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That 18,000 people--mostly female--filled Madison Square Garden, a basilica of boy-sport theology, on February 10 to watch a celebrity-packed performance of The Vagina Monologues represents a slightly less staggering achievement than a women's takeover of the Vatican or the Chabad Lubavitcher world headquarters. The show was the capper to a daylong international event called V-Day: The Gathering to End Violence Against Women, during which sixty women from six continents presented stop-rape strategies. What was most remarkable about these projects was their insistence not simply on shielding women but on permanently and radically altering how communities talk about rape and deal with rapists. In the evening, the most arresting image was that of an Afghan woman, obliterated by her burqa, moving like a silent, anonymous hill of cloth toward the stage. When the cloth was lifted, a young woman emerged, dressed in the casual jacket-and-pants outfit that would blend in on any university campus in the world, but that her own country's Taliban movement would deem reason enough to beat her to death on the spot.

Those who endeavor to dismiss events like V-Day as pageants of single-issue identity politics are missing the point. The reports of sequestering of Vietnamese women in a Korean-owned sweatshop in American Samoa, where they were fed cabbage water, housed forty to a rat-infested room and kept under the thumb of sexual predators, is a reminder that at the very bottom of the "race to the bottom" economy, there's always a room where women are locked, overseen by a male with the power to starve them and to demand blowjobs in return for allowing them to keep working.

Labor organizations like UNITE and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees now understand that feminist issues like sweatshops, comparable worth for women, sexual harassment and education provide the vital pathway toward the expansion and revitalization of their movement. But events like V-Day make an even broader point: Vigorous global feminism is perhaps the single most effective form of resistance to the systematic degradation of human rights standards worldwide, which makes possible the worst ravages of the transnational economy.

The evidence of these depredations abounds. In London, girls as young as 5, purchased as slaves from Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe, are imprisoned in flats where they are rented to businessmen. Since NAFTA's inception, more than 200 young Mexican women have been raped and murdered on their way home from working in maquiladoras. V-Day's insistence on a worldwide confrontation of the systems that allow such atrocities kicks open a door for all manner of liberation activists. It's harder to imagine a single greater threat to the global sweatshop economy than the systematic pursuit of the rights of women.

Radio station WBAI is under attack from within in order to silence radical dissent.

New recounts show that the wrong man is in the Oval Office.

The Bush Administration's health policies for Africa basically amount to the moral equivalent of the death penalty for 25 million people.

With a more prudish administration assuming office, pornographers are carefully tailoring their product so as not to offend—or be the target of investigations.

The paper of record has a curiously difficult time reporting the 'Chinese espionage' case.

Single-payer healthcare is favored by the public, yet the insurance industry has too much to lose if it is enacted.

As Mexican president Vicente Fox begins his historic administration, the most difficult and abrasive issue that both he and the United States must confront is the continuing flow of immigration fr

John Ashcroft took office swearing on a stack of Bibles--on three of them, actually, one for each of his children--to run "a professional Justice Department that is free from politics." Sure.

Estrada is gone, but corruption remains.

Blogs

Education reformers have left out the human dimensions of a harsh labor market where women, like my mother, were regularly punished for not being men. 

August 30, 2014

The NFL’s stance against domestic violence is just a PR stunt.

August 29, 2014

Michael Brown, John Crawford, Reefa Hernandez—and a national youth movement.

August 29, 2014

Both thrive on the breakdown of the existing social order.

August 28, 2014

Immigrants and allies rallied in more than a dozen US cities on Thursday to ask President Obama to use his executive authority to stop deportations of undocumented workers and their families.

August 28, 2014

If you’re asking the question “Where is the movement?” you simply haven’t been paying attention.

August 28, 2014

Advocates behind a national bus tour want to enlist young people in the fight to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

August 27, 2014

Some of the hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants who were expelled from the United States after signing voluntary departure forms may be allowed to return and seek legal status

August 27, 2014

A new law in Illinois is set to modernize the way bosses deal with pregnant employees.

August 27, 2014

Residents of Canfield Green Apartments have been faced with tremendous challenges in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown—many a direct result of actions taken by the police.

August 27, 2014