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When I encountered workerism, I was 19 years old. I was young, and thus I was silent and I learned. I remember that in many meetings I wanted to say things, but I was shy and insecure and therefore I preferred to keep quiet. The leaders of the movement were generally students who had already learned to do politics because they had some previous experience of party or political organizations. In contrast, I had only my beliefs about the need to change the world for the triumph of equality, freedom, and justice.

My only previous political experience was my participation in strikes against the French nuclear tests in the Pacific, when I was The students who went on strike were all punished by being held back in their academic progress because of their participation. The second great experience that I had which prepared me for a life of political engagement was that of declaring myself to be an atheist when I was I was living with my parents in Dolo, a small town between Padua and Venice, and my family was very religious Catholic.

But I was seeing so much poverty and injustice around me, against which the official Church was doing very little. My stance, which was against the role of the church hierarchy, was a shock to my parents, but they endured it.

Finally, when I was 18 years old, I decided to leave home in order to support myself while I studied at the university, although my parents were affluent and could pay for my studies. I wanted to be in control of my life and live without social privileges.

I did a lot of jobs, from being a shop assistant in a library to being a trade representative dealing with works of art, and being a librarian at the university. This time my parents wept very much: from their viewpoint, their only daughter I had three brothers was the most rebellious and looked at life in a way that they felt would result in hardship.

It was a great and huge movement that wanted to reinvent our way of life and the organization of society, starting from changes at the university. I could not help but join it with great enthusiasm. As students, however, we were isolated from other people, especially from the workers, who at that time were engaged in their own struggles.

For this reason I took part in the struggles of commuters, and of workers in the department stores. Commuters wanted to have their commute time recognized by enterprises as part of their work time, and not as their personal problem. The workers in the department stores wanted a higher wage and also better conditions of work, including shorter hours.

It was my participation in these struggles that forced me to better understand the role of workers in capitalist society, and to think about how to understand those roles. I began to understand the meaning of many concepts and categories that were used in the movement, but which had for me at that time a vague meaning. And above all, this group was committed to creating an organizational platform where students, in addition to workers, could find space to unite.

At that time, the big problem was that of breaking down the social barriers that strongly separated the students from the workers in the factories and the other workers. However, this reexamined Marx, although powerful in comparison to the orthodox version, continued to remain blind towards the reality lived by women.

The author speaking at a demonstration in Piazza Ferretto, Mestre, March I do not like to talk about the limits of Potere Operaio; as feminists we criticized and contested them several times for their lack of awareness of the social condition and roles of women. However, I think that the militants of that movement did all that was possible to increase the pool of activists and attract other class sections, from factory workers to employees, from high school students to teachers in middle and high schools, and so on.

They also made enormous progress in expanding political discourse outside of Marxist orthodoxy. They made the Marxian legacy something dynamic and useful for analyzing and understanding society in the second half of the 20th century, as they taught to all grassroots activists, including me, the ability to use Marx without deference.

My participation in Potere Operaio was limited, though, because I began to participate in the emerging group Lotta Femminista Feminist Struggle.

I began to participate in Lotta Femminista when I was In the meantime, I had grown up, learned a lot, had overcome my shyness for speaking in public, and knew that it was time to give a political meaning even to my personal choices. The personal struggles that many women had engaged in, for their own sake and in order to change society, were in need of a sounding board and a uniting force that would increase their power. This force was the discovery of class consciousness on the part of women, which would serve as the engine of political organization for their social struggles.

Lotta Femminista brought the workerist experience to the feminist movement. Of course, I had to bend the Marxian categories in light of the feminist experience and political tradition. Which women? Lotta Femminista had always been a minority tendency within the broader feminist movement, because women in the feminist movement were at first rightly wary of any political theory developed in masculine political traditions.

But it was very difficult for the Committees for Wages for Housework to find consensus on their proposal, because feminist women in general thought it was better to reject domestic labor in toto and leave their homes.

In this period, we workerist feminists were not able to convince the whole feminist movement that the refusal of work must be managed within a process of wage bargaining, or otherwise domestic work would return in another manner alongside work outside the home, which we were also struggling over. A May Day demonstration in Naples. The feminist movement had the great merit of giving women an overall bargaining power at the social level.

New generations of women need to learn from this political error and understand that housework, in its material and immaterial aspects, must be socially recognized as productive labor.

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