Written by the Women’s Strike Assembly Bristol and reproduced here by Plan C.
On the 8th of March millions of women go on strike across the world. We strike from the work we do, both paid and unpaid, that keeps the world turning and the profits flowing, while the conditions of our lives continue to be marked by violence and harm. The Women’s Strike is about realising the power we already hold. When we stop, the world stops with us.
In the UK, the Women’s Strike Assembly has been organising since 2017. This year the Women’s Strike will take place in Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Plymouth. In Bristol, a number of collectives and individuals have come together to organise the Women’s Strike for the second year running.
This is a global transfeminist movement with marginalised women at the forefront. We work both in the labour market and at home. We are the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and sisters. We are the young, the old, the sick and disabled. We are trans, lesbian, gender-queer, straight and gay. We are sex workers, migrants, refugees and the trafficked. We are those that aren’t here today, we are the murdered women, we are the imprisoned. We are all women. We fight everyday in our homes, streets, communities, workplaces and universities.
Despite many promises of equality and justice, we know that no government or business is going to bring about the changes that we need. Rather the opposite! While our identities and our calls for empowerment keep on being capitalised upon by businesses, we know full well that the shards from the broken glass ceiling cut deeply into the lives of marginalised women.
Real change can only come from our collective struggles, self-management and solidarity. So we fight together, and we fight from below.
We fight capitalism, because patriarchy is embedded in the very structure of the capitalist mode of production. We know that gender cannot be subsumed into class, but we also know that a feminist analysis is meaningless without class analysis. Capitalism relies on unwaged domestic and caring work carried out by women. For hundreds of years, we have been told that our caring labour is unproductive, that we shouldn’t be paid for it because it comes naturally to us without any costs. The double shift means that, in the UK, for every pound a man earns a woman earns 0.80p. Many of us are trapped in low-paid, undervalued, unrewarding, insecure work.
Under a decade of austerity the double shift got harder, and with Brexit it will get worse. To keep profits flowing public services have been cut to the bone and more and more social needs are being commodified. We have one of the most expensive childcare networks in the Western world. We have less and less time, having to work more and more hours, independently of our ability or caring responsibilities, so that we can buy more – from cars to childcare to frozen meals – all to reinforce the powers of the few that continue to destroy the planet.
We fight against racism because just as gender is a structural element of capitalism, so is racism. Capitalism arose on the back of slavery and colonialism. Today, reproductive labour is increasingly outsourced to women of colour. We recognise that women of colour particularly suffer multiple oppressions that have been ignored by a largely white movement.
We fight with millions of young people who have been leading the fight for ecological justice. Our fight for climate justice, now more pressing than ever, is fundamentally a transfeminist fight. One that acknowledges that those who will suffer the most from climate catastrophe are those most exploited by patriarchal capitalism. Similarly, we acknowledge that we must reject any conception of nature as a feminised resource, as a passive object to be exploited. We reject any given nature – “Good” will no longer be associated with nature just as nature will no longer be annexed to the feminine. When we strike, we refuse to participate in the capitalist structures which enslave us and encourage us to blindly consume at the expense of ourselves and the planet.
We fight any universal and biological essentialist notion of womanhood. We embrace the multi-layered and different experiences of what it means to be a woman and stand up for gender identities which incur more oppression than others. Those who are trans, gender-queer, non-binary and differently-abled among us have long learned that any call for a return to the natural is always inherently sexist, transphobic and ableist, because the idea of the default natural body continues to oppress dissident identities, other bodies and our differences. We redefine nature every day through our own unnaturalness and struggle.
We fight against the visible and invisible violence which we constantly suffer and which is constantly normalised. Harassment, physical and emotional abuse, rape. In England and Wales alone, two women are killed every week on average by a current or former partner. Yet we continue to be blamed for the violence forced upon us by a system which uses us to justify its own destructiveness. We keep on being silenced by men who benefit from the status quo. Cops, bosses and CEOs are not our allies, but the exploiters who profit from our subjugation.
We fight a global fight. We recognise that women and queer people around the world experience different kinds of oppressions, that the Global South is disproportionately affected by colonialism, climate change and Western capitalism, but we also know that it is solidarity among those oppressed by patriarchal capitalism that can lead us ahead.
Each time we strike, each time we speak out, each time we unite, we reject the patriarchal ideas of what it means to be a woman today. The Women’s Strike occurs on International Women’s Day and we join millions of women and non-binary people across the world to fight for a feminist future on this day and beyond. This is not a one-day event but a global movement fighting every day. Why not join us?
Women’s Strike Assembly Bristol