Happy Women's Rights Day!
This August 26 celebrates women winning
the vote in the U.S. 91 years ago. Today Radical Women honors the
suffrage movement and its militant, multiracial fighters. These
women--Sojourner Truth, Clara Lemlich, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper,
Sarah Grimke, and so many more--rebelled against enforced second-class
status to organize courageously for equal rights. We will be forever grateful
for their work.
Gaining access to the ballot did not eliminate oppression, however. The
battle for justice continues. Many hard-earned gains of the feminist
movement are being targeted in today's atmosphere of increasing bigotry
In response to the economic quagmire in the U.S., the right wing has
launched a full-scale attack against women, queers, immigrants, people
of color, labor unions, and the working class as a whole. They label
immigrant mothers an "invasion by birth canal," oppose gay marriage, and
try to destroy ethnic studies. Politicians on both sides of the aisle advocate
cutting funding for abortion and reproductive health services while
eliminating the right of public workers, who are predominantly female and
people of color, to bargain collectively.
It is no surprise that the Tea Party and Republicans have ridden this wave,
but Democrats, who captured many women's support with campaign
promises of relief, have blatantly exposed themselves as complicit
promoters of these slash-and-burn politics. Congress' bipartisan debt-
reduction super committee, for instance, is simply a cover to cut Medicare,
Medicaid, Social Security, education funding and a host of human services.
Both capitalist parties are quick to abandon the facade of representing
working class interests to cater to the wealthy and large corporations.
The poor, women and people of color are disproportionately among the
hardest hit when services are reduced. Women, of course, bear the
greatest burden for the welfare of their families and are forced to shoulder
more tasks at home to compensate for service cutbacks.
During these difficult times, organized fight-backs--with women at the
forefront--are breaking out. Taking a cue from the rebellions in the Middle
East, teachers in Wisconsin sparked a series of protests against Gov. Scott
Walker's anti-union onslaught. Support from across the world poured in as
intrepid unionists shutdown business as usual in Madison. Demonstrations
and sit-ins at state capitals across the nation have demanded an end to
union-busting, corporate giveaways and balancing the budget on the backs
of poor people.
Radical Women (RW) is deeply immersed in building this fight. In
California, RW initiated Sisters United Front for Survival that calls for
steeply taxing the rich and big businesses and shutting down wars to pay
for vital services. Similarly, Sisters Organize for Survival, a grassroots
project of Seattle Radical Women, led a "Flip the Funding" fight in
Washington State. SOS issued an alternative budget based on the state
meeting its obligation to help people survive, not boost corporate profits.
Nationally, RW supported the Save Our Schools conference and march in
Washington D.C. in July, where thousands of teachers, parents and
community activists gathered to demand full funding and support for public
education. RW garnered endorsements from over a dozen unions in four
states and sent a contingent to D.C.
Radical Women's strategy is to encourage united labor and community
mobilizations to fight budget cuts and defend workers' rights. RW
members have gone door-to-door, spoken at union meetings, made
presentations to community groups, initiated demonstrations, hosted
forums, mobilized people to testify before city, county and state
committees, launched petition campaigns, and more.
Since Republicans and Democrats are part of the problem, the only way
to exercise our democratic rights is to build an organized, militant, and
feminist working-class movement that goes beyond voting for capitalist
politicians. We need labor unions to step up to leadership and shake
things up across the country, from taking capital buildings to calling general
strikes. And how about building a feminist labor party that genuinely
represents all workers' interests?
We workers, union and non-union, female and male, create the wealth, and
we should control it, too! There is no reason for us to tolerate the existence
of a class of exploiters who use our labor just to enrich themselves at our
expense. As long as capitalism is king, women, queers, people of color,
immigrants, and the entire working class, will get an ever shortening end
of the stick.
Radical Women has been engaged in the grassroots, feminist fight for an
egalitarian socialist society since 1967. Join the struggle! You can learn
more about RW's theory and program by reading The Radical Women
Manifesto. Check out www.radicalwomen.org to learn what the chapter in
your city is doing, and get involved. If we don't have a chapter in your area,
contact RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com about building one. You can also
help us continue our work by donating here.
A solution to these rocky times is within reach! We will save our future
through a united labor and community struggle for a just, worker-controlled
economic structure, and the time is now.
National Radical Women
747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone 415-864-1278 * Fax 415-864-0778