On March 10, the Chicago branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation hosted a forum entitled “Smash the Patriarchy” to celebrate International Women’s Day. The forum involved several speakers from the PSL and allies in the struggle who talked about their own experiences of sexist and queer-antagonistic oppression, the historical accomplishments of the the struggle, and showcased their revolutionary optimism in the face of misogyny. The forum was chaired by Ana Santoyo and Samantha Jacobs.
First to speak was Stefanie Fisher, of the PSL, who tied the oppression of women and LGBTQ people with humanity’s shift to a class society from a primitive communal matriarchal society. As humans began to experience a surplus of resources that could be passed passed down to heirs, matrilineal society was overturned. The devaluing of “women’s work” and enslavement of women in order to keep reproduction under male control is the historical legacy we see in women’s oppression today.
Stefanie also highlighted that women have been leaders in every social justice movement throughout history. “Women and LGBTQ people will be not just be the heart, but the brains and the muscle of the revolution,” she said to an outbreak of applause from the attendees. “In order to solve the many problems we face, we need socialism … Capitalism
needs to be killed, and women, all women, we are going to kill it.”
Next up was PSL member Sarah Bradham who spoke about women and the struggle against imperialism. She encouraged the audience to “always remember the international struggle of women.” Imperialism depends on racism and sexism to divide people and make them easier to conquer and control. Patriarchy is an effective tool for imperialists, as demonstrated by the fact that 20th century imperialism in Latin America relied heavily on attacking the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Throughout its history, the United States has used the propagation of “democracy” and “freedom” to erase labor laws in less developed countries so that capitalists could make more money faster. Sarah finished her talk by noting that U.S. imperialism has a profound effect here at home, as Black and Native people in this country have experienced the cultural erasure and genocidal tendencies of imperialism within our own borders.
Nerissa Allegretti, Midwest Coordinator of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, spoke out against the sexism of the Duterte government, noting that Duterte himself instructed military officials to shoot revolutionary women in the vagina so that they could never reproduce, and that officers could rape revolutionary women three times without facing consequences. After Narissa spoke, those in attendance chanted “What do we want? U.S. out of the Philippines! When do we want it? Now!”
Lashawn Yvonne Littrice from Black Lives Matter Women of Faith, spoke to the historical connection between celebrating International Women’s Day and fighting against an unjust system. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to remember and act upon the multinational struggle against capitalism and imperialism, which are propped up by racism, sexism, homophobia, and trans-antagonism.
The next panel included Dana Null and Vex Humana who spoke about the trans experience, and the history of trans people fighting on the front lines of liberation struggles the world over. Dana talked about the “trans spectrum,” noting that the term could refer to trans, non-binary, gender-queer, and gender-non-conforming people. They also noted that capitalism depends on transphobia because capitalism depends on violence. More than a third of trans people have experienced violence, and those numbers are unfortunately on the rise. The healthcare system is an “obstacle course” for trans people, who just want access and affordability. Dana finished the talk to much applause by noting that the only way to make the United States safer for trans people was to educate and struggle for liberation and socialism.
Vex closed out the afternoon of classes with an enlightening talk about socialist Cuba. They noted that “revolutions are measured not by perfection, but by progress.” Cuba established totally free gender-affirming surgeries and access to hormones because it was seen as a healthcare necessity. All citizens of Cuba have a right to free healthcare, so trans people can get the care they need without hassle. Vex compared this to the experience of trans folks in the United States, citing how the U.S. government recently assigned $800 billion to be used for “defense,” while trans people are left to crowdfund for healthcare, hormones, and gender-affirming surgeries.
The afternoon was full of spirit. The room full of people from diverse communities made clear their dedication to unity in the struggle for women’s and LGBTQ liberation, and against capitalism and imperialism.