“On November 30 to December 1, Montréal will hold the First Conference for a Proletarian Feminist Movement.
We are calling for a dynamic movement that unites a multitude of groups and collectives according to common principles and objectives of struggle.
For this inaugural conference, we invite working women of all ages and of diverse origins, indigenous women, women who are unemployed as well as poor students, queer and trans proletarians, to discuss and vote on a draft manifesto. This manifesto will serve as the basis of unity for the establishment of proletarian feminist groups across Canada, whether they are organized on a neighbourhood, city or regional basis.
We believe that there is an urgent need to consolidate and unite the women of the proletariat and their allies in recognizing the material reality of the class struggle, and thus the need to link the struggle for women’s liberation with the struggle against capitalist and imperialist exploitation.
This is what we mean by proletarian feminism.
Whether or not we engage with the current debate among feminists on the “secularism” of the Québec Charter of Values, the question of sexual exploitation and prostitution, the recent elections in Canada, where women now lead the 5 richest provinces in this country… while more and more women are falling into poverty at the same time, these facts are catching up with us. Profound differences in the material realities of women exist, and these determine the degree to which women are willing to fight, in one way or another, for a fundamental change in the existing order.
It is primarily this will to change the existing order that must unite us in fighting to the bitter end for the emancipation of all women, particularly the most exploited and oppressed among us. Currently, no real feminist movement exists in the political arena. For the past 20 years, feminism mainly existed in forms of services or lobbying groups, in official institutions, in academia and among petty bourgeois currents, but seldom did feminism exist in actual struggle. To quote the American sociologist, Barbara Epstein: “Feminism today has become more of an idea than a movement, and one that lacks the visionary quality it once had.”
And it is precisely because this “historical” feminism, which sought to unify all women on the sole basis of gender without regard for any other condition, has reached the limits of what it can offer that we are calling for the creation of a new movement. This movement would apply to the multiple realities of women in the imperialist world today, to the capitalist reality in a rich country like Canada.
We are reminded of the imperialist nature of Canada:
- where indigenous women more than anyone else, continue to live in unspeakably poor conditions and are being killed every day while nobody cares about it;
- where Canada supports and participates in unjust wars of domination;
- where companies flourish by exploiting women here and elsewhere, destroying and killing them every day, forcing hundreds of millions of women to migrate, and thus profoundly transforming their lives and those of their families;
- where the global economic crisis exacerbates the vulnerability of the poor, where women are in the vast majority: they form the majority among those earning minimum wage, the majority of those working part-time jobs, the majority as single parents;
- where the meagre gains in social housing, education and health are constantly under attack, where living conditions are further deteriorating, particularly among women with disabilities, elderly women or single parents;
- where prostitution, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are being trivialized;
- where violence against women (whether verbal, physical, psychological) is part of our daily lives;
- where sexism is displayed full-page in advertising, media and TV shows;
- where, in social reality, even if it becomes more complex, the class that has everything continues to oppose the class that has nothing;
- where the class that exploits us also includes women, women who are leading political parties, governments, and financial empires such as Walmart, Laurentian Bank, Sun Life Financial, Suncor Energy, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Desjardins Group.
Apparently nothing has changed for proletarian women, even with the replacement of male exploiters by female exploiters…
For those among us promoting proletarian feminism, the struggle for women’s liberation is inseparable from the general political struggle against capitalism and for peoples’ power, that is to say, for proletarian power! These go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.
Revolutionary or anti-capitalist organizations require the participation of proletarian women in the struggle to transform society. If we want to fight for a socialist, egalitarian society that is free of exploitation, then women are at the forefront!
Similarly, a feminist movement, even a proletarian one, can’t transform society without fully participating in building a revolutionary movement to fight against capitalism.
A place for education, organization and struggle
In order for these women to participate in a revolutionary project, we need organizations made for them, where they can not only transform themselves through struggle, but also take effective measures to stop oppressive and sexist behaviours around them. We need places where women can freely express themselves, speak about their oppression or the violence they are subjected to, where women can learn to be assertive, to discuss politics and to fight on equal footing with men.
Women must defend their right to assert themselves, to fight and to participate fully, to organize and develop their leadership in the struggle. These are the goals for the kind of proletarian feminist group we are calling for.
At this inaugural conference we call on women to unite around A MANIFESTO FOR A PROLETARIAN FEMINIST MOVEMENT.
We want to build new proletarian feminist fronts, groups or collectives:
- that will mobilize, in an openly anti-capitalist and class-oriented perspective, women of all diverse origins, employed or unemployed, queer and trans women, and any women activists committed to fighting against all the specific oppressions, including gender, sexuality, and race;
- that will develop through investigation and discussion, demands that meet the specific needs of women in their communities;
- that will fight through political action (demos, calls, rallies, actions of all kinds) against any attack on women’s rights from a class perspective;
- that will lead the struggle for proletarian feminism and its program for women’s liberation into becoming an essential part of the general program of revolutionary organizations fighting against capitalism and imperialism;
- that will initiate events and actions this coming March 8, International Women’s Day, or to mobilize in great numbers for planned activities in order to make proletarian feminism in action as visible as possible!!!
YOU ARE INVITED TO THE FIRST CONFERENCE FOR A PROLETARIAN FEMINIST MOVEMENT
Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1st, 2013, in Montréal
An invitation from the Proletarian & Revolutionary Feminist Front, Montréal
Along with activists of the Revolutionary Communist Party
To confirm your participation or interest in participating, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at the Maison Norman Bethune, 514 563-1487.”