By Slawomir Sierakowski
WARSAW – Jarosław Kaczyński and Donald Trump, two politicians who have shocked the world this past year, have mostly gotten away with their outrages. But not anymore.
Film Review: “Suffragette”
By Barbara Winslow
The movie Suffragette is the first feature film that dramatically depicts the monumental struggle for women’s right to vote in pre- World War I England. (Please erase from your memory the horrible, and I mean horrible, portrayal of suffragettes in the Disney monstrosity Mary Poppins.) Directed by Sarah Gavron, with screenplay by Abi Morgan, the project also had the support and star power of Meryl Streep in a brilliant-as-always portrayal of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the militant suffragette organization, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
|Frances Perkins (Francis Perkins Center)|
Courtesy of The Frances Perkins Center
On March 25, 1911, Frances Perkins was having tea with friends in New York City’s Washington Square when the group heard fire engines. Running to the scene of the fire, Frances Perkins witnessed in horror as 47 workers – mostly young women – jumped from the eighth and ninth floors of the building to their deaths on the street below. In all, 146 died as flames engulfed the upper three stories of the building. The fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was, she later proclaimed, “the day the New Deal was born.” In response to the fire, a citizen’s Committee on Safety was established to recommend practices to prevent a further tragedy in the city’s factories.
We scheduled this post and Part 1 in celebration of today, Women's Equality Day, which commemorates U.S. women achieving the right to vote by the ratification in 1920 of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Since then, notions of female and male continue to evolve, and new contestations emerged. -- Ed.
By Christine R. Riddiough
Gender shapes our lives from their very beginning. In part 1 of this blog post, I described two characteristics of gender as defined in the mid-20th century:
- It is binary – you are defined as either female or male when you’re born - when the doctor, nurse or midwife wraps the baby in a pink or blue blanket.
- It is a personal characteristic – everybody has one gender, the one they’re born with and that defines who they are and how they should act throughout their lives.
In discussing the gender binary in part 1, I defined four dimensions of gender: biology, identity, expression, orientation. The assumption most people have had is that each of these dimensions should be aligned. Biological females are women, who dress and act femininely and who are attracted to and have relationships with men.
By Natalie K. Midiri
To say that poverty is a women’s issue is an understatement. Nearly 25% of full-time jobs in the U.S. do not pay well enough to lift a family out of poverty, and 66% of those jobs are done primarily by women. In addition, the changing nature of work and increased categorization of workers as temporary or independent contractors hits women hard. Women in low-wage work are disproportionately adult women of color who are caring for children without aid from a partner. Very few have paid sick days, any sort of retirement plan, or even consistent workplace safety regulation.
By Peg Strobel
Socialist feminists know that women deserve free abortion on demand, a full range of reproductive health care and family services and an economic system allowing for full employment and compensation for caring for the elderly and young. "Reproductive justice" is a concept that moves beyond the notions of "choice" and "rights." It links the calls for reproductive choice (a woman's right to control her own body) to the broader issues of economic justice and human rights (creating conditions that enable people to have children, not only to not have them). Access to abortion is one small, but critical, part of reproductive justice.
By Natalie K. Midiri
In the few days that have passed since HBO aired the Shriver Report’s new documentary, “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert,” the story of a single mother of three from Tennessee surviving on a $9.49 an hour income, the report has received harsh criticism throughout the blogosphere for choosing a white woman (Gilbert) to be the face of the working poor in America given that women of color are twice as likely to be members of the working poor.
In many respects it’s obvious why Gilbert made the cut. We never once hear her raise her voice to her children, and she worries about how she will pay for the medication she needs to manage her thyroid. Despite the back-breaking nature of her work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at a nursing home, she still manages to tell the residents that they are not alone, that she -- if no one else -- loves them. While we do hear her admit that she could really use “some help,” we never once hear her complain about her 16-hour work days, even when going to work means leaving a sick child behind. In nearly all respects, Gilbert comes off as a member of the “good poor,” who deserve help only because they are completely self-sacrificing, committed to hard work and do not exhibit any of the destructive vices stereotypically associated with the poor.
By Christine Riddiough
On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) – a holiday that originated in the United States and was later codified by the Socialist International in 1914. IWD reminds us that the struggle for women’s rights and liberation is an international struggle. This year on IWD we should remind ourselves of the role played by immigrant women in the U.S. These women, our ancestors, came seeking a better life. They got jobs as maids and nannies, in factories and on farms. Too often, they were disdained by the immigrants who had preceded them. The same is all too true today.
By Lawrence Ware
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama articulated his desire for 2014 to be a “year of action.” Much of what he said was heartening. For example, he spoke passionately about the need for America to move past a “Mad Men” approach to economics and gender:
Women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.
By Simone Morgen
Why a Feminist Socialism?
Why, indeed? Isn’t Rosa Luxemburg a socialist icon? Don’t socialism’s core values of equal treatment of all persons, without prejudice or disparate treatment, address feminist concerns?
Formally, yes – but a cursory examination of the ways in which issues are addressed even within socialist circles brings this into question. Even in these more favorable environs, the need for an explicitly feminist view remains. After all, patriarchy as a sex/gender system of organizing society existed long before the capitalist mode of production revolutionized society and colored its directives.