Women’s Rights are Workers Rights!Posted: March 8, 2011
Today is International Women’s Day so it is only fitting that when I got into my car this morning the oldies station was bumpin Kool and the Gang’s ‘Ladies Night’…ha! But in all seriousness today is very personally important to my political history. Not just because I am a revolutionary womyn, but also because planning and organizing International Women’s day events and actions were some of the first political work I did. My community college years mark my feminist awakening in political activism. As a product of a working-class single mother, who instilled in me the importance of reproductive rights and queer rights (she’s a classic fag hag), I have always been a feminist. But it wasn’t until I begin building and organizing with this feminist group on my campus, The Women’s Alliance, that my feminist consciousness took a practical form. Those years and experiences were vital for me in building my confidence as a political womyn, and learning basic skills of organizing: flyering, talking politics with strangers, planning and facilitating events and actions. It also really speaks to me about the importance of having autonomous and safe spaces. I know that the talents and determination I bring to multigender political spaces are the results of years of organizing and talking politics in autonomous women and queer spaces and collectives. Celebrating International Women’s Day in a country that doesn’t on a mass scale, and in a world that devalues women became something very important to me and all the beautiful women I worked with. The celebration itself was week-long with a combination of educational events and speakers ending with a big rally on the actual day. The events were all designed to bring awareness on feminist issues, such as rape and domestic violence, health and the feminization of poverty. We celebrated revolutionary women around the world, such as Afghani revolutionary woman Meena, and brought out local women owned businesses and organizations that served women. The politics were liberal at times, but reformism aside it was historically important for us as women, who all bear the scars of patriarchy and class exploitation, to come together and celebrate each other and the actions of women who have helped shaped the world across time.
I feel a tremendous amount of pride and inspiration knowing that some of the most radical labor struggles and revolutionary struggles have been organized and led by womyn. When the oppressed decide to move against their oppressive conditions to change them it is often the most marginalized, and unorganized layers of the population that lead the way. These layers have often been women of all colors, who , due to patriarchy and racism, have often been shut out of unions and other traditional left organizing spaces. These women have had nothing left to lose in a world that has taken almost everything, but their determination to survive. These women whose legacies lie in factory fires, where they were locked in and forced to work for 14 hours a day; these women who held their babies in their arms and risked gunfire as they took the streets to demand basic human rights; these women who were enslaved but still engaged in military campaigns and battles to free their people; these women who defied orders from revolutionary parties and ushered in revolutions; these women who dare to love each other openly despite the sexist and homophobic attacks that try to regulate our sexuality. And today in a time of economic crisis, where cuts to healthcare and reproductive services are continual warfare on our bodies; where school and daycare closures fall on the backs of working-class mothers, who must find education and care for their children; where massive lay offs are happening in ‘feminized’ sectors of the workforce, such as teachers and nurses, while ‘masculinized’ sectors (police, firefighters) stay strong; where one million revolutionary Egyptian women march in the streets today to demand freedom as women and as Egyptians and are met with a hostile counter-protest by the men who still think their revolution means continual domination over women. I am reminded of the tremendous amount of work that has been done, and the tasks that lay ahead. I feel proud to be a womyn connected to this international social fabric of revolutionary women, who continue to make history.
Power to the sisters and therefore the class!
Comrade sister can I just sit here and bask in the warmth of your heavenly soul?
Gathering courage from your earth shattering strength that inspires me to keep on
Because you understand the patriarchy internalized
that teaches us to devalue ourselves and each other.
To accept the unwanted touch of men
tricking us to believe that that is where our power lies.
But they’re mistaken.
an inspiration to the struggle.
A reminder that it is sisters like you that move humanity forward.
Because we understand the dialectics
as we race against time to prove history wrong.
As we embrace
sheltering each other from the wounds of hands that exist solely to knock you down
not to pick you back up.
And in the words of Assata
we keep getting back up
‘a little slower and a lot more deadly’