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.

Wages

Newsletter Issue 2: Wage Labor

Getting paid, labor activism, and Super Bowl analysis

  Table of Contents


  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Kansas has one of the lowest minimum wages in the U.S., at $7.25 an hour; many people in Lawrence who receive money “under the table” or through stipends make even less.
  • Someone working forty hours a week, every week of the year, at $7.25/ hour would make, before taxes, $15,080.
  • Many of our fellow Lawrencians do not earn enough to meet basic needs. This is by design, a natural byproduct of the failed capitalist experiment.

  WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

  • The wage system of employment perpetuates inequality, disproportionately affecting individuals from marginalized groups.
  • Wages create artificial distinctions between different types of work. What does a hedge fund manager do for society? Why does a hedge fund manager even need to exist? Why does your landlord make more money than you do?
  • A fair and just society moves beyond the concept of “minimum wage.” One’s right to survival should not be determined by the arbitrary wage employment system.

  INTERVIEW:
Sam from Service Workers Lawrence

Many Lawrencians work in retail, restaurant, or other hourly- wage jobs that pay at or just above the minimum wage. In this interview we talk to Sam, a laborer in the food service industry who is involved with Service Workers Lawrence, which is organizing workers in the food industry around the issues of wages and health care:

Talk a little bit about your experience working in the Lawrence food service industry:

I’ve been working in food & beverage service since I was 16. I’ve worked in both front of house and production areas in business from fast-casual to fine dining.

What is Service Workers Lawrence’s long-term vision?

Our long term vision is to provide a support system for Service workers that exists beyond governmental and employer influence.

What actions have Service Workers Lawrence taken towards realizing that vision?

Service Workers Lawrence is in its nascent stage so our main focus is organizing and educating workers as to their rights.

How would you characterize the current relationship between Lawrence restaurant owners and their employees?

At present, labor in Kansas is under-protected and wholly removed from any government granted agency. Lawrence service labor suffers from the same insecurity but is “protected” by neoliberal capitalists claiming progressiveness because they hire minorities and LGBTQ individuals. This low standard created by Kansas labor laws allows Lawrence bosses to grant bare minimum provisions under the guise of being conscious employers.

How can people get involved with Service Workers Lawrence?

Anyone interested in becoming involved with Service Workers Lawrence can join our mailing list at serviceunionlawrence@gmail.com


  SHORT SOCIALIST SUPER BOWL ANALYSIS

What a game. Once again, the fast food corporations, the yacht-owning team owners, the toxic masculinity torch bearers and the beer brands we know and love won in the tightest of contests. Like every year. Many people thought this would end! Many people thought this would be the year a different kind of football emerged but, alas, it did not. Good thing there is always next year. May we make up new plays. Sing the songs of violence and blitz, of sack and fumble and cheer. Onwards! To a different kind of Super Bowl! To a different kind of sports, bereft of advertisement, exploitation, and bosses! Put the team owners in their place! What a game.


🦒  JARGON GIRAFFE

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

  • Wage – The lowest amount of money your employer can get away with paying you so you will show up to work and do their bidding
  • Boss – The person who makes more money than you and believes this is to be “the natural order of things”
  • Minimum Wage – What the government thinks is the lowest amount of money an employer should be able to pay an employee.
  • Universal Basic Income – A system where the government pays all of its citizens a basic wage, regardless of their personal identity or current/ past/future employment status.
  • Stipend – What employers will call an employee’s salary when they aren’t really paying that employee a salary; a farce.
  • Fight for 15 – a nationwide movement that seeks
    to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. A good start.

  UPCOMING DSA EVENTS

Lawrence DSA Healthcare Working Group meeting

February 27, 2019
Lawrence Public Library, Meeting Room C
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Renters Together LFK – Community Housing Conversation

February 28, 2019
Lawrence Public Library, Auditorium
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm


  SOCIALIST HOROSCOPE

The stars will outlive capitalism by many unfathomable leagues of time. It is to them, then, that we look for wisdom and guidance.

  • Jan 20th – Sun enters Aquarius
  • Jan 21st – Full Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo
  • Jan 24th – Mercury enters Aquarius

The lunar eclipse will leave us all feeling like we want something. Full moons magnify our problems, so they may seem big and overwhelming, but they also offer the opportunity to closely inspect things, to get up close and see the surface.

♈ Aries

The next few weeks are asking you to harness and direct your energy. Do the work, or else you might feel bogged down in a cloud of your own making.

♉ Taurus

Remember what keeps you committed to the cause. Think of a moment that shaped you and your beliefs and hold that moment in mind as you walk through the world.

♊ Gemini

You may be feeling pulled in many directions at once. What’s holding you together is your relationship with others. Work on strengthening the tie on that common thread.

♋ Cancer

Take a risk and change your daily routine. You don’t have to be stuck. To start making a better world, you have to believe it’s possible.

♌ Leo

You’re feeling in need of stimulation. Find something that engages both your intellect and your personal passion. Try a reading group!

♍ Virgo

You’re good at making plans and you love to dream, but don’t let planning and dreaming cancel each other out. Don’t lose sight of the dream in the moves you’re making.

♎ Libra

You’re experiencing an exciting moment of inspiration and growth, but there might be some growing pains. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Drink some water.

♏ Scorpio

Now is a good time to slow down, guilt-free. Your strength comes from your self confidence. Build up that charge at home before unleashing it on the world.

♐ Sagittarius

Go out of your way to learn about something that challenges or expands your view of the world. Talk to neighbors while canvassing or dig into a new text in a reading group.

♑ Capricorn

You’re strong and capable but you’ve been flexing too hard. Pause and appreciate what’s around you. Remember that you are more than the sum of your productivity and labor.

♒ Aquarius

Lately your intuitive vision has been out of this world. Imagine unconventional solutions to the long game and go after them.

♓ Pisces

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. We’re all in this together. Ask for what you need, be it from a partner, a friend, a community, a 7 job, or the world.


  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


  THE FINAL WORD

Capitalism asks us to sell our labor to the highest bidder, to wholly submit to the designs of our bosses and to appreciate the meager allowances we receive for our time. Capitalism is not only unfair: it is highway robbery.

As such, there have been many plans put forth to “solve” this problem. Everyone seems to agree that no one should work forty hours a week and still live under the poverty line. Many states (not Kansas, however) have raised their so-called “minimum wag- es” over the past several years, and there is a growing movement throughout the U.S. called the “Fight for 15,” which pushes for a $15.00 minimum wage.

Fifteen dollars, obviously, is better than $7.25 (the Kansas minimum wage), and $7.25 is better than $5.15 (the previous Kansas minimum wage). But the problem isn’t the minimum wage. The problem is a system that ties one’s economic security to the ar- bitrary nature of wages and salaries. A truly just and humane society does not allow for one person to be “worth more” than another person. A truly just and humane society ensures that everyone maintains a universal standard of living that is healthy, fulfilling and dignified. A universal basic income system, where the government pays everyone a standard recurring salary regardless of their personal identity or employ- ment status would be a positive step in this direction.

It is possible to be in favor of a fifteen dollar minimum wage while also looking towards a future where wages do not exist. If the Fight for 15 is also the fight for economic justice, then so be it. But fifteen dollars is just fifteen dollars. True power lies in the refusal of a wage system of employment empowering oppression and propagating anxiety.


Housing

Newsletter Issue 1: Housing

Renting, landlords, and your socialist horoscope, all inside…

  Table of Contents


  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Half of Lawrence is made up of renters, many living in buildings that cost far too much and don’t meet basic needs.
  • Some buildings aren’t even accessible to those with disabilities, the elderly, or families with small children, yet Lawrence has one of the highest rent rates in Kansas.
  • Most renters don’t dare speak out for fear of landlords and property management groups, who wield considerable political influence and can retaliate through harassment or even eviction.

  WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

  • When renters can be intimidated into silence and forced to accept unacceptable conditions, the entire Lawrence community suffers.
  • Landlords and property management groups count on the fact that, because so many renters are college students, it’s harder to organize and fight for more affordable and dignified housing, which makes organizing all the more necessary.
  • When renters come together to connect, discover common hardships, and learn about opportunities to organize so that no one has to be afraid to speak out against unsafe and unfair housing, everyone wins.

  INTERVIEW:
Lawrence DSA Housing Working Group Chair

Why did you get involved with this issue and what are DSA’s concerns and goals regarding housing in Lawrence?

Our chapter’s biggest concerns with housing right now are making sure renters are protected. Lawrence has one of the highest rent rates in the state of Kansas. Many renters live in buildings that cost too much and provide too little. This issue affects people from all backgrounds and it is a working class struggle. We want to hear tenants’ struggles and give them the tools to get material change in their lives.

Many buildings in town are not accessible. A lot of apartment complexes are not accommodating to individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and to families with small children. Landlords’ desire to take a few extra dollars profit will always come before tenants’ need to live.

Half of Lawrence is renters and I see that we have the potential to tap into real power. By bringing people together on this issue we can bring solidarity and power to the working class.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing renters in Lawrence?

Coming up against the landlords and the property management groups – the landlord class holds a lot of political power and capital. It can be intimidating to even start to think of standing up against this class, especially since they have a lot of pull in local government and city boards. When doing this work, there is also the fear of being evicted or harassed by your landlord. It is important to remember that we as the working class can come together. There are many of us and only a few of them.

Given Lawrence is a college town with students who might rent for only a few years, how would you respond to students who might ask why they should be invested in Lawrence’s housing issues?

As college gets more expensive, a lot of students worry about making rent. It is not unusual for students to use student loans to cover basic living expenses. Students should not have to worry if they are going to make rent. Whether students stay in Lawrence for life or only a few years, tenant organizing and solidary are a powerful tool everywhere. Fighting for housing is not just a Lawrence issue but a global issue.

What will be covered during the DSA teach-in?

We want to bring renters together to discuss issues they are facing. By bringing renters together, we can discover the ongoing and shared issues with landlords and property management companies. Along with airing grievances, we can build solidarity across the community. This is the first of many steps to come together as the working class. Housing affects people of all walks of life since everyone needs a place to live. When renters share their issues, the actions necessary become more apparent.

What are the long term goals of DSA in regards to housing and what do you see as the stakes moving forward?

We hope to see renters start to organize. To not only hold the landlord class accountable but to dictate how housing should be as the working class. To have housing that is not only affordable and safe but to also be accommodating to all.


🦒  JARGON GIRAFFE

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

  • Property Management Group – A company that owns and maintains a series of rentals. Many apartment complexes and neighborhoods around Lawrence are owned by property management groups.
  • Landlord – A landlord is someone who owns land, and rather than make money by working, takes money from people who do work by charging them rent to live.
  • Tenant – A tenant, like most people, doesn’t legally own the place he lives. Because of this, he is forced to pay the owner the money he earns by working, or else become homeless.
  • Profit – The difference between the amount a landlord earns from tenants in rent and the amount spent on upkeep of the property. Landlords seeking to increase their profits generally will raise rent on tenants and/or spend less on the property(ies) they own. They make the most money by charging renters more and keeping conditions bad.
  • Rent – Unlike payment for a good or service, rent is something owners charge even though they have contributed no work or value to the property. Rent in Lawrence is among the highest in all of Kansas.
  • Property – Land owned or possessed by a landlord they then charge others to use.

  GET INVOLVED

DSA Housing Teach-In

January 31, 2019
Lawrence Public Library, Auditorium
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

More2 (Kansas City, MO)

more2.org

Just Shelter (National)

justshelter.org


  GET INFORMED

State and Local Resources

Information for KU Students

Editor’s Recommended Reading


  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


  SOCIALIST HOROSCOPE

The stars will outlive capitalism by many unfathomable leagues of time. It is to them, then, that we look for wisdom and guidance.

  • Jan 20th – Sun enters Aquarius
  • Jan 21st – Full Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo
  • Jan 24th – Mercury enters Aquarius

The lunar eclipse will leave us all feeling like we want something. Full moons magnify our problems, so they may seem big and overwhelming, but they also offer the opportunity to closely inspect things, to get up close and see the surface.

♈ Aries

Perhaps you don’t believe in making resolutions. That’s fine. But you can’t help noticing new shoots cropping up out of the winter dirt. They’re not resolutions. They’re passions, red as roses, waiting for you to pluck them.

♉ Taurus

You know your instinct to hunker down. You want to protect it. Expand your definition of home. Think about working on your chapter’s Housing Committee.

♊ Gemini

The full moon is going to make you feel a little crazy, but in a good way. There’s a lot going on right now. You are confident in your ability to get things done. Focus on your ability to make connections.

♋ Cancer

You’ve been feeling good and you’ve been feeling guilty about it. Shake off the guilt and revel in the small pleasures of being a person. Take care of yourself and you’ll find extra energy to spare. Perhaps volunteer some of that energy in a chapter working group.

♌ Leo

You’re still riding the new year high. You can see it – big plans are forming on the horizon. Use your charm to bring people together. Try canvassing.

♍ Virgo

Breathe. Stop and breathe. Find a moment of stillness so quiet it could tear the world apart. The more of these moments you find, the stronger you’ll be. Soldiers of the revolution need sleep too.

♎ Libra

Your confidence and charisma are running hot. You’re fired up about a new person or project. Follow that energy through, don’t let it fizzle out.

♏ Scorpio

The full moon will leave you feeling lots of feelings. Somewhere buried in there is a secret. When you find it, a piece of your heart will unlock. Don’t be afraid to go through whatever was opened up in you. It might be a good idea to talk your way through this experience with comrades and friends.

♐ Sagittarius

The full moon shines a clarifying light on something you’ve been studying for a long time. Expect to find something new in a familiar place. The surprise might leave you shook, but work with it.

♑ Capricorn

You’re wound up like a top. Would you rather spin out of control, topple over, or move with purpose? Find a way to make circular motion propel you forward.

♒ Aquarius

This eclipse hits a little too close to home. You’ll be asked to evaluate what you hold dear. In your intimate, day to day life, what’s serving you and what’s holding you back? Identify sources of toxic energy and get rid of them. It might be something as small as your insecurities, or as big as neoliberal capitalism. Do the work.

♓ Pisces

Something big is coming to a close for you. How do we gracefully exit something that has served us well? By holding the door open behind us. Make eye contact with the person coming in.