Newsletter Issue 3: Socialist Feminism

Working Women of the World, Unite!

  Table of Contents


  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Socialist feminism brings together feminist and socialist modes of thought, recognizing that the socialist project is necessarily a feminist one and vice versa. Barbara Ehrenreich put it well when she said:

At some level, perhaps not too well articulated, socialist feminism has been around for a long time. You are a woman in a capitalist society. You get pissed off: about the job, about the bills, about your husband (or ex), about the kids’ school, the housework, being pretty, not being pretty, being looked at, not being look at (and either way, not listened to), etc. If you think about all these things and how they fit together and what has to be changed, and then you look around for some words to hold all these thoughts together in abbreviated form, you’d almost have to come up with “socialist feminism.”

In a capitalist society that routinely devalues women, nonbinary people, transgender and gender non conforming folks, socialist feminism aims to confront the inter- secting lines of class and gender oppression. The DSA offers support and solidarity to many Socialist Feminist Working groups across the country, including one here in Lawrence, Kansas. These groups aim to organize, educate, and provide a socialist counterpoint to the dominant neoliberal conception of feminism.

Neoliberal feminists want there to be more female billionaires. Socialist feminist don’t want there to be any billionaires at all.


  WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

We all know the pay gap sucks. There’s even more to be mad about:

According to the US Department of Labor, 39% of women work in occupations where women make up 3⁄4 of the workforce. Some neoliberal feminists may praise this stat for being super #girlboss, #leanin, but it’s clear to socialist feminists that many women are shunted into low-pay “pink collar” jobs, many of which are in the service industry.

Also according to the US Department of labor, 71% of mothers with children under 18 are active in the labor force. Meanwhile, childcare is not a guaranteed right and many parents struggle to find adequate, affordable coverage. In fact, in Kansas, yearly childcare costs amount to more than in- state tuition for public universities.

In Kansas, hate crime laws cover cases based on sexual orientation, but not on gender identity. This leaves transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming folks at even more risk in a state that refuses to change legal gender on birth certificates.

It is estimated that 9 million women in the United States are currently without healthcare. Even if they manage to see a doctor, it is not uncommon for women’s pain to be ignored or minimized. Across the board there was a 26% increase in maternal mortality rates between 2000 and 2014, and black women are three to four times more likely to die giving birth than non-Hispanic white women.

Socialist feminists look at these statistics and see how the relationship between capital, power, and oppression diminish the quality of life for the many in favor of the few.


🦒  JARGON GIRAFFE

n. Definitions you need to follow along
Ex: What the hell are you talking about? Get the jargon giraffe!

  • Emotional labor – manipulating and regulating one’s emotions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. Many jobs that entail emotional labor are mostly filled by women: waitressing, teaching, nursing, and customer service are a few examples.
  • TERF – Don’t be a TERF. TERF stands for Trans Exclu- sionary Radical Feminist. There’s nothing radical about excluding our trans brothers, sisters, and siblings.
  • Pay Gap – refers to the gap in median wages between women working full time and men working full time. Women are paid less for their work than men. Women of color are particularly exploited, earning on average far less than men and white women.
  • Neoliberal feminism – the idea that women will be best served in their liberation by participating actively and in compliance with the capitalist market.

  GOING FORWARD

The purpose of THE FREE STATE WORKER is to inform you about political issues, legislative proposals, and upcoming events that affect Lawrence. We will also highlight work being done by Lawrence DSA and other activist organizations to benefit our community, the state, and country as a whole.

However, to best serve Lawrence, we need to hear from you. Please contact us to share how you think we can improve our newsletter or if you’d like to learn about how you can get involved with future issues.

We look forward to hearing from you.

In Solidarity,

The Lawrence DSA Newsletter Team

Contact Info


  FURTHER READING

  • Fortunes of feminism: from state-managed capitalism to neoliberal crisis, Nancy Fraser, Verso Books, 2013.
  • Playing the whore: the work of sex work, Melissa Gira Grant, Verso Books, 2014.
  • The problem with work: feminism, Marxism, antiwork politics, and postwork imaginaries, Kathy Weeks, Duke University Press, 2011.
  • We were feminists once: from Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the buying and selling of a political movement, Andi Zeisler, New York Public Affairs, 2017.