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Marxist Study Group Film Session

March 10, 2018


On Friday, the Marxist Study Group gathered at club 'Kocherga' in Moscow and watched the documentary 'She's Beautiful When She's Angry' (2014) by Mary Dore (with Russian subtitles). The movie covered the beginning of the second-wave feminist movement in the United States in the 1960s, the issues the feminists were up against, the organisational problems of their movement, and their successes and failures.

The 60s feminist movement started as a movement of urban middle class white women against the discrimination of females in the American society of that era, the lack of career opportunities and personal freedom, bans on abortion resulting in illegal abortions and many deaths, insults from men, societal laws and traditions barring women from participating in politics, education etc. Women started to learn about themselves and their bodies - before that, the society forbade them from doing so. They started to explore their sexuality, which previously was allowed only for men.

The feminists took up women's issues and starting with study groups and collective actions in a few years built a mass movement which radically changed the American society and its attitude to women. The ban on abortion was removed. Women gained freedom to behave how they want and dress how they want (though there are still problems with that). Nowadays, they have more career opportunities, there are many more women in academia and politics. There are still issues, of course, but due to the efforts of the feminist movement, the modern world is much different than it was before, and women are more free.

After watching the movie, we had a discussion (in Russian) where we talked about the history of women's movement in Russia and how after the revolution in 1917 Russian women won the rights American feminists were fighting in the 1960s, like child care and right of abortion. By the 1960s, however, the Soviet society was facing many problems similar to America, for example, women were almost completely barred from politics, weren’t given access to managerial positions and many professions available to men, and there were wage disparities (all of these issues still stand in modern Russia).

There were also raised a question of organisation and propaganda. On this International Women's Day, there were no rallies or meetings in Moscow held by feminists. One opinion was that it was wrong to attract attention to women's issues, especially in small towns outside Moscow, it is important to have rallies which people can see and read about them in newspapers and the Internet. Another opinion was that social media are a more important tool of organising and propaganda. It was also said that one shouldn't divide social media and rallies in real life, because they are interconnected. Another opinion was that you could go even further: during the Arab Spring, Facebook played a key role as a tool of organising people into anti-government protests.

Another important issue discussed was should the communists support the women's struggle, or should they put the proletarian liberation first and women's liberation second. In the discussion that followed everybody agreed that communists should participate in the women's movement and support it, because struggle against all forms of discrimination, be it class, sexual, racial or national is what communists do. However, there is a point where our own agenda shouldn't get lost. All of these forms of discrimination will not disappear fully in a capitalist society, so the struggle for the change of this society is the ultimate goal.

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