From BR/RN: It is often said that history is a weapon but it also serves as a reflection of the past through which we make better sense of the present. With this in mind we present Julia Tenenbaum’s narrative on anarchist feminism which emerged as a distinct current from the larger radicalization of the 1960s and 70s period. You can purchase a copy of Perspectives issue 29, which this article appeared in, from AK Press here!
Capitalist society depends on class exploitation. It does not though depend on sexism and could in theory accommodate to a large extent a similar treatment of women and men. This is obvious if we look at what the fight for women’s liberation has achieved in many societies around the world over the last, say, 100 years, where there has been radical improvements in the situation of women and the underlying assumptions of what roles are natural and right for women. Capitalism, in the meantime, has adapted to women’s changing role and status in society.
Originally published in RAG, magazine of the Revolutionary Anarcha-Feminist Group, Dublin, Ireland, no. 2, Autumn 2007. From the author: Special thanks to Tamarack and José Antonio Gutiérrez for their feedback and suggestions. www.ragdublin.blogspot.com | Text from www.anarkismo.net
Class difference and the way in which it divides women was an issue women in the feminist movement talked about long before race. In the mostly white circles of a newly formed women’s liberation movement the most glaring separation between women was that of class. White working-class women recognised that class hierarchies were present in the movement. Conflict arose between the reformist vision of women’s liberation which basically demanded equal rights for women within the existing class structure, and more radical and/or revolutionary models, which called for a fundamental change in the existing structure so that models of mutuality and equality could replace the old paradigms. However, as the feminist movement progressed and privileged groups of well-educated white women began to achieve equal access to class power with their male counterparts, feminist class struggle was born.
Text from the website of the North-eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists.
An important principle of anarchism and one that more than any other differentiates it from other types of socialism is its emphasis on freedom and non-hierarchical social relations.
Central to anarchism is the rejection of any power hierarchy between men and women. Anarchists believe that the liberty of one is based on the liberty of all and so there can be no true anarchist society without an end to all existing structures of domination and exploitation, including naturally the oppression of women. As anarchists we believe that the means determines the end. This means that we do not wait for some future revolution to tackle the problems of sexism but instead see that it is important to struggle against it in the here and now. As anarchists we strive to ensure that both our own organisations and also those campaigns we are involved in are free from sexism and power-hierarchies and that all members have equal decision-making power.