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We Are Female and Workers

I always enjoy robust, messy gatherings of women in which the women are not preoccupied with their looks or things being “just right,” in which things are teetering on the edge of risk-taking and people are telling jokes that end in laughter and fun. I appreciate gatherings of loud, physical women who play and sing out and talk straight about things; who are honest, direct, and unvarnished in showing their struggles as clients; who work hard and enjoy doing it together. Our recent gathering of working-class women leaders1 was just that kind of gathering. We were delighted to be ourselves, and we simply enjoyed each other.

Diane2 was clearly at home and comfortable, nestled in the middle of our group, loving us as females. She spoke about being “females first” and the pull in all our constituencies to see our female selves as secondary. Putting female first can feel like a betrayal of our other identities, yet it is exactly the opposite. We won’t be liberated in our other identities without having our female selves at the center of our lives. And our female intelligence is key not only to ourselves but also to our entire people and the planet. We are battling for our minds and insights, outside of sexism and male domination, so that we can lead the way for every group.

One of the demonstrations was on the feeling that class liberation is about men, that class struggles are male struggles. Diane offered the client the direction, “Workers have vaginas and breasts,” which the client repeated, doubled over3 with laughter, for the next five minutes. It was as if reality was breaking through. Workers have vaginas. Workers have breasts. It was sinking in—not only for the client but for the eighty or so4 females in the room who were laughing along with her. The working class is not made up only of men.

Dan Nickerson5 talked on Saturday evening about the new class initiative.6 His interest (at the workshop) was to welcome the group of females most central to production and services, who will keep everyone anchored in a connected, fierce, principled reality. He encouraged us to think about every word of the initiative, to engage our minds, to disagree, discharge, think about it all, and claim it as central to our efforts as females.

Diane and Dan were a team. That was good for all of us to be a part of and see.

Joanne Bray
Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of women

An RC working-class women’s workshop held in (place), in (month, year)
Diane Balser, the International Liberation Reference Person for Women and the leader of the workshop along with Dan Nickerson, the International Liberation Reference Person for Working-Class People
“Doubled over” means bent over.
“Eighty or so” means approximately eighty.
Dan Nickerson is the International Liberation Reference Person for Working-Class People.
“A New Initiative on Ending Classism,” by Dan Nickerson, on pages 8 to 9 of the July 2014 Present Time

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00