Sarah Leonard and Marian Jones met in the Socialist-Feminist Reading Group of the Democratic Socialists of America (held in The nationConference room!) In 2017 after Donald Trump’s election led to an increase in membership in the 40-year-old organization. Now they are members of the, along with several other editors and an art director lux Collective, named after the revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. The first issue of the print magazine will appear in the mailboxes this month. I spoke to Leonard and Jones about the future of left feminism, solidarity versus sisterhood and why lux is a shiny one.
– Emily Douglas
ED: Your Mission statement argues that the “girl boss” ideology has failed. Why did feminists let go of the girl boss ideology?
SL: The girl boss model just doesn’t work for most people. The way American inequality is now, there are a few people at the top, then those people’s lawyers and doctors, and then there’s a massive void, and then there’s everyone else. The aspirational character of girl-boss ism isn’t as true of people’s lives at this point, if it ever was.
ED: Is lux try to raise the class consciousness of women?
MJ: There have been periods within the feminist movement when people tried to adopt the slogan “Sisterhood is Mighty” [the idea that] We are all together, but black women and other women of color have felt that their own needs have been obliterated. One of the ways that black feminists have historically pushed back the “sisterhood” is the idea that we are all victims of the same cause. If you are a white woman, solidarity challenges you to be clear about how you fall victim to white supremacy, but also how you participate in it.
SL: As feminists, we think in solidarity rather than sisterhood because we don’t necessarily believe that all women who come together have something organic. You need to build solidarity and relationships on purpose. We often refer to the in our editorial note Combahee River Collective Declarationand one of the reasons we keep referring to it is that they were, and continue to be, very serious about building solidarity points with different groups with whom they shared but differentiated political goals.
This magazine should be part of this project. We envision a certain type of constituency made up of all these solidarities that are feminist, abolitionist, queer and socialist. And for us that creates an extremely large world, a very large constituency [with] many alliances. Different identity pieces [act] as bridges to other groups and not as barriers.
Women – and I’ll say women, but I’m always concerned about hitting women too hard because we have a very strange and expansive definition of our constituency – are an underorganized constituency. You can see this in the fact that this country is in an absolute crisis in childcare and care for the elderly. Basically, all of this work is done by women. Everyone knows this as a crisis and nowhere is it a priority.
ED: Over the past decade or more, progressives and leftists have repositioned issues such as abortion, child care and reproductive health as economic issues. What is still missing in this conversation?
SL: Whenever the Koch brothers put money behind an anti-abortionist and let that person vote, they get a tax cut, because that’s exactly what the Republicans do. And we pay for that with our body and our life. And, to be clear, the people whose bodies are being sacrificed are obviously poor working class women and disproportionately colored women.
Ideas about family morals serve capital in very specific ways. All the things that politicians don’t want to pay for, they say: “It’s a family problem”. So if we don’t defend ourselves against the idea that the nuclear family is the home of all morality, we will never win the economy.
Why was Sandra Fluke called a slut? It should defeat a universal health program.
ED: The family is always the support that has to stand when social policy fails.
SL: Socialist feminists have always been great at problematizing love work. [The feminist campaign] Housework wages are all about making people think: What is love? What is work When does one disguise the other?
We have this incredible piece in the first edition, which is a new translation of a manifesto on abortion by Maria Rosa de la Costa, one of the founders of Wages for Housework. It just drips with contempt for the state and its institutions, which are so negligent and unable to support society and especially women and children. And they say things like, “We will bring as many children to this earth as we want, but only when we want. And we want to raise them in nice, comfortable circumstances. ”
So you are demanding that it is pathetic to run a society with mere survival. And, indeed, there should be degrees of abundance and pleasure and the ability to raise any family you wish. It has a lot to do with a language of the reproductive justice movement in the States, a few years later.
Housework wages indicate that the capitalist system would cease to function if, in their case, women did not do the reproductive work of cooking, cleaning and giving birth in the household. It would end. Capitalism owes a debt to all of these unpaid workers who make up half the population.
ED: You write that luxThe vision of feminism fights for a world in which “everyone has access to food and shelter, to beauty and pleasure”. What is your current attraction to publishing a feminist magazine?
SL: We have gotten very good at criticizing the inadequacies of the law and certain forms of liberal feminism. We also want to construct a vision of what we want. The pieces we are working on all deal with questions we have about the world we want to live in and about the organization we do. We are very interested in bringing up the idea that the purpose of politics is for people to have a good life. And we should think about what this good life would be made of.
MJ: There is none lux that already exists. lux will be a really pretty magazine – it has to be.
ED: Why is it so important to you? lux looks good?
SL: It was important to me[The[that[Das[thatlux be a high gloss]because I grew up watching shiny women’s magazines. I wanted to build this thing that I had always loved to read, but fill it with socialism.
Publications on the left are often in the form of magazines, the tone or style of which indicates that you should already know. I want the opposite of that. I want it to be an open gate that people can go through.
There is something radical about the strategic pursuit of pleasure. For decades we have talked about whether women can have anything that is actually a depressing idea of working all the time, but also always doing housework. In a sense, it is very ambitious: can you bend yourself to meet the unreasonable expectations of this society? One of our catchphrases is “We want everything”. If we really want a good life, fundamental things about the structure of our society have to be changed.
ED: It sounds like your approach isn’t just about looks. It’s also about the types of functions and content that you will be performing.
MJ: I’ve always been very excited to be involved in a project that is about converting people. Our magazine is definitely intended for someone who has not read Marx – or for some kind of leftist or feminist theorist.
ED: lux was born of the connections you made in political organization. Do you see it the other way? Do you intend to use lux as an organizational tool?
MJ: I really hope it is both an organizing and an awareness raising tool. I think a lot of organization can come from reading groups. After reading about all of these things, you are motivated to take care of them. We are all organizers. We are all really connected to the movement. So I definitely hope that we do more political things.
SL: We all volunteer to do this lux as a political project.
MJ: I don’t want to use the term love work because we talked about it – I see it as an organizing project.