Nowadays many celebrate International Women's Day by giving women flowers or cakes. We are told "women have it all."
At Sussex University, the women's group organized face-painting, henna, "sexy dance" displays and a "pussy-tail" night, while the words liberation or movement were seen as too radical to be used in a meeting title!
However, following two sexual assaults on our campus in a week, a number of student societies decided to organize a march against sexism, sexual violence and oppression. Nearly 200 people, men and women, students and staff rallied together and marched all over campus chanting, "Hey! Ho! Sexism has got to go."
Although the demonstration was sparked by the sexual assaults, it was clear that people were also angry about ongoing sexism in society. 8 March finally felt like a real International Working Women's Day!
The article Women and Revolution (Feature, Socialist Review, March 2012) showed that women have and continue to be at the forefront of the struggle from Russia to Spain and Egypt.
As socialists, we understand that the fight for women's liberation cannot be undertaken independently from the emancipation of the whole of the working class. But more importantly, it is not through ideas, but through collective action and struggle that peoples' attitudes change, as we have witnessed with Tahrir Square - no longer a symbol of sexual harassment, but instead of peoples' liberation.
It is therefore crucial that women and men continue to mobilize on International Women's Day to celebrate the gains made, while acknowledging that the fight is far from over. Our history has taught us that the struggle for socialism and the victory of revolution is key to women's liberation.
According to Martin Smith, (Culture, Socialist Review, March 2012) if you wear a T shirt in support of someone you believe to be innocent of an accusa tion (as Glen Johnson the black Liverpool player did) you are supporting the alleged offence, not just disputing the verdict.
If I wear a T shirt (and I have done) in support of someone I believe to be innocent of murder does this mean I support murder and am I giving comfort to murderers?
Grecian yearn for democracy!
The arguments put forward by Sotitiris Kontogiannis in the last issue of Socialist Review (Feature, Socialist Review, March 2012) certainly ring true. Having just spent nine days in Athens I can only agree that far from being victims the Greek people are seizing the initiative. A shift of power is being seen across the country where neighbourhood committees similar to those that sprung up in Argentina in 2004 are making the politicians look less relevant to the lives of working people.
In a car park which was part of the decaying former Olympic park I saw the "potato movement" enabling farmers to give their produce directly to the people at just over cost price. Corporate middle men who had previously made a fortune by artificially inflating food prices are furious. But there is little they can do about it.
Meanwhile the Greek labour movement remains intact and as defiant as ever. Health workers were on strike and on the streets. The powerful Seafarers Union had brought the port of Athens to a standstill over cuts to their pensions and similar scenes are being witnessed across every sector.
The Alter TV station is currently being occupied by its staff to prevent the bosses from asset stripping the once prestigious channel. They had briefly illegally broadcast a "worker news channel" before the government intervened and shut down their transmitter. The journalists had described that time as the proudest moment of their careers.
Perhaps the best indication of the mood was the annual Independence Day parades. A paranoid state had ringed the military show with thousands of riot police who ended up being the only spectators. Ordinary people had either attended local events or had defied the protest ban in the centre of Athens to "reclaim" the day.
Greek workers are far from defeated and as the political dynamic shifts away from the state and into communities the script for what will happen next remains unwritten.
My article in last month's Review, Women and Revolution: Russia 1917 (Feature, Socialist Review, March 2012), needs a point of clarification due to editing changes. The bourgeois feminists in the Women's Equal Rights Union did not fight for working women's rights, such as a minimum wage, as this was in contradiction with their interests, rather than it being just a case of "not setting their sights higher".
The middle class women in the Union wanted legal rights to have equality with middle class men. Their aim was equality to exploit workers equally to bourgeois men. Women's liberation is intrinsically linked to class liberation. Through the Russian Revolution socialists fought for liberation for all.