July 1, 2014
U.S. Supreme Court escalates war on women - a radical analysis
On June 30, a divided Supreme Court ruled that if a "closely-held" (family-run) company chooses not to cover contraceptives it is legally okay, and just tough luck for their female employees. With Orwellian reasoning, 5 out of 9 justices stated that the freedom of religion of these companies and bosses is more compelling than women's healthcare and right to decide when, or if, to have children. This depravity towards women is a reflection of the on-going rightward turn in U.S. politics.
This decision follows on the heels of one that tossed out the 35-foot buffer zone around Massachusetts abortion clinics, which was enacted to stop the harassment of patients. Within days, the holier-than-thou fetus fanatics have stepped up their harassment of clients entering clinics.
Added to these affronts is a decision that weakens public sector unions, one of the most militant arms of organized labor. The ruling says that thousands of home health-care workers - most often women, people of color and immigrants - are not the kind of state employees who can be required to pay fees to cover a union's cost of collective bargaining, despite being covered by negotiated conditions.
Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court ended this session with sledgehammer rulings against working women and men.
Radical Women is appalled, but not surprised, by this trifecta of defeats. In the absence of a militant women's movement, the right-wing has framed the debate, and they have done so effectively. Today corporations appear to have more civil rights than actual living and breathing residents.
To keep what passes for "peace" under capitalism, the corporations and their media pundits have been working overtime to quell working people's resistance and divide natural allies - racism, homophobia, sexism and ableism are just a few of the arrows in capitalism's quiver. To create a safe, sane, just world for humans and every other living being, will take a movement that gets beyond just addressing one or two issues and goes far beyond voting for this corporate-backed party or that one.
Let's be honest: attempts to make Democratic Party politicians "grow a backbone" against the onslaught of attacks aimed at women's reproductive choices and working people's rights have been a failure. And concentrating all progressive efforts on electing Democrats has essentially let Republican politicians off the hook.
The twin parties of the capitalist system aren't going to change. Working women and men deserve a voice - at the polls and also in the streets. The feminist movement needs to move to the left and embrace a multi-issue, anti-capitalist agenda. The ultra-conservatives coordinate their attacks; feminists need to reach out with as broad a program in response.
Outrage and anger will get people out in the streets - Slut Walks and Occupy showed that. But protests founded on strong program and politics win the day. The first step is to openly debate the issues like the feminist movement did in the 1960s and 70s. Questions like the origins of sexism and racism, and how to balance needed reforms and long term solutions were discussed and examined. This analysis is crucial for any political movement to learn, develop and grow.
Radical Women and many other activists continue to strive to build these connections and address the issues of those who suffer most - single moms, immigrants, young women of color, trans folks - the same people regularly vilified by today's politicians and conservative talking heads.
Take the leadership of those who have the most to gain, add the multi-issue demands of the most oppressed, round it out with an anti-capitalist program, and you have a recipe for creating the economic and social revolution needed so desperately today. As these recent Supreme Court rulings underscore, it's time to knock out the right with a feminist left!