By Freedom Road Socialist Organization
The U.S. has a long history of women rising up against their bosses and demanding economic justice. The first industrial strike in the U.S. was in May 1824, when 102 women workers in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, left their looms after the mill’s owners announced a wage cut. They refused to return to their stations and, instead, gathered the rest of the workers (children and men) and took to the streets. They marched to the factory owner’s house while throwing rocks and shouting obscenities. Before the strike ended, the protests affected factories in eight nearby towns. The workers only returned when the factory owners reinstated their wages.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1909 in New York City. The day was organized by the Socialist Party of America to remember the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In 1910, at the International Women’s Conference, Clara Zeitkin and Luise Zeitz proposed and organized for the first International Women’s Day. In 1911, over a million people internationally marked Working Women’s Day.
It’s a powerful testament to our long history of victories and struggle that we celebrate International Working Women’s Day. All over the world, women, non-binary folk and men, will protest and march for this working-class tradition that is over a century old. On this day, we remember the struggles and victories that women have waged. And it’s become a day to look toward our future battles.
For imperialism to survive and thrive, it demands the oppression of all genders. Patriarchy – the system of male supremacy – results in real inequality and oppression for women, and puts forth the idea that women and those who present as feminine are weaker, less intelligent and less worthy than men. It’s a notion that capitalists have nurtured to pit the different sectors of the working class against each other. However, the fight for the liberation of the working class must be fought alongside the liberation of women.
All over the country, women are leading and organizing opposition to Trump’s terrible agenda. The Women’s Marches that took place the day after Trump’s inauguration were some of the largest demonstrations this country has ever seen.
With the Trump presidency, ensuring the working class stands united against patriarchy is vital. The Trump administration has unleashed unprecedented attacks that affect all women – like banning Muslims from entering the country, lifting the protection against transgendered people to choose which bathroom they can use, and attacking immigrants.
Within his first couple of days in office, President Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule (Mexico City Policy) which prohibits international charities that receive aid from the U.S. to teach comprehensive sexual health education and family planning. Further, the Trump administration has proposed eliminating a list of federal programs, including federal grant funding to the 25 programs under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
These attacks are violent and go unopposed by his supporters. The president of the U.S. has a long history of sexual assaults and aggressions toward women. When President Trump was recorded saying he would, “grab them by the pussy”, the far right simply upheld this behavior as “locker room talk.” This attitude has blanketed every speech, policy and action coming out of the new administration.
Simply stated, the new administration’s overt disgust for women is racist, transphobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, and generally the highest form of bigotry we’ve seen in a recent administration. We’re living in a time where oppression isn’t sugar-coated with a saccharine Democrat smile, but openly waged by the far-right with aggression and impunity.
Trump’s actions have emboldened neo-Nazis and white supremacists who have taken to attacking everyday peoples. Hateful symbols are spray painted on houses and trains, slurs are shouted at passersby, Jewish cemeteries are defaced, hijabs are pulled off Muslim women, and Black and brown people are attacked on the streets.
It’s in this new, openly reactionary period that we must fight harder for the liberation of women, and we need to stand with women leaders who under attack, like Palestinian American Rasmea Odeh who is facing deportation and jail on trumped-up charges.
As we’ve seen in the past, the only way to get rid of far right is to band together and punch harder. When we stand together, when we protest and march for justice, the imperialists and their cowardly allies tremble. When Trump tried to shut us down, we shut down the streets, buildings and airports. Today, we continue to feed the flame of our outrage and use it to stand up for all of the working class and all oppressed people.
Together we rebel, and together we will win.