"We want to make visible not only the work that women do in the workplace but also outside--in the sphere of social reproduction."
Doug Henwood Interviews organizer Cinzia Arruzza about the theory and practice that grounds the organizing of the International Women's Day Strike in the United States in 2017. Aruzza is anAssistant Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. Originally broadcast on KPFA on March 16, 2017
By Cat Brooks
My entire life has been dedicated to art and activism. As a racially-mixed child from a broken home full of various substances—I could have ended up anywhere. But in 4th grade, fate landed me in the classroom of Ms. Barbara Gerhardt. I was angry. I was troubled. I was a disturbance in the classroom. Rather than throw me away—as happens to so many Black and Brown young people in our schools—Ms. Gerhardt found a way to channel all of that misdirected energy into something else. She directed me toward a local theater conservatory. My course was set.
“I absolutely think housing for poor, homeless, and low-income queer folks is a huge issue for us, as is doing anti-violence work...” —Kenyon Farrow,
Editors note: The June 26, 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 States shifts the terms of the debate about where the gay rights movement should be putting organizing energy and money. This 2010 article and podcast by Lisa Dettmer looks beyond the issue of gay marriage and examines how homophobia intersects with racism and classism and suggest new directions for gay rights rooted in the history of queer liberation politics.
When it comes to organizing for health care as a human right, nurses far more often than doctors, are taking the lead in advocating for their patients. Nurses organizing gave us legislation to protect women who were able to stay longer in the hospital after giving birth; mandated registered nurse-to-patient ratios; improved protections for women survivors of domestic violence; and are at the forefront of many battles for better access to health care.
Every day, at the medical facilities where they work, nurses are first hand witnesses to health care practices that put profit above quality of care. Increasingly, hospital stays are cut short and essential medical procedures denied for cost reasons. Patients are removed for nonpayment of bills and services considered necessary are cut, even as the patient-to-staff ratios rise to dangerous levels.
So, it’s not surprising that nurses are at the frontlines of the battle for a more equitable and fair health care system, speaking out for the people’s right to access quality care and the rights of healthcare workers to do their jobs effectively.
The Wages for Housework Campaign has always spelled out the connection between the unwaged and invisible work of women, and the work, waged and unwaged, of immigrants, women and men. We also insisted that those of us who are immigrants, wherever we come from and wherever we go, are attacking the racism and provincialism carefully nurtured among every working class, by bringing another world—usually the Third World—with us into metropolitan centers.
One side of immigration, we said, is that it is an element of State planning—using immigrants to undercut wages, working conditions, and living standards won by the native working class and to disorganize resistance. The other side is how immigrants—as much those from Malaga in southern Spain as those from Port of Spain in Trinidad—use immigration as a method of re-appropriating their own wealth, stolen from them at home and accumulated in the industrial metropolis. Immigrants are in Britain not for the weather but for the wealth, much of which has been produced by their own and their ancestors’ labor. That wealth is as much theirs by right as it is of those whose history of exploitation has never left Britain.
Dorothy Kidd's work appears regularly in the academic, popular left, and social movement press. A professor at the department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco, she has been organizing at the interface of the community and university for 13 years. A media and feminist activist since the early 1970s, she has been producing media, studying the role of the dominant corporate media, and circulating accounts about radical alternative media since that time. She was interviewed in the studios of Radio RP&E.
B. Jesse Clarke: Women’s rights to equal pay, health care, and even contraception were under attack in the 2012 election campaigns. What isn’t much discussed is where and when these rights were won. What were feminist activists struggling for in the ‘60s and ‘70s? What were the issues, and how were they pushing to bring equal rights to women?
Dorothy Kidd: The first thing to say is that there wasn’t a uniform feminist movement. The feminist movement that my students read about is the movement of professional and business women to get seats at the table with the ruling class and large corporations. To some degree they’ve succeeded, so we see more women in boardrooms, more women in politics. (Not as much here as in Europe, Canada, or Australia, but progress has been made.) That was not the aim of the women’s groups I was involved in in the ‘60s and ‘70s.