Make a date with Feminists!!

GENDER/ RACE/ CLASS: AN ANTI-CAPITALIST FEMINIST EVENT

Sat 14th Feb, 10.30am -6.30 pm, Tindle Manor, 52-4 Featherstone St EC1 (nearest tube Old St.) Fully accessible venue. This event is free!

 

for more info see www.anticapitalistfeminists.co.uk

to register email anticapitalistfeminists@gmail.com

Discussing and organising our fight for women’s liberation – open to all those who want to learn, think and plan for grassroots feminist activism… Join us for workshops which identify the interconnections between oppressions and our struggles against them. Work together with other feminists to find ways to actually change the material conditions of women’s lives.

Workshops include: learning from feminist history/ sex workers’ rights/ challenging domestic violence/ international solidarity/ a woman’s place is in her union?/ reproductive freedoms/ rape and asylum/ community organising/ queer and trans politics/ prison abolition/ self-defence workshop/ feminists and the capitalist crisis/ films, stalls and campaign planning

Free creche – please register by email by Friday 6th February

Stalls available – email laurarogers53@gmail.com to book

Organised by a coalition of groups and individuals. Groups involved so far include: Anarcha-Fem Kollective, All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, English Collective of Prostitutes, Education Not for Sale Women, Feminist Activist Forum, Feminist Fightback, Left Women’s Network, London Coalition Against Poverty, Permanent Revolution, RMT Women’s Committee, Women Asylum Seekers Together, Women Against Rape, Workers’ Liberty.

PLEASE FORWARD FAR AND WIDE AND ADVERTISE ON YOUR BLOG.

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An Open Invitation

December 4, 2008

Since this year’s RTN, there’s been a lot of discussion on all sides about the protest and counter-protest outside Spearmint Rhino, and Feminist Fightback has been criticised quite a bit for it’s role in the counter-protest.

My personal view is that some of these criticisms are valid, and worth exploring, while some are just scurrilous and slanderous.  For the record, Feminist Fightback does believe that trafficking for sexual slavery happens, and also opposes pimps, along with anyone else seeking to benefit from the exploitation of women.

I would urge everyone to come to a Feminist Fightback meeting and find out what we think for yourselves.   I don’t even agree with other members of Feminist Fightback on all issues, so I’m not issuing this invitation on the assumption that we’ll suddenly all agree with each other.  Sex-work/prostitution is a complicated issue and I’m sure feminists of all stripes will continue to disagree with each other.

However, you may find that we have more common ground than previously thought.  Or at the very least, that it’s possible for all of us to be in the same room without a fistfight breaking out.  And, you may find that it’s possible for you and your group to work with Feminist Fightback on other campaigns.  At the moment, we are active on 2 main issues:

1) Reproductive Freedoms, which for us means ensuring that a woman is free to choose to have or not to have a child, as she sees fit.  This involves campaigning for free abortion on demand, free birth control of a woman’s choice, decent healthcare for all on the NHS, a welfare state that ensures that no one chooses to end a pregnancy because she can’t “afford” a child, and an end to the demonisation of single mothers and migrant mothers in the popular press and government policy.

2) Migrants Rights, which for us means working in solidarity with the campaigns of migrant workers, opposing the detention of asylum seekers, opposing all forms of immigration control, and doing what we can to offer solidarity and support to migrant women’s groups and their campaigns (eg. we do what we can to support the No Recourse to Public Funds Campaign, and we work closely with the Black Women’s Rape Action Project and the All African Women’s Group).

For those of you in London and the South, our next meeting is:

Saturday 13 December from 3- 5.30 pm, Arbour Community Centre, 100 Shandy Lane, Stepney Green, E1 4ST

Feminist Fightback London meets the 2nd Saturday of the month at that location.

For those of you north of the Watford Gap, Feminist Fightback is co-sponsoring “Feminism and the Student Movement”, also 13 December, 11 – 5pm at the University of Manchester Student Union. 

The next Feminist Fightback North meeting has not been scheduled yet – but I’ll let everyone know when it is.

With other anti-capitalist feminist groups, we are also involved in organising “Gender, Race & Class: An Anti-Capitalist Feminist Event” which will take place in London on 14 February and in my opinion will be the most awesome feminist conference of all time.  More info to follow.

I think it’s important to remember, that basically, we’re all on the same side.  People of good will can disagree with each other; it doesn’t mean that anyone is “evil.”  It’s possible to build a feminist movement where disagreements are aired openly in a civil and respectful manner, and dissent is valued, and where we still work together on issues where there is agreement.

In today’s Comment is Free, Khaled Diab writes that the Dutch government wants to bring in a law that would sentence women deemed to be unfit mothers to take contraception for two years.  If they become pregnant during this time, their newborn infant will be taken away from them.

I’m not even sure where to start with this.  Such a law is clearly a serious violation of women’s rights.  First of all, it forces women to take contraception, thus denying them their right to bodily autonomy and to choose whether or not they want to have children.  Secondly, it places the onus of good parenting entirely on women – notice there’s no mention of what happens to “bad” fathers.  Thirdly, it denies the presumption of innocence – a person might be a bad parent for some reason, possibly beyond their control (ie postpartum depression) but then be a very good parent to their next child.

Finally, as Diab points out, this law might end up being used to target “undesirable” groups like Roma and immigrants.  Realistically, I think there’s no “maybe” about it, and that impoverished mothers should be included in Diab’s list of “the undesirables” targetted by this law.    The Netherlands, like the rest of Europe, is getting more and more xenophobic.  I read an article in Le Monde Diplomatique about 6 months ago describing campaigns by far-right groups throughout Europe “encouraging” white women to have more children and trying to prevent people of colour and immigrants from having more children, in order to “preserve white Europe” (of course, in reality, Europe has neverbeen a completely white continent).   Across Europe, including the UK, family-friendly workplace policies have been promoted, which is good, but they have been promoted on the grounds they will enable European families (and really, if you examine the policies, middle-class European families) to have more children – thus meaning that immigrant workers will no longer be required.  Meanwhile, the demonisation of impoverished people and people on benefits continues, and there is less and less support for parents and children on social assistance.

Diab seems to think that the bill will fail in Parliament because it violate the Dutch Constitution.  We can only hope.

So, as the entire world knows already, John McCain has selected a woman to be his vice-presidential candidate.

 A right-wing, anti-choice, anti-environment woman.

 But hey, she’s got boobies, right?

 This is pretty clearly pandering to the PUMAs, the Hillary Clinton supporters who are so devastated that she lost that they’re planning on supporting McCain.

 Sylvia/M provides a hilarious insight into the thought processes of one such woman.

 My personal interpretation of the motivation of these people:

 Racism.

 Of COURSE it’s racism.

 Honestly, you expect me to believe you’re such a big feminist that you’re devastated that a woman is not your party’s candidate, and so you’re going to vote for an anti-choice candidate instead?  Who is on the record as opposing equal pay for equal work?!?  Who thinks “how do we beat the bitch” (in reference to your favourite candidate) is funny??!??

 Or are you just refusing to vote for an African-American?  Listen to the women on the video at Sylvia/M’s – refusing to vote for someone because he may have spent time at a Muslim school is racist (it’s also, in Obama’s case, erroneous).

 At the very least, if you’re so pissed off at the Democrats that you can’t vote for them, I’d expect to see you supporting Cynthia McKinney.  

 But hey, she’s African-American too, isn’t she? 

 To quote Tim Wise – your whiteness is showing.

Southall Black Sisters has called for a Day of Action on their No Recourse to Public Funds Campaign for April 23rd.

At the moment, women (like myself) who are in the UK on a spousal visa are not allowed recourse to public funds, including housing benefit and income support.   If these marriages become abusive, this means these women have nowhere to turn.  Most women’s refuges collect housing benefit on behalf of their inhabitants in order to remain open – they literally cannot afford to take in women who are not allowed access to benefits. 

From the Southall Black Sisters Website:  

The plan for the Day of Action is to assemble at 11.00am for a demonstration at 11.30-12.30 on the Embankment opposite Portcullis House, Westminster, London (nearest tube Westminster) we were not able to get permission to gather in Parliament Square. A big, bold and beautiful banner is being made by an Amnesty artist. Please wear black on the day.

The public meeting will begin at 1pm in Portcullis House, details of the speakers will follow shortly.

For those us in the North, action is being co-ordinated by Roshni Asian Women’s Aid in Sheffield.  You can contact them on on 0114 250 8898 or admin@roshnisheffield.org.  (Thanks to Alice from Feminist Fightback). 

More information on the No Recourse Campaign from Southall Black Sisters, here

I’m hoping to have a post up about the Feminist Fightback Reproductive Freedoms teach-in later today or tomorrow, but the link between the No Recourse Campaign and Reproductive Freedoms was discussed at length.  How can a woman have control over her reproductive organs if she can’t get out of an abusive marriage, because the government would happily see her starve?  She may abort a wanted child out of fear of what her husband will do to her baby, or be forced to have an unwanted child by her husband.  Attempting to control a woman’s reproductive capacity is a key feature of many violent relationships; the abusive husband may be forcing the woman to use to abstain from birth control. 

The No Recourse Campaign is of crucial importance – I hope that as many of you as possible come out on the 23rd.

I’m really, really excited about this, and will be reporting back via this blog as soon as I can afterwards.

Feminist Fightback presents…a Teach-In for Reproductive FreedomsDiscussing ideas and planning action for a woman’s right to choose
12 April, 12-5pm, Clement House Building, London School of 
Economics, Holborn (Holborn tube)

 

www.feministfightback.org.uk
rebecca.galbraith@yahoo.co.uk

12.00pm
Registration

12.30pm
Opening speech by Sofie Buckland (NUS National Executive)

1-2.15pm
a) Imperialism and Motherhood
Speaker: Anna Davin (founding editor of History Workshop Journal)
Facilitator: Gwyneth Lonergan
b) From Abortion Rights to Reproductive Freedoms
A panel discussion with Charlotte Gage (Abortion Rights), Cathy Nugent 
(Workers’ Liberty), Rosie Woods (NHS worker)
Facilitator: Anna Longman

2.20-3.35pm
a) Getting your message across
Jill Mountford (former organiser of the Welfare State Network) and 
James House (TV documentaries producer)
Workshop facilitator: Rachael Ferguson
b) How to campaign
Workshop Facilitator: Anne-Marie O’Reilly (trade union organiser)

3.45-5pm
Planning for a National Day of Action
Facilitators: Laura Schwartz and Rebecca Galbraith

* Food: cheap vegetarian food will be served from 12 noon
* Free creche: Please register with rebecca.galbraith@yahoo.co.uk for 
a free creche place
* Social with X-talk: 7pm @ The Ivy House, Southampton Row, Holborn
* The teach-in is free to attend but a suggested donation of £1.50 
unwaged and £3+ waged is encouraged.