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The Loneliness of Working Class Feminism By: Levinson-Estrada, Deborah Presented by: Brianca Smith
Union Struggle • Guatemala State’s de facto policy (1954) • Rebuilt Trade unionism (1950) • Growth of the Industrial Growth • Swept the region • State Gruesome response • Currently the labor movement has reemerged only as a pale shadow of its former self.
How does this affect women? • Women had to deal with men, at home or in unions, who have either opposed to control women’s participation in unions. • Because: • Dominated by men • Used militancy and solidarity as masculine
Sonia Oliva • Japanese – owned ACRICASA union • Involvement • No one could stop her • Own awareness of oppressive nature (gender roles and ideologies) made her into her own feminist historian. • Outside of normal gender relations, to be an activist • Male and Female Obligations • Class has complicated these ideals • Normative gender roles are inherently inhibiting
Women Union Waged Workers • When Sonia joined the Union she was not alone • Women working outside the home was usually temporary • ARICASA made this long-term
The ACRICASA Company Union • All workers in general were angry • No transportation to and from the plant • Concerns of women: • Limited toilets • Slap women workers (Supervisors) • If men wanted an ACRICASA union , they had to accept women. • Olivia was important to them (men), she introduced the entrance of women into the union.
Actions of the Union • The union's lawyer secured an injunction against the company to prevent further firings • Mainly women • Men thought women would slow down their efforts • Union was later started • Women Impact • Tactics to pressure management into negotiations • Crowed into manage office • Went out on brief illegal strikes • Signs “We want bus service” and “We want a wage increase” • They had to pressure the company to abide by it (Contract with the Union)
Implementing Daycare • Olivia • Brought Pavel to work • Manager forbid it and told her that she was going to call the labor inspector • Olivia encouraged him to because in the contract the company was suppose to have a day care. • Other women did the same • The company gave and provided daycare for the women union workers
State Consequences • Reacted strongly against the unions in the popular movement. • 1978: 9 males and 26 females were seized and went to jail. Charged with “subversive” • Hunger strikes to free them • The ACRICASA union leader was assassinated • Olivia and Pavel was kidnapped. She was beaten (15 hours). • She had to leave the country • New women leaders were kidnapped and never seen again
Women Involvement in the Union • Demands from women • Acted on matters that were not gender specific • “…their involvement in the union and in the popular movement was rooted in the multiplicity of their being, and not only in matters related to the household and family, or to their sense of self as maternal.” • “…identity that could propel them into politics to defend kin "vicariously.” • Violated proper female behavior
Gender Inequalities in ACRICASA • Men • Better-paying jobs • Most of the leaders • Women • Majority of the union members • “…the women in the union did not question many inequalities between men and women…”
Continuation of Daycare • Paid Mother’s day with Married mothers and not single mothers • Daycare • Freedom for women from the work of constantly overseeing children • Labor lawyers raise issues of day care in plants where they were high concentrations of women. • Whether or no women took care of children: was not questioned • Women did not know what they wanted • Rather take care of children, loved one at home • It was much safer, less overcrowded than bringing them to work every morning.
Gender Troubles Men workers with gendering in the labor movement than women were “Activism demanded extraordinary public heroism, and this sort of courage was a male-associated character trait, part of the essence of masculinity. No matter how many publicly heroic women there were, trade unionism was perceived as a masculine domain wherein the courageous and manly were counted.”
Gender Troubles • Men trade unionists became the city’s best breadwinners • Ultimate father/Death • Too busy/Endangered children lives • Men revised their understanding of masculinity and class • Masculinity was empowering only up to a point; workers were saddled with a feeling of intellectual inferiority for which their masculine identity did not compensate. • Ray-O-Vac • Men rushed to the aid of women • The men often did not inform women of important meetings, decisions, problems, or gossip.
Olivia Oliva was able to both concentrate on issues of womanhood and reject "woman" as an identity Oliva was a nonconformist working-class woman in the thick of things. Did not stay on the margin as a deviant or an outcast. Oliva was simultaneously one of the gang and unique in her attempt to elude her "feminine" fate.
Feminism • No movement in the years 1954-1986 • Not due to inherent insignificance of feminism but to fear among women of the personal and social traumas that feminism would provoke, and state terrorism. • State terrorism has made feminism irrelevant • Kidnapping
In Conclusion Male trade unionists living with the fear of a horrible death also live out lives in the personal realm that, however stressful, do not overturn the familiar customs of gender, while women trade unionists must face the double insecurity of living with intense anxiety while traveling an unfamiliar emotional path alone