August 23, 2012
Women's Rights Day 2012:
For a game-changing feminist fight-back!
Happy Women's Rights Day! August 26 marks the anniversary of women in the United States winning the right to vote in 1920.
The campaign for suffrage came directly out of the battle to end slavery and was fought through militant actions in the streets, workplaces and halls of government. Today, the struggle for equality continues against a stepped-up war on women. Elected officials from both parties are shredding social services while our paychecks shrink and jobs disappear. Over the last two years, state legislatures passed 164 anti-immigrant laws, relegating women and men without documents to the precarious informal economy. Last year, 26 states enacted laws restricting reproductive freedom and abortion. Meanwhile, over 40% of families headed by single African American, Latina and Native American mothers live in poverty.
Women respond with bold resistance. Rank-and-file teachers, predominantly female and of color, are waging vibrant battles against privatized public education and for workers' rights. Young Latinas helped build a powerful Tucson Freedom Summer to defend ethnic studies and immigrant rights. Feminists defeated anti-choice ballot measures in Mississippi and North Dakota. Around the nation women took a lead in building Occupy encampments. Radical Women members walked picket lines with Longshoremen and Teamsters. We defended abortion clinics and fought cuts to social services, welfare and childcare. We demanded taxes on the wealthy and corporate profits.
These sparks of feminist organizing need support and leadership to flame into a national grassroots movement. So my blood boils when I hear statements like the one from National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill, who wrote, "President Obama represents the pathway to equality."
Pouring women's desire for change into the Democratic Party is a dead-end strategy because the party represents the interests of the 1% just as much as the Republican Party. Both want to maintain the capitalist economic system, which relies on social inequality, wage exploitation, and the free labor of women in the home.
President Obama's polices feed the wealthy and starve the hungry. Fortune 500 companies raked in a record $824 billion in profits in 2011 and the median CEO pay rose to $9.6 million, while workers, mothers and the unemployed struggled with skyrocketing food and gas prices.
Obama's track record on social issues is also revealing. Under his administration more immigrants have been deported than during Bush's time, often separating U.S.-born children from their mothers. War and military occupation get a weekly infusion of $10.6 billion. The president signed laws that limit protest and allow the military to detain U.S. citizens and foreigners anywhere in the world without charge or trial. He has consistently compromised on reproductive rights and waffled on gay equality.
Enough already! It's time to build a game-changing feminist fightback. One that unites the antiwar, labor, racial equality, immigrant, welfare rights, student and queer movements. One that tackles racism, sexism and homophobia head-on. One that demands a society where wealth is shared, all are sheltered and fed, and quality childcare and education are free.
That's why Radical Women urges everyone to support the Durham/López Freedom Socialist write-in campaign for president and vice president. These candidates are boldly anti-capitalist and uncompromisingly feminist. The campaign platform concretely addresses the needs of women of color, immigrants, queers, the poor and working people. They have taken stands on a wide range of issues, including housing, education, health care, elected civilian review boards, ethnic studies, and U.S. threats against Iran. (The full platform and statements can be found at www.votesocialism.com
Stephen Durham and Christina López are a respected team with principles and passion. Durham is the organizer for the New York City FSP branch based in Harlem. He is a pioneering queer activist and a strong workers' rights advocate who has long battled racial and sexual discrimination.
López is the president of Radical Women's Seattle chapter. A Chicana feminist who grew up in the projects, she knows the realities of life as the daughter of a single mom who struggled to provide for her family. She is a champion of immigrant rights, affirmative action and reproductive justice.
This election season, use your hard-won voting rights to break out of the two-party quagmire, show your dissatisfaction with the status quo, and take a stand for a society that cares about people, not profits.
Connect with political allies to fight the attacks coming down on women by contacting the Radical Women National Office or a chapter near you at www.radicalwomen.org.