Socialist Feminism in the 21st Century

Brenner, Johanna
Date Written:  2014-03-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2014
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20382

Brenner analyzes socialism in the 21st century, with a new discourse of gender equality that focuses on transnational feminism, community alliances, the mobilization of members, and overcome the divisions between social classes.



I think we all recognize that a democratic spirit is in the air -- exemplified in Occupy, Tahrir square and the Indignados. These movements echoed the popular assemblies and other democratic experiments such as participatory budgeting that have been so central to building "21st century socialism."

Beyond these moments of upsurge, women of the working classes have been carrying forward grassroots projects that incorporate and draw from the participatory democratic ethos that will be central to reconfiguring the left. Easily shut out of formal, hierarchical, bureaucratic organizations, they are central to local movements and have the most to gain from new forms of citizenship that encourage and support political participation from the ground up. (See for example, Fernandes, 2007.)

Their organizing projects aim to build alternatives to "masculinist" and hierarchical styles of work that are barriers to women's self-development and leadership. They are also intent on organizing in communities and workplaces to win reforms, including reforms in law and government policies. Thus, activists are forced to think through how to meld the "horizontalism" inspired by the Zapatistas and other autonomous left currents with activist engagement with the state.

I offer two examples, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM) and Via Campesina, to illustrate different aspects of socialist-feminist strategies and their potential contribution to organizing anti-capitalist struggles.

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