These days, feminism is on fleek. Touted by everyone from Dove to Barbie to Taylor Swift, consumer capitalism has made feminism sexy, fun, cool—and remarkably easy to claim as your own. But the price tag has been the meaning of the movement itself.
Bitch magazine cofounder Andi Zeisler describes this phenomenon as “marketplace feminism.” “Marketplace feminism is in many ways about just branding feminism as an identity that everyone can and should consume,” she writes in her new book We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement.
‘Women empowerment’ is just another fad that a lot of brands are cashing into. The agenda is always to exploit the consumer’s psyche and sell more. Let’s not kid ourselves that a soap brand or a diamond manufacturer actually cares about women’s (or any other group’s) issues.
This graphic novel about Emma Goldman tells the stories of two women – anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman, one of history’s greatest orators and Dorothy Rogers, an obscure younger radical lost to history, but a key figure in Emma’s last turbulent year in Canada. Despite a shared melancholy, they fight to save a man’s life from certain death in the final poignant act of Emma’s 50 years as a revolutionary.
This true-life, epic story is interwoven in the fictional context of Helen, the writer, and Henry, the artist, as they create this graphic novel on the lives of Emma and Dorothy.
Below is an excerpt from my graphic novel about Emma Goldman. Drawings were created using a combination of watercolour pencil, pen and acrylics.
This is my favorite writing about being a woman involved with anarchism based on my 33 years of experience. What has been put in bold are my own favorite passages that I have seen so clearly for so long.
For too long anarchist feminists have been labeled as the ‘ladies auxiliary of male bomb throwers’. The misconception and manipulation of both feminists and anarchist principles and practice have resulted in the use of sensationalist and ridiculing tactics by the state and its spokespeople.
This has not only polarised the general populace from potentially liberation concepts but has also polarised anarchists from feminists. In the past and more so recently there has been a uniting of these beliefs and Peggy Korneggers article; ‘Anarchism; the Feminist Connection’ goes so far as to say that the two genres of thought are inextricable tied although the connection has not been consciously articulated by feminists very often.
Kornegger agrues that feminism’s “emphasis on the small group as a basic organisational unit, on the personal as political, on anti- authoritarianism and on spontaneous direct action was essentially anarchism”.
I believe that this puts women in a unique position of being the bearers of a subsurface anarchist consciousness which if articulated and concretised can take us further than any previous group toward the achievement of total revolution.
While anarchism has provided a frameword for the transformation required, for far too long even this revolutionary ideology has been largely male identified; male articulated, male targeted and male exclusive in both its language and participation.
It has therefore been unfortunately lacking in vital analysis especially with regard to the psychological and physical realities of oppression experienced by the majority of the human population: women. As Emma Goldman said of the Spanish Revolution of 1936:
“Despite the impressive rhetoric, most frequently male anarchists retreated to cultural orthodoxy in their personal relationships with women …The vast majority of Spanish comrades continued to expect their own “companions” to provide the emotionally supportive and submissive relationships“necessary” for the activism of the males”.
Anarchism has often duplicated the very concepts of power it sought to obliterate . One of the basic tenants of anarchist feminsm is that we are not prisoners of the past: –
”The past leads us if we force it to
Otherwise it contains us,
In its asylum with no gate
We make history or it makes us”
As anarchist feminists we are not asking men to attone for the sins of the forefathers, we are asking them to take responsibility for the masculinity of the future, we are not asking women to be perpetually aware of their opression but to emerge from it. Mostly we are not locating conflict with certain people rather than the kind of behaviour that takes place between them.
As Robin Morgan points out in her book The Demon Lover, the left have been dominated and led by a male system of violence which has created with reactionary punctuality its “opposite” (duplicate) of action theory and language.
She argues that in the search for “legitimacy” male revolutionaries adopt the forums and language of violence and domination that continue to oppress women. These forms are seemingly the sole route for political transgression; women are enticed and engaged in the struggle which, while purporting to be revolutionary, is only revolutionary on male terms and will use and betray them.
Too often feminists have been abused by and asked by male revolutionaries to make ther claim and focus subservient to “the wider struggle”.
From the women Abolitionists jeered at when they gave a feminist understaning of the problems of male drunkeness and its devastating effects on women, to the suffragists accused of diverting attention from the war effort, to Zetkin, Luxumbourg and Goldman, all suffered the eye roll and brutality of both the state that is and the state that would be.
We see Alexandra Kollontai the only women involved in the Russian cabinet after the 1917 Revolution being exiled to Norway after all her references to the necessity of a feminist component to revolution were edited and diluted.
We are asked to stop pursuing our cause and start defending it and to argue for the validity of our cause that would imply we wanted “in”.
Even recently a once respected friend said that “The womens meeting is on now, the real meeting will state in half and hour.” When questioned he added “the full meeting”. The fullness of the lack of filling penile participation I supposed, lubricated and made ready, as always in isolation. Ah but how can one quibble about the sloppiness of language when it serves their purposes so well.
Entering into political circles with men is an exercise in the risk of compromising and being obedient to this attitude or in confronting it. Ridicule is the worst, tokenism is little better and so gloriously rare and acute is our joy when the issues are taken seriously that we could be mistaken for groaning clapping seals unless we are already cringingly braced in anticipation of the backlash of men genuinely perplexed but inarticulate except in the socialised male response; defensiveness.
But there must be some way in which to address the political nature of our polarisation as sexes in political forums which involve men. There must be some way to point to the coercive power structures that display a hidden elite, invariably of men but also of women.
Socialist organisations are popular with a lot of people who are flocking to these groups because it is felt that one must be involved with a revolutionary group,. Indeed. But with their gender blind hierarchical bludgeoning from the podium these organisations have a typical style of interpreting feminist concerns and concrete grievances as irrelevant to or as symptomatic of the larger struggle.
“They appeal to women to suspend our cause temporarily which inevitable leads to a dismissal of women’s issues as tangential, reducing them to subsidiary categories.”
Anarcha-feminists have said that the “definitive body of theory is so often the comforting cushion for male reclining, such theorizing instead of articulation gives one the illusion of responding to a critical situaion, without ever really coming to grips with one’s perception of it.
With capitalism and patriarchy so safely reduced to an explanation, we distance ourselves from the problem and the necessity to immediately interact with it or respond to other people.” So often revolutionaries deal with concepts and not people.
But while as anarcha-feminists we object to much of the politics of socialists (as a friend of mine says “After your revolution we’ll still be us, but you’ll be them, “) we also argue that liberation needs to happen in small afinity groups so that people are not bludgeoned into opinions and can build up the personal relationships of trust that facilitate the grieving, the sharing and the exorcisms of the psychological thought processes and experiences that brought them to their politics..
This is often a sanity compromising process.. or do we actually become sane through that difficult time when we realise that the personal is political?
“Those of us who have learnt to survive by dominating others, as well as those of us who have learned to survive by accepting domination need to socialise ourselves into being strong without playing dominance submission games, into controlling what happens to us without controlling others.”
“To this end anarchism must start with a solid feminist consciousness and practise it or it be doomed to just as much internal contradiction and failure as anarchists traditionally foresaw for hierarchical Marxism.”
Belo Horizonte (Brazil): The feminist squat Tina Martins is threatened with eviction
from squat.net with thanks: On March 8th, the feminist movement Olga Benário squatted an empty building in the center of Belo Horizonte, with the hope of turning it into a crisis shelter for female victims of violence. Since then, the building is occupied as a place of living for dozens of women, and holds every day gatherings, assemblies, culturals and political events. It also works as a self-managed crisis shelter: a psychological and medical reception center for more or less 200 women who are homeless or victims of violence. Continue reading Feminist Womens’ Refuge Occupation ‘Tina Martins’ threatened with eviction→
La Dragona..the Female Dragon is the only Occupied Autonomous Social Centre that’s part of a cemetery… But it is very much alive, since 2008 resisting all attacks and setting the social and political scene in Elipa Barrio alight with it’s fiery breath.
Now the Council say they want the abandoned historic mansion back to make it a museum.. To fill it with DEAD THINGS.
In reality the authorities are still furious.. that an open Social Centre can work well for years and years.. outside their control, ignoring all their rules and regulations and police, seeking no grants, deciding all by open assembly, making no profits, creating a small FREE SPACE where creativity explodes like the beans in Spring.. and worst of all.. demonstrating that anarchist ideas can work.
Toulouse: ‘Naked, drunk or isolated, we are not prey…’
Via ContraInfo… La Dépèche is a big regional newspaper from the South West of France
La Dépèche isn’t an un-attackable fortress. All big companies have their weaknesses, its for us to be inventive, cunning and insightful enough, to find them. La Dépèche Intéractive is a subsidiary of La Dépèche group. This is enough for us to make them a target.
The reasons to hurt the media are uncountable. It’s even a widespread discourse of those who understood that the public opinion will never be our friend. This attack is a reaction to the publication of an article promoting the idea that “we, women” create the circumstance for our aggressors, in not embodying the desires of man’s model wrought, that want us to be silent, submissive, obedient and an object of consumption.
The hammers that this time aimed for windows – like they can aim for heads – arm our rage towards all those who reinforce this rape culture. This action is more of a stride in the never-ending path of our freedom from all oppressions.
We clearly never repeat it enough; sexual assaults are not the isolated act of a dangerous individual who watches from an alley-way corner – but actually – if not a weapon, its often the threats and the correctional punishment, for all women who have taken part in rebellion in their life, or simply searching to exit the cage that is patriarchy. And its always the reflection of a world that envisages women as objects to submit.
The media instrumentalises us to distil fear, in creating a need for security which should be urgently met, with ever more control over our lives, cameras, DNA profiling. They don’t seek to protect us, this discourse is to lure us in, to increase their domination.
We don’t want to delegate our protection, but try to organise to defend ourselves, and attacking is one way to do that.
To imply, as Jean Cohadon did in his article, that alcohol and drugs are recurring problems with women – that can’t be dissociated from sexual violence and other aggressions that they are subject to – is holding their legs open whilst tormentors do their business. This mediocre newspaper, passionate about various facts and police operations, is one of the thousands of unpunished accomplices that nobody dreams, or dares, to attack. La Dépèche publish their article in their infamous rag, this is another.
Amongst women, we’re organising, so that one day we not only take on windows and walls, but also the people that hide behind them, who are the subject of our hatred. We want them to be in fear, so they know that their actions won’t pass without a response. We want them to think of all the pissed off women who watch them from an alley-way corner, who one day dream of thrusting a hammer into their hearts. They want us to be responsible for the horrors that they make us suffer, we want the fear to change sides.
This action is dedicated to all pissed off women, we hope that it warms your hearts.
note: Many more Direct Actions are continuing In Toulouse and throughout France as the uprising continues, centred round the Nuit Debout movement and resistance to the neo-liberal slave Loi du Travail…
Francia – Destrozadas a martillazos las vidrieras del periódico por publicar artículos misóginos
Recojo de Contra Info y difundo el siguiente comunicado reivindicando los sabotajes a unas oficinas del medio burgués La Depeche por parte de un grupo de mujeres que firmaron la acción como“Algunas mujeres rabiosas” y que golpearon a esta sede rompiendo sus cristales a martillazos por haber publicado un artículo misógino donde se culpaba a las mujeres de las violaciones y de otras agresiones sufridas por ellas cotidianamente.———————————————–——————–-
La Depeche no es una fortaleza inexpugnable. Todos los grupos principales tienen sus debilidades, a nosotras de ser bastante inventivas, listas y bastante perspicaces para encontrarlas. La Depeche Interactiva es una rama del grupo Depeche. Esto es suficiente para que sea un objetivo.
Las razones para dañar a los medios de comunicación son innumerables. Incluso es más bien un discurso común entre aquell@s que han entendido que la opinión pública nunca será nuestra amiga. Este ataque es una reacción a la publicación de un artículo propagando la idea de que “nosotras mujeres” estamos creando las condiciones de nuestras agresiones, no incorporando el modelo en forma por los deseos de los hombres, que nos quiere silenciosas, sumisas, obedientes, y objeto de consumo.
Los martillos que esta vez apuntaron los escaparates -ya que podrían apuntar a las cabezas- arman nuestra rabia hacia todxs aquellxs que fortalecen la cultura de la violación. Esta acción es un paso hacia adelante en el camino sin fin de nuestra liberación de toda opresión. Obviamente, nunca repetimos lo suficiente, la violación no es el acto aislado de un individuo peligroso que acecharía su presa en la esquina de un callejón, sino un arma, a menudo la amenaza y el castigo correctivo para todas las mujeres que hicieron de la rebelión su vida o que simplemente buscan de salir de la jaula del patriarcado. Y siempre es un reflejo de un mundo que considera a las mujeres como objetos destinados a servir.
Los medios nos están instrumentalizando para destilar el miedo, creando una necesidad de seguridad a la que tuviéramos que responder, en emergencia, para obtener más y más control sobre nuestras vidas, cámaras, registros de ADN. No tratan de protegernos, este discurso es un señuelo para aumentar su dominio.
No queremos delegar nuestra protección, sino que intentamos organizarnos para defendernos, y el ataque es una manera de hacerlo.
Dar a entender, al igual que lo hace Jean Cohadon en su artículo, que el alcohol y las drogas son problemas recurrentes de las mujeres, los cuales no pueden ser separados de las violaciones y otras agresiones a las que están sujetas, es mantener sus piernas abiertas mientras que los verdugos están haciendo sus asuntos. Este pobre periodista, apasionado por las noticias de crónica y las intervenciones policiales, y miles de cómplices suyos impunes, a los cuales nadie piensa, o se atreve a atacar. La Depeche, publicando su artículo en su infame trapo, es un cómplice demás.
Nos organizamos, entre mujeres, para que un día no ataquemos sólo a los escaparates y a las paredes, sino a las personas escondidas detrás, y son aquellas personas que son objeto de nuestro odio. Queremos que tengan miedo, que sepan que sus comportamientos no quedará sin respuesta. Queremos que piensen en todas estas mujeres rabiosas que les acechan en la esquina de un callejón, y que sueñen en un día en el que les golpeemos con un martillo en el corazón. Quieren hacernos responsables de los horrores que nos hacen sufrir, queremos que el miedo cambie de bando.
Esta acción está dedicada a todas las mujeres enojadas, esperamos así calentar vuestros corazones.
¡Que las acciones contra el patriarcado se multipliquen! ¡En sus martillos… listas… fuera!
Meghan Murphy is at the centre of a battle going on between feminists who argue that porn and prostitution (‘sex-work’) is somehow liberating for women and those like Meghan Murphy and Rachel Moran who say women are victims of the sex industry, that ‘neo-liberal’ feminists are acting like trolls for sexists and patriarchy, and who support the ‘Nordic’ model of penalizing pimps and customers of prostitutes (johns).from feminist current, with thanks. This interview was conducted and translated into French by Francine Sporenda for the website, Révolution Féministe. It has been edited for clarity and length.
Francine Sporenda: What are your thoughts on French Parliament’s recent vote to criminalize the purchase of sex in France?
Meghan Murphy: The recent vote in French parliament to adopt the Nordic model is not only an important and historic win for France, but for all of the EU (and, more broadly, for the world), as it sets a precedent for other countries. That parliamentarians have acknowledged prostitution as a form of violence against women and as inherently coercive is enormously impactful — this is exactly the kind of feminist analysis that industry lobbyists and sexist, entitled men have worked so hard to silence (for obvious reasons).
The continued existence and social acceptance of prostitution relies on the ability to erase the reality of the industry — to erase the real women and girls impacted and to erase the actual idea of prostitution, in and of itself. The sex industry depends on our ability, as humans, to say, “It’s fine, it’s safe, it’s a choice, it’s harmless — just a neutral ‘job’ like any other ‘job,’” and to ignore what is happening to real women in the industry. Continue reading Meghan Murphy on the liberal backlash against feminism→