For more than 100 years March 8 has been commemorated as International Women’s Fighting Day. As long as sexism and patriarchal conditions exist this day will continue to be an occasion to unite feminist struggles, make them visible and influential. That is why we are going out on the streets that day, together with many different feminists that share the rejection of hierarchical gender relations. But we want more: we want a confrontational feminism that is not satisfied with little improvements but overthrows the dominant thinking in gender, and which will fight the patriarchy together with all other forms of bourgeois domination and oppression. This will be the only way to overcome these relations.
„Girls who are boys who like boys to be girls“ (Blur)
Everyday we distinguish other people as either women or men. Thereby we attribute certain features and qualities to them – and they do the same with us. That’s how we have learned to act and we often don’t notice it, ‘coz that’s just the way it is.
People that are approached as women thereby experience over and over again that they are being denied the capacity to judge „objectively“, be instrumentally rational and assertive or be good at technical skills. They are considered as more emotional, irrational and passive. Every day men* commit sexual violence towards women*. It is deeply entrenched in the principle of masculinity.
The separation of society into „public“ and „private“ areas which is produced by capitalism demands different behaviours and characteristic from people. The “public” space is the area that determinines society, this is the area in which the production of wealth takes place as well as the bourgeois domination which is organised and administered by the state . Until well into the 20th century women* have been widely excluded from this area – an exclusion which continues to have multiple effects. The „public“ area is connected to features which therefore are regarded as „typically male“: self-control, self-assertion and instrumental rationality. The tasks and characteristics which are demanded in the „private“ area, representing the flipside of „male“ features, are regarded as less valuable – and are still today associated with „femininity“. In reverse, male socialised people are dependent on them: without the exploitation of „female“ care in capitalist everyday life they are often not able to survive. The feminist slogan, that the private is also always political remains contemporary.
Those, who do not want or cannot fit into these predefined roles are subject to other forms of oppression. Trans*gender and inter-sexual people are struck by the whole hatred of a society, which uses the regulative principle of two genders in order to establish some sense of order into the chaos of the system. Trans*women are devaluated twice, both because they fall short of their allegedly „natural“ sex and they are women on top of that. Children are assigned a place in society as early as possible with pink Kinder eggs and Bob the Builder shirts. This creates both an alleged security as well as the consumer needs of tomorrow.
Today sections of the population superficially accept homosexuality as a visible part of society. However, even among many proud liberals it still causes aversion and shame which needs to be suppressed and hidden in order to maintain a self-image of enlightened liberalism. While heterosexual desire does not need to declare itself, homosexuality is still constrained by an outing. The aim, to stipulate the „acceptance of sexual diversity“ with all its bigoted inconsistency, in the curriculum of schools was responded to with reactionary protests in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hamburg. The open hostility towards the so-called „ideology of the rainbow“ shows the potential for violence which, depending on the societal (im-)balance of power, can be publically revealed . If this potential violence is politically organized, then the situation for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgenders and intersexuals (LSBTTI*) can get get even worse.
„But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.“ (Taylor Swift)
It is not easily perceived that there is no natural order of gender that, as a matter of course, goes hand in hand with individual features, hairstyles or preferences. Ultimately this concept is put straight on us in school, in advertisements or in our political groups. The gender order influences our daily opportunities for action and experiences. At the same time, gender is performed day by day through our practical actions. The whole catalogue of gender features seems quite natural to us today, although historically it was not developed until the European enlightenment and the establishment of capitalism. It reads like a job ad where the tasks are classically separated and assigned to the different genders. This is still working pretty well, although the demands expressed in gender roles do not necessarily match with today’s demands. And what’s the use of all this? As a system of dominance, the gender order serves the purpose of maintaining the capitalist mode of production.
Responding to the demands of capital the state develops specific gender and family policies. Currently this means that on the one hand female socialized people are needed as equal workers and capitalists. Because in principle all people in all professions are expected to prove that they are useful and productive. On the other hand, the state needs to secure the conditions of the reproduction of labour power and the population. The hetero small family continues to be the place where this happens. Based on this contradiction, the ideological lines of conflict run through the states policies. Sometimes they lead to programs of gender mainstreaming and employment rations for women, sometimes to child care subsidies and income splitting in marriages. Male socialized people often do not feel responsible for child care, the care of family members, emotional care etc., so that women* have to or do overload themselves within the societal distribution of work – they work the double shift. That men* are lazing about when they come home „after work’s done“, turns them into profiteers of the sexual division of labour.
From a global perspective it can be stated that the capitalist world market with its neocolonial conditions in the global south are leading to particularly flagrant forms of exploitation and oppression of women*. The tasks of reproduction and production are currently being globally distributed amongst women*. So even a German middle class family can afford an, often female and often illegalised, cleaner or carer who takes the child care and housework off their shoulders. With the required cash the reproductive work can be conveniently outsourced.
„You wake up, flawless.“ (Beyoncé)
Some women* choose types of wage labour that are a thorn in the side of bourgeois double standards. Sex workers, for example, make use of the sexualized male gaze on their body, often under crappy conditions, to survive in a competitive, sexist and racist system of exploitation. To support their struggle for better working conditions is part of a left-wing perspective and the accusation that sex work could not be „self-determined“ is a paradox and is lacking in solidarity. Under the constraint of having to sell your own labour power, everyones decision to work is both externally forced and „self-determined“. Away with the damned constraint!
To reflect on the sexuality of thought and action is the basis of every feminist practice. Queer practices are a part of feminist empowerment. They can be a means to spark glimmers of self-reflection among others and therefore to intervene objectively in the societal battle field. Although alternative ways of living or family forms often fit well with the flexibility and creativity that is demanded on today’s labour market. Some daring political slogans have been used in feminist struggles against authorities and degradation which ultimately were twisted and turned into a demand on our own labour power. As paradoxical as it sounds, real empowerment or even self-determination is possible only in solidarity with others – beyond the state, wage labour and patriarchy. Therefore we stand for a radical left movement, that always keeps the feminist dimension of social struggles in mind and translates it into concrete practices; the other way around, we fight for a feminism that understands itself as critical of society and revolutionary – absorbing experiences and experiments, self-aware and awake.
„Why did no one bomb this patriarchy yet?“ (Sookee)
Feminist demands for self-determination have been and are being appropriated not only by the state, but also by reactionary movements and parties: from the devaluation of „the others“ to the droning of legitimation that accompanies wars. Feminism and „women’s liberation“ are being used as banners for reactionary movements to spread racist stereotypes. All in the tradition of European colonialism – the „oppressed woman“ must be „saved“ in a very paternalistic manner. They do not grow tired of bringing the „enlightened“ west into position against „the“ Islam or „backward cultures“. In fact it is often the same people that rant at „gender lunacy“ who, in the same breath, invoke the emancipation of women in the capitalist centers as a self-evident part of „occidental culture“. Their voice is the bourgeois middle class: from PEGIDA to the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and CDU/CSU right up to Alice Schwarzer. Feminist achievements are certainly not taken for granted as a part of the Western World, but needed to be won in painstaking struggles over centuries and still need to be defended everyday. Feminist struggles are existent around the world – their achievements and failures are not grounded in any „cultures“, but in the local, societal balance of power.
„I’ve got a brand new attitude, and I’m gonna wear it tonight, I’m gonna get in trouble, I wanna start a fight.“ (P!nk)
The dream of a good life for everyone can only become reality if we understand both gender ideology and heteronormativity as well as nationalism and racism as connected, mutual problems and fight all of them together. Political parties that vote for deportations, missions of war and cuts in social services and unions, that have social peace as their main interest, no matter the cost, are not our allies. We need to self-organise, watch out for each other and further develop our practices. However, we are not at the beginning. We can build on radical feminist struggles, learn from them and get inspired. Social battles are more often being fought transnationally – like the Refugee Struggle, the protest against Christian anti-abortionists and the insurrection against the politics of austerity by the European Union – and they show that hierarchies along genders take a front seat in the societal relations of power. And they make clear: these conditions are vulnerable.
The feminist attack on the sexist normality has no end in sight. Use all means, spare no-one, not yourself, or your own movement and certainly not the state and capital!
Let’s count on a radical offensive – Making Feminism A Threat.
Radical left bloc in the demonstration for the Women’s* Fighting Day 2015
March 8 | 1 pm | Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz | Berlin