Throughout my life I've always related more to women. They're easier to talk to. They offer insight into life (being the bearers of it all) and they help me focus my emotions into positivity. So, it's no wonder that I am a self-described Anarchafeminist.
I have been posting to a wonderful anarchafeminist message board on Yahoo! for a few years and have considered myself a student of anarchy for quite some time (which many of you may think is a waste of time). Today, I'd like to talk about power struggle and the Anarchafeminist's position within the struggle. (Hopefully this won't be too dry for all of you wonderful people out in blogland)! I received most of my training in anarchafeminism by having discussions with other anarchafeminists and working for the struggles brought about by biology-based differences (i.e. sex, sexual identities and race).
First, let me tell you why I think it's important to understand anarchafeminism and the issues it attempts to resolve. The biggest issue to me, pre-dating the time of Emma Goldman, is still unresolved today; the right of women to choose their reproductive agendas.
Emma Goldman was imprisoned in 1916 for handing out literature describing birth control for women. Now, for all of you pro-lifers out there, this is what Emma Goldman had to say about Abortion:
"The custom of procuring abortions has reached such appalling proportions in America as to be beyond belief...So great is the misery of the working classes that seventeen abortions are committed in every one hundred pregnancies."
Yet, she was jailed because of handing out literature on contraception. What an interesting power dynamic we have here, no? The removal of knowledge (which, of course is POWER) to force someone into chosing what the empowered envision as proper! Also, note the later half of Emma's comment. "So great is the misery. . ." Here we have two groups in America. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice working for their respective causes. However, the real issue is not whether one group supports life over death (as many pro-lifers would have you believe) but rather an issue of class. Briefly, there are (many) societal factors that contribute to the need for an abortion and many factors lead up to the point in a woman's life where an abortion is necessary. By resolving the disparities (i.e. education, access to other resources) between men and women, blacks and whites, haves and have nots we could resolve the necessity that is abortion.
Here are my four reasons for studying anarchafeminism?
1) Reproductive rights issues. as a man identified as having a non-traditional sexual identity I find reproductive freedom to be a very important issue. I think anyone dealing with sexualities needs to understand reproductive rights and reproductive freedom. I also believe that reproductive freedom, real reproductive freedom, requires a lane change in the road down which we're heading
2) Deconstruction of biology-based social institutions (i.e. masculinity v. femininity; gender struggles, queer issues). Women and Men have been separated in sociology based on biology for a very long time. As an anarchafeminist I think it's important to make sure that biological differences (sex; male/female) do not translate into gender (social; masculinity/femininity) differences. Of course, this has been the case for centuries. The question is, how do we ameliorate this effect? It cannot be ameliorated by putting women into power. Anarchafeminism suggests that by putting women in power, we are in fact NOT abolishing biology-based oppression. It is in the cooperation among men and women with institutions being created by and for both men and women, that oppression based on sex can be ameliorated. You see where the anarchy part comes in here. Anarchists do not want violent destruction of social institutions (though I personally know of no peaceful revolution) but rather to use different, unique mechanisms to counter current institutions.
Whew. . .
This is a long assed list. . .
3) Deconstruction of power dynamics and learning how to equally distribute power. I spoke of Emma's comments regarding birth control and abortion. The idea that knowledge can be withheld in order to maintain the absolute power of one man while enslaving those that are ignorant is something we cannot tolerate. Anarchafeminists work for the distribution of knowledge and support the use of that knowledge to deconstruct the power that has been hijacked. By re-distributing Truth, we empower our brothers and sisters to challenge institutions that seek to oppress them.
4) Deconstruction of oppression. The 'double' oppression of women demands a double fight and double organizing: on the one hand in feminist federations, on the other hand in the organizations of anarchists. The anarchafeminists form a junction in this double organizing.
An essential point in anarchafeminism is that the changes must begin today, not tomorrow or after the revolution. The revolution shall be permanent. We must start today by seeing through the oppression in the daily life and do something to break the pattern here and now.
We must act autonomously, without delegating to any leaders the right to decide what we wish and what we shall do: we must make decisions all by ourselves in personal matters, together with women in pure female matters, and together with the male fellows in common matters.
A serious anarchism must also be feminist otherwise it is a question of patriarchal half-anarchism and not real anarchism. It is the task of the anarcha-feminists to secure the feminist feature in anarchism. There will be no anarchism without feminism.
No feminism, no anarchy. No females, no life. Same principle. I think the important thing to mention is that there have been some fairly decent advances in civil/human/women's rights in America. I think that we shouldn't forget them. I think anarchafeminists make sure we don't forget about the progress that has been made (while questioning why the progress had to be made in the first place).
That's what always gets me. Why is the power struggle (whether it's between men and women, or Nation and State) even an issue? Why do we have differences in power distribution? As if these differences were forged in the stars, religion, biology or any other bullshit. There is no need for inequality. There is no need for unequal power distribution. Ugh, frustration! Let's get over it people!
Movin' on and up!