During International Working Women’s Day on March 8, 2014, the comrades of the Revolutionary Students Coordinating Committee – RSCC and the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee) – NCP(LC) gave speeches in the different events they participated in, speaking to necessity and reasons for proletarian feminism as the guiding theory on anti-patriarchal struggle, woman and queer liberation, and how the struggle against patriarchy must be a struggle against capitalism and the struggle against capitalism must be a struggle against patriarchy.
“We are not looking to become tokenized, but liberated!”
Comrade Denise, spoke for RSSC at a rally organized by the International Working Women’s Day Coalition in front of the Brown Building of the private New York University. This building used to house the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where the horrendous occupational murder of workers, the immense majority of them women, on March 25, 1911 happened. This is hallowed ground for the proletarian and proletarian feminist struggle, as many of these workers were revolutionary socialists who had organized strikes and other actions intended to precisely prevent this kind of accident from happening – it was part of the beginning of what would become the communist movement in the USA and one of the events commemorated world-wide as part of the International Working Women’s Day. Highlighting the importance of understanding gender as part of class and the class struggle, Comrade Denise raised the flag of women’s struggle as part of the class struggle, of how systemic oppression by patriarchy is an indivisible part of systemic oppression by capitalism. Speaking from her own social reality as a student, she also connected the education struggles with the struggle against patriarchy and capitalism: the majority of teachers and other educational workers are women, and are doubly oppressed, with oppressive conditions such as less pay for equal work, overwork, and sexual harassment/assault. Proletarian student struggle connected to the struggles of workers in education is a proletarian feminist struggle because the majority of the workforce is women, and so are the student bodies, while the administration and those in power are men. The struggle for a democratic education that answers to the community is a struggle for women’s liberation and against patriarchy – and the struggle for women’s liberation and against patriarchy must be a systemic struggle that attacks class society as a whole and capitalism as the dominant form of class society.
“What is revolution for? Women’s liberation, people’s war!”
– RSCC chant
After the rally the hundreds of people assembled marched to the International Action Center (IAC) about 1.5 miles away, inundating 6th Ave with the RSCC and NCP(LC) contingent chanting slogans and in general keeping a lively mood, speaking to the crowds of onlookers and calling for proletarian feminism to be in command. As part of the chants, a roll call of heroes of proletarian feminism, current, martyred, and deceased, was made:
“Women must take the lead in the class struggle to overthrow the ruling class and end capitalism!”
Having arrived, the IAC received the crowd with (delicious) hot food and a music and dance number organized by the Filipina comrades with GABRIELA NY as well as a keynote speech by legendary revolutionary lawyer Lynne Stewart and messages from a number of organizations and groups assembled.
Comrade Marisa spoke for RSSC, beginning by a shout out to the women of color and women from the colonial world on whose shoulders and example we stand proudly today: Assata Shakur from New Afrika and exiled in Cuba, the late proletarian feminist theorist and Maoist leader Anuradha Ghandy from India, and young martyrs like Maria Lorena Morelos Barros from the Philippines and Arlen Siu from Nicaragua. She spoke passionately about how the experiences of women in the educational system intersect and connect with the class struggle – including her own experience as a working student. She highlighted the plight of all working students, who are caught between employers who dislike student employees because of scheduling issues, and budget cuts that reduce and eliminate work-study programs – leaving a largely female student body in a precarious condition as workers. For women, who are burdened by patriarchy with the sole responsibility for childcare, the added lack of free childcare for students represents yet another hurdle. Yet she also made a poignant point: women who maneuver all these hurdles and successfully finish college still must face the stark reality that they will be paid 77 cents to the dollar for the same work as male workers will (this without accounting for further reductions because of race and national origin). She insisted on these conditions representing the need for women to take the lead in the revolutionary struggle against capitalism and patriarchy – well beyond her own condition as a working student, and into society as whole.
“La no-violencia se ha convertido en una condena a muerte!” [*]
Comrade Josefina sent a few words (in Spanish) on behalf of the NCP(LC) to the sisters celebrating the IWWD with the political-cultural event “Un Toque Femenino” (Literally “A Feminine Touch” but a play on words on “toque” also meaning playing music or jamming) at the Benito Juarez Monument in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
She is a legal resident of the USA, but due to the political content of her trip, she didn’t want to risk going through the extra scrutiny and abuse immigration authorities are prone to, even when no politics are involved. This highlights the plight of millions of undocumented and documented immigrants in the border with Mexico, who essentially live tied to both sides economically and socially but live in constant fear of “mistaken” deportation, abusive guards, and generally negative experiences with racist law enforcement and even more racist vigilante groups that operate well beyond the border. For women, this often mean the additional risks of sexual assault and exploitation, often at the hands of law enforcement at both sides of the border. This is compounded by the emergence of the narco-capitalist dynamics that defined the political economy of both sides of the Mexico-US border and exists as narco-fascism in many parts of Mexico. There has been a decades long femicide crisis in Ciudad Juarez and other Mexican border towns, tied to the maquilas and rape-for-pay “prostitution” in which the ruling class treats women as disposable objects for work exploitation and sexual gratification. Recently, the people of various Mexican states have risen in arms against the State-narco collusion, and women comandantas (commanders) have raised their voices and weapons against this scourge in explicitly feminist terms. Against the patriarchial violence of the femicidal cartels, women take up the gun and gone on the offence – they say: it is better to die fighting and proud than in a ditch thrown out like refuse. Her speech connected these issues of injustice and immigrant inequality, and of resistance to narco-fascism to the wider struggles for women’s liberation and the struggle against capitalism. Women have nothing to lose but their chains, and this reality make proletarian feminism not only necessary, but central to the people’s struggles world-wide. And in the Mexico-US border, this struggle is becoming a military one, creating the subjective and objective need for political organization capable of commanding the gun responsibly and turning the defensive into an offensive for women’s liberation and socialism.
International Working Women’s Day is a necessary celebration, but we as communists do not limit our regards to women to just one day. Women are leaders and comrades in the struggle for socialist revolution and communist construction, and thus an integral and inseparable part of our struggle: Proletarian Feminism is Communism in the 21st Century.