The International Socialist Organization discussed rebuilding the women’s movement at its event Thursday night.
The event, “March, Strike, Organize,” was centered around a talk by Haley Swenson, a lecturer at Ohio State who is involved with ISO.
“The women’s movement has been kind of dead in the water for about 40, almost 50 years,” Swenson said. “To reappropriate a phrase from an unfortunately famous orange miscreant, I would like to think we should make feminism great again.”
According to Swenson, there are four main characteristics that a potentially successful feminist movement must have: it must be militant, anti-capitalist, intersectional and revolutionary.
In short, the militant aspect of Swenson’s proposed brand of feminism would require a grassroots, non-establishment movement, while the anti-capitalist aspect would focus on rejecting the exploitation of people for labor that has developed over history.
“Prior to economic surplus, when societies were just subsistent societies, meaning they just produced what they needed to live and eat for that day, even though there was a sexual division of labor…there wasn’t a sense that men were valued more highly than women, because both parties were doing equally socially valuable labor,” Swenson said. “And it wasn’t until there was a surplus, when societies started to produce more than they needed, that the problem arose.”
According to Swenson, this shift occurred because, coupled with an increased “obsession” with inheritance, an economic surplus is not typically controlled by women. She then went into detail on several historical turning points that she believes were significant in creating a system of oppression against women and minorities.
After Swenson finished speaking, ISO led a discussion about the economic aspects of feminism, particularly how the women’s movement should exist while there is a capitalist system in place. The majority of people who spoke were adamant that while some for-profit businesses are better for feminist ideals than others are, any type of capitalist business is ultimately a form of exploitation.
“If we want to fight sexism, we have to fight the system that actually has an interest in perpetuating sexism,” Swenson said. “Some people make profits from the idea that women don’t feel they have options.”