March 8 is the international day of struggle for women’s rights. The date was chosen to commemorate the women’s strike of March 8, 1917 in Russia that sparked the Russian revolution, and it has always been a day dedicated to demanding equal rights for all genders and ending gender discrimination through action. In recent years, this day has developed into a massive strike day in many countries.
Feminist struggles in 2021
With the French presidential and parliamentary elections approaching, the climate remains as tense as it was last year: the far right is rampant, democracy is declining, police violence is on the rise, and the Covid-19 epidemic is leading to an increase in precariousness and sexual and gender-based violence. Access to abortion is under threat in many countries, or even in decline, as in the USA, Poland, Russia, Hungary and China. Women and gender minorities are under attack in France and throughout the world. In the workplace, we note that the equal rights theoretically acquired and enshrined in the law are in fact very limited, not applied or simply non-existent, due to a lack of controls, resources and political will.
But despite this alarming situation, we must not forget the victories achieved during the year, which show that the feminist struggle can still win, that it must always go on, everywhere, and never falter.
In France, we can mention:
- The Ibis Batignolles hotel chambermaids’ victory after 22 months of union struggle and strike action
- Extension of free contraception until the age of 25
- A ban on “conversion therapies”
- Access to abortion increased to 14 weeks
And in the world, this list being far from exhaustive:
- Progress on different scales on abortion in many countries: Japan, Gibraltar, Namibia, Saint-Martin, Colombia, Mexico…
- Implementation of measures to combat maternal mortality among African-American women in the USA
- Unmarried Saudi women can now choose where to live without the consent of their “guardian”
- Inclusion of pregnancy and maternity leave in the calculation of pensions for women in Argentina
- Inclusion of LGBTQIA+ history in the school curriculum in Scotland
- In Indonesia, progress and simplification of administrative procedures, allowing transgender people to obtain an identity card
- Creation of a domestic violence support scheme in Australia, allowing women to receive money to help them leave their partners
Equality for all is everyone’s business. Whether we are directly concerned by discriminations or not, they have an impact on our lives and fighting against them must be part of our common social goal. This is what we must constantly remind ourselves: our rights can never be taken for granted and it is more important than ever to fight, all of us together, to defend them and acquire new ones.
In the video game industry
Workers around the world are organising and fighting to hold their management and companies accountable, and to destroy sexism in the industry. This is particularly vivid and visible at Ubisoft and Activision-Blizzard, where workers have been fighting for over a year. The scandals revealed at these two industry giants are a particularly sordid example of the gap between theoretical rights and the material reality.
Gender-based violence and discriminations are widespread in the video game industry. Predominantly masculine, it combines in an exacerbated fashion capitalism, meaning the exploitation of workers by those who own the means of production, and patriarchy, the domination by men over people of other genders. This combination leads to situations in which marginalised people experience sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. violence and say nothing because the perpetrator has power over them at work, over their economic situation and over their careers. Very often, it is even the victims who suffer the wrath of their company when they speak out by being forced to resign, “put on the back burner”, suspended, etc.
A notable and telling fact to remember is that the percentage of women in the industry is lower than in video game schools, and their careers are on average much shorter than those of men. Women and other gender minorities are discriminated against in hiring and promotions, face harassment as early as their first internships and often even at school, and are on average paid less than their men colleagues.
Furthermore, practices such as crunch, the high frequency of burnouts and the industry’s incompatibility with family life, combined with the patriarchal division of labour and the predominance of men in the industry, mean that video game production relies on women’s work. These practices result in an overload of domestic work for women, which sadly already falls disproportionately on them in the current patriarchal social organisation.
The role of unions
This is why the syndicalist struggle is also a feminist one, and vice versa! As organisations created to defend workers in their relationship with the companies that exploit them, to improve their material conditions of existence and to empower them, trade unions are uniquely placed to fight for equal pay and against the discriminations, harassment, and harmful working conditions that plague gender minorities.
Trade unions are unique in their powers, as they can communicate directly at companies, represent and assist workers in disputes with their employers (both in court and in disciplinary interviews), negotiate with or pressure company management, etc. In short, by organising workers and reversing the balance of power in the workplace, trade unions are a powerful tool to lead the feminist struggle and ensure that not a single person remains isolated.
Everyone on strike on March 8, 2022!
The Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo is calling for a strike in the video game industry on Tuesday March 8, to fight against gender discrimination and inequality in our industry. We call on women and gender minorities to strike against reproductive work (housework, childcare, emotional work, …) for the whole week of March 8, and we invite everyone to come to the demonstrations on March 8, 2022.
This call covers the STJV’s field of action in the private sector, and therefore applies to any person employed by a company that publishes, distributes, provides services and/or creates video games or video game equipment, whatever their position or status and whatever the type of production of their company (console, PC, mobile, serious games, VR/AR experiences, game engines, marketing services, game consoles, streaming, etc. ), as well as all the teachers working in private schools in courses related to video game production. For all these people, and since this is a national call to strike, no action is necessary to go on strike: you just have to not come to work on the days you want to strike.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.