Ideas for Freedom is a weekend of socialist discussion and debate hosted by Workers’ Liberty. It takes place 20-23 June at University of London Union. For a full, up to date agenda and tickets go to www.workersliberty.org/ideas or visit our Facebook event.
Workers’ Liberty is a socialist feminist organisation. We are committed to developing our ideas about how to understand and fight women’s oppression. At Ideas for Freedom 2013 there are four sessions exploring the relationship between Marxist ideas and women’s liberation – they can be attended individually or as a stream within the weekend. Everyone is welcome to join the discussions.
An introduction to (and critique of) Silvia Federici’s book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the body and primitive accumulation. Federici aims to rethink Marx’s analysis of the beginnings of capitalism from a feminist viewpoint. She explores the rise of the ‘housewife’ and the phenomenon of witch-hunting.
Cath Fletcher (UCU activist and Workers’ Liberty Sheffield) will lead discussion and debate about the book and Federici’s assertion that Marx could never have presumed that capitalism paves the way to human liberation had he looked at its history from the viewpoint of women.
Challenging sexism in the labour movement
Saturday 22 June, 4.40pm
As well as facing economic and social attacks working-class women are also facing increased everyday sexism; more alarming still is the rising incidence of domestic violence. Unfortunately all of this is being met by indifference by some in the labour movement. Some on the left have even put their own perceived organisational interests before the need to defend women.
Indifference and hostility to “women’s issues” in the trade unions was a familiar story 30 years ago. Was there a point when the labour movement became more “enlightened”? What has changed now?
How can we get our unions fighting fit? We need good policies on all issues, not just the economic ones, which affect women. We need the structures, which represent women in the unions to be democratic and dynamic. And yes, in the first place, we need to fight sexism in our own ranks.
The speakers – including Becky Crocker (London Underground RMT activist and Workers’ Liberty Tube branch), Maria Exall (CWU activist and TUC LGBT Committee chair) and Jenny Lennox (NUJ organiser) – will address these questions and talk from their own experience as left women activists in the trade union and labour movement.
This session will examine the global geographies of sexual violence, using India as a case study. It will look at the protests in December 2012 and January 2013, sparked by the Delhi gang rape, and the international response.
What can a Marxist analysis of the relationship between gender, class, caste, patriarchy and capitalism offer to our understanding of sexual violence and how to fight it in an era of intense globalisation?
With Camila Bassi (UCU activist and Workers’ Liberty Sheffield)
Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, alongside other books like Bodies That Matter, has had a profound effect on feminist academia, and a smaller but important effect on the ideas of feminists activists today.
Kate Harris (Workers’ Liberty North London and LGBT+ convenor of Edinburgh University Students’ Association in 2011-12) will lead this workshop, exploring Butler’s arguments about sex, gender and sexuality.
∙ What is the “heterosexual matrix”?
∙ What is Butler’s account of “performativity” and how is it possible that biological sex could be socially constructed?
∙ Is Butler right about “subverting” cultural norms, or should we advocate more radical solutions for women’s and LGBTQ liberation?
∙ What do, and should, socialist feminists think about Butler – and how can her ideas inform our relationship to the revival of feminist ideas and activism today?
For more information about the feminist or other sessions at Ideas for Freedom contact us on 07883 520 852 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.workersliberty.org/ideas. Tickets include food for the weekend, accommodation and creche – please get in touch if you need the creche or somewhere to stay.