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Internationale Solidarität!
sparkles
amw
I went on strike today. It wasn't a full day strike because i wanted to be in the office for a meeting just after lunch, but after that i walked out. Of course, i can work flexible hours and did several hours work last Saturday so was probably due a few hours off anyway, but it's the principle. I made sure everyone knew my reasons, and must admit to being a little disappointed that only one person had even heard about the strike and the demos.

In Berlin there were at least three semi-coordinated demonstrations, one organized by Polish immigrants (i think), one organized by a women's immigrant/refugee/squatter group that requested cis-men not march, and one all-inclusive gig where all the usual suspects were showing up (Die Linke, Democrats Abroad, various socialist groups etc). I went to the refugee one because it started closer to my house, it was closer to my heart and - not gonna lie - i was curious what a demo with no men would be like.

It's taken a long time for me to be able to feel not like an "impostor" in women's spaces. I've been living as a woman for 17 years, almost as long as i lived as a boy before that, and definitely have no idea what it means to be an adult man. From the perspective of society - bar a few ignorant and/or transphobic asshats - i am a woman. My post-operative anguish is well-documented here through most of my 20s, but appears to finally be over now that i quit taking hormones. I guess i identify internally as non-binary these days, but i am too old to give a shit about fighting that point. It's hard enough being an immigrant and a trannie and a lesbian and a woman, no need to confuse everyone even more by talking about genderqueerness or (lately) asexuality. Still, even though i am a woman, the fact i never had a girlhood makes me feel like i don't belong sometimes.

Anywho, here i was, in a (temporary) women's space. I have to say it was pretty amazing. Of course there were other transwomen there, and some genderfuck types, and a drag queen, and - yeah - a few men, but it was mostly ciswomen from many different backgrounds - immigrants and punx and dykes and moms and every combination. It was great to hear speeches in several languages and hear about a lot of intersectional issues, in particular around immigration and oppression in other parts of the world. It was also refreshing to not hear any mansplaining or see any of those sleazy "allies" who often come across to me as only showing up to get some tail. I guess women's spaces do have a place in the world, even if my fantasy end-game is that the concept of gender is destroyed altogether.

It was also interesting to attend this demo in general, it being perhaps the first protest i have been to primarily in solidarity with people far outside of my circle. The Rigaer 94 protests last year were a lot more personal - we were aggressively fighting back against the riot police who had invaded several city blocks in my neighborhood. Given how my white and class privilege pretty much balances out whatever other minority statuses i hold, i felt like today was more about showing solidarity with oppressed women all over the world than any of my own challenges.

I don't know if it will matter - once all the demos met up at Oranienplatz i'd guess there was a few thousand people, but we didn't set fire to any cars so probably the media doesn't give a shit. Still, a couple of anarchists let off flares and fireworks along the route to boost our morale. I will try to add a picture to this post as an experiment for posting pictures on LJ.



So, yeah. That was my International Women's Day. Oh, this morning i also got a Yellow Fever vaccination. The receptionist was a woman. The doctor was a woman. The nurse was a woman. I don't think any of them were striking. I played Ani DiFranco in the office this morning, but i realized it's not very good background music for work, so i played Tracy Chapman instead.

Also, i bought a pussyhat.

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from the other side, im afab but nonbinary. i didnt exactly feel comfortable participating. [thankfully no one asked me why i wasnt striking, although my manager knows about my gender feels]. im also just upset because the "bathroom bill" just passed in texas making it illegal for trans* folks to use the bathroom of their gender. none of these large womens marches turned out... i wish american liberal feminists supported trans* issues more loudly and openly.

also also, it'd've been nice to schedule these things during a later time. not everyone can strike and not lose their job. but thats classism and all that. american labor laws are abysmal.

Crap, I had a long reply to this typed up and LJ ate it. Cliff's Notes - see my comment to sweetmeow (below) regarding whether striking is exercising a privilege.

Regarding times: the Berlin demos started in the early afternoon and went on till 9pm so there was an opportunity for 9-5 workers to join later if they wanted. But I don't think scheduling in the evening or the weekend is necessarily helpful for the poor who tend to work shift jobs anyway. Not to mention that minimizing the interruption kinda defeats the point of a workers' protest or strike.

Regarding non-binary stuff: this is a really interesting and tricky topic. Intersectionality is important so we can lift up those with less privilege, but is there an intersection between people who identify as no gender and people who identify as women? In the case of female-bodied non-binary folks I would say yes, for sure - if society sees you as a woman you face the same oppression regardless.

In Germany, women's activists use the term women* to indicate that the definition of "women" extends beyond just ciswomen. For example:

** When we write women* we mean:WLTI* WomenLesbianTrans*Inter*

I think most women's groups in the world are inclusive of transwomen these days, but it still makes a difference to see that asterisk there in the name of the event and through all the literature. It makes it very clear that we are also part of the picture, as are transmen and other non-conforming folk who have been oppressed by the patriarchy.

Also, that Texas bathroom bill is a disgrace. I am sorry :(

Sorry if this comes out a bit short, my original comment was much better worded and thought-out.


Edited at 2017-03-09 07:28 am (UTC)

I think generally I'd've been more inclined to participate had the bill not passed through. Its disheartening to see all these huge marches but when it came to the trans* issues, hardly anyone showed up.

also, i get the point of the workers strike. just here in america [and especially texas] we have no workers rights. i could get fired for striking.

idk i mostly just feel defeated by the bathroom bill shit

As much as I understand this "Day Without Women" protest, I am not sure that all women feel comfortable with it. Privileged women - yes. They can take the day off, and can afford to lose the pay. There are others who live is paycheck to paycheck. One day off from work is big -- not worth this protest, even though THEY are the ones who need to know how vital they are (and to be paid more). I get the concept. And - I'm glad this is a world solidarity thing.

Another thought came to mine: In order to "belong" to "something", I think it's way helpful to have a history with that. I take for granted that my gender is female. It's always been. This I know. And I do belong, and don't think another thought about it. You belong, too. Yet, I can see where the psychological sense of belonging must require more consciousness for you than for me.

Not sure you've ever seen the reality show, "I am Jazz" -- about an upper middle class American family with a trans teen. Reality shows can be less than real, yet this one - imo - serves a useful purpose to inform and teach.

Hearing Americans talk about how being able to strike is a privilege has been a real eye-opener for me over the past ~36 hours. I think it really illustrates how completely capitalists have crushed the idea of workers' rights in America.

In other parts of the world, striking is still seen as a way for the majority poor to reassert power over the minority rich who normally oppress them. Certainly there is personal and societal cost involved, but that's the point - things have gotten so bad that striking is a risk people will take. Workers make a sacrifice because they believe that presenting a united front and collectively demanding an end to injustice is more important.

I don't judge individual Americans for choosing not to strike, because it's true that their uniquely terrible labor laws may make it harder than in other countries, but I do think it's important to address the idea that it is an action of privilege. I believe in saying that, people are very much missing the point of industrial action and playing right into the hands of the capitalist oppressors.

I can't say whether a mass general strike is the right way to affect change in America, or even if it's the best way to affect change at all, but it has been successful in the past and in other countries of the world. Given the original motivation for International Women's Day was to celebrate a historic strike by American women, why shouldn't American women celebrate and support the efforts of their sisters who are trying to apply the same techniques today? Bonus question - why are none of America's trade unions offering strike pay for women members who take part in this action?

Regarding the show you mentioned - no, I haven't seen that. I don't really think about being trans very much any more - I wasted far too much of my 20s agonizing over gender - but it's interesting to revisit the "community" every now and then and see how it has changed. I will keep an eye out.

A recommendation for you... have you ever seen any of Louis Theroux's documentaries? He has a fantastic show on BBC where he does gonzo journalism in small or unusual subcultures, especially in America. He did at least one show about parents dealing with trans children that was quite interesting.

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