Socialist Feminism: The Impact of Sexual Violence on the Working Class


  1. Chapter 1 of Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will
  2. Rape, Racism, and the White Women’s Movement” by Alison Edwards
  3. #ThemToo” by Judith Levine


Central to the disagreement between Brownmiller and Edwards is, on the one hand, how to approach the intersection between patriarchy and racial capitalism, and on the other, the prescribed response to acts of sexual violence. These disagreements have important consequences for the kinds of campaigns and activities we do in YDSA. 

  1. Brownmiller defines rape as the “conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear”. In groups of two, discuss how fear as a tool is connected to socialist feminism. Then, discuss all together.
  2. [Note to facilitator: consider distributing print-outs of this quote beforehand]
    Edwards writes, “To Black women over the years, the fight has been for survival of their families and survival of Black people generally. Black women have almost unanimously agreed that their liberation as women depends on improvement of life in their communities and cannot be won apart from the liberation of Black men. A movement that does not take this into account will not win Black women. And a women’s movement without Black women will not free itself of bourgeois domination and become a revolutionary movement. In fact, a white women’s movement that does not align itself with Black women’s struggle for liberation cannot be considered a women’s movement at all.” Discuss this quote as a group. 
    1. What experiences have brought non-cis-men together and what instances have we seen a lack of solidarity among non-cis-men?
  3. Listen to the following short interview with Rosalinda Guillen, “Sexual Assault and Farmworkers
    1. Why do low-wage and immigrant workers often find themselves most vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment? 
  4. What does the case of workplace retaliation and the power to counter it say about the relationship between fear, sexual violence, the working class, and unions? 
  5. How can these fights against retaliation against survivors of sexual violence create gains that extend beyond the fight against sexual violence?
  6. How else can the labor movement champion the rights of its non-cis-men workers?