Toward a Truly International Women’s Day

by Jeanne Monahan

This year on March 8, Philly Socialists will be holding our first mass celebration of International Women’s Day, a holiday that has its roots in socialist women’s organizing dating back over one hundred years. We wish to honor the past struggles of all radical working class women and highlight our continued efforts in pursuit of socialism and gender equality.

In the wake of the November election, Philadelphia, the nation, and the world witnessed a colossal surge of demonstrations and civil discontent unparalleled in recent memory. Women especially have mobilized against the resurrection of the reactionary right, culminating in the historic January 21 marches. However, the narrative of these events has been co-opted and sanitized of its radical and revolutionary element by liberal and corporate feminism, as also occurred during the 1970s.

Frustration at the exclusionary politics of the “pink pussy hats” variety will not turn the momentum of January 21 into the mass black, brown, and working class feminist campaign this country needs. We need to build a feminist platform that truly is antiracist, anticapitalist, trans and nonbinary inclusive, and supportive of sex workers. We need a framework that can sustain the force from the streets and translate that agitation into education and organization. This united strategy will bring in all women and champion all their needs, from clean water to reproductive justice.

Our energy must not be wasted in disparaging liberals or the Democrats, especially as increasingly more liberals become dissatisfied with the Democratic Party. We need to stop asking politicians for hope and change; we simply need to start doing these things for ourselves from the ground up, sourcing solutions  from within our communities.These motivations compelled us to assemble an International Women’s Day coalition, an intersectional reflection of all Philly women and femmes.

While Philly Socialists has only recently begun to organize marches, the International Women’s Day Coalition has planned an ambitious event that we expect will be diverse and innovative. We will feature a variety of speakers from many backgrounds throughout the event, make several stops to express solidarity with working women in various industries, and highlight the radical working class women who came before us. We will confront the white supremacist and patriarchal history of Philadelphia and begin to write a new account not bound by racism and sexism. We will not allow any politicians to speak at any point, as they do not represent our communities. As we conclude the march, we will move from the streets inside to host a discussion on intersectional feminism and facilitate outreach so that those attending can find groups and organizations to get involved in.

We might only celebrate International Women’s Day once a year, but we will not stop once the marches and rallies are over. We will support all our sisters, regardless if they are white or black, documented or not, trans or cis, teachers or sex workers. We value each woman and femme and their struggles. We will not back down ever and will stand together in resistance.

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