This is the editorial for Red Pepper Issue 223: Feminist Futures.
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Will we ever smash the patriarchy? It’s easy to feel immobilised as the far right gains strength around the world, thriving on misogyny.
In the UK too it can seem as if we are moving backwards. Years of austerity have had a devastating impact on women. A new report from the Women’s Budget Group shows that local government cuts have meant a ‘triple whammy’ for women – cuts to services we use, increasing unpaid care work to fill in the gaps and being harder hit by job cuts in the public sector. Just one startling statistic: more than 75 per cent of England’s local authorities reduced their spending on refuges for survivors of domestic violence by nearly a quarter between 2010 and 2017.
This austerity has come hand in hand with privatisation and outsourcing. But there has been a strong feminist streak to the resistance, as embodied, for example, by the strikes by university night cleaners and the feminists at the frontline of the urgent fight against fascism and the far right across the world.
The feminist fight is not a new one, and history has a lot to teach us. Red Pepper was strongly influenced from its beginning by a stream of socialist feminism that isn’t just about challenging patriarchy, but incorporates some of the key political ideas that came out of the women’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s. This includes the need to reflect the society that we want in our organising, viewing the personal as political and acknowledging that pluralism is key to bringing about social justice. These beliefs are still at our core.
Women, and feminised people, cannot escape the personal element of feminist politics. It’s in our homes, in our workplaces, on our streets and in the way our bodies are policed, invaded and interpreted. Resisting incarceration in detention centres and prisons is part of this – both are symptoms of the ingrained classism, racism and inequality woven into the fabric of our society. These are just some of the movements and political ideas in this issue that demonstrate a feminism with social justice as its focus. A feminism for an end to classism, ableism, white supremacy, transphobia and homophobia as well as an end to patriarchy. A feminism that doesn’t rely on capitalism, inequality and plundering the planet to tick its boxes.
There is a beautiful richness to the range of gender struggles working to bring about change. A broad-based feminist movement that has a comprehensive gender justice at its core can only be stronger. Feminism is here for the duration. We will win because we have to.
#228 Climate Revolutions ● Transitioning beyond climate and Covid-19 crises ● Conservation without colonialism ● Prisons, profits and punishment ● Surveillance capitalism in India ● The uses of comedy ●Simon Hedges ● Book reviews ● And much more!
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Cleaners are being ignored in the government’s provision of a safety-net during the pandemic. The current crisis is rooted in a long history of domestic work being made invisible, writes Laura Schwartz
With pop culture increasingly a political battlefield, Marzena Zukowska asks Carolyn Petit of Feminist Frequency how the left can leverage the momentum of video gaming
As the University and Colleges Union strike enters its final week, Ruth Pearce discusses the importance of building alliances and fighting back
A book that systematically unpicks the myths that are spread in order to preserve the status quo, written by Nesrine Malik. Reviewed by Leah Cowan
Across the world, feminists are fighting the far right and fascism. We hear from activists in seven countries.
We need to confront how the movement is shaped by the power of whiteness, write Alison Phipps