In solidarity: March 8 – The call for a day without women’s work

It is often forgotten that the international March 8th women’s day began with striking female factory workers.  The strike, the withholding of women’s work, lies at its origins, and not the docile protests or celebrations of acquired “rights” that would later mark the occasion.

This year’s call for an international women’s strike on women’s day recalls earlier rebellions and repeats a more recent gesture.  The aim remains, at one level, protest: of giving voice and calling attention to the violence, exploitation and oppression of women.  More significantly, though, it is a gesture of withdrawal from an essentially patriarchal capitalist production and social reproduction; a potentially contagious gesture that resonates beyond simple appeals for recognition and protection by the State.

The danger is that the women’s strike, this year or in the future, limit itself to such appeals (however important they may be for some, at a specific time and place), subsequently falling into one more “dead”, predictable parade of political folklore.  If the institutions and relations of patriarchal power can be mitigated, pushed back, by such strikes, it is equally important to remember that it is these institutions and social relations that produce patriarchy and their underlying gendered “ways of life”.

A radical feminism must not only contest the oppression of women, but ultimately, the creation of women as the subservient sex-gender to male-capitalist domination.

The Call to Strike

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S STRIKE – THE CALL // PARO DE MUJERES INTERNACIONAL – EL LLAMADO

by , Nov 23, 2016

We, the women of the world, are fed up with violence addressed at us physical, economic, verbal or moral. We will no longer tolerate it passively. We demand that our governments stop using misogynic insults and start taking real measures to solve numerous problems related to our safety, free access to medical care including abortion, the establishment of severe legal penalties to be applied to our oppressors in cases of rape, domestic violence and every gender-based crimes we are experiencing increasingly, and enforce effective secularization. Before our biological conditions, we are first of all human beings and what’s more it’s 2016. As aware citizens, we, the women, know the world is going through a crisis phase, but we don’t accept being victims of it. Take care, governing powers in our countries: be mature and address the problems of the world in direct, peaceful ways, with no harm to us. We, the women of the world, announce that if you don’t urgently and immediately apply the effective measures to halt violence against us, we strike, in solidarity and united across the planet. We constitute more than half the world’s population and we know that the lasting power is with us. Don’t forget that on our decision depends if the life on Earth will continue.

The 2017 call for the international women’s day strike …

Together we stop; Together we move forward: From spain’s anarchist union, the CNT (in spanish) …

From a collective statement published in the Guardian (27/01/2018) …

… on 8 March we will go on strike against gender violence – against the men who commit violence and against the system that protects them.

We believe that it was no accident that it was our sisters with social standing that first made visible what we all knew. Their ability to do so was stronger than our low wage sister, so often of color, who cleans rooms in that fancy Chicago hotel or the sister who picks fruits in the Californian fields

The vast majority of us do not speak out because we lack collective power in our workplace, and are denied social supports such as free health care, outside of it. The job, with its low wage, with its bullying manager and abusive boss, with its long hours, becomes the one thing we fear losing, for it is the only means for providing food for our families and providing care for our sick and infirm.

We do not keep our mouths shut. We are forced to keep our mouths shut by capitalism.

So, on 8 March we will speak out, personally, against the individual abusers who tried to ruin our lives, and we will speak out, collectively, against the economic insecurity that prevents us from speaking out. 

We will strike because we want to expose our personal abusers. And we will strike because we need social welfare provisions and living wage jobs to feed our families as well as the right to unionize, should we be fired for standing up against their abuse.

So, on 8 March we will strike against mass incarceration, police violence and border controls, against white supremacy and the beating drums of US imperialist wars, against poverty and the hidden structural violence that closes our schools and our hospitals, poisons our water and food and denies us reproductive justice.

And we will strike for labor rights, equal rights for all immigrants, equal pay and a living wage, because sexual violence in the workplace is allowed to fester when we lack these means of collective defence.

8 March 2018 will be a day of feminism for the 99%: a day of mobilization of black and brown women, cis and bi, lesbian and trans women workers, of the poor and the low waged, of unpaid caregivers, of sex workers and migrants.

On 8 March #WeStrike.

Linda Alcoff, Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, Rosa Clemente, Angela Davis, Zillah Eisenstein, Liza Featherstone, Nancy Fraser, Barbara Smith, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Nancy Fraser: Feminism of the 99% …

Angela Davis: “Mainstream feminism”/Bourgeois feminism …

A reflection on the international women’s strike, from argentina …

To Block and to Transform

by Verónica Gago (Lobo Suelto! 05/02/2018)

#NosotrasParamos: The collective voice that is building the internationalism of the women’s strike of the coming 8th of March.  Transversality, alliance and transformation of a time that has given so much strength, as well as bad news: the feminisation of poverty increases, the femicides don’t stop and the visibility of the cases of abuse demonstrate that impunity has been the norm.

The international women’s strike of this 2018 again offers us a date, a point of encounter, where experiences, militancies, communitarian spaces, assemblies, demands and desires converge.  The strike expresses, once again, an organisational horizon here and now, constructed from below: as an action that has revitalised a broad women’s, trans, lesbian and transvestite movement, beginning in Poland and Argentina in 2016 and which has not ceased to grow, to spread and diversify.  Its strength in Latin America and the Caribbean always combines grief and struggle: in March, we remember a new anniversary of the assassination of Berta Cáceres, who today nevertheless lives on in the Honduran struggles against the recent government of Juan Orlando Hernández, and the dead girls of the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home in San José Pinula, Guatemala, whose names ring out in the global campaign #NosDuelenLas56.

In 2017, the strike extended to 55 countries, giving back to the 8th of March its working class memory, uniting together the textile workers of all epochs with an insurgent memory woven with daily resistances.  We tear away the date from a calendar that wished to convert it into a melancholy and formal ritual.  Through the strike, we revolutionise our practise as a movement, at the same time as we revolutionise the very instrument of the strike, traditionally only associated with the narrow world of the masculine, salaried worker.

Why?

  • Because the strike offered us a practise of transversality, so as to be able to be a part of a measure of common organised force, starting from the diverse situations that we inhabit as women, lesbians, trans and transvestites.  For the feminist movement, to strike is not only to put down work and leave it; it is to suspend, to block and to sabotage all manner of tasks that have historically fallen to feminised bodies, almost always invisibly, without a salary or badly paid.  These are in general politically scorned tasks, yet they are at the basis of the reproduction of society as a whole.
  • Because the strike allows a double dimension: to block and to transform.  It is not a purely negative action, but an action from which the question of what to do becomes richer, more important, collective.  We have said that we want to change everything.  In what concrete ways do we construct this transformation from our practises?

As Silvia Federici states in a video that will be released for the campaign of the collective NiUnaMenos: “To strike means not only to interrupt certain labour activities, but also to commit oneself to activities that have a transforming dimension, that in a certain way carry us beyond the tasks of routine and daily life and that contain within themselves other possibilities.”

  • Because the strike was also the element of connection between countries, regions and very diverse scales, giving materiality to the global.  Therefore, it is a territorial connection that signifies a connection between struggles.  But also a connection between temporalities: the times of the strike in hours, the times of rebelliousness that overflow the hours of the strike, the times of organisation that are constructed through the strike, personal and collective times, the times of generations and of distinct historical struggles, and the times of reflection on how we continue to sustain the tide of feminisms.  It is therefore a connection of times which means a connection between heterogeneous histories.  The strike is thus difference and connection, because it contains and sustains itself from the multiplicity of times and territories (of our labours, vital situations, experiences, organisations and demands), while at the same time connecting them on the same plane, where the difference is not a fragment, but a constituent force of what we have in common.
  • Because the strike makes itself stronger as an international, transnational process.  The time between one date and another has not been empty, a waiting between “events”: we have seen a process of accumulating forces unfold, of meetings, battles, campaigns, challenges and offenses.  We have also noted the deterioration of the conditions of our lives.  As north american feminists of the 99%, such as Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, among other signatories, of the recent statement [mentioned above], the significance of Trump’s first year of government has to be denounced concretely, while at the same time making viral the campaigns of denunciation #MeToo, #UsToo y #TimesUp.  These testimonies, in their proliferation, were capable of going further than personal enunciation.  It is also fundamental to note – as they argue – that racialised violence is international and that therefore so must the campaign against it be international; that the violence on university campuses also has the entire legal apparatus working in favour of its cover-up; and that it is the same state that finances Israel against the activist Ahed Tamimi and her family and that which above all imprisons Afro-American women.
  • Because we build a collective voice that insists and persists: #NosotrasParamos.  As the compañeras from the United States also forcefully state in this text, the collective voice gains in strength to the extent that we denounce and connect the silences of the abuses in the places of work, in the hospitals, in the prisons and on the borders.  It is a voice that we go on constructing through concrete alliances that are put into effect here and there, and which produce expressions of this coalition already on the march.  Last Sunday in New York, for example, the strike call was made.  Leaflets had already been distributed in the Women’s March.  The call counted on the participation of Jeannette Vizguerra, migrant activist who was able to avoid being deported, Lamis Deek, a Palestinian activist and human rights lawyer, María Inés Orjuela, a worker at the Hotel Hilton, where a union was recently organised, Farah Tanis, founder of the organisation Black Women’s Blueprint, among others.
  • The strike thus becomes a way for us to connect between ourselves, a collective tool, capable of assuming that to strike is to create the social conditions that we may all be able to strike and tell of what it means, from each concrete situation, to reinvent the strike.  With this inspiration and resonance that continues to bind us together, we have just come to learn that the Women’s Movement of Kurdistan has embraced the International Women’s Strike in all of its territories (divided between four countries: Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria).  They do so while the city of Afrin (in Syrian Kurdistan) is being bombarded by the Turkish state.  There also NiUnaMenos is said.  We know that we are not alone when in each territory this common call which makes us strong is invented and experimented with: Alive and Free We Want to be!

The work of Silvia Federici, among others, remains central to a richer understanding of women and anti-capitalist feminism.  We share a conference given by her in 2012 …

Songs-Videos for March 8, from spain …

This entry was posted in Commentary, News blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to In solidarity: March 8 – The call for a day without women’s work

  1. Pingback: In Solidarity: March 8 – The Call for a Day Without Women’s Work #WomenStrike – Enough is Enough!

  2. Pingback: 6 Million Women Reclaim their Power: The First Feminist General Strike | The Free

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.