A Feminism that Fights Power
Today, at a feminist meeting, we were asked what we hoped for in four years. I felt very emotional when asked this question. I angrily said that I hope that in four years both parties tremble at the power of the mobilized masses, whose anger they cannot contain. Unfortunately, I am very alone in my socialist feminism and this wasn’t met with raised fists and denouncements of imperialism. I got carried away. Oh well. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that women’s liberation is not a question of electing more women to power. Women do not benefit from simply electing other women to office if these women are not committed to ending such things as poverty, homelessness, climate change, environmental destruction, racism, war, ableism, and heterosexism. Working class women do not benefit from more women who are CEOs. Women of color do not benefit from more female police officers and prison guards. Just as the world is not a better place with more women on firing squads, we are no better when women win access to the tools of capitalist oppression.
Queen of Hearts- a female with power does not equal feminism.
In the foggy days of figuring out politics, I remember that I was a fan of Madeleine Albright. At the time, I admired her because she was a woman in a powerful position. I admired that she was tough and stood up to men. As a young woman, I wanted to see what women could do anything men could do. It was only after becoming a socialist and seeing feminism in an international and class context, that I could see that Madeleine Albright did nothing to dismantle patriarchy. She affirmed patriarchy by promoting U.S. foreign policy, even justifying the death of 500,000 Iraqi children due to UN sanctions as “worth it.” She affirmed patriarchy by supporting the NATO bombing of civilian targets in Yugoslavia and by supporting right-wing guerillas in Colombia. In the same way, Hillary Clinton offered vocal support of dismantling welfare, calling welfare recipients “deadbeats” and justified the Crime Bill by calling African American youth “super predators.” She encouraged a coup in Honduras, supported wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and regime change in Libya. Women’s liberation should not come at the expense of women elsewhere in the world or at the expense of oppressed groups in our own country. I don’t want war criminals who menstruate. I don’t want war criminals period. (Word play intended).
On a local and state level, it is not much different. I am disappointed with our female mayor’s support of more “professional housing” developments when the city sorely needs more low income housing and her less than enthusiastic support of the Homeless Bill of Rights. Amy Klobuchar supported PROMESA, a bill that granted an un-elected board control over Puerto Rico’s finances (enforcing a colonial relationship upon the island). Although she was against the Iraq war, she supported the war in Afghanistan and sanctions on Iran (even though we are the only country who has actually used nuclear weapons in combat). I am not aware of Klobuchar supporting Palestinian rights, rather, she supported Israel’s right to “self-defense” against Gaza. In 2014, in the interest of “self-defense” Israel bombed Gaza, killing over 2000 civilians and destroying over 20,000 homes. These may not seem like feminist issues, but my feminism is anti-colonial. My feminism is against apartheid in any state. My feminism does not think a U.S. war will liberate women. Women must organize to liberate themselves.
I understand that this leaves women with choiceless choices. There are Republicans, who very clearly want to end reproductive rights and who often don’t even give lip service to ending racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, and climate change and Democrats, the kinder gentler capitalist party. It is sad that women are often left with choiceless choices. For lack of socialized day care, they must often choose to have children and put their employment and education on hold. Sometimes they must choose to stay in abusive relationships for lack of money and lack of housing. They historically have had to choose to get married, exchanging sex and unpaid labor for economic stability. The two parties seem like another choiceless choice. Yet, I believe that other choices do exist. And, at the very least, by participating in mass movements and fighting like hell on the streets and in the workplaces, both parties can be temporarily forced to the left. Women can be leaders. They can be leaders in social movements. They can be leaders in their community. They can be leaders in their unions. They can be leaders in speaking out against war. They can be leaders in demanding social programs. They can be leaders as allies to oppressed groups. They can be leaders in parties that truly work for workers for – parties that actually fight patriarchy rather than coddle it through war and oppression. Women can be leaders in fighting the power of capitalism and patriarchy.