Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Feminism in the Time of Coronavirus

In locked-down heterosexual households, Helen Lewis writes, the major responsibility for childcare will fall on women. She’s exasperated with pundits who point out that people like Isaac Newton and Shakespeare did their best work during a seventeenth-century plague in England. “Neither of them,” she points out, “had child-care responsibilities.” Try writing King Lear while your own little Cordelias, Regans, and Gonerils are pulling at your shirt and complaining loudly that they’re booored.

By Rebecca Gordon Tom Dispatch  March 31, 2020   

Note from Tom Engelhardt: Everything seems ever less familiar to me in a once-familiar world on the brink of who knows what in both health and economic terms.

Today, TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes, considers in striking fashion just how unsettling this coronaviral moment of ours has been (and will be) for women in ways large and small, global and local. —Tom

The Future May Be Female, But the Pandemic Is Patriarchal
By Rebecca Gordon

Before I found myself “sheltering in place,” this article was to be about women’s actions around the world to mark March 8th, International Women’s Day. From Pakistan to Chile, women in their millions filled the streets, demanding that we be able to control our bodies and our lives. Women came out in Iraq and Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Peru, the Philippines and Malaysia. In some places, they risked beatings by masked men. In others, they demanded an end to femicide — the millennia-old reality that women in this world are murdered daily simply because they are women.

In 1975 the Future Was Female

This year’s celebrations were especially militant. It’s been 45 years since the United Nations declared 1975 the International Women’s Year and sponsored its first international conference on women in Mexico City. Similar conferences followed at five-year intervals, culminating in a 1995 Beijing conference, producing a platform that has in many ways guided international feminism ever since.

Beijing was a quarter of a century ago, but this year, women around the world seemed to have had enough. On March 9th, Mexican women staged a 24-hour strike, un día sin nosotras (a day without us women), to demonstrate just how much the world depends on the labor — paid and unpaid — of… yes, women. That womanless day was, by all accounts, a success. The Wall Street Journal observed — perhaps with a touch of astonishment — that “Mexico grinds to a halt. Hundreds of thousands of women paralyzed Mexico in an unprecedented nationwide strike to protest a rising wave of violence against women, a major victory for their cause.”
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