International Women’s Day 2015: Bold Actions Bring the Fight for Liberation of Women into the Street

March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | received this report:


On March 7-8, there were protests and celebration dinners in a number of cities across the U.S. (New York, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, and Chicago) in response to the call: “Get Ready for International Women’s Day March 8, 2015! Break All the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!” The protests were bold and uncompromising actions that brought the fight for the liberation of women into the street, right onto the doorsteps and even inside the buildings of the institutions most responsible for shaming, hating, and oppressing women.

New York City
New York City

New York, Times Square
Times Square, New York City

San FranciscoSan Francisco


Chile. Photo: AP

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York
St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City

New York City, International Women's Day 2015
New York City

San Francisco
San Francisco, St. Mary's Cathedral

San Francisco
San Francisco

All photos Special to except as indicated.

These protests brought to light the truth about the situation that women face: “Across the globe, women face rape and abuse at the hands of soldiers, law enforcement, fathers and brothers, even from those who are supposed to be their most ‘intimate lovers.’ Women face thousands of years of stigma and shame, preached at them from religious patriarchs out of Dark Ages scriptures who command them to obey their husbands and fathers ‘as the lord.’ Women—and young girls—are kidnapped, drugged, battered and stripped naked, and sold as sex slaves. Women are demeaned and humiliated through pornography. Women are imprisoned under veils and burkhas, denied the right to travel or work or even drive without permission from the men who 'own' them. Women are forced to have children against their will—or forced to risk their lives to avoid this fate, with 47,000 women dying each year around the world from unsafe illegal abortions.” (From “Get Ready for International Women’s Day March 8, 2015!...”) The idea that this has to continue to be the kind of world we live in was rejected, and the idea of a whole new way the world could be was brought out—there was an attitude of THIS STOPS TODAY...we will NOT be silent or polite in the face of systematic oppression...we will not accept slavery in any form!

In San Francisco and Cleveland, there were concentrations of the anti-abortion movement that were taken on. In Cleveland there was an anti-abortion convention that included participation by one of the Duggar family. (The Duggars have a reality show called 19 Kids and Counting that openly touts the ideas of traditional Christian patriarchy, especially as concerns the position of women as breeders and property.) People went inside and chanted, “Abortion on demand and without apology, without this basic right, women can’t be free!” Though they were escorted out quickly, they were able to disrupt this convention and confront it—with the intent of reclaiming the moral high ground from those who openly blame and shame women for having sex and/or getting abortions. Afterward, there was a car caravan with a sound system that drove through crowded areas letting people know about IWD, and the truth about the war on women. There were positive responses to this, and one person who participated had this to say: “Each time we have bold actions like this I can just feel the difference we are making by doing so; we are waking people up to the reality of where abortion rights, women rights, and LGBT rights are at, at this moment. We ARE NOT going to stop fighting!”

In San Francisco there was a coalition of broad forces that organized against ArchBIGOT Cordileone, who has added a Dark Ages/anti-LGBT/anti-woman “Morality Clause” to the Catholic schools’ teachers’ handbook, which is set to go into effect on September 1. While many were outside chanting and protesting the Archbishop and his “Morality Clause,” there were a few people who went inside, straight up to the front of the church, and delivered this announcement: “This is an announcement from Stop Patriarchy, on International Women’s Day, to the congregation of St. Mary’s Cathedral. Reject Archbishop Cordileone! Cordileone’s so-called ‘Morals Clause,’ dictating the teaching of backwards values in San Francisco’s Catholic schools, and imperiling the jobs of progressive teachers, is a concentration of a patriarchal, Dark Ages morality that is holding humanity back, here and around the world. Being LGBT is NOT ‘immoral.’ Sexuality is NOT ‘immoral.’ Abortion is NOT ‘immoral’—and is actually essential for women to be free. Young people: It is not necessary for us to live in a world where women are treated like property, and gay people like freaks. Defend your teachers, resist this bigot Archbishop in any way you can, and to those who have started to fight this—don’t stop now! When ‘tradition’ binds you to an oppressive past...BREAK ALL THE CHAINS!” As they were escorted out by church-goers and church officials, they continued to chant, “BREAK ALL THE CHAINS!”

In NYC and Seattle there were actions that went out into the streets and through the main downtown areas, and to the doorsteps of places that represent concentrations of the war on women. In NYC this meant starting off at St. Patrick’s Cathedral—this church is a well-known tourist landmark, and the leadership of this church, in particular Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has been responsible for spearheading attacks on birth control.

In Seattle people protested Swedish Hospital which, as part of a trend that is happening across Washington State and other areas across the U.S., used to be run by a secular provider but has been taken over by a Catholic provider and is now guided by so-called “ethical and religious directives for care.” This has had a big impact in the quality and availability of abortion care, and protesters spoke out against this sort of quiet erosion of abortion rights, including a story of a woman who was denied the right to receive a medically necessary abortion from her primary doctor.

End pornography and patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women

When women are denied—in any way—their right to abortion and birth control, their humanity is stripped away from them, and they are reduced to being incubators. Abortion is NOT immoral, abortion is a perfectly moral and responsible decision, and it’s a common and safe medical procedure. What is immoral, harmful, and incredibly dangerous to women is when abortion and birth control are inaccessible, or illegal. When this is the case women die—an estimated 5,000 women a year before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973—and women’s lives are foreclosed to the dictates of the church, the state, and forced motherhood. Forced motherhood is female enslavement.

In New York people went to the Eighth Avenue porn district, and to a theater showing Fifty Shades of Grey. Some men told the marchers, “You should all go kill yourselves” and laughed, repeating this several times. At the same time, people—including women and men from other countries as well as the U.S.—stopped to join in, thanked the marchers, and some even had the courage to step up during the open mic to share why they support women’s liberation.

Throughout the march downtown and down to the porn store on 1st Avenue in Seattle, people did mic checks and asserted repeatedly that “Women are NOT hos or bitches! Women are NOT Punching bags! Women are NOT breeders or incubators! Women are NOT sex objects! Women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS, capable of equality in every realm!” As protesters went through the shopping area downtown they chanted, “Imagine, Create, a World Without Rape!” The porn store/strip club that protesters went to is across the street from Pike Place Market—which is a tourist attraction with many shops and known to be “family friendly”... and then across the street is a billboard advertising that women are for sale. People spoke out about how porn and the objectification of women’s bodies fuels rape and sexual violence, how it dehumanizes all women, how pornography is NOT society becoming more comfortable with sex—it’s about society accepting the sexualized degradation of women. As the marchers left the populated market area, they chanted, “Abortion rights under attack, we can’t breathe! Rape and violence, we can’t breathe! Mass incarceration, we can’t breathe! Destruction of the planet, we can’t breathe! Police brutality, we can’t breathe!”

NEW from Bob Avakian:

Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

Full work (PDF)

Sampler Edition (PDF)

In LA, members of the Revolution Club went to an IWD rally and concert where there were around 500 people gathered and they distributed Break ALL The Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, and a promo for the March 28 premiere screening at the LA Theatre of the film of the Cornel West-Bob Avakian Dialogue on Revolution and Religion. During the rally women spoke about sexual violence towards women, the disappearances of women in Mexico and Canada, and about the history of IWD. Two teams from the Revolution Club went to different parts of town, one to South Central at an intersection known to many residents as a place where the trafficking of young girls happens. The other team went to the Hustler store in West Hollywood to protest against pornography, a multibillion-dollar industry that depicts and celebrates the kinds of sexual violence against women that was talked about earlier at the rally.

At the celebration dinners, a video was shown of highlights of Stop Patriarchy actions since last year’s International Women’s Day, standing up in defiance and fighting against the oppression of women: from the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, to taking on the anti-abortionists, to the Fuck 50 Shades protests. The Revolution Club members in LA talked about what they did and what they learned this IWD, and brought out that the Revolution Club is about the fact that humanity needs communism and revolution, that we need to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution, and as people are learning more about the need and possibility of making revolution, they are running with the club, not sitting around waiting for the revolution or trying to learn as much as they can AND THEN join. No, the Revolution Club is for those who are sick and outraged at how people have to live under this system, whether it be the plundering and destroying of the planet, the degradation and subjugation of women, the brutality and slow genocide Black and brown youth face, or the oppression of an entire section of people.

Everywhere we were on this IWD weekend, people heard that there actually is a war against women, that this is NOT hyperbole or hysteria, this is actually happening. Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten, every SINGLE DAY 3-4 women are killed by their so-called partners, and 1 out of 4 female college students will be raped or sexually assaulted while in college. This war on women is being waged in many forms, in the most intimate and private ways as well as publicly, normalized to the point where most people don’t even recognize this kind of abuse or oppression for what it is, or they are internalizing this oppression and blaming themselves, or blaming women in general for the crimes committed against them.

And everywhere we were, people saw us fighting back, not accepting this world as it is, and fighting for a whole new world where women ARE treated as full human beings—and people were challenged to step into this struggle themselves. Much more is needed—this fight is not over, and WE ARE NOT GOING TO STOP FIGHTING UNTIL WOMEN ARE FREE!

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.