful reminder of women’s history. Firstly, women have always worked – it is just that sometimes we don’t receive a wage for the work that we do. The history of international women’s day – beginning with a strike of women garment workers – many of them immigrants – in Manhattan in 1908 forces us to complicate the easy picture of men at work and women in the home and reminds us of the centrality of women’s waged labour to the development of capitalist production and that women have always struggled and gone on strike. Not only for better wages and conditions but also, as the thousands of striking Russian women of 1917 did, for peace, for bread and for roses.

For many years now international women’s day has been divorced from its radical history and has instead been captured by a particular brand of feminism – some call it ‘white feminism’, others corporate or neoliberal feminism. We have been told to ‘celebrate’ being a woman, to look at all those gains ‘we’ have made, like ‘girl power’ and all that leaning in to ‘get ahead’ in the workplace. Over the last few decades we might have had a rally scheduled for one weekend a year at best, and women’s equality has been reduced to a conversation about the gender pay gap and getting more women into positions of power.

But throughout these years there have also been many of us who have been critical of this brand of feminism – we have been clear that the ‘gains’ have not been distributed equally and that for feminism to be part of the solution it must be anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and inclusive of sex workers and trans women, and that it must bring the uneven distribution of reproductive labour and working class women’s realities to the centre of what we mean when we say women’s work.

It’s worth repeating. Women have always worked, but sometimes (even perhaps much of the time) we don’t get paid for the work we do. Like washing the dishes, having sex, reading a bedtime story to a young child or remembering your mum’s birthday and then remembering to send the card on time. What all these activities have in common is that they are work we can understand to be reproductive.

Reproductive work – which can be either waged or unwaged – is all the work we (mostly women) do that makes and remakes people on a daily basis and intergenerationally. The gendered division of labour means it is mostly women who do this work in the home and when they go out to work. And like most work that happens under capitalism it is work that involves conflict, struggle, violence, exploitation and expropriation. Under capitalism, we reproduce human beings as labour power. We reproduce people as workers. We reproduce them as class subjects who are disciplined, educated, skilled and moulded – to ‘know their place’, whether to be a manager, a mother or to work like a dog for someone else for less than the minimum wage.

But when we talk about reproduction it is crucial that we also consider the radical potential of struggling with questions of labour and life. The decisions and choices that we make in how to conceive, (un)birth, raise and educate our children, take care of our elderly, control our bodies, organise our households, families and relationships are crucial in imagining and practising new emancipatory societal models which are free from colonial and racial oppression, capitalist exploitation and patriarchal control.

When we bring this understanding of reproductive work into conversation with striking – which can be usefully understood as withdrawing one’s labour from the current capitalist conditions of production and reproduction, which is what the current call for the women’s strike is challenging us to do – the impossibility of striking becomes more visible: when it comes to a large amount of care and domestic work (both paid and unpaid), this work cannot stop. Sure, we can refuse to do the housework for a day or two, but when it comes to the care of children or the elderly, the very fact that reproductive labour is what keeps us and those we love or are paid to care for alive means that reproductive labour cannot be refused. Under the current conditions of capitalism, reproductive labour can only be redistributed either through processes of commodification or to someone else in an unwaged capacity.

In bringing together a politics that confronts women’s work in both its productive and reproductive capacity we are able to confront the impossibility of the women’s strike with something else: a demand for the reorganisation not only of production but of reproduction. Capitalism relies on and needs unpaid reproductive labour and our care work. We have to strike against the system that requires and relies on our lives being valued differently or our work not being valued at all. For this reason, the liberation we are fighting for can never be reached within capitalism. We have to collectively refuse to continue to offer our labour, our services and our care to those who seek only to maintain their power and profits. We strike to make our power visible, we strike in order to win.

Camille Barbagallo is a member of Plan C and is a feminist, mother, militant and researcher (not necessarily in that order) currently living in English countryside

This article was originally published on 6th March 2017 on Novara Media

It Is Time – #Feminism4the99

Reposted from FeministWire

By Zillah Eisenstein

On March 8th women—in our complex identities—across the globe and across the U.S. will join together to make our resistance against the exploitation of women in all its guises public, collective and visible. #MeToo and #TimesUp are two recent public displays of the outrage against sexual exploitation in its harassing and assaultive forms—from sexual intimidation to rape. This intimidation and oppression exists everywhere our labor is done—in each and every kind of work we all do.

Our moment—women of every variety and across our race and class—is filled with chaos, and exhaustion AND amazing acts of resistance. Women of color—Black, South Asian, Latinx, Indigenous, and…[on and on]—have been resisting their coercion for decades against colonialism and imperial domination. Black women fought first as enslaved laborers in chattel slavery in the U.S.—then the courts, then against police coercion, etc. Feminisms of all sorts have demanded recognition of women in the labor force, as domestics in their own homes and hired care-givers, as consumers, as service-workers, as home-aides, as…[on and on]. “We”—the big “WE” do not want to limit the breadth and scope of our labors, and our laboring.

But much of women’s labor is often not recognized and is usually made invisible to others. For much of this labor there is no wage, or an unfair one due to sexual exploitation. Few women earn at the rate of their male counterpart. (72 cents to the dollar is the usual conversion). The movement #FightFor$15 expresses the demand for a living wage—from the waitress, to the caregiver, to all workers.

If ever it made sense to work with whatever differences exist between us and stand together, this is the time. With Donald Trump continuously demeaning women—his own bragging of “grabbing pussy,” the multiple sexual harassment charges against him that he refuses to address, his continual defense of sexual predators and domestic louts in his administration, it is time to show our muscle.

Given the explicit white supremacist policies endangering immigrants, refugees, and any person of color, women of every color, especially white women, must stand in resistance openly, publicly and together in this moment.

On March 8, 2018 come together with other women—in your apartment building, at your day care drop off center, at your job, with your friends, on a march, on a demo, and take an hour to support and love each other. For incarcerated women, know that we will be carrying signs of rebellion on your behalf. For women too disabled to come together, let us find and make new venues.

Whatever any of each of you can do, let us know by sending a note of what you are doing to https://www.womenstrikeus.org.

Let us end the double day of labor.

Let us end the triple day of labor.

Let us end sexual exploitation.

Let us end sexual harassment of every sort—from the workplace to policing and prisons.

Let us end sexual violence in every form.

Let us end rape.

Let us find our strength in numbers.

Let us find our strength in our mutual support of each other.

Let us use our strength in building bridges and learning from each other and caring for each other as we would care for ourselves.

If you want to make a public stand against the terror of misogyny and its capitalist exploitation of women, especially women of color, transgender women, women who are disabled, women who are incarcerated, homeless women, women of the working and middle class, women in our troops, take time on March 8 to come together.

Women—99 percent of us—are the workers of the world. We—every kind of us—hold up more than half the sky!!!!

Our statement for 2018, begins:

On 8 March, we will go on strike against gender violence – against the men who commit violence and against the system that protects them.

Last year on 8 March we, women of every kind, marched, stopped work and took over the streets in fifty countries across the world. In the United States we rallied, marched, left the dishes to the men, in all the major cities of this country and countless smaller ones. We shut down three school districts to prove to the world, once again, that while we sustain society we also have the power to shut it down.

8 March is coming again and things have gotten worse for us as women in this country.

And for the full statement: https://www.womenstrikeus.org/2018/02/02/we-need-a-feminism-for-the-99-thats-why-women-will-strike-this-year/

No action is too small and no imagined act of resistance too big. Let us see each other and give each other support on March 8. Then “we”—the 99 percent—will take this forward for rebellion in 2018.

Women Across the Globe Are Planning to Strike on March 8. Here’s Why.

Reposted from In These Times

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. We’re now into the second year of the Trump administration, and the last year has been filled with ups and downs, important victories, successful holding campaigns, and painful defeats. We’ve learned a lot, but there is always more to learn, more to be done. In this now-weekly series, we talk with organizers, agitators, and educators, not only about how to resist, but how to build a better world.

Cinzia Arruzza: I am Cinzia Arruzza. I am one of the national organizers of the International Women’s Strike.

Tithi Bhattacharya: This is Tithi Bhattacharya. I teach at Purdue University. I was one of the national organizers for the International Women’s Strike last year and I am doing the same this year.

Sarah Jaffe: Let’s start off talking a little bit about this year’s strike. What is being planned and why did you decide to do it again this year?

TB: I think everybody knows the context of last year’s strike, which started with an extraordinary level of international coordination between feminists globally. This year, those contexts remain and, in the case of the United States, have been enhanced in a way with Trump’s election. It was a natural conclusion that it would be repeated this year both internationally, as well as in the United States.

CA: On November 25th, there was also an international day against gender violence. Not in the United States, unfortunately, but around the world we had some very massive demonstrations. The success of this day of mobilization also gave the impulse to think that it was possible to organize another strike this year.

SJ: Let’s talk about the history of women’s strikes, because this is something that has been around for several decades in the women’s movement, but is coming back right now

CA: Women’s strikes are not entirely a novelty. The precedent of the women’s strike was in the 1970s, the Women’s Strike in Iceland for equal wages. Two years ago, the Polish feminist movement decided to retrieve this form of struggle and to organize a women’s strike in Poland against the country’s abortion ban. The same happened in 2016 in Argentina with waves of the women’s strikes and mobilizations against gender violence.

Starting from there, and especially given the enormous success of these mobilizations and strikes in Argentina and Poland, there was the idea of trying to organize an International Women’s Strike on March 8th. Women’s strikes are a very powerful way of mobilizing for the feminist movement because they make apparent not just the victimization of women, but also the power that women have in so far as they are workers who work both in the formal labor market, but also in the social reproductive sphere, at home, and so on. This labor is very often not recognized or valued as it should be.

TB: Even last year when this was declared, there was some pushback over the word “strike” because the understanding of the word “strike” as it has come to be accepted is work stoppage at the point of production. That is a very important and powerful definition of “strike.” However, the word “strike” has several other historical applications, some of which Cinzia just went through.

I think one of the things that we found it very easy to talk about in the context of last year, as well as this year, is the difference between a workplace strike and a political strike. I think the Women’s Strike was a very important contribution to the legacy of a political strike because in the context of the neoliberal decline of union density globally, because of the active attack on unions since the 1970s by the global ruling elite, I think working-class people have significantly lost the most powerful weapon to strike within the workplace, which is unions.

I think, in that context, a political strike is very important because what happened on March 8th last year, just in the United States, was called a strike. We were very dedicated to maintaining that identification of that word, but what happened as a result was that there was intense political discussion about the relationship between workplace and non-workplace kinds of mobilization.

We strongly believe that in a period where there is a loss of power to take action in the workplace, the political strike is a useful way to restart that conversation and perhaps flow back that power into workplace mobilization.

SJ: We have seen the revival of interest in the idea of the political strike, especially in the United States since Trump was elected. It is interesting in this moment that we are seeing a revival of the idea of the political strike even as unions, particularly in this country, but globally, as well, are struggling.

CA: In a sense, this marks the fact that workers are deprived of one of the most crucial means of struggle and protest that is usually recognized in other liberal democracies. I am not even speaking about insurrectionary forms or struggle. Political strikes do take place in a number of countries. They are legal, they are recognized, and they are a very powerful tool whenever the government seems to be impossible to challenge or to influence in another way.

I do hope that the appeal political strikes are having in this moment can actually re-open political conversation and a political campaign to reform labor laws and to really rethink in a very deep way what labor rights should look like in the United States. Because the United States has the most anti-democratic labor laws among liberal democracies. It is really a very exceptional situation.

TB: In terms of the political strike there are two things that are really important. One of the important things to remember, when questions of women’s labor is paramount, is the reason people strike is because of the poor conditions of their life. It’s not necessarily that they strike because of their job. It is because their job is a means to live their life and when conditions of life are deteriorating, that is when people consider doing something about it in their workplace.

This relationship between life and work is often forgotten by union bureaucracies. Union bureaucracies like to treat the union as another kind of a salaried little space where job struggles are negotiated as simply contract negotiations. But, for working class people, it is not about the contract negotiation—it is about their lives and lived conditions.

A political strike gives a wider, deeper context to the meaning of struggle and the gains to be had from struggle and solidarity. I think, particularly in this context, political strikes play that vital role of reminding people between lived conditions of workers and work conditions and how they are both connected and actually necessary to be connected.

SJ: This strike is coming in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Talk about this context where there is this renewed conversation about sexual harassment and sexual violence and how that is playing into this year’s strike and organizing.

CA: I think that we should also see a connection between the wave of feminist mobilizations around the world in the past year and a half and then the explosion of the #MeToo campaign.

The #MeToo moment has been a very important moment in the United States and also internationally because it has made apparent what a lot of women already knew, which is that sexual harassment and violence are part of the everyday life of the majority of women, either in the workplace or at home or in the streets. Clearly, gender violence does require a collective response. So, from this viewpoint, the Women’s Strike is not so much an alternative to #MeToo. It is rather one contribution or one attempt to try to give a collective response to the isolation that victimization produces.

The idea is that the step forward after #MeToo, after denouncing individually all the harassment and violence that we have suffered throughout our life, there must be, also, the moment of collective organizing and collective response. Otherwise, the structural conditions that enable this gender violence to continue are not challenged. One of the risks of the current attention on the issues of gender violence is that we will get rid of a few obnoxious harassers, some famous and some less famous, and this is all good, of course. I welcome this moment of catharsis, in a sense. But this is not going to solve any problem.

The real problem is not individual nasty men. The real problems are the structural conditions that create the conditions and the impunity for gender violence and sexual violence. We have learned in the past months to what extent women are harassed and abused as women in the workplace, but this clearly has to do with the hierarchical nature of labor relations within the workplace, with the lack of power that the workers have.

Also, from this viewpoint, the lack of unionization, the lack of labor rights in the United States clearly create further conditions for gender violence because women are going to be constantly afraid to speak up against their views of a colleague or of an employer, precisely because they don’t feel they have any kind of protection. They don’t feel that they have any kind of organizing, collective infrastructure that can actually protect their interests.

TB: I am just going to add actually three very specific things to the #MeToo moment that I think March 8th is concerned with. This is the beginning of why we addressed #MeToo in our organizing. The first is: When last do you remember seeing discussions of work conditions in The New York Times repeatedly? That is what #MeToo has done. We have never seen so many articles in major media outlets about working conditions of women. Yes, it has been mostly about sexual violence, but it has actually exposed how dictatorial and brutal the workplace is for most women, but also for most people. This is a tremendous discussion. I have not seen discussions of working conditions to this extent. This is a very welcome development that for the first time in many years we are seeing questions being raised about what it means to be a worker in this country.

The second is a realization that was limited first to socialists and radicals in this country, but has now begun to become common sense. That is that we all know that since the early part of the 20th century, there has been an undoubtedly marked increase in women’s rights and women’s participation in the public sphere and the sphere of work. We have, in a way, through struggles, improved our lives as women.

But, on a parallel track, I think what has happened is the rights of workers have declined precipitously, particularly since the 1970s and 1980s with the rise of neoliberalism. Now we have a contradictory situation where our rights as women have improved over the years, in a certain sense, but the rights of workers as a whole have declined. Which means, that in workplace situations women, particularly, are vulnerable.

The solution that capitalism has offered us is “Because you can improve as a woman, then it is every woman for herself.” The solution offered to bad conditions of life and work for women has been, of course, Lean In. That you can improve and you can become a CEO. That is the second kind of development.

The third, which I think is very significant for our purposes, is the fact: How do we then fight back? We all know domestic violence exists to a horrific extent both in the United States and globally, but the advantage of a workplace discussion in this situation is that there are witnesses and there are people who have experienced the same thing because they are your co-workers under the same disgusting rapist boss. There is a collective confidence because you have been through this collective experience and this is why, I think, the voice of the #MeToo campaign is amplified because it comes from a collective place of resistance.

SJ: Tell us about the organizing for this year’s strike. What is planned where so far and about the international solidarity work going on, as well?

TB: Internationally, I have been on a few phone calls with the international organizing and it is actually going really well in various parts of the world, notably Italy, Spain, Poland, Argentina, and various other places in Latin America. In the UK, where I was last month, the core organizing center is called The Women’s Strike Assembly and they are doing fabulous work in linking up March 8th with the ongoing discussions and organizing for university-wide strike of faculty that is coming up. They are making contacts with faculty members across the UK to coordinate strike action and the organizers in the UK are tireless in going to various strike meetings, etc.

In the United States the plan is that across the country, on March 8th we will stop work for one hour as women in order to show the bosses and their backers in the White House that because we produce the wealth in society, we can also stop producing that wealth and stop society from running. It is a symbolic reminder of our power as women and workers. We are working with various unions to make that happen.

CA: We have reactivated a form of national planning committee that is basically a network of various activists across the country who are volunteering their time and their work for this strike. We had, in New York, a public launch of the Women’s Strike with a wonderful panel that was featuring some really incredible speakers.

In this sense, this event, for example, gave a sense of the kind of energy, but also the kind of women that the women’s strike is trying to organize, especially working-class women, minority women who are not just participating in the strike, but also waging a lot of struggles and fights in the workplace, against ICE, and so on and sometimes actually winning something and showing in this way that collective action actually does get the goods sometimes.

We think we will have demonstrations and marches and walkouts in most of the biggest cities in the States. Organizers are already working on the strike in LA, in the Bay Area, in Portland, in Philly. We are also receiving a lot of contacts, emails, messages from people who are interested, who read, for example, the article we published in The Guardian calling for a strike in the United States this year and who are interested in getting on board.

This is an entirely voluntary effort that is really based on grassroots organizations. It is self-funded. People are volunteering their time and their work, but in a sense, this is also the beauty of it, in the sense that around the organization of the strike, we are somehow consolidating an area of anticapitalist feminism that is offering an alternative to the kind of corporate and Lean In feminism that has been dominating in past years. I think there is the political space and desire for this, at least judging from the response that a lot of feminist activists around the country are giving to the idea of organizing on the strike and the enthusiasm that they are putting into this project.

Of course, those who want to get on board can contact us through the website or the Facebook page and organize a strike in their city.

Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission. 

We need a feminism for the 99%. That’s why women will strike this year

The Guardian, 27 Jan 2018

On 8 March, we will go on strike against gender violence – against the men who commit violence and against the system that protects them.

Last year on 8 March we, women of every kind, marched, stopped work and took over the streets in fifty countries across the world. In the United States we rallied, marched, left the dishes to the men, in all the major cities of this country and countless smaller ones. We shut down three school districts to prove to the world, once again, that while we sustain society we also have the power to shut it down.

8 March is coming again and things have gotten worse for us as women in this country.

In the one year of the Trump administration we have not only been pelted with verbal abuse and misogynistic threats in the guise of official statements, the Trump regime has put in place policies that will continue such attacks on us in deeply institutional ways.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act guts exemptions that benefit low-wage workers, the vast majority of whom are women. It has plans to savage Medicaid and Medicare, the only two programs left in this cruel neoliberal landscape that support the elderly and the poor, the sick and the disabled, family planning and children – and hence women, who do most of the care work. And while the act denies health care to immigrant children, it introduces college savings for “unborn children”, a chilling way to establish by legal fiat the “rights” of the “unborn child” thereby assaulting our fundamental right to make decisions about our own bodies.

But that is not the whole story.

With these multiple warfronts opened against us, we have not cowered. We too have fought back.

When last fall women with public visibility and access to international media decided to break the silence about harassment and sexual violence, the floodgates were finally opened and a stream of public denunciations inundated the web. The #Metoo, #UsToo and #TimesUp campaigns made visible what most women already knew: whether in the workplace or at home, in the streets or in the fields, in prisons or in Ice detention centers, gender violence with its differential racist impact haunts women’s everyday life.

What has also become clear is that public silence about something we have always known, endured and fought back against, does not exist simply because we are afraid or ashamed to speak up: the silence is enforced. It is imposed by Congressional laws that make women go through nearly a year of mandatory counseling and mediation, if they dare to make an official complaint. It is affected by the criminal justice system that routinely dismisses women’s reports using additional layers of intimidation and violence. On university campuses, willing administrators find clever “legal” means to protect the institution and the perpetrator while throwing women to the wolves. The racist foundations of these legal procedures demand further resolve.

#Metoo, #UsToo and #TimesUp have not just exposed individual rapists and misogynists, they have ripped apart the veil that hides the institutions and structures that enable them.

Racialized gender violence is international as must be the campaign against it. US imperialism, militarism and settler colonialism foster misogyny throughout the world. It is no coincidence that Harvey Weinstein, in his long years of trying to silence and terrorize women, used the security firm, Black Cube, which is made up of former agents of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. We know that the same state that sends money to Israel to brutalize the Palestinian Ahed Tamimi and her family also funds the jails in which African American women like Sandra Bland and others have died.

So, on 8 March we will go on strike against gender violence – against the men who commit violence and against the system that protects them.

We believe that it was no accident that it was our sisters with social standing that first made visible what we all knew. Their ability to do so was stronger than our low wage sister, so often of color, who cleans rooms in that fancy Chicago hotel or the sister who picks fruits in the Californian fields

The vast majority of us do not speak out because we lack collective power in our workplace, and are denied social supports such as free health care, outside of it. The job, with its low wage, with its bullying manager and abusive boss, with its long hours, becomes the one thing we fear losing, for it is the only means for providing food for our families and providing care for our sick and infirm.

We do not keep our mouths shut. We are forced to keep our mouths shut by capitalism.

So, on 8 March we will speak out, personally, against the individual abusers who tried to ruin our lives, and we will speak out, collectively, against the economic insecurity that prevents us from speaking out.

We will strike because we want to expose our personal abusers. And we will strike because we need social welfare provisions and living wage jobs to feed our families as well as the right to unionize, should we be fired for standing up against their abuse.

So, on 8 March we will strike against mass incarceration, police violence and border controls, against white supremacy and the beating drums of US imperialist wars, against poverty and the hidden structural violence that closes our schools and our hospitals, poisons our water and food and denies us reproductive justice.

And we will strike for labor rights, equal rights for all immigrants, equal pay and a living wage, because sexual violence in the workplace is allowed to fester when we lack these means of collective defence.

8 March 2018 will be a day of feminism for the 99%: a day of mobilization of black and brown women, cis and bi, lesbian and trans women workers, of the poor and the low waged, of unpaid caregivers, of sex workers and migrants.

On 8 March #WeStrike.

Linda Alcoff, Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, Rosa Clemente, Angela Davis, Zillah Eisenstein, Liza Featherstone, Nancy Fraser, Barbara Smith, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Support Maru Mora Villalpando against ICE!

Maru Mora Villalpando is a member of the National Coordinating Committee of IWS and an immigrant activist and organizer in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. She has lived in the United States for more than 25 years and in 2014 she came out as undocumented. She now leads NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC, an organization that strives to abolish immigration detention and deportation, and that organizes around the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA.

In an act of retaliation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has chosen to target Maru directly, for no reason other than her activism and organizing against the immigration agency. She recently received a Notice to Appear letter, signifying the beginning of a deportation process against her. She is still waiting for her court date and could be detained at any time. You can read media accounts here and here.

The International Women’s Strike – US strongly opposes ICE’s persecution of Maru and all other undocumented immigrants who are now facing the risk of deportation. Please, help us resist ICE’s retaliation against our sister Maru.

Here is the support that Maru has asked for. Follow these links:

1) Donate to Maru’s deportation defense fund. Donations will be used to support Maru in her fight against ICE, including organizing costs, legal costs, and emergency costs in case of Maru’s detention.
https://www.youcaring.com/marumoravillalpando-1071888

2) Sign this petition and share it:
https://action.mijente.net/…/ice-serves-deportation-notice-…

3) Donate to NWDC Resistance. We are not backing down in our fight against detention and deportation.
www.nwdcresistance.org/donate

4) Now more than ever, be present in NWDC Resistance’s actions. The next one coming up is our 3rd Annual People’s Tribunal on February 4th at noon at the Northwest Detention Center.
https://www.facebook.com/events/2006428029682183/

#MaruVersusICE #ICEfreeWA #ICEfreeUSA