In the last year in Britain we have seen a sickening number of extreme expressions of misogyny. From the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, to the Incel shootings in Plymouth, to the surge in spiking attacks, to the trial of Prince Andrew. It would be easy to hear the details of those events and just feel depressed, scared, and sick. But that hasn’t been the only response. Every incident has been met with huge anger, discussion on what is behind such attitudes and behaviours, and in many cases sizable protests. It’s been made very clear that there is the same mood for action against gender violence here as in the many countries around the world where mass protest movements have taken place in the last decade.
This International Women’s Day, let’s do more than talk about ‘celebrating women’ or looking at the achievements of some successful individuals in different fields. Help us begin to reclaim the radical roots of 8 March by joining protest actions being organised around the country:
Brighton – 6pm, Tuesday 8 March, The Clock Tower
Canterbury – 1pm, Saturday 12 March, Whitefriars outside HSBC Bank 9 Rose Lane, Canterbury
Coventry – message 07593941853 for details
Glasgow – 4:30pm, Tuesday 8 March, Kelvingrove Park (Prince of Wales Bridge)
Leeds – 1pm, Saturday 5th March, Briggate
Leicester – Saturday 5 March, Speak out with open mic, 2pm, Clock Tower, Leicester City Centre
London – 6pm, Tuesday 8 March, Holborn station
Huddersfield – 12pm, Tuesday 8 March, Greenhead College, HD1 4ES
Manchester/Salford – Saturday 5 March, message 07950101448 for details
Mass movements can achieve change – look at what was won in the 1960s and 70s with equal pay, access to contraception and abortion, and big changes in social attitudes towards sexuality, for example. Or, more recently, the victory of the Repeal movement in Ireland, which won the right to abortion in 2018. To build that kind of movement means getting organised. We’re calling on trade unions, student unions, feminist groups and other community campaigns to come together and initiate discussion – perhaps through local assemblies – on what the key demands and actions of the movement should be. We think there is the potential for a huge national demonstration against gender violence this Autumn if we get organised now.
Such a movement would need to also involve discussion on where gender violence comes from and what ideas offer a real alternative. We are building the socialist-feminist wing of this emerging movement because it is the exploitative, unequal, sexist system of capitalism that provides the basis for gender violence. Violence against women and gender-non-conforming people is not naturally occurring. The systematic oppression of women didn’t exist for the majority of human history, until society was divided into classes. Capitalism needs the subjugation of women – it profits from it in underpaying women workers and the unpaid work women do in the home. It benefits – just like with racism, homophobia or transphobia, for example – from working class people being divided by gender and turning on each other rather than against the system. And the values and ideas inherent to capitalism breed exploitation, abuse and violence at both state and individual level. It is a system that teaches men they must be physically strong, emotionless and in control of others who they perceive as weaker than themselves – women and children in particular. Capitalism is incapable of changing its fundamentals, and therefore cannot keep women safe.
A socialist society would turn much of the nature of capitalism on its head. It would mean the working class collectively owning and democratically running the major workings of the economy, allowing the vast wealth and resources of the world to be used to meet human need. On that basis we could begin to break down deeply ingrained ideas of power and gender which cause so much damage and violence.
End victim blaming – protest against any attempts to blame women for violence against them. For fact-based sex and relationships education in all schools which is LGBTQ+ inclusive and includes comprehensive discussion on consent.
Trade unions must organise to fight sexual harassment in the workplace, including with collective protests and strike action. Collective action to fight the surge of spikings.
Resources and support for survivors of domestic abuse. Reopen all refuges and invest to expand spaces. A mass programme of council house-building to meet need and offer an escape route for those who need it.
The state won’t keep us safe. No extra powers to the police. Demand open and democratic, working-class inquiries into the murder of Sarah Everard and other murdered women such as Blessing Olusegun, as well as into the involvement of the capitalist establishment – the monarchy, politicians, the media, the Church – in sexual abuse scandals.
We need system change! For an international, socialist-feminist struggle against capitalism – an inherently oppressive and exploitative system. Trade unions, student unions and feminist groups should call local assemblies to plan for a national demonstration against gender violence in the autumn.
Online national meeting – 10.30am, Sunday 27 March, Zoom ID: 927 0767 2295
Brighton – Thursday 10 March, message 07722017762
London – Monday 14 March, Upstairs at the Lamb, Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LZ
Manchester/Salford – Tuesday 8 March, message 07950101448 for details
Sheffield – Monday 7 March, message 07941458770 for details
Leicester – The Revolutionary Heritage of International Women’s Day, Wednesday 9 March, 7.30pm, the Globe Pub