August 26, 2011
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 and scapegoating.
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