March is Women’s History Month, and this Wednesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, a holiday that originated in the socialist and women’s suffrage movements of the early twentieth century. To celebrate we devote this week’s reading list to women’s struggle for freedom and equality.
Movements for gender equality and economic rights are often intertwined, as journalist Judith Levine observes in an essay about the history of workplace sexual harassment. “Sexual harassment happens to women (and sexual and gender minorities) at work,” Levine writes. “It is intersectional, a case of economic and gender oppression.” Despite their far from perfect record on such issues, unions have historically played a key role in redressing the workplace power imbalances that feed harassment. In the era of #MeToo, their importance in securing women’s rights must be recognized, Levine concludes.
Meanwhile, for critical Black studies scholar Charisse Burden-Stelly and political theorist Jodi Dean, the history of Black communist women offers vital lessons for today’s organizers. “Black communist women in the first half of the twentieth century foregrounded how capitalism incites racism and sexism to fragment workers and maintain class power,” they write. Rather than seeking to downplay sexism in the name of class struggle, they argue, advocates for a more just economy should highlight its role in maintaining inequality.
Other essays on this week’s list address an array of related issues, including women’s domestic labor and care work, the future of reproductive justice, the continuing fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and women’s political representation. In addition, a dispatch from Ukraine describes the relationship between post-Soviet gender studies and the Russian invasion, a political scientist examines women’s protest in Iran, and several essays profile preeminent advocates of women’s liberation, including Barbara Ehrenreich, Ellen Willis, and Simone de Beauvoir.
This year Virginia became the crucial thirty-eighth state to ratify the ERA. Renewed efforts to quash it stand to wipe out a hundred years of women’s work as constitution-makers.
Remembrances of the late author have focused on her best-selling Nickel and Dimed with only rare acknowledgement of the major roles she played in women’s liberation and U.S. socialism.
It is time to stop talking about Roe as the touchstone for abortion rights and to start imagining what law and policy can do to facilitate affordable and available services.
Writing from a city under siege, a founder of the landmark Kharkiv Center for Gender Studies reflects on the importance of women’s studies after the USSR collapsed, and what it helps us understand about Putin’s war on Ukraine.