‘Women in the I.W.W.’ by Sophie Beldner from Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 2 No. 9. April 25, 1908.

‘Women in the I.W.W.’ by Sophie Beldner from Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 2 No. 9. April 25, 1908.

To the Editor of THE BULLETIN:

1. Is a married women of the working class a chattel slave or a wage slave?

2. Has she the right to belong to a mixed local of the I.W.W.?

I ask these questions because objection has been raised by some member of the Denver local to the effect that a married woman, a housekeeper, has no right to belong to a workingmen’s organization.

I wish to be made clear as to the attitude of the general organization on this matter.

As far as I know, the purpose of a mixed local is to educate and organize branches of different industries when there are enough members to form a local. Does a woman, that keeps house for her husband, interfere with the progress of the organization by being a member of a mixed local?

Some assert that we have no grievance against the capitalist class, therefore we have no place in the union. Our grievance is against our husbands, if we are dissatisfied with our condition.

I believe the married woman of the working class is no parasite nor exploiter. She is a social producer. In order to sustain herself, she has to sell her labor power, either in the factory, directly to the capitalist, or at home, indirectly, by serving the wage slave, her husband, thus keeping him in working condition through cooking, washing and general housekeeping.

Her being a mother and a housekeepers are two different functions. One is her maternal, and the other is her industrial function in society. And as an industrial factor in society, I believe the wage slave’s wife has got a right to belong to a mixed local. I think it should be encouraging for workingmen to see women enter their ranks and, shoulder to shoulder, fight for economic freedom.

Memorial services at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery for the martyrs of the Everett Massacre, May Day, 1917.

Civilization denied us the right of expressing our political opinion at the ballot box; will the economic organization, the I.W.W., our only hope, exclude us, and deny us the right to record our discontent against the capitalist system?

Will the Editor please answer in THE BULLETIN?

Yours for the emancipation of the working class,

SOPHIE VASILIO. San Francisco, Cal.

[Note.-No reason is apparent why a woman, married and wishing to aid in the propaganda work, should not be admitted to a mixed local; but no provision is made for such a person when the mixed local ends its activities and the members take their places in industrial unions. It is a matter to which the next convention will give attention.-Ed. I. U. B.]

The Industrial Union Bulletin, and the Industrial Worker were newspapers published by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) from 1907 until 1913. First printed in Joliet, Illinois, IUB incorporated The Voice of Labor, the newspaper of the American Labor Union which had joined the IWW, and another IWW affiliate, International Metal Worker.The Trautmann-DeLeon faction issued its weekly from March 1907. Soon after, De Leon would be expelled and Trautmann would continue IUB until March 1909. It was edited by A. S. Edwards. 1909, production moved to Spokane, Washington and became The Industrial Worker, “the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism.”

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/industrialworker/iub/v2n09-apr-25-1908-iub.pdf

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