Towards a new feminist general strike of women and men on 8 march 2019!
Below we publish two articles from Libres y Combativas (LyC) and Izquierda Revolucionaria (IR – CWI in the Spanish state) on their participation in the mass women’s movement in the Spanish state. The first deals with an important general student strike called by Libres y Combativas and the Sindicato de Estudiantes on 14 November, and the second reports on the crucial intervention of LyC and IR members in debates in the wider feminist movement about the way forward
Last year, millions of women workers, youth and students filled the streets and delivered a massive blow to this system which justifies, defends and legitimise violence against women. We also had thousands of male comrades by our side who supported our demands and participated in the struggle. The historic feminist general strike on 8 March especially, as well as the mobilisations against the shameful sentence of the ‘wolfpack’, especially the great general student strike on 10 May. These mobilisations were a clear turning point in the struggle.
The feminist movement played a key role in the fall of the Rajoy government and it is no accident that the new PSOE government wants to wave the feminist flag. However, their brand of “feminism” was exposed when we heard their new female Ministers say that they could not do anything in relation to the shameful release of the wolfpack rapists from prison, out of respect for the patriarchal justice system. Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE – Student’s Union) and Libres y Combativas (Free and Combative, the socialist feminist platform of the SE and Izquierda Revolucionaria) know very well what they should have done: demand the definitive expulsion from the justice system of all these elements and take legal action against these judges for encouraging violence against women.
For inclusive sexual education now! General student strike on 14 November
The fight against sexism is also an important task in the education movement. One year after another, billions in public money are handed over to the Catholic Church hierarchy which teaches sexism, homophobia, transphobia and campaigns against abortion rights. We also have to put up with warnings and even sanctions when we wear short sleeves or shorts in the summer because this could “provoke some unstoppable impulse”! The fact that such arguments can be used in our schools is disgusting. Our clothes and our bodies do not provoke anything! We are not living under Francoism anymore!
It is time to build a great student and youth movement against sexism in all schools and universities, and demand that the Pedro Sanchez government and Education Minister stop ignoring the issue and put an end to this situation.
For these reasons, the SE and Libres y Combativas call on all youth to participate in a general student strike on 14 November throughout the state, as well as in mass demonstrations. The goals of this strike are very concrete. We demand the government implements immediately an inclusive sexual education programme, obligatory in all schools, to teach that despite our gender, sexual orientation or identity, we are free to be who we are. This programme should be taught in primary, secondary and further education and should contribute to combat sexism, abuse, rape culture, homophobia and transphobia.
We also demand that the government eliminates all sexist references to women’s clothing from internal school regulations, explicitly enshrining the rights of all sexualities and of the LGBTI and trans community. We call for strong disciplinary measures against any teachers who, even though they are in a minority, defend sexist attitudes.
We call on all feminist organisations and platforms, all social movements and all trade union and Left political organisations to support this strike and to join us in demonstrations for our just demands.
We want respect and dignity, the freedom to be who we are, the end of abuse and humiliation. We want deeds not words. Forward to a student general strike on 14 November! Empty the classrooms and fill the streets!
Sexism out of classrooms, out of the justice system and all institutions!
No more violence against women!
Towards a new feminist general strike on 8 march 2019!
On 6 and 7 October, the IV General Meeting of the ‘8-M Commission’ (an umbrella of the broad feminist movement) took place in Gijon, with nearly 400 women from all over the Spanish state in attendance. This meeting passed a motion calling for a new feminist general strike (of women and men workers) for 8 March 2019. This is great news and represents a new step forward in the struggle of the oppressed.
We have achieved great things since last 8 March. We filled the streets against the sentence of the wolfpack and patriarchal “justice”. We defended Juana Rivas and her children. We showed solidarity with our sisters around the world fighting for free and safe abortion. Not only this. We also, together with other mass movements, brought about the fall of the reactionary Rajoy government.
It is not true that nothing has changed: our movement is constantly getting bigger, more conscious and more organised. However it is also true that another reality remains in place: murders, sexist court sentences, precariousness and impunity of our aggressors. We are not prepared to let this go on.
Words and deeds from the “feminist” government
In response to this powerful movement, the new Sanchez government has called itself “feminist”, named a majority of women Ministers and citing this as a guarantee of change. However, experience has shown us that our rights will not be won by privileged women in fancy offices. Beyond the rhetoric, this government has not changed one iota of our reality and moreover, has defended, accepted and covered up the worst sexism and class oppression. They said that the abominable sentence of the “wolfpack” had to be accepted. The Justice Minister herself even knew about paedophilic behaviour and the buying of prostitutes among members of the judiciary and felt no obligation to do anything about the situation. They signed the legalisation of the pimps “trade union” OTRAS into law and have continued inhuman repression against migrants on the border… Our experience of this government is clear: nothing real has changed and the only way to achieve change is the struggle, attacking the roots of the system which leads to our oppression.
Strike to attack the system which oppresses us
For these reasons, Libres y Combativas comrades intervened in the General Assembly in Gijon in favour of making an urgent call for a feminist general strike, as the most effective way of advancing our struggle. The oppressed women who make up this movement have our own experience and know that our double oppression is due to being women, and above all due to our class position. Therefore we also know that we have to act in as strong a manner as possible to hit back at the bosses (male and female), bankers and who exploit and evict us and the privileged judges and politicians from the elite.
Symbolic actions are not enough. It is not a question, as some say, of “surprising the patriarchy” but of ending it. Paralysing the economy is key: paralyising companies, transport, roadways, schools and universities… this is the best way to make clear that nothing moves without our permission and that we have the power to change everything. And as this is the struggle of the oppressed, we have to incorporate all the most oppressed and precarious to our struggle and the trade unions must give our strike legal coverage, not via symbolic and sporadic actions but with a full 24 hour general strike.
We want neither female or male scabs! For a feminist strike of men and women!
How will we paralyse everything? At the meeting in Gijon the question of whether our strike should be of women only was also discussed. This is not a new debate and our position on it is not new either. Of course, we want working class women to be the unquestionable main protagonists of this strike. However, this will be a strike which is also against women like Ana Botin (chief of Santander), Cospedal (PP Minister) and Arrimadas (leading member of right-populist Ciudadanos).
In order to paralyse the economy, we cannot tolerate any calls for men to take our place at work while we are on strike. Especially if such calls are made by our own movement! We want no female or male scabs during our strike. We want all men who support our just demands and who have struggled together with us against the PP in defence of pensions, health and education and who were outraged by the case of the wolfpack, to be by our side in the struggle. This is the way to make our movement as strong as possible and force to government to hear and act on our demands.