Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Female Empowerment

Submitted by Thomas Andrews, devotee of Guru Rasa:

Anarcho-misogynists Anonymous... A 12 step plan
These are some ways of challenging our social conditioning by a
patriarchal culture. Macho behaviour is not specific to men, although
often more common as males have been traditionally encouraged into
stereotypical men (meaning aggressive, dominating, active,
individualistic etc.) and women encouraged into equally limited and
repressive caricatures instead of us all achieving our full potential as
human beings.

Women's Space: Women, spend time in it, especially if you don't
understand why it exists. The experiences of women's space are different
to mixed space. And let's stop 'discussing' it in mixed groups - women's
space is neither requested or demanded, it is taken and the opinions of
men are irrelevant.

Skill Sharing: It is largely a myth. Usually it is about one individual
teaching one or many, and obviously gives rise to many problems of
hierarchy and patronizing behaviour. Lets work on real
show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

New Women Being Fuck Fodder: This is particularly present, or maybe just
most visible, on mixed protest camps, although also a problem in women's
camps when they are treated like lifestyle cruising grounds, at squat
cafes/social centres and in urban groups. Other women can 'buddy up'
with women who are new and let them know they are valued as activists.
Males can be friendly but not invasive. Everyone can pull up their
friends or intervene if somebody is being out of order. Be honest, tell
newcomers about problems like this so they don't think they're imagining
it, or that this is acceptable behaviour.

Sexual Coercion: While this is such a common complaint, it is often kept
hush hush, people not wanting to rock the boat. As people who value
direct action we need to take it - girl guerrilla groups who have issued
confrontational warnings or revenge attacks on known bastards have
claimed mixed areas as places not to mess with women in. The actions we
take against corporate scum can and should also be taken against raping

Question Everything: Why do you really want to do that banner drop? Is
it the best, most effective attack on this particular target or is it
the one that gets you the most credit? If you can't be bothered to go
flyposting and engage in sabotage, but you will get nicked for something
high profile and dangerous... ask yourself why. Think carefully before
every action. Just what and who are you doing this for?

Shut Up: Meetings are generally dominated by a few mouthy individuals
with little particularly constructive, creative or original to say.
Recognize that some people are more confident than others talking in
meetings. Have go-rounds at the beginning and at the end of meetings and
somewhere halfway too. When someone new or someone who doesn't usually
speak gets the guts to say something, credit them. Properly facilitated
meetings are a great asset to those who don't jump in. And talk to new
people or quiet people afterward; tell them you liked what they said.

Wash Up: It's such a cliché it's almost a joke. But it takes more
than soapsuds to sort out the division of labour. On actions do the
things you don't usually, offer to do the support work, stay in the
office, do leaflet distribution, be - godforbid - anonymous. If it's an
action that's public then it doesn't need the trust of an affinity group
off to burn something down. Team up with less experienced people - write
that leaflet with someone who's never written one before instead of your
usual comrade.

Sisterhood: To misquote one of my male friends - there's no point
spelling womyn all funny if you don't do the acts too. Solidarity in
sisterhood can be interpreted in 100's of ways, be doing at least some
of them.

We Don't Need Another Hero: Putting ourselves and others in
hero-positions fictionalizes our activities rather than reaching out to
others. Bragging is neither skill sharing nor empowering others to act.
Let's get humble because nothing we do is glorious, especially not when
it's sensational. The sexy factor of an action isn't the be all and end
all and media coverage is generally counter-productive. Get real -
seeing a young dreadlocked white boy hanging off a thin rope on the TV
does not empower the viewer into thinking they can do the same.

Learn: Inform yourself of women's resistance, historically and
geographically. If you know all about the Spanish revolution but not
about 12th century women's rebellion in China widen your reading list.

Abandon Your Privilege: This is the hard one. First we need to
acknowledge and recognize that as first world activists we occupy a
global position of privilege. Most of us also have extra power due to
our youth, our skin colour, our family class background. When we ignore
our own or other's chains they don't just disappear, and when we topple
these power relations most of us will get bruised on the way down. Admit
we don't get the hardest deal. Listen to others, we might not know the
best way. Get criticized, feel uncomfortable, and deal with it.

Unity Against Patriarchy: While the fight against patriarchy is women's
struggle and it is imperative that 'feminist' men do not hijack this
struggle, everyone should participate in overthrowing systems of
oppression. "Not only because men are capable of its perpetration but
because we can be accomplices as well, by engaging in harmful ridicule
and by our silence. But the struggle for respect for the specificity of
gender can also include us, by acknowledging what we are, what we are
not, and above all, what we are capable of becoming." - Commandante
Insurgente Marcos.
From Beloved Thomas:

Yes, flesh and blood human beings with a mind, a voice and feelings.
We have to endure too much in insipid male arrogance hidden behind a
smokescreen of false benevolence as strivers and whatnot. When it
could be so easy to care from that aching emotion of seeing someone
trying very hard, trying the best they can and you could almost hear
a pin drop. Why is no one doing anything? Why are particularly men
notorious for not wanting to jump in and help someone, unless there
are gender aggrandizing advantages to be gained from encounters? Then
as an "innocent" you want to rush forward and give what so few people
seem to have any time anymore. To give a little understanding and to
give someone your hand and your heart. You don't look at their attire
or appearance. Maybe you glow on the expressions on their faces and
follow their eye movements as they speak. Friendships first, good
friendships...lovers last, the very last and always carefree joy. To
be open, to be receptive, to listen for heavens sake. Men's minds
switch off and they tend to avoid direct eye contact it seems, their
minds wander on the process of doing something, rather than why it
should be done and what it will look when they are seen trying to do
something, say something, or justify thinking about something.
Because they just can't get a grip on doing these things non-ego
attached, they make terrible listeners. Sometimes it's so easy to
make someone feel better. Sometimes it wouldn't be so terribly bad to
give up certain expectations in seeking so hard to be male and just
abandon those crazy nagging attitudes. Really it could be a lot of
fun just maybe gushing at an inappropriate moment and thinking "what
would I die for?" or wouldn't it be nice to be the type of person
they always needed, but couldn't find. Friends and NOT lovers. You
know, many times it's better to destroy the idea of being a lover for
someone than to throw away a friendship that could be lost in the
tides of meaningless and anonymity. Why do we remember those who
helped us when we were fighting our feelings of inadequacy rather
than those who offered you short lived "delights", something you
literally had to sell your soul to attain and you just felt cheap and
used afterwards. It's not easy understanding and jumping over
shadows. I'm trying very hard and it's like pushing boulders uphill
emotionally. Sometimes the vultures swoop in and the hyenas laugh
while it seems as if there is only resistance. There is hope if you
have good friends to make the difference.

No comments: