Women's Fightback 10, September/October 2011

Agitators, educators, organisers

The Bolshevik women, who had years of experience in making propaganda and agitation, fought off accusations of “feminine weakness” to take a full part in making propaganda in the civil war which followed the 1917 Russian revolution.

Alexandra Kollontai travelled to the front taking instructions from the centre, and making speeches. Nadezhda Krupskaya did the same on the Agitational Boat. For all the Bolsheviks the civil war was a continuation of the revolution.

Sexism and the media

In the aftermath of the shocking Raoul Moat case in July 2010 people sought answers.

Some bloggers and commentators blamed Moat’s ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, who Moat shot alongside her partner Chris Brown. Women in public services (social workers and policewomen) were also blamed.

Women are now losing more jobs

Straight after the 2008 crash, more men than women lost their jobs, with male unemployment peaking in 2009. Male unemployment has since dropped by 6%. But the number of unemployed women has risen by 13%.

Women are suffering from the cuts in public sector jobs (400,000 jobs due to go in the next five years) and in retail.

Women workers are also having their hours cut. At the last count 12.2% of women working part-time would like to work full-time.

Black and minority women and the cuts

We are witness to an unprecedented attack on the welfare state and legal aid services.

We are experiencing some of the most inhumane and brutal spending cuts to essential services that were historically set up to address poverty and inequality. The cuts will have a disproportionate impact on all women, but they will have a specifically dangerous impact on marginalised and vulnerable black and minority ethnic women who need protection from violence, abuse and persecution within family and community.

Single mothers are not to blame for the riots

This summer’s riots have given impetus to regressive Tory rhetoric on morality and family life. The “failings” of single parents (single mothers especially) are central to that rhetoric.

The Daily Mail had its own set of statistics and accompanying explanations.

• 57% of single parents have never been married and have chosen to be single parents — the lure of benefits and council houses is behind that choice.

• 75% of children born to single parents will fail (fail, not do less well, but fail) at school.

UK Feminista: preachy but useful

On 13-14 November UK Feminista held their national conference at Birmingham University.

Feminista calls itself a coordinating “tool” for feminists; it provides website space for different feminist groups to publicise their events, and runs regional meetings to help small campaigns get off the ground.

Socialist women in Birmingham

Kelly Purple describes her experience of organising at Birmingham City University.

A standalone feminist fightback at Birmingham City University is practically non-existent right now, though there have been general student campaigns which have the support of the Students Union.

As a member of the Socialist Students Society, I’ve tried to bring up female issues whenever possible and I’ve had some good discussions with other members. The society as a whole, however, focuses mainly on student issues, or at least it has during the events of the past year.

Women students get ready to fight back

It’s now almost common to hear people say that the Coalition government’s cuts will hit women the hardest.

Unfortunately, it’s common because it’s true.

From public sector job cuts, of which two thirds will hit women, to attacks on benefits, to the trashing of what remains of domestic violence provision, women are at the sharp end of the Tories’ class war.

What’s true for working-class and poor women in general is also true for most student women.

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