Probably my middle-classness and university education, as well as years of self—reflection after coming into contact with feminist theory, meant my self-esteem came out from this experience with just a few bruises. I just wonder how many women from less privilege backgrounds have been left to believe in their own inferiority after having their opinions dismissed and their hard work appropriated without recognition by men who call themselves anarchists. The low self-esteem that results from it means these women, their abilities and passion, are lost to the anti-authoritarian movement, some of it, I’m afraid, anti-authoritarian just in name. There is a lesson I learnt some time ago that could be perfectly applicable to this situation: you don’t suddenly stop being racist just because you’ve decided to. It has taken me years of active learning and self-reflection to reduce the racism engrained in me. A great deal of it involved identifying and deconstructing the category of ‘whiteness’. I don’t see that active learning and self-reflection is actually happening among men who consider themselves prominent in the anarchist movement. The will is just not there (and I’m talking racism as well as sexism here). Contemporary feminist analysis seems to have identified the reason why sexism is still so engrained among most men: ‘masculinity’, what it means, how it is expressed and how it relates to the category of ‘feminity’, is almost never on the table for discussion among men. They are just too busy talking about capitalism or the end of it. In the meantime, women like myself who have a strong desire to be politically active, find themselves questioning whether there is any hope for positive change when people who are supposed to be caring, compassionate and respectful insist on treating others as some kind of second class type of human being.
Anarchist Movement Conference 2009 leaflet
It's not even clear to me that it is a woman, looks like it could be a man or a woman to me. Have I got the wrong image (it would have been helpful to include the actual image with this article!) or have they just changed the image? Or is this post a subtle troll?
Maybe I'm missing the point but I can't really see the problem. If a man's image was chosen couldn't that equally be seen as sexist?
Anarchism also seeks to end exploitation, all forms of exploitation and hierarchy, including sexism and patriarchy. Anarchism is intrinsically feminist.
However, patriarchy is a system of domination and exploitation that is as old as humans are and unfortunatlely is one that seems very hard to get rid of. Patriarchy priveleges men and exploits women.
It seems to me that many poeple in the uk see feminism as unnecessary and unimportant, and feminists as some sort of joke. Sexism is not funny and people that think feminism is no longer needed and that men and women are equal, have no real idea of the reality of most womens experience around the world.
Women are getting fuck*d over all the time. Across the globe women do two thirds of the work, yet receive only tenth of the worlds income. Women own 1% of the world's property. Women account for two thirds of the 1.2 billion people classed as living in poverty by the UN. Nowhere in the world do women earn equal wages to men. In Europe the pay gap between men and women for like for like work is 25%. 70% of those not education are female. Male violence is the leading cause of death for women across the globe, over even cancer, maleria, war. Every week 2 women die in the UK at the hands of a male partner. 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence, and around the world 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their life.
As a white working class straight woman, the sexism I experience daily ranges from casual disrespect from men and discrimination through to street harrassment and sexual harrassment. For many women it is worse.
Its not about playing the victim, or anything like that, its about speaking out.
Unfortunately sexism is so prevalent and so ingrained, that it will take generations for it to be unlearned. And although we may as anarchists know about feminism and sexism and swear that we're not sexist, most of us are. And unfortunately, just like it does in most communities, groups, settings, patriarchy is replicated and perpetuated in the anarchist movement. I must have been to a million meetings, and have been involved in so many groups etc and every time i see the same old power dynamics at play. Its not just theory; gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, age, etc all become obvious and are used to hierarchise and even in anarchist organising, its everywhere.
If there was no sexism in the anarchist movement, then why do we as women who are anarchists identify as anarchafeminists and seek out women-only or explicitly feminist spaces. Its because we need it, and although we dont blame you explicitly for the sexism you perpetrate, we do expect you to start listening to women and think about what we are saying. Just because you as a man dont experience sexism, doesnt mean that it doesnt exist.
Could I suggest people read "Going to places that scare me" by Chris Crass, which is a great piece written by a male anarchist coming to terms with his own sexism http://www.xyonline.net/scare.shtml