Women's Fightback 12, January/February 2012

Thatcher was a class-fighter, not a bitch

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 10:20

For many, Margaret Thatcher is an easy figure to hate, and rightly so.

The world economic crisis today has its roots in the neo-conservatism of Thatcher and her American counterpart, Ronald Regan, back in the 1980s. Thatcher inflicted significant and lasting damage on the working class and our movement. She was a strong leader who knew exactly which side she was on. She never flinched from her duty of acting on behalf of the ruling class.

As a minister of the 1975 Tory Government and as Prime Minister for 11 years, Thatcher inflicted misery on working class women. She once said she did not

Do we need more women MP's?

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 10:17

If we were to ask a school child to name a female politician, past or present, who do you think they would name?

As a feminist, and a socialist, I am saddened that the UK’s most famous woman politician is Margaret Thatcher.

Furthermore, her legacy is such that this country is still marked by her two terms as Prime Minister, with dangerously conservative ideology taking grip once again on UK politics.

While there are many women involved in politics, most do not make it to Parliament. At present there are 145 female MPs compared to 505 male MPs. This means that only 22% of our MPs are the same

31 years work, 14 years pension

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 10:14

Rita Ash, Tower Hamlets Unison branch chair, has been a union activist for most of her working life. She spent many of them ensuring that women who were affected by their exclusion from the pension scheme get a gratuity payment as compensation, even years after they left the service. Here she talks about the reality of pensions for many older women.


I got married in 1969 at 22 years of age. I was told that I could now pay the married woman’s stamp.

This was cheaper than paying the single so many of us agreed to this. What no-one told us was that it would mean we didn’t get a pension of our

Sexual freedom and the right to decent healthcare

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 10:08

As a non-monogamous and non-straight woman I have faced and, in some ways, come to expect discrimination, comments and invasive questions about my life.

However, a recent visit to the GP’s surgery brought back into sharp focus just how bad the reality is for LGBTQ people accessing health care and public services.

I have developed a sensible and pro-active attitude to sexual health, so went asking for “just an STI check-up”, explaining that I do it regularly regardless of current sexual activity.

The GP I saw decided that an appropriate reaction would be sheer incredulity, that a young woman

The SRE we have and the SRE we need

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 10:03

Feminist Fightback is conducting research about Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and the effects of changing political structures on women’s reproductive services and SRE resources. This text is taken from a recent leaflet.

It was clear from discussions of our experiences that provision was patchy — people got different amounts of SRE at different levels.

All of us felt we were missing the same things: discussion of sexuality; relationships; non-reproductive, nonheterosexual sex; self-pleasure; and, in some cases, any discussion of sex outside marriage.

The neglect of pleasure in SRE, or

The danger in Dorries

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 09:44

In May 2011, I read about Tory MP Nadine Dorries’ attack on sex education, via a private member’s bill.

She was proposing that girls (yes, just the girls) be given “information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity” as part of their sex education.

Let’s quickly outline the glaring problems with this proposal:

1. Making abstinence education “just for girls” positions women as the gatekeepers of sex. It positions men as having no responsibility for decision making about sex, or for understanding consent. It also supports an idea of women having no desire, and men’s

Women's Fightback discussion meetings

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 09:40

The year since we re-launched Women’s Fightback has seen women at the heart of workers’ strikes and student protests.

It’s no surprise then that we’ve also seen a revival of feminist discussion and activism. Women’s Fightback’s focus has been women as part of the working class, fighting and shaping the class struggle. Following a successful class struggle feminist conference and speaker tour in autumn 2011 Women’s Fightback decided we weren’t finished getting together with other women to discuss ideas, politics, and feminism.

So, we started a London discussion group. Our first meeting, with

Sex, violence and Stieg Larsson

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 09:33

The first volume of Stieg Larsson’s thriller trilogy was originally titled Men Who Hate Women; in English translation, it was renamed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The third book was entitled The Castle in the Air that Blew Up and renamed The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The book cover showed a small, white woman lying on her front to display the dragon tattoo on her naked back.

The Swedish film of the same book chose to show the “girl” head-on, and the US re-adaptation has plastered London buses with Daniel Craig embracing her protectively.

The Hollywood film and Western title

RMT women's training

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 09:27

As a minority in male-dominated workplaces, we’ve felt for a long time that women in RMT’s London Transport region need to get organised.

January’s RMT women’s training event in London was the first step in that direction. It was organised by AWL members in the RMT alongside the Workers’ Educational Association.

The day was a huge success. For many, it was the first union event they had attended.

In the first session we identified important issues for us: “sexist banter” at work, childcare, women’s health issues forcing women out of employment. Many women told stories of being put-down for

Student women are organising

Published on: Thu, 09/02/2012 - 09:22

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) national conference took place in Liverpool on 28-29 January. Between 150 and 200 activists participated in debates, discussions and workshops.

The conference saw the largest turnout of women students and education workers of any NCAFC event yet. Women chaired discussions, led workshops and made speeches — reflecting our key role in the student struggles.

A session on “The legacy of Thatcher and fighting for women’s liberation” led to a stimulating discussion on “Tory feminism” and the importance of organising as class struggle feminists.

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