March 8, 2020
A series of workshops in Bloomington, Indiana brought comrades together to celebrate International Working Women’s Day in solidarity with working women and non-men across the world. For the People – Bloomington, the Marxist Reading Group, the Culture Work Collective, and the Palestine Solidarity Committee organized the workshops at PwrPlnt, a community space in downtown Bloomington that hosts political and cultural events, such as the IDOC Watch Art Show Fundraiser last November. The workshops and educational materials available at the event, such as the MCP-OC’s IWWD statement, presented attendees with opportunities to learn and discuss a revolutionary feminist perspective on gender oppression today.
The Bloomington Marxist Reading Group opened the series of IWWD workshops with a discussion of the text “Where are the transgender warriors?” by Sylvia Jordan. Jordan’s article recognizes the long history of transgender individuals in militant communist struggles, as well as the failure of many so-called communist groups to theorize and practice a revolutionary line regarding the specific struggles of transgender individuals. The group dug into the complexities and specificities of transgender struggles, elaborating on the similarities and differences with other manifestations of gendered violence and oppression. Attendees discussed the differences among trends of revolutionary feminism, including the shortcomings of a Marxist/socialist perspective, as well as the strengths of a proletarian feminist perspective, as articulated by Anuradha Ghandy, Hisila Yami, and other third world working women.
Following the reading discussion, the Culture Work Collective facilitated a block-printing workshop. Attendees learned about anti-capitalist feminist art collectives, such as See Red Women’s Workshop, while coming up with artistic celebrations of IWWD. The attendees carved their designs into rubber squares, inked them, and made prints to share with each other and take home. Themes of designs varied from disability, working women solidarity, and planting seeds of revolutionary consciousness. The block-printing workshop attracted a multi-generational crowd of anti-capitalist fighters also interested in building a widespread revolutionary culture.
The IWWD event closed with a screening of the 2006 documentary, “Leila Khaled: Hijacker.” Made by a Palestinian filmmaker living in Sweden, the documentary presents the story of Leila Khaled’s role as a freedom fighter in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) through multiple interviews between the filmmaker and Khaled, pilots and staff on the two airplanes she hijacked, and Palestinian refugees.
After the film, For the People – Bloomington and the Palestine Solidarity Committee co-facilitated a group conversation about the struggles of the Palestinian people to liberate themselves and their homeland from continued occupation. The attendees shared and discussed their questions and analysis of the film and its examination of the colonizer/colonized relationship. Close attention was given to the immense respect and love the Palestinian people have for their freedom fighters, while the colonizer mentality makes it difficult, if not impossible for some people, to resist either de-humanizing on one hand, or hyper-sexualizing/de-sexualizing on the other, non-male freedom fighters. Attendees were particularly interested in finding ways to support Palestinian liberation alongside FTP, Culture Work Collective, and the Palestine Solidarity Committee.
The Working Women’s Day Workshops were a show of solidarity to working women and non-men struggling against the specific patriarchal/gendered oppression within their exploitative work conditions, household, and society, generally, with particular concern and consideration to trans/LGBQI and colonized non-men’s struggles. Solidarity and power to working class non-men all over the world building proletarian feminist power, fighting back with force, and building for communism!