In early December 2019, I traveled to Mexico City to meet with Latin American socialist feminist leaders. I was honored to represent Radical Women and participate in discussions with women in the Partido Obrero Socialista (POS — Socialist Workers Party — Mexico), Mujeres por la Libertad (Women for Freedom — Argentina) and Partido Socialismo y Libertad (PSL— Party of Socialism and Freedom — Argentina). Our goals were to deepen the analysis of the feminist uprisings in our own countries, discuss the necessity of working women’s leadership and the importance of autonomous women’s organizations, and develop plans to grow our collaboration.
This historic face-to-face meeting between Radical Women (RW) and the other groups was a result of the work being done in the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR) by our sister organization, the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), and PSL and POS (see article here).
Given the feminist rebellion happening throughout the world, it was fitting to meet in Mexico where women are organizing against femicide that takes the lives of ten women every day. We learned about female students in the Philosophy Department at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) who have been protesting the lack of action around sexual violence and the disappearance of a female student. Banners proclaiming “Death to machismo” hang in the hallways of the department.
Countering reformist leadership. Our groups shared a common criticism of mainstream feminists whose role is to hold back movement militancy. In Argentina, large demonstrations organized by reformist groups are being reclaimed by even larger numbers of young feminists who show up at the end point to voice more radical messages for liberation.
Mujeres por la Libertad, an independent women’s organization initiated by feminists of PSL, offers a left wing for these activists to channel their energy into. RW co-founded Seattle Silence Breakers, which has turned the MeToo hashtag into a body that fights sexual and racial harassment on the job.
POS women are providing resources on abortion services and are leaders in the Oaxaca teacher’s union.
The need for autonomous organizing. Women’s increased activism has pushed the Left in many countries to rebrand themselves as “socialist feminist” as a way to appear inclusive. However, when women rise up within their own parties and assert their leadership, the response doesn’t always match the theory.
Such experiences led one of the women at our meeting to travel to Rojava in Syria to gain a firsthand view of women as respected leaders and armed combatants. Her travels were a turning point for women in her party. They were motivated to form a new party, PSL, which is rooted in revolutionary socialist feminism. In the process, they also studied The Radical Women Manifesto, which gave them insight into how an autonomous women’s organization operates.
The question of whether revolutionary parties should participate and promote independent organizations of women has been a sticking point for the international Left since the emergence of the Second Wave feminist movement. Many revolutionary women were lost to the socialist movement because of sexist opposition that generated a great distrust of the Left. Until recently, FSP stood alone in its commitment to autonomous organizations of socialist women, as embodied in its support to Radical Women. Now is the time to right this wrong and build a revolutionary wing of the women’s struggle.
This first meeting set modest goals as a starting point — a jointly issued statement for International Working Women’s Day (March 8), a possible meeting on revolutionary socialist feminism in Argentina, and a commitment to finding more ways to collaborate.
Solidarity across borders. In addition to the women’s meeting, I participated in a conference of POS a few days earlier. I learned from female comrades about struggles POS women are engaged in throughout Mexico. In Oaxaca, the organizing model is based on indigenous traditions where women, men, gays, trans people, and lesbians are seen as equal and respected.
Participants were interested in RW’s analysis of #MeToo and appreciated our position that the movement needs to deal with the institutions that perpetuate gender violence. They wanted to know about our work with immigrant women, our demand to open the borders, and protests we organized against ICE raids.
The various gatherings have given me a deeper appreciation for the power of ideas and how shared political perspectives bring us together, no matter where we are in the world. It’s heartening to know that there are revolutionary socialist feminists building the struggle globally!
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