Women at the Cutting Edge

Submitted by Matthew on 4 November, 2010 - 11:15 Author: Lynne Moffat and Cathy Nugent

Over the course of Saturday 30 October, around 80 people attended the Feminist Fightback event Women at the Cutting Edge.

This London event was a discussion about the many ways in which the ConDem cuts will affect women and strategies for resisting. Feminist Fightback is a broad feminist activist organisation of anti-capitalist and socialist feminists.

We were a little disappointed with the overall attendance, but it was good to see new faces, different age groups and both men and women at the event.

Like other Feminist Fightback events, the day was very accessible with the emphasis put on the maximum participation of those attending. Such a format takes patience and time to work towards political conclusions. In hindsight it seemed to us that there was not enough time to do justice to each subject. We tried to fit a lot into one day! There was not enough time to draw out the many lines of discussion and tease out some political differences. It’s good that there are follow up meetings arising from the workshops.

Each workshop could have formed the basis of an event in itself: how the cuts affect women; demystifying the economic crisis, in and beyond the state (i.e. a discussion about what kind of services we ultimately want).

We thought that the women against the cuts workshop was a good enough overview, but could have focused more on the issue of privatisation.

We thought it was a good idea — as we agreed — to follow up the economics workshop with an effort to collate lots of concrete educational materials — a question and answer on the cuts would be good. Maybe Feminist Fightback can work with other groups and individuals on this?

One of the participants said they thought it was too hard to use Marx as a starting point for political economy. We disagree. Capital is certainly “hard to read”, but there is a good reason why so many reading groups are set up around this text!

In such a group difficult chapters can be broken down into easier chunks. The same is true of other economic texts, of course, but Capital is the reference point for a lot more than economics.

We thought that the title of the last workshop was a bit confusing because we all ended up discussing our experience of the welfare state. That said, the discussion itself — focusing as it did on how real cuts are already being responded to, for good and bad, and are complicating union and campaigning strategies, was extremely important.

There is definitely an interest in and a need to recognise and build into anti-cuts campaigns how the cuts will affect women. A week before the event we heard of a local student conference being held on the subject. A day after the event Feminist Fightback activists caught wind of an informal “take action against the cuts” feminist meeting in London. We will need to quickly write up and build on our discussions.

The two follow up meetings

• 7-9pm Monday 22 November, Brady Arts Centre, 192-196 Hanbury Street, London E1 5HU: In, Against, (and Beyond?) the State: what are our strategies for fighting the cuts?

• 7-9 pm Monday 6 December, Lucas Arms, 245a Grays Inn Road, London: “Women and the cuts: taking the issues into the labour and anti-cuts movement”.

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