American, second-wave feminism immediately brings to mind fights over abortion, violence against women, and sexual objectification (notably, the protests at the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City). Much less frequently remembered is that early liberal and radical feminists — many of whom were involved in starting the National Organization of Women (NOW) — saw the provision of affordable and high-quality universal day care as a major sine qua non of “women’s liberation.” Why? And what happened to strip this vital issue out of politicians’ platforms and feminist cultural discourse (let alone feminist activism en masse)?
“Empower Women to Foster Freedom,” proclaimed Ivanka Trump as she rolled out the Trump administration’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP) in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on February 6. The first daughter claimed that women could bring about peace and prosperity, enhancing both economic growth and national stability, if only we could eliminate barriers to their labor force participation and income generation, moving them from the informal to the formal economy. “One of the most undervalued resources in the developing world,” she argued, is “the talent, ambition and genius of women.” The US would come to their rescue through a package of initiatives to be coordinated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in conjunction with corporate and NGO partners. Workforce development, vocational education, and skills training, as well as access to capital, markets, networks, and mentorship would “unleash” prosperity for “families, communities, and nations.” Such is the Trumpian version of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Depression-era maxim, “It is up to the women.”
As our country braced for another threatened government shutdown last week, federal workers are more aware than ever that they must be prepared for swaths of time without a paycheck. As was clear last month, a staggering number of workers cannot weather a period of missed pay, let alone plan for a time when they can no longer work because of unemployment or illness. And this says nothing of the dream of a well-deserved retirement. But it’s not just government employees who live on this edge. Cringe-inducing stories of working Americans losing their homes, choosing between food and medicine, working just to cover their debt payments, going to work sick because they can’t afford the risk of being fired, and spending hours transferring from bus line to bus line to get to a minimum wage job have been part of the American experience since (and well before) the 2008 financial crisis.
Most young people become ‘sex trafficking victims’ due to poverty, racism, transphobia, and homophobia. Arresting ‘pimps’, and young people, won’t solve these problems.
Child sex trafficking is among the very few issues that can win bipartisan support in today’s political climate. But the laws resulting from this political alliance offer deeply conservative, law-and-order solutions that only minimally address the social conditions that make U.S. youth vulnerable to the sex trade.
The recent #RedForEd strikes have highlighted a duality that Black women educators have long addressed–that their interests as public employees are connected to their concerns for the communities they serve.
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