Happy Feminist Labor Day!

socialist feminis,Despite the number of economic and labor issues that affect women of all classes – from the wage gap and maternity leave to globalization and the fight for a liveable minimum wage – women are often invisible figures in the history and activism of the Labor Movement. Yet their participation in strikes and their contributions to labor policy, union organizing, and activism made the labor movement a success.

Thankfully, the Zinn Education Project is a wonderful resource, featuring brief bios and photographs of notable women in labor history. To learn more about some of the diverse women who shaped the Labor Movement, including Dolores Huerta and Mother Jones, visit the Zinn Education Project’s “Women in Labor History” page.

MORE READING ON CONTEMPORARY LABOR ISSUES AFFECTING WOMEN

Want to know more about contemporary labor issues affecting women? Here is a sampling of articles. Read on.

Lots of Other Countries Mandate Paid Leave. Why Not the U.S.? on NPR

Pay Equity and Discrimination, facts from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)

Women’s Fight for Better Pay is About More Than Just Money in The Washington Post

The Beauty Industry’s Invisible Victims in Ms. magazine

Women Garment Workers Fight Back Against Inhumane Conditions in India in truth-out.org

 

Stonewall, Transphobia, and Moving from Gay Liberation to Gay Pride

In 1969, a series of violent demonstrations – called riots in the media – broke out in Greenwich Village, NY at the Stonewall Inn, a bar that many members of the gay community frequented. The Stonewall Riots occurred between members of the gay community and police, who raided the establishment.

In the interview below, actress and Trans* activist Laverne Cox talks about the lesser-known history of the Stonewall Riots, the shift from gay liberation to gay pride, and the transphobia that still plagues the LGBTQ movement in America:

Women’s Rights National Park, Seneca Falls, NY: Site of the First Wave

After taking a hiatus following the end of the spring semester, I thought I would dive back in by posting some pictures from a stop I made on my drive back from New Hampshire this month: Women’s Rights National Park in Seneca Falls, New York.

The park encompasses several sites, including the historic Wesleyan Methodist Church where first wave “feminists” Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott held the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Seneca Falls home, and the home of the McClintocks, the Quaker husband and wife team who hosted Stanton and Mott and whose home also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, assisting escaped slaves. In addition, the Visitor’s Center offers wonderful displays documenting the history of the Women’s Rights movement in the U.S.

Wesleyan Methodist Church, site of the first Women's Rights Convention held July 18-20, 1848.

Wesleyan Methodist Church, site of the first Women’s Rights Convention held July 19-20, 1848.

A fountain-wall situated between the Women's Rights NAtional Park Visitor's Center and the historic Wesleyan Methodist Church features the entirety of the Declaration of Sentiments, the document read aloud at the convention, which was based on the American Declaration of Independence.

A fountain-wall situated between the Women’s Rights NAtional Park Visitor’s Center and the historic Wesleyan Methodist Church features the entirety of the Declaration of Sentiments, the document read aloud at the convention, which was based on the American Declaration of Independence.

 

Both our tour guide, who gave wonderfully detailed and provocative talks, and the Visitor’s Center itself approached this history from an appropriately feminist angle, reflecting on issues of race/ethnicity – for example, in addressing the overlap and some of the tensions between the abolitionist and early women’s rights movements – class, and also religion (e.g., the Quaker community’s support of human rights, which encompassed abolition as well as women’s rights).

Bronze statues representing the First Wave of women's rights activists (including both women and men) in the lobby of the Visitor's Center. The artist, Lloyd Lillie and two assistants sculpted the statues out of clay, which were then cast in bronze.

Bronze statues representing the First Wave of women’s rights activists (including both women and men) in the lobby of the Visitor’s Center. The artist, Lloyd Lillie and two assistants sculpted the statues out of clay, which were then cast in bronze.

Another cluster, featuring former slave and human rights activist Frederick Douglass (center), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (left), one of the organizers of the 1848 convention.

Another cluster, featuring former slave and human rights activist Frederick Douglass (center), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (left), one of the organizers of the 1848 convention.

View through the front door of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Seneca Falls home, and the stairs where Amelia Bloomer demonstrated her bloomers, illustrating for Stanton how she could easily ascend the stairs with both a baby and a lantern in her arms without fear of tripping on her skirts. Bloomer also published a paper titled The Lilly, which Stanton write for under the pen name Sunflower.

View through the front door of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Seneca Falls home, and the stairs where Amelia Bloomer demonstrated her bloomers, illustrating for Stanton how she could easily ascend the stairs with both a baby and a lantern in her arms without fear of tripping on her skirts. Bloomer also published a paper titled The Lilly, which Stanton write for under the pen name Sunflower.

A statue of Sojourner Truth, whose famous speech "Aint I a Woman" highlights how race affects how we recognize womanhood and femininity (to read her speech, check out the link under Readings to the right).

A statue of Sojourner Truth, whose famous speech “Aint I a Woman” highlights how race affects how we recognize womanhood and femininity (to read her speech, check out the link under Readings to the right).

 

In addition to the Women’s Rights National Park, the Seneca Falls Visitor’s Center, located just a couple of blocks from the Wesleyan Church, has displays exploring the role of women in the many industries of Seneca Falls, including the long-standing Seneca Knitting Mills, which building can be seen from the rear windows of the Visitor’s Center

 

Historic 1913 Suffrage March in Washington, D.C.

Lawyer Inez Milholland led the march on a white horse.

Lawyer Inez Milholland led the march on a white horse.

The march was quite theatrical, with women dressed as figures such as Liberty.

The march was quite theatrical, with women dressed as figures such as Liberty.

Delegations followed, women grouped by professions (including garment workers and scholars), by ethnicity and/or citizenship status (e.g., immigrant women). Delegations carried hastily-stitched homemade banners made from bedsheets or scraps of fabric. Other delegations carried garlands or wore sashes to identify themselves.

Delegations followed, women grouped by professions (including garment workers and scholars), by ethnicity and/or citizenship status (e.g., immigrant women). Delegations carried hastily-stitched homemade banners made from bedsheets or scraps of fabric. Other delegations carried garlands or wore sashes to identify themselves.

A sketch showing the order in which the delegations marched in Washington, D.C.

A sketch showing the order in which the delegations marched in Washington, D.C.

Former slave, Ida B. Wells, the journalist who forcibly desegregated the march by stepping into its midst with a delegation of Black women.

Former slave, Ida B. Wells, the journalist who forcibly desegregated the march by stepping into its midst with a delegation of Black women.

The film Iron-Jawed Angels (2004) portrays this historic march in one scene, including a sampling of delegations marching and the heckling and violence inflicted on the women marchers by the (largely male) crowd that attended the march. The scene also shows newly-elected Woodrow Wilson arriving at the train station to almost non-existent fanfare (because everyone was at the march).

Hilary Swank plays Alice Paul, who marched in her academic gown, Julia Ormond plays Inez Milholland, who leads the march on her white horse, and Adilah Barnes plays Ida B. Wells. (FYI: the background music becomes chant composed by 11th century German abbess, writer, composer, mystic, and activist-in-her-own-right Hildegard von Bingen).

 

CONTINUING THE FIGHT

Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, the two radical American suffragettes who organized the march, and many other suffragettes continued working to gain the right to vote after the march, picketing the White House in 1917 until President Wilson had them arrested.

Alice Paul

Alice Paul

A suffragette with a poster challenging President Woodrow Wilson's hypocrisy (c. 1913) in being alarmed at the Germans' lack of freedom while overlooking women citizens' lack of freedom in his own country.

A suffragette with a poster challenging President Woodrow Wilson’s hypocrisy (c. 1913) in being alarmed at the Germans’ lack of freedom while overlooking women citizens’ lack of freedom in his own country.

Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and others picketed outside the White House in all weather to pressure the president to grant women suffrage.

Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and others picketed outside the White House in all weather to pressure the president to grant women suffrage.

 

 

 

Organizing for Change: “Salt of the Earth”

In many ways, Salt of the Earth brings together nearly all of the issues we have discussed this semester: that ways that gender, race, and class shape our lived realities and our placed in society; the value we place on domestic versus public labor, the ways in which our very institutions, including the law, often serve to reinforce and maintain these social constructions, reproducing patterns of privilege and oppression.

But the film also shows the creative ways that men and women have worked together (though not without challenges) to change both their personal and public lives. Earlier in the semester, Tax told us what it takes to move from false to revolutionary consciousness. In the film, note how the characters move one state of being to the other, and how they inspire others in their community to think in a more revolutionary way too.

 

Dream with Me…

Today, August 28, 2013, is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King was a dynamic speaker, and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of the largest rallies for human rights in America’s history, with estimates of the number of participants ranging from 20,000 to 300,000, the vast majority of whom were African-American.

march on washington

In celebration of that historic 1963 rally for human rights, watch Dr. King deliver his speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Or better yet, gather around the Peace Pole in front of the Baptist Student Foundation here at Purdue today from 4:30-5:00pm for a local reading of the speech.  For more info, check out the Facebook page for the event.

“I HAVE A DREAM”