165 years ago, when the women workers in the New York textile mills, on March 8, 1857, went on strike and demonstrated for “ten-hour work, bright and sanitary workrooms, wages equal to those of male textile workers and tailors”, they certainly did not imagine that in 2022 all these demands would still be demanded.
165 years ago, they certainly did not imagine that in 2022, with such advances in science and technology, in the conditions of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution, women’s work would lead to flexible work hours, with split schedule and irregular working hours, underemployment, employment even during maternity leave thanks to teleworking and the development of computing.
165 years ago, striking workers could not have imagined that underage girls and boys would still be victims of sexual harassment, with decision-makers and politicians “shuddering” in horror at the revelations of the “me too” movement, while often being themselves involved in such scandals.
The challenge anyone can try on social media seems simple: Put your name in the Google search engine, or that of your sister, your mother or your daughter and, next to it, the word “found.” The result is in no way simple, but rather terrifying. It is enough to press a key to come across a list of horrors, the result of male violence. The search leaves no room for doubt: being born female involves many dangers, greater or lesser ones depending on the region or country where you were born, and also many challenges to overcome in the pursuit of equality.
This article originally appeared as chapter fifth chapter in Donna Goodman’s Women Fight Back: The Centuries-Long Struggle for Liberation, published through Liberation Media and available for purchase here. Liberation School has a study and discussion guide for the book here.
The early years of the 20th century saw political struggle in all areas of American life. The explosive growth of industrial monopoly capitalism of the late 19th century structured all the major changes of the era—urbanization, proletarianization, extreme inequality and instability, record immigration, and the dawn of U.S. imperialism stretching overseas. All of society looked out at a world that appeared to be in perpetual flux and crisis, rapidly transforming how people lived, worked, and interacted.