The push-pull of the abortion rights struggle continues in the US

The struggle to regain abortion rights for millions of women in the US continues, while Biden makes repeated concessions to the right

Natalia Marques

People’s Dispatch | July 15, 2022

Parul Koul, executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America, speaks at an abortion rights rally on June 24, in Boston. (Photo via: the Party for Socialism and Liberation)

In the few weeks that have passed since the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, stripping abortion rights from millions of women, the people of the United States have continued to fight back. Despite assurances, the response from the Biden administration to protect the fundamental right has been deemed resoundingly inadequate.

“The mass of the people will have to flood into the streets, and will have to remain in the streets,” Monica Johnson, a young organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, told Peoples Dispatch. “We will have to do everything they can to let these politicians know that they will not be able to quietly and peacefully go on with their lives, trying to jeopardize the lives of so many millions of people.”

Johnson, alongside others, participated in an 18-hour protest in front of the Georgia Judicial Center in Atlanta, from July 4 to 5, in order to protest a pending Georgia abortion ban that would prohibit most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This action is part of a growing movement in defense of abortion rights, rising up in states where politicians are doing everything in their power to eliminate this right. These states include Georgia, and South Carolina where, on June 28, around 150 protesters descended on the Statehouse to demonstrate against a six week ban on abortion and the threat by conservative lawmakers of a total ban.

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Roe vs. Wade: A Time Of Reproductive Unrest

Madelaine Moore

Progress in Political Economy | July 05, 2022

The overturning of Roe vs. Wade in the USA highlights the precariousness of legal institutions and the necessity for continuous struggle to both push for and enforce social rights. It shows the limitations of legal and state apparatuses, that are themselves a reflection of existing power relations and vested interests, but also the ways that previous struggles and class forces are continuously inscribed within such institutions. While this decision clearly signifies a new intensity of attacks on women’s rights in the USA, it may also (hopefully) signify a heightened mobilisation and coordination of left-wing struggles.

This increasingly fractious relation between church, the capitalist state, and capital accumulation regimes, alongside increasing social struggles is not unique to the US. In a recent article in New Political Economy, entitled ‘A time of reproductive unrest: the articulation of capital accumulation, social reproduction, and the Irish state’, I analyse similar dynamics in the Republic of Ireland (herein Ireland) and argue that this is a time of Reproductive Unrest. The concept Reproductive Unrest captures two dynamics, first the way that economic crisis (in this case the repercussions following the financial crisis) were “resolved” by displacing it to the sphere of social reproduction (housing, water, healthcare, reproductive rights) and in particular, working-class communities. And second, the way that economic crisis and the dominant accumulation regime that caused it were contested by these communities on the terrain of social reproduction and increasingly the capitalist state. Economic crisis was displaced to the social and then the political, which left behind an increasingly uneasy and unworkable institutional and political constellation.

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Women are under-represented in economics globally

They occupy fewer top positions at leading economics institutions than men, and are more likely to leave the profession early.

Brittney J. Miller

Nature | April 14, 2022

An all-male panel at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia in 2018.Credit: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty

Women occupy roughly one in three junior academic positions in economics and just one in four senior positions, according to an analysis of gender equality at the field’s top research institutions.

Most previous surveys examining equality in economics have focused on individual countries. Emmanuelle Auriol, an economist at the Toulouse School of Economics in France, and her colleagues compared gender representation around much of the world, although their data set includes few institutions in Africa or southeast Asia. The findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 this month.

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Women less likely to win major research awards

Although the gap is narrowing, prestigious prizes are still more likely to go to men, finds an analysis of gender bias in the world’s top science awards.

Clare Watson

Nature | September 13, 2021

Five scientists sitting in a row on a white sofa.
Winners at the L’Oreal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science International in 2016. L–R: Jennifer Doudna, Hualan Chen, Andrea Gamarnik, Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Emmanuelle Charpentier.Credit: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Fondation L’Oreal/Getty

Women’s share of international prizes rewarding research excellence is increasing, but still lags behind the proportion of professorial positions held by women, according to an analysis of 141 top science prizes awarded over the past two decades.

Lokman Meho, an information scientist at the American University of Beirut, examined whether gains in professorships for women have translated into awards honouring their work. His findings, published in Quantitative Science Studies1, show a narrowing but persistent gender gap in the highest tiers of awards (see ‘Closing the gap’). The disparity is greatest in disciplines including life sciences, computer science and mathematics.

Hans Petter Graver, a legal scholar and president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo, which administers the Abel Prize in mathematics and the Kavli prizes in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience, says the results send “a signal to institutions awarding prestigious science prizes to do more for diversity”.

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WOMEN AND COMMUNISM 

The Early Communist Women’s Movement with Daria Dyakonova

Lydia and Anne sit down with Daria Dyakonova to discuss the often neglected history of the Communist Women’s Movement (1920-22). They talk about the origins of the movement, its most important figures, the debates around what the base of the CWM would be, and what would be the main issues it tackled, its changing relationship to the Comintern and its recurring fight against male chauvinism within the communist and broader workers movement. The discussion finishes with the slow eclipse of the CWM until its final demise and how that affected the future generations of communist women.
Daria and Mike Taber have an upcoming book on this topic through Brill’s Historical Materialism series.

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WOMENS’ STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION 

International Women’s Day

Alexandra Kollontai

First Published: Mezhdunarodnyi den’ rabotnitz, Moscow 1920;
Translated: Alix Holt 1972;
Transcribed: Tom Condit for marx.org, 1997;
Proofed: and corrected by Chris Clayton 2006.

Marxists Internet Archive

Alexandra Kollontai

A Militant Celebration

Women’s Day or Working Women’s Day is a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organization of proletarian women.

But this is not a special day for women alone. The 8th of March is a historic and memorable day for the workers and peasants, for all the Russian workers and for the workers of the whole world. In 1917, on this day, the great February revolution broke out.[2] It was the working women of Petersburg who began this revolution; it was they who first decided to raise the banner of opposition to the Tsar and his associates. And so, working women’s day is a double celebration for us.

But if this is a general holiday for all the proletariat, why do we call it “Women’s Day”? Why then do we hold special celebrations and meetings aimed above all at the women workers and the peasant women? Doesn’t this jeopardize the unity and solidarity of the working class? To answer these questions, we have to look back and see how Women’s Day came about and for what purpose it was organized.Read More »

STRUGGLE FOR WOMEN EMANCIPATION 

Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle

Rosa Luxemburg

Speech: May 12, 1912 (at the Second Social Democratic Women’s Rally, Stuttgart, Germany).
Source: Selected Political Writings, Rosa Luxemburg. Edited and introduced by Dick Howard. Monthly Review Press © 1971.
Translated: Rosmarie Waldrop (from the German Ausgewählte Reden und Schriften, 2 (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1951, pp.433-41).
Transcription/Markup: Brian Baggins.
Copyright: Monthly Review Press © 1971. Published here by the Marxists Internet Archive (marxists.org, 2003) with permission from Monthly Review Press.

“Why are there no organizations for working women in Germany? Why do we hear so little about the working women’s movement?” With these questions, Emma Ihrer, one of the founders of the proletarian women’s movement of Germany, introduced her 1898 essay, Working Women in the Class Struggle. Hardly fourteen years have passed since, but they have seen a great expansion of the proletarian women’s movement. More than a hundred fifty thousand women are organized in unions and are among the most active troops in the economic struggle of the proletariat. Many thousands of politically organized women have rallied to the banner of Social Democracy: the Social Democratic women’s paper [Die Gleichheit, edited by Clara Zetkin] has more than one hundred thousand subscribers; women’s suffrage is one of the vital issues on the platform of Social Democracy.Read More »

WOMEN’S EMANCIPATION 

Lenin on the Women’s Question
From My Memorandum Book

Clara Zetkin

Clara Zetkin interviews Lenin on the women's question

Source: The Emancipation of Women: From the Writings of V.I. Lenin;
Publisher: International Publishers;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan.

Marxists Internet Archive

Comrade Lenin frequently spoke to me about the women’s question. Social equality for women was, of course, a principle needing no discussion for communists. It was in Lenin’s large study in the Kremlin in the autumn of 1920 that we had our first long conversation on the subject.

“We must create a powerful international women’s movement, on a clear theoretical basis”, Lenin began. “There is no good practice without Marxist theory, that is clear. The greatest clarity of principle is necessary for us communists in this question. There must be a sharp distinction between ourselves and all other Parties. Unfortunately, our Second World Congress did not deal with this question. It was brought forward, but no decision arrived at. The matter is still in commission, which should draw up a resolution, theses, directions. Up to the present, however, they haven’t got very far. You will have to help.”

I was already acquainted with what Lenin said and expressed my astonishment at the state of affairs. I was filled with enthusiasm about the work done by Russian women in the revolution and still being done by them in its defence and further development. And as for the position and activities of women comrades in the Bolshevik Party, that seemed to me a model Party. It alone formed an international communist women’s movement of useful, trained and experienced forces and a historical example.Read More »

SOCIALIST FEMINISM 

What is Socialist Feminism?

Barbara Ehrenreich

Marxists Internet Archive

Barbara Ehrenreich

Note: This article was first published in WIN Magazine in 1976. It later appeared in Working Papers on Socialism & Feminism published by the New American Movement (NAM) in 1976. NAM was a mixed gender organization heavily influenced by socialist feminism. A number of CWLUers were associated with it.


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.”Read More »

CAPITALIST APPROPRIATION OF WOMEN WORKERS

Capital
A Critique of Political Economy

Karl Marx

Volume I
Book One: The Process of Production of Capital

Chapter Fifteen: Machinery and Modern Industry

Section 3 – The Proximate Effects of Machinery on the Workman

First published: in German in 1867;
Source: First english edition of 1887 (4th German edition changes included as indicated) with some modernisation of spelling;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR;
First Published: 1887;
Translated: Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels;
Online Version: Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1995, 1999;
Transcribed: Zodiac, Hinrich Kuhls, Allan Thurrott, Bill McDorman, Bert Schultz and Martha Gimenez (1995-1996);
HTML Markup: Stephen Baird and Brian Baggins (1999);
Proofed: and corrected by Andy Blunden and Chris Clayton (2008), Mark Harris (2010), Dave Allinson (2015).

The starting-point of modern industry is, as we have shown, the revolution in the instruments of labour, and this revolution attains its most highly developed form in the organised system of machinery in a factory. Before we inquire how human material is incorporated with this objective organism, let us consider some general effects of this revolution on the labourer himself.

A. Appropriation of Supplementary Labour-power by Capital. The Employment of Women and Children

In so far as machinery dispenses with muscular power, it becomes a means of employing labourers of slight muscular strength, and those whose bodily development is incomplete, but whose limbs are all the more supple. The labour of women and children was, therefore, the first thing sought for by capitalists who used machinery. That mighty substitute for labour and labourers was forthwith changed into a means for increasing the number of wage-labourers by enrolling, under the direct sway of capital, every member of the workman’s family, without distinction of age or sex. Compulsory work for the capitalist usurped the place, not only of the children’s play, but also of free labour at home within moderate limits for the support of the family. [38]Read More »