In visceral struggles and massive mobilizations around the world, women are fighting for more–not simply to see female faces painted over oppressive politics (ie., Hillary Clinton), but for the liberation of humanity against an inherently oppressive system, centered in the liberation of women against the yoke of sexism and patriarchy. As women prepare to strike and protest on March 8, Left Voice stands alongside our sister comrades in struggle.
We struggle against patriarchy, sexism and all forms of gender oppression, which are inextricably linked to a global economic system that profits off divisions within the working class as well as unpaid labor borne especially by women.
How does capitalism oppress? It is based on a system in which workers are paid less than what they produce for their bosses. It requires and perpetuates class divisions–a wealthy few and the impoverished, toiling majority. It requires women to cook, clean, raise children, and tend to the sick and elderly for free. It naturalizes substandard or no pay for the same work. It perpetuates misogynistic thinking that builds a false sense of power in men and continues the domination, oppression, and violence against women, LGBTQ, and sexual minorities.
Black, Latina, Asian, indigenous, Muslim, and immigrant women face oppression from within our communities.
Even among women, there exists a hierarchy of pay and privilege. Women of color are paid less than white women or men of color. It is crucially important that all genders struggle against misogyny and racism.
Rigid gender roles make capitalism wealthy. Heterosexism and anti-trans-bigotry are aligned with the church and state. It is our task to fight against all forms of oppression from a class stance because the working class is also trans, immigrant, Black, of color, and disabled. The fight against sexism is central for the entire working class because bigotry obscures the issue of the system that oppresses the majority of the world.
Furthermore, disabled people are often judged as disposable and “unproductive.” They are measured by how much money they make for capitalist society and are targeted by police. Those who are born with disabilities or become disabled in life are intrinsically important. Capitalism maims, disfigures and traumatizes all. The movement for women’s liberation must include women of all abilities in solidarity, defense and leadership.
We know that the ruling class uses divide and conquer. If we are silent (in both word and action) and fail to defend one oppressed group, the system has already won because we are divided.
People in the United States have the responsibility to oppose imperialist policies and wars perpetuated by the US government, whose military claims to embrace “feminist” values and end discrimination by allowing women and trans people to join its ranks. There is no place for the working class and oppressed people in a capitalist military. Wars for profit and control are against our interests. The fact that women in countries stricken by imperialist wars are being murdered by female and trans soldiers does not mark progress.
The women’s movement therefore must be international in scope and internationalist in strategy and perspective. It must fight to end imperialist wars, to advance the working class against capitalists, and in solidarity with the growing feminization of the global proletariat. Women in India, Argentina, Poland have been on strike against patriarchy–we can follow their example.
Today’s women’s movement sees sexism on all levels as toxic. We oppose Trump and his sexist cabinet and policies, which are attacks on women, immigrants, and workers. Trump aims to defend a world where we work until we die, families are torn asunder by xenophobic policies and militarized borders and imperialist war, and our child are denied education, creativity, and wellness, only to be trained to make profits for the system.
The Democrats have been silent, or only offer lukewarm, rhetorical opposition to Trump. In some instances the Dems are even calling for Americans to “give Trump a chance.” There can be no chances for oppressors! The politicians who apologize for Trump are in line with the escalation of inequality and anti-worker laws of his administration. The Democrats have no solution and no plan to really stop Trump, his fascist supporters, or his austerity cuts.
Meanwhile, national union leaders have refused to mobilize the millions of workers within their base to mount a strong fight back. Instead, union officialdom are seeking their own piece of the pie. We know Trump is anti-union. Despite his populist rhetoric, he is a capitalist abuser and seeks to inflate profits of the wealthy. Union leaders like Richard Trumka, through their rapprochement with Trump, are betraying the interests of all workers. We must rely on ourselves to fight back. We must build among the rank and file, independently of the union bureaucracy and the capitalist parties, to take the unions into our hands and transform them into combative, class-struggle organizations. At the current stage of the labor movement’s relative weakness, this can take many forms, including organizing with co-workers at our workplace and in our communities. Rank and file workers can fight to take over our unions–we have no need for any “leaders” who defend anti-worker policies and politicians. Women can and will lead the fight for worker militancy!
First Women’s Day Began With A Strike
International Women’s Day is held every day on March 8, commemorating historical struggles led by women workers. Notably, in the United States in 1908, immigrant women working in garment factories went on strike. In February 1917 in St. Petersburg, Russia, women workers struck again for “Bread and Peace,” against the czar, for an end to World War I, and against the food shortages. The striking women filled the streets and persisted, despite being whipped and shot at. Men joined; returned soldiers refused to attack and took up arms to join the revolutionary movement. In contrast, the police violently repressed the workers.
Thus, in 1917, the revolutionary process initiated by women workers rolled like a tide over Russia. It led to the liberation of political prisoners, the overthrow of czarist autocracy, and grew to become the Bolshevik Revolution. One hundred years later, we stand firmly upon that revolutionary socialist tradition.
Our strike is a strike against exploitation in the US and worldwide. Our strike organizes the oppressed and is led by the most oppressed and those within the working class. From community organizations, unions, and social movements everywhere, we must actively take up the fight against sexism and bigotry in all its forms. Patriarchy undermines any kind of organizing and should be combated, even (and especially) in “radical” spaces. Movements have suffered when the issues of women have been pushed to the side for the “greater good.”
The women’s movement rejects the fake symbolism of a few wealthy women on top–even women of color–as our inspiration or goal. We–poor, working-class, immigrant, black, trans disabled–are the leaders we have been waiting for. We must mount a defense in our workplaces and communities against the police, ICE attacks, austerity, and bigotry. It is important that we organize against attacks on our immigrant and Muslim comrades as well as groups targeted by Trump’s hate squads.
Out and into the streets! This is the beginning of the fight of a lifetime, a fight in which the future of the planet and human existence is at stake. Women are in the forefront of the struggle from Standing Rock to Fight for 15, from the AntiFa to BlackLivesMatter.
We unite in a strike against bigotry and capitalist exploitation. As Karl Marx and Assata Shakur famously declared, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Join the strike tomorrow, March 8, and fight to win. We look ahead to May Day, with the understanding that this is only the beginning.