New, Stronger Feminism to Renew Fight for Social Justice
Rebick, Judy, CCPA Monitor
RE-IGNITING THE FIRE OF WOMEN'S POWER:
When Senator Nancy Ruth,inherinimitableway,toldfeminist activists to "shut the fuck up on abortion," she may just have lit the spark that ignites the prairie fire of women's power. While it was directed at the debate on whether to pressure Harper to include abortion in the G-8 maternal health initiative, it came at the same time as yet more cuts to women's programs, and a relentless assault on multiple levels against anyone who disagrees with the Harper government.
The most authoritarian, patriarchal Prime Minister we have ever had may yet face the wrath of women. As the South Africans used to say, "When you strike a woman, you strike a rock." Polls are showing a rapid drop in female support for Harper, and young women are starting to mobilize to protect the rights we fought so hard for twenty years ago.
The G-8/G-20 protests started with a feminist rally on June 19. Interestingly, this rally emerged from an event on gender justice organized by OXFAM, as part of the People's Summit. Of course it was young feminists, led by Jessica Yee, who organized the rally. But it was a sign of the evolution of the feminist movement that it took place in the context of a conference on gender justice organized by anNGO. The women's movement that emerged from the '60s is a shadow of its former self, focused primarily on service provision, women's studies, and on-line activism. And what is left of the grassroots women's movement is fairly marginalized and without influence at the same time as feminist ideas are so widespread that even a profoundly antifeminist government like Harper's has to appear to support equality for women. If a new feminism is to emerge as a force, I think it will be as part of the network of movements and groups that are currently battling for social and environmental justice on a global scale.
I believe that Harper was releasing a trial balloon by refusing to support abortion as part of maternal health. If women had listened to Nancy Ruth and not waged a fight, he would have assumed that the prochoice movement is no longer able to mount an effective opposition and he may very well have moved against abortion nationally. Certainly, antichoice forces saw it this way, upprng their mobilizations in the streets and outside of the abortion clinics.
But there was a more important issue. How can we accept freedom of choice for ourselves and not speak out when our government is denying it to women around the world? …