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.
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.
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. 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 »
“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 »
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 »
Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State
Preface to the Fourth Edition, 1891
Written: March-May, 1884; First Published: October 1884, in Hottingen-Zurich; Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume Three; Translation: The text is essentially the English translation by Alick West published in 1942, but it has been revised against the German text as it appeared in MEW [Marx-Engels Werke] Volume 21, Dietz Verlag 1962, and the spelling of names and other terms has been modernised; Transcription/Markup: Zodiac/Brian Baggins; Online Version:Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1993, 1999, 2000. Proofed and corrected: Mark Harris 2010
The earlier large editions of this work have been out of print now for almost half a year, and for some time the publisher has been asking me to prepare a new edition. Until now, more urgent work kept me from doing so. Since the appearance of the first edition seven years have elapsed, during which our knowledge of the primitive forms of the family has made important advances. There was, therefore, plenty to do in the way of improvements and additions; all the more so as the proposed stereotyping of the present text will make any further alterations impossible for some time.
I have accordingly submitted the whole text to a careful revision and made a number of additions which, I hope, take due account of the present state of knowledge. I also give in the course of this preface a short review of the development of the history of the family from Bachofen to Morgan; I do so chiefly because the chauvinistically inclined English anthropologists are still striving their utmost to kill by silence the revolution which Morgan’s discoveries have effected in our conception of primitive history, while they appropriate his results without the slightest compunction. Elsewhere also the example of England is in some cases followed only too closely.Read More »