Women's Fightback, Feminism

Women of the Poplar rebellion

Our story is set just after the first world war in Poplar, an east London borough with a population of 160,000 people crammed into the docklands in the bend of the River Thames (Poplar) and the area just north of it (Bow). It was an impoverished and exclusively working-class area, which had suffered greatly during the ‘Great War’. Working-class women juggled low-waged work with domestic chores, contending with overcrowded housing, unsanitary conditions, fatherless children and war-wounded husbands and sons. They had fought against profiteering companies, government stinginess and for the vote...

More green space

Exceptional times, like those that we are living through, often highlight the shortcomings in our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many, from the chronic underfunding of our health service to the inability to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. We have also seen the shutting down of green spaces, particularly in cities, on the grounds that people should simply stay home. This is straightforwardly a class issue. Those with higher incomes are far more likely to live in houses with access to gardens, whilst those on lower incomes are more likely to live in flats with no gardens or...

Can Biden kill off Trumpism?

In his first few hours as US President Joe Biden put the US on the path to re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organisation, stopped building the Mexico border wall, made mask-wearing mandatory on federal property, announced an end to the ban on trans people serving in the military, cancelled permits for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, added gender-neutral pronoun options to the online White House contact form, and enacted a number of other measures that would gladden the heart of any liberal or leftist...

Solidarity with the Uyghur people

The Uyghurs, a majority-Muslim people who mostly live in East Turkestan, are facing persecution and genocide at the hands of the Chinese State. More than a million people are interned in camps, where torture, abuse and rape are reported to be taking place. China’s propaganda has stepped up following a series of news stories internationally about their treatment of the Uyghur population. State media recently released a series of short films subtitled in English, titled Embracing a New Life, featuring Uyghur women narrating, in Mandarin Chinese, their “empowering” experiences after “re-education...

Free Nodeep Kaur

Women have been at the forefront of resistance to India’s Hindu nationalist regime and women activists have been targeted for repression. In its most recent phase, Indian farmers’ protest movement against the Modi government’s neoliberal agricultural reforms has involved women in large numbers. Two high profile cases of repression against young women in the movement have dramatised the harsh repression against it. The Western media has given quite a bit of attention to Disha Ravi, a 21 year-old climate activist arrested on 13 February in connection with Greta Thunberg’s tweeting in support of...

Feminism, Interrupted: a write-up

This write-up follows a discussion in Workers ’ Liberty’s socialist feminist reading group. Usually held in South London, the monthly reading group has been held online during the pandemic. To get involved, write to: womensfightback@workersliberty.org Feminism, Interrupted is the second book from Lola Olufemi, co-author of A FLY Girls Guide to University. A cross-between an introductory text and manifesto, the book is a collection of ten essays covering topics from trans rights and islamophobic misogyny to food and art. The first chapter, “Know your history”, reflects on a rich history of...

The Paris Commune and the Union des Femmes

2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune; the moment that the working class seized political power for the first time, and held it for 72 days. Thousands of women took part in the events of the Commune and, against a backdrop of deep-rooted sexism, championed a revolutionary vision for the transformation of working class women’s lives. Paris under siege Life was hard for women in Paris in the mid-19th century. They worked long hours in back-breaking jobs and, with onerous domestic chores and squalid, overcrowded housing, homelife was little better. The majority of Parisian women...

Cancel culture and trans rights

Much is said in the right-wing press about 'cancel culture'; the phenomenon of people facing a public backlash for things that they have said or done in the past. Cancel culture, what it is and how it operates, is laid out capably and convincingly by left-wing YouTuber Natalie Wynn, known as ContraPoints, in her video “Canceling”. In this she lays out the way in which cancel culture operates. A particular viewpoint or action (confirmed or alleged) by an individual or group is abstracted and essentialised into an often vague assertion about the character or nature of that individual or group...

Esther Roper, Eva Gore-Booth and "Urania"

Esther Roper and Eva Gore Booth had lived and worked together for twenty years when they, along with three others, launched their magazine Urania. It was 1916, the middle of the First World War. Less than three months earlier, 485 people had been killed in the Easter Rising in Dublin and Eva’s sister, Constance Markiewvicz, had escaped execution for her part in the rebellion on the grounds of her sex. Urania, however, was not an outlet for Esther and Eva’s anti-war activism. Nor was it a magazine targeting the tens of thousands of working class women they had organised with in the suffrage and...

Tenants' organising and feminism

An interview with Jo Hiley, ACORN and Labour activist in Sheffield Why get involved with ACORN? I’ve been involved with ACORN since arriving in Sheffield in late 2017. I knew they were proactively organising at a local level with something of a left analysis, and wanted to get a sense of how that was working. By the time I ran for chair last year, ACORN was at an interesting point in its UK life; following the 2019 general election result it was considering its role as a vehicle for radical change at the national level. It had also rapidly expanded its number of branches and started looking at...

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