This essay is being written from prison. I am a political prisoner, which has made me strong in my convictions and allowed me to define myself and uproot patriarchal, racist, sexist, hierarchical, specieist and capitalist conditioning. But the programing has done damage deep within my mind, so I must struggle daily to change and grow in a more wholesome direction. I offer this self criticism, that I still regularly catch myself thinking and speaking from a sexist perspective. For example my cell mate, a gay black man named Muhammad, tested me with a simple riddle, which I failed. His riddle went like this: “A boy and his father are in a car crash. The father dies. He is taken to a hospital but the doctors says ‘I cannot operate on this boy for he is my son!’ Who is the doctor?” Obviously the doctor is the mother, but in my exhaustion at the end of a day of fitness exercises and stress in prison, I was assuming the doctor must be a man, as I thought it was a gay, progressive riddle. The riddle can be told with the mother dying in the car crash and the father being a nurse, a traditionally female role. So I still have a lot of work to do, if sexist tendencies come out when I am tired. This shows the depth of the patriarchal conditioning of my childhood, and the years of work I must still put in as a man to overcome that. Being a man I am fundamentally unfit to teach anyone about feminism, only women can teach us about feminism, and that is how I learned. This essay is part of my efforts to become a better man, a better member of my community, a better person in general, all gender aside, and to internalize and share what the brave and capable women of the YPJ have taught me. I hope men who read this will pass these words on to other men and do their own research, write essays and send me a copy so we can grow together. I would love for women who read this to offer me criticisms and teach me more about feminism, and I also need to hear from all of the other genders and everyone in between each gender. This work is incomplete until we have liberated transgender comrades, the full spectrum of gay friends and welcomed into the community everyone who does not easily fit into a male or female category. All of our fates are bound up together, and a bundle of sticks will not be broken.
The purpose of this essay is to acknowledge that a war against women exists, to share Her Story and to motivate all conscientious people to support the perennial rage of women, the most oppressed population. The Women’s Revolution in Iran, Rojava, Haiti, North America and the Chiapas needs all our support and efforts.
In this essay I will draw on the writings of Abdullah Ocalan, Mikhail Bakunin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Sam Dolgoff, Louise Michele, Lucy Parsons, Ruth Kinna, Jeff Conant, Comandante Durito, Subcomandante Marcos, “Strangers in a tangled wilderness” (a collective), Maxwell Schnurer, Pattrice Jones, Lynne Segal and Tom Wetzel, among others. I am simply expropriating their beautiful thoughts, realizations and ideas to paint a broad picture. I take no credit for the progress they have forged for us. I do take responsibility for all the faults of this essay.
Recent events in Iran, Haiti, North America, Rojava and the Chiapas mountains have inspired me to raise my own hoarse voice. I am most deeply moved by the liberation struggles of women, vulnerable populations and animals. All of these beings liberation are connected, as I will prove here shortly. This relates to the women’s struggles in Iran, and the Women’s Revolution is the foundation upon which all Revolutions are made. The workers of the world will win or die depending on how well women and animals are liberated. This essay will go in chronological order from ancient times to the present day struggles and explain why and how we resist patriarchy, support women and can win liberation for all beings in this lifetime, while creating the conditions for total liberation in the future.
In ancient times Neolithic society was based on women’s emotional intelligence, which is better developed than men’s analytical intelligence. Women have a stronger bond to life, being creators, mothers and complex social beings. But women are more than sister, mother, daughter and lover, and all men have a responsibility to see each woman and other genders as more than these gendered labels- as members of the community, as professionals and comrades and defenders and so on. It was the initial mistake of men identifying women with these roles that led to jealousy of women’s talents and hard won skills. Gathering fruits and vegetables, women had more knowledge of nature and how to sustain life, and it is women who invented gardening and farming and medicine. An example of this is the Sumerian word Amargi, meaning ‘return to the sacred mother and nature’. Family friendly conditions helped develop social intelligence and village structures in response to women’s needs for childbirth and parenting. Matriarchal family ties solidified around women’s social organization. This feminist ideology was expressed in religious symbolism, in which natural forces were portrayed as female goddesses. Women created pottery, pounded grains and stored them in vessels and wove clothing and shelter coverings. Women were the center of society for the largest part of human evolution. But at some point the strong hunting men became jealous.
Seeing the power women had over matriarchal society the strong male hunters plotted to seize the surplus of harvested crops to control the villages. They noticed that animals became docile when enclosed, so the now aging hunting men built walls to contain animals they formerly hunted. The old men recruited strong young hunters to capture sheep, cattle, chickens and other so-called livestock, and in doing so they invented animal husbandry. This became the basis of systematic captivity, rape and domination. There is a reason the word husbandry is used for the pastoral life, and that the term pastor is used for male religious leaders, who call their community a “flock” of sheep. They prepare them to be fleeced and exploited on every level, starting with the mind. Seeing their success in breeding slow, submissive livestock they began to practice animal husbandry on women and children. Animal husbandry is the basis of housewivisation of women. The housewivisation of women is the basis of all slavery. The housewivisation and enslavement of women is the basis of the enslavement of men and children. The hunting men usurped the villages women built, enforcing their will with violence. This gave rise to walled cities and gendered hierarchies of Sumerian society. Class hierarchies followed, initially being led by priestesses petitioning mother-goddess deities. But men appropriated the concept and wrote stories of the Babylonian mother-goddess Tiamat being killed by Enki’s son Marduk. Over time Marduk became a precursor to monotheism and patriarchy of Abraham. Sumerian temple priestesses were initially equal to male priests, but soon were confined to households or harems as housewives and temple prostitutes. This mirrored the systematic slaughter of livestock in the process of animal husbandry.
This was all facilitated with the construction of fences, borders, walls, violence, threats of violence and psychological walls as well. The practice of hunting was applied to women and men who rebelled against this system, and it was called war when humans were slaughtered. Women were bred like animals for traits that made them susceptible to being under control- smallness, exaggerated emotional and sexual traits and dependency. Women were then dethroned from the position of mother-goddess, and the father-god was invented to replace her. Previously a child’s father was unknown and unimportant. Now the father came to demand his name as the family name, the inheritance and control as head of the family, representing the rule of the patriarchal priests and masked god-kings of the walled cities, playing out the same coup on a larger scale. The goddess temple priestesses of Inanna and Ishtar were coerced over time into sexual slavery as prostitutes and their temples were turned into harems for the ruling men to enjoy. Male priests spiritualized their betrayal and made analytical intelligence appear sacred. They did the same with the male rulers. The young male hunters were now soldiers who police, capture and enslave women and rape flocks of slaves to keep the mass of workers from rising up to kill the priests and tyrannical rulers. This is seen in the very shape of the pyramids and ziggurats, with workers at the bottom, then soldiers, then priests, with brutal, masked god-kings at the top. At this point many people’s needs were met, and it became very difficult to convince men or women to struggle against their husband-king. They all became housewives of the state. It is still very difficult to convince a housewife to leave an abusive and even dangerous husband when all of her physical needs are being met. Patriarchal religions made this process easier for the rulers, and by making priestesses into prostitutes the sacred nature of intimate sex was commodified and industrialized.
All of this was done with the use of force. In captivity women were convinced that they were weaker and less intelligent than men, that her body was unholy, unclean and should be covered up behind veils and walls and kept indoors. The goddess became an emotional slave. Male gods replaced demonized goddesses, like the Indian goddess Kali. The creator Goddess was reduced to being created from the right rib of a human man. Women became subject to murder and abuse for the sake of men’s honor in the cases of promiscuity, both demanded and outlawed by men. The history of human civilization is the Herstory of women’s enslavement.
In reality women are the owners of the economy, the very word being Greek for women managing the village society. A man’s authority stops at the gates of the village and doorway of the home, despite men’s attempts to invade and colonize her body, home, village and garden. Even the tools for farm work were invented by Neolithic women, including the plough. The Goddess Athena was both a deity of war and wisdom, preferring to avoid conflict unless absolutely necessary, and then to win at combat with skill, deception and grace. Any disinterest in war and self defense on women’s part is a political ploy by patriarchal men to keep women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen as breeding stock.
As capitalism grew out of the roots of dynastic monarchies women were gain dethroned, now from the economy. Even today the female population of the world has been forced and fooled into unemployed housewivisation, supplying unpaid labor for the patriarchy. Housework is the most difficult work, but men disrespect it, calling it “women’s work”, along with childcare and emotional labor. Even housewives are expected to provide sexual labor, and be silent and obedient, according to the various scriptures of patriarchal cults.
History is whitewashed, herstory is ignored and truth is replaced with chauvinistic, patriotic cliches and propaganda. In this dystopian police state society novels must be used to safely warn people of their enslavement, spreading “dangerous” ideas, but generally only become effective when turned into movies, as workers are too busy surviving late stage capitalism to read good books. This is why only students and prisoners are so well read, but the cops make sure to spread drugs and distractions throughout prison and college populations and keep people mentally enslaved with television. We can use these medias against them. But agents of the state now continue to spread sexism like a disease, waging a war against women’s bodily autonomy. Many women are seduced by state agents, cops and soldiers, and find themselves trapped in an abusive, sexually unfulfilling marriage. Domesticated women, hierarchical patriarchy and state power form a comprehensive program of plantation slavery. The status of women deteriorated over time, in the civilizations of ancient Israel, Phoenicia, Greece and Rome, and all over the world during the middle ages.
The myths of these cultures tell us of the degradation of women. In poems, epics and myths, witches, priestesses and goddesses are dethroned, humiliated and murdered. Eventually they were erased from successive Sumerian pantheons with each rewriting of his story. Monotheism took this further, portraying women as deceitful creatures to be enslaved by Yahweh’s will. She was legally ordered to remain hidden at home and to keep her mouth shut. The ancient mother goddess as creator is replaced by Eve, created from Adam’s rib and blamed for original sin, seduction and deceiving Adam. Men used mythology as a means of legitimizing patriarchal hierarchies, and the general domination of women.
Male domination extends to every aspect of society and the patriarch is promoted to the title of representative of the father-god and the state ruler. All ancient mythology and religious texts should be read from the perspective of the sinister history of gender enslavement. This is seen in the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Alish. In early Sumerian myths Enki struggled for male dominance, first by compromising with powerful female deities. Later Babylonian myths glorify the young, valiant city god Marduk, who slaughters the demonized mother-goddess Tiamat. The first edition of this myth tells us how the masked god-kings consolidated power with the code of Hammurabi. In the second edition the dynasty of rulers left behind a code of world views that reflect Sumerian mythology and establish incontestable religious laws that document major herstorical events of class and gender oppression. These should be read from the perspective of the herstory of systematic oppression by patriarchy and monarchic authority. The absolute power of the ruler is claimed to be that of a god. Women were confined to slavery in private homes, and this practice was legally codified and institutionalized so that patriarchy permanently penetrated the very fabric of “civilization”. Polytheistic religions declined as monotheism grew.
So mythology is used to make humans the property of other humans. Strict codes of gender subordination relegated most women to positions at the very bottom of the social hierarchies. The primary targets of capture and enslavement were women. Many scholars argue that women’s enslavement originally generated wider patterns of social hierarchization.
Originally all deities were female. Women were responsible for the horticultural revolution. In the early periods of Sumer, Egypt and India, Divinity is expressed by a feminine prefix- the masculine qualities only appear later. All the great goddesses came from this age, such as Ishtar, Inanna, Isis, Demeter and Kybele. The religions of this age expressed social unity, family communities and tribes. The goddesses represent all the phenomena recognized as dangerous or useful forces of nature, and so they are named.
Women’s intelligence gave her social influence, which is reflected in this age of goddesses. Women provided knowledge of helpful plants, fruits, field work, housebuilding, child raising, several tools, such as the pick and the quern, and the first two wheeled cart. The mother-goddesses symbolize women’s role in this age of innovations.
Adam and Eve’s eviction from Eden and their condemnation to servitude was penned as society was divided into classes. “Eden” was the gardens of the ruling class and women were blamed for the fall from political favor. This is a simple strategy of ‘divide and conquer’. The mythological conflict between Enki and Ninhursang/Inanna shows that women’s creativity is suppressed and forced to the background, and people became servants and slaves. The way back to “Eden” was to submit to the masked god-king. Then patriarchal desert religions rose to power with the Abrahamic traditions. They highjacked Sumerian and Egyptian myths, such as the trinity, the story of a child put in a basket in the Nile River and the details of the creation story. There is a basic Sumerian religious concept of a father-god, and mother-goddess and a strong son. This is seen in the Enki myth and the Marduk myth of Babylon.
Women were demoted again when the myth of the virgin Mary was invented. The virgin Mary is very different from Inanna and Ishtar. Remember that in Babylon’s creation myth Marduk slaughters the mother-goddess Tiamat. Each generation of men in power sought to further degrade women, rewrite history, erase herstory and confine women to the house, as did Moses. His contribution to history used several myths to secure safety and power for himself and his people, but women continued to suffer. With the old testament women were denied the inspiration of any goddesses. Mary’s powerlessness can be ascribed to women’s degradation. After the Abrahamic religions rose to power the mother is only a former goddess, an obedient and chaste housewife. Her voice is no longer heard and her face is not allowed to be seen. She is banished behind a veil and handed over to the harem. The process continued with Moses and he contributed to the extent of enslavement that women face in Arabia today.
The virgin Mary can be seen as having been derived from a previous era who had originally enjoyed status as goddesses. Incessant loss of status had turned women into mere breeding machines by the time Jesus was born. From 2000 B.C.E. until 2000 C.E. women’s herstory, compared to men’s seizure of power and his ruthless methods of exploitation, was told as a history of the lowest class. Women have been subjected to multiple forms of enslavement. Even during the Babylonian epoch the mother-goddess Tiamat had been in the front ranks of those who put up a resistance; and Moses had to overcome heavy resistance on the part of his female relative Mariam, who did not want to bow down to his will.
The bible says Yahweh inseminated Mary and she bore a male child. This is an allegory of man’s absolute dominance over women, and limits women to the role of raising children. This act of spiritual rape is ascribed to the holy ghost. In this way the authorship of the creative act was taken from Mary and women in general. In Sumerian terms the holy spirit corresponded to the mother-goddess. This is very important because this created the ideological framework to continue to degrade women’s influence during the feudal period. Since then all Marys were faceless, silently weeping for their children, obedient to their husbands, as if they have always been captives. This temporary condition has nothing to do with ‘Women’s nature’; it is solely the result of men’s ambition for control. Where the mother-goddess had dominated during a previous age, male gods dominated in the age of classes and states. This reality, the reality of women being denied freedom, is often hidden behind so-called moral rules resulting in shame, veils and harems.
In Muhammad’s time men were honored for their tribal membership, women were despised, and little girls were abandoned to die in the desert, a form of late term abortion. Muhammad was influenced by his travels between Mecca and Damascus. He often dialogued with Christian Nestorian Priests. Khadijah, married to Muhammad, trusted him, love him, and educated him on many matters. She was been a widow when they married. She was primarily responsible for his relatively positive attitude towards women, in the context of those times. Without her influence and encouragement he would never have become a successful prophet or profitable merchant. Khadijah was much more influential than the virgin Mary, and for a short time she represented a return of the women to the status of mother-goddess. The only reason she is not given due credit is because of the patriarchal social structure of Arabia.
The first person in Mecca to support Muhammad was Khadijah. She owned her own caravan, was older, more wealthy and more powerful than Muhammad. Khadijah lived in permanent, dire conflict with the men of Mecca. It was this insane society that forced her to get the help of Muhammad through marriage. Together they organized the nucleus of an organization against the Meccan officials. The prophet did not marry another woman during her lifetime, not because he respected her or women in general, but because she was so powerful in spirit and material success. She was the first to legitimize his calling as a prophet. Soon after, his cousin Ali followed her example, as did Ali’s slave Zayd, who was released. This fact shaped the development of his thoughts.
This group of four was revolutionary for the times. Zayd was a released slave, Khadijah was a successful woman in a man’s world. Together these four represented a revolutionary zeitgeist. But after they died their intentions were betrayed and women continued to suffer.
An important intersectional class struggle within the field of human right is formed by the rights of the elderly, workers, women, children, and environmental rights. Women are the oldest oppressed nation, having been forced to endure exploitation and oppression throughout herstory, which has only recently begun to be addressed. This is still a world wide struggle. 5000 years of class history shows clearly that whenever people are plagued by inequality, discrimination or oppression, women suffered the most. Yet there is still barely any discussion- especially in the middle east- about recognizing all women’s natural rights, unconditionally. This is the most important issue in the world, and it even has it’s own category of social sciences. When a new civilization emerges, based on direct democracy and real freedom, women’s freedom will be the foundation of it.
Children’s rights should not be left to parents or the authorities alone. Leading a child to full development has never been undertaken with the necessary sensitivity. Apart from slaves, women and workers, children have always been a favorite target of male violence. Children were regularly sacrificed to the male gods in the beginning of classed ‘civilizations’. Modern sacrifices to capitalism take place in the form of famines and collateral damage at war, on the altar of war profiteering. An international declaration for the rights of children is required. Education, health, play, affection with healthy boundaries, and a peaceful life are necessary for the well being of children, especially girls.
It’s not enough to understand “human rights” and “women’s liberation” as catch phrases of capitalist society. These concepts, put into action, become all the more important as late stage capitalism collapses. Human rights and women’s rights are two foundational aspects of democratic society. They are held back by the classical traditional “civilization”, and can only advance as far as the destruction of the “civilization” of systematic domestication of housewives under captivity and the threat of the application of police and state violence and war.
The main points of our movement are women’s liberation, environmental protection and measures for reducing the detrimental effects of technology. These are not realizable under capitalism, which is based on competition and profits at others expense.
The new democratic civilization must be founded on the freedom and equality of women. Since the end of the Neolithic women have been eliminated from middle eastern society. Middle Eastern Women must take their rightful place in society as respected, free and equal beings. Women’s reality is a more concrete problem to solve than “proletariat” or “oppressed peoples”, which were so popular in the past. The extent of progress made in society will be determined and measured by the lived experienced of the progress of women. A permanent democracy will be built by women’s direct participation in social structures. The new social movement is founded on the uniqueness of women’s involvement in society.
Environmental issues are also necessary for a truly new beginning in the movement. Men’s antagonism towards the environment are as problematic as other social issues. We must protect the natural living condition, soil, plants, animal, water, air and climate. This kind of environmental conservation is a fundamental challenge that needs to be overcome.
The new democratic civilization is based on the liberation of women as much as the liberation of all beings. While bestowed with divine characteristics in the Neolithic, women have been oppressed through the history of class and hierarchy. History is thus male history. Dominating politics grew due to the influence of dominating males. This is why we say we must kill the dominant male, both practically as a strategy and tactic, and within our own hearts and minds. An essentially male society prevents research into gender questions in the middle east, and puts scientific study of women under social taboos that outweigh religious taboos. Women’s lives and rights have been destroyed by the idea of men’s honor. Women have been kept as slaves, prisoners and property of men, stripped of their personalities and identities. Many still are. This has more devastating effects than the formation of hierarchical social classes. The degree to which women of a society are enslaved is a measure of the degradation and enslavement of all the people in that society. “Witches” are still beheaded in Saudi Arabia.
It requires many consequential acts to end these conditions in society. Liberation of all beings can only come after the liberation of women, and the result will be enlightenment, the end of unnecessary suffering. This will lead everyone to the realization that peace is more valuable than war.
When people realize that peace is more valuable than war it will mean a victory for everyone. When the 21st century accomplishes women’s awakening, liberation and empowerment it will be an even greater accomplishment than class or national liberation. The rise of the new democratic civilization must be founded on the rise of women into true equality at all levels.
By the late 1800’s women’s enslavement changed names but largely stayed in place. Voltarine de Cleyre came to the conclusion that sex slavery was based on dependency. Domination was explained by men’s dependence on women for unpaid domestic work and women’s dependency on men for housing, income and food, and women’s subsequent enslavement, having been seduced by the social structure men used to profit from women’s labor. Borrowing Proudhon’s ideas, Voltarine realized that women were still the property of their nearest male relative, just as workers were enslaved by property owners and business owners. Unequal pay, marriage laws, unpaid domestic labor, the assumption that women were less intelligent, paternal rights that granted ownership of children to fathers and gave reproduction rights to husbands- these are the foundations of patriarchal regimes.
The moral cover for this tyranny was disguised as the “duty to protect”, provided by the church. This was a psychological operation that suffocated women’s minds through it’s institutions of pacification. Voltarine’s conclusion was that this mindset of male domination with survive the overthrow of the church and state, based on her interaction with male activists. In “They Who Marry Do Ill” Voltarine proved that marriage law is generally repressive, but the really tough message of her work was that slavery was reinforced by monogamy and co-habitation, not just by church and state control of intimate relationships. By accepting men’s offer of trading their freedom for the role of home maker women stripped themselves of their capacity to meet their own basic needs independently. Voltarine predicted that when women had a home of their own, free of male dominance, they would choose to have less babies, but this was not a call for abstinence. The constant innovation of anarchism required the end of shared living spaces for couples. Women should always be free to maintain their own living spaces, and should be provided the means to do so by the community, given men’s tendency to assert control over women in a shared house. In order to be truly independent women have to be free to live separately.
There are many aspects to women’s enslavement- economic, political, social, sexual, and more. Women’s domination is also bound to the state regulation of human affections. Love is weaponized as a conservative, regressive force when regulated by the state and the church. Even in sincerely affectionate relationships partners will censor themselves in order to not upset their partners and preserve friendships, even when those ‘friends’ have terrible politics and are actually contributing to the culture of suffering. In order for love to become a liberating force again the state family bonds must be abolished, the natural family allowed to flourish, fleeting romances must be allowed to be celebrated, childcare collectively organized, and individuals be fully recognized and allowed to express themselves. Voltarine spoke mostly to other women, but her words have serious implications for anyone who thinks liberation is exclusively a heterosexual affair. Voltarine argued that progress was measured by the “transition from content to discontent, from unconsciousness to consciousness.” Collective force and individual spontaneity both have a place in the movement. Conflict is inevitable because direct actions that threaten entrenched interests create a retaliatory response. The oppressed should expect ‘masters’ to counter attack with extreme prejudice to quell rebellions. Men’s feelings will be hurt when women demand independence and respect, and physical violence in this arena is unfortunately all too common.
When Voltarine argued “They have rights who dare maintain them” she knew the gravity of the forces that stood in the way of change. Slaves and prisoners can’t run with their feet shackled together, cannot cry out when they are gagged, or raise their hands up toward the sky when they are pinned on the ground. She was furious when asked why women “put up with their enslavement.” She said “Will you tell me where they shall go and what they shall do?” In those day fugitive slave laws allowed “men to catch their fellows more brutally than runaway dogs,” and chattel slaves at least had the chance to run away to Canada. There is nowhere for women to run to where men where not. Wherever women are they must dig their trenches and “win or die.”
Louise Michel, a scientist and militant feminist in the late 1800’s, noticed that her work was only considered interesting when she published under a male pseudonym. She was ridiculed for experimenting with plant vaccines in New Caledonia because she was a “mere woman-amature.” She also saw that special learning programs for girls only served to reinforce gendered hierarchy. Men were obviously content to keep women in a state of childlike ignorance. Men convinced themselves that women’s supposed cowardice required male bravery. Michel also declared women the slave of the proletarian, and the proletarian himself a slave. She saw the same power relations in New Caledonia as in France. The word that those indigenous people used for women was ‘nemo’ and it meant ‘nothing’. Michel realized that this was a universal characteristic of the patriarchy, to make women invisible.
Louise supported the brave nihilist women of Russia who killed their tyrannical rulers. She always made more room for scientific education for women, because she believed that women would lead the way to the future of scientific discoveries. She found that women were braver than men, less like to faint at the sight of blood and more willing to accept necessary but disagreeable circumstances. Men’s bruhaha exposed their own impotence, while women went to work quietly and made all the important decisions, daily tricking men into thinking they had come up with all the good ideas. Women were capable of acting without hate, without anger and without pity, unlike men. Michel saw that anarchism is nurtured by discipline and skill through hard work. She argued that women were also driven on by the crimes perpetrated against them: “We jeer at the incredible sight of big shots, cheap punks, hoods, old men, young men, scoundrels- all turned into idiots by accepting as truth a whole heap of nonsensical ideas which have dominated the thinking of the human race. We jeer at the sight of those male creatures judging women’s intellects by weighing the brains of women in their dirty paws.”
Lucy Parsons was to Chicago what Louise Michel was to Paris. Born a slave in 1851, Parsons witnessed class conflict through the eyes of he first American Civil War. She said, “Passivity while slavery is stealing over us is a crime.” When she spoke about the war she described the brutality of the fighting, the worthiness of the cause and the bitterness of its betrayal. It had been waged to end oppression, for liberation an to put an end to slavery. For her, this meant abolishing both chattel slavery and the structure of oppression it epitomized. Only one of those goals was accomplished. Lincoln freed the slaves but the oppression continued. When soldiers returned home from the front lines they realized that “bloated aristocracy” had won the war and their lives now depended on the benevolence of the “slimy cowards” who had profited from producing cheap “paste-bottom boots.”
“The overseer’s whip is now fully supplanted by the lash of hunger! And the auction block by the chain gang and convict cell!” The civil war was replaced by class war. It appeared less brutal and violent than the First Civil War but the oppressors pursued it with the same viciousness. Parsons explained to black workers: “The same land which you once tilled as a chattel slave you still till as a wage slave, and in the same cabin which you then entered at eve not knowing but what you would be sold from wife and little ones before the morrow’s setting sun, you now enter with dread lest you will be slain by the assassin hand of those who once would have sold you if they did not like you… Are you dead dumb and blind to the atrocities that you are subjected to? Have the gaping wounds of your dead comrades become so common that they no longer move you? Is your heart a heart of stone, or its palpitations of those of cowards, that you slink to your wretched abode and offer no resistance… Do you need more horrible realities than these to goad you on to deeds of revenge that will at least make your oppressors dread you?”
Parsons saw that all workers are exploited by capitalists but she also argued that the exploitation was experienced more sharply by women and minorities. Gender and race are separate but connected struggles.
For a long time women have been regarded as inferior to men, merely tolerated on the condition that the provide their masters with offspring and male heirs, being trained to become a household drudge. Some 20th century “new women” were able to escape the domestic sphere, get an education and enjoy independence. They had many inspiring role models to guide them. Florence Nightingale was one. They shone “like a pillar of light or a star of hope.” But most women were still “man tagged.” Those with a higher education were only groomed for domestic service and waitressing, where job descriptions required that applicant be “under forty, good looking and wholesome.” The lives of the rest were a grinding struggle. Parsons noticed in her visits to the city ghettos that the more “poverty stricken the appearance of the women the greater number of children they seem to have clinging to their skirts.”
They were “more ruthlessly exploited than the men” simply for being women. Women were still “the slaves of the slaves.” Parson reported that, in the south, “leering, white skinned, blackhearted brutes” stripped women bare, beat them senseless and “strangled them from the limbs of trees.” This was race war, intensified by gender discrimination and class hatred.
In 1905 Lucy Parsons joined the Industrial Workers of the World, the I.W.W., of which I am now also a member in present times. We are called Wobblies. All the main ideas of the I.W.W. are originally found in the old International Workingmen’s Association. The I.W.W. asserts that we “… must trace the ideas of modern revolutionary unionism to The International… many items in the program originally drafted by the famous anarchist Michael Bakunin, for The International in 1868, were similar to the twentieth century slogans of the I.W.W.”
Bakunin’s contribution to women’s liberation have not been given the attention they deserve. In both his personal relationships and in his writings Bakunin was a determined champion of the Women’s Revolution.
He scandalized his parents by supporting his sister Varvarna’s decision to escape from a loveless marriage. His wife Antonia had an affair with Carlo Gambuzzi, and Bakunin stated that she should be free to have sex with whoever she wanted to. He was not jealous and remained friends with Gambuzzi.
Bakunin was vitriolic in his criticism of the patriarchal family structure, the idea that a man should rule over his wife. He said “… the Russian household is a whitewashed graveyard…” Bakunin passionately defended the right of the princess Obolensky who rebelled against the authority of the czar and the “… orthodox popes of Moscow and St. Petersburg…” He celebrated her refusal to acknowledge the sanctity of the marriage vow, and her decision to leave Russia with her children to live her own life. Bakunin passionately denounced the Swiss government for allowing her husband to kidnap her children to Russia, and for forcing her and her lover to seek refuge in London. He also vehemently denounced the Swiss government for extraditing Madam Limousin to France at her nephew’s request, because said nephew disapproved of her marriage to a man with a modest income. The following manifesto was smuggled into Russia by Bakunin’s circle, the Russian Anarchist Collective in Switzerland. This “Manifesto of the Russian Revolutionary Association to the Oppressed Women of Russia on Women’s Liberation” first addresses the plight of the upper-middle class women and then the poor working class and peasant women.
“The law subjects you to the absolute domination of the man, In the eyes of the law, even the best educated, talented, intelligent woman is inferior to even the most ignorant man… You are not allowed to develop your faculties on an equal basis with men…”
“They teach you only how to dance, embroider, or play the piano; how to flirt, flatter your papa, your uncle, your fiance, your husband, and wheedle favors from them. They frustrate you; pervert your nature from birth, darken your best days; and this burden you carry with you for life.”
Bakunin described how many women are deeply oppressed by the roles they are expected to play, which prevent them from being with true loves who are they are passionate about, forcing them to lie, and to lie with men they do not love.
“If you dare break the chains that bind you to your husband and love another man, you will be punished by the civil authorities, excommunicated by the church, spat upon, and pilloried by society; and the depraved degenerate who judged you will try to make you his concubine.
So much for the upper/middle class woman. How about the poor underprivileged woman? If you do not sicken- perhaps die- of hunger and cold you may be seduced by some guard or police brute in the service of his royal highness. You may in desperation become forced to be a prostitute. If you are fortunate enough to avoid this cruel fate, you may become the slave of your husband, and your children, whom you love dearly, will be deprived of a decent education, condemned to a brutish life of servitude and degradation.
Many of you are trying to break out of the family and social straight-jacket. You have much in common with the revolutionists. Like you, they too are hunted and persecuted because they dare revolt against parasites and exploiters to fight for the emancipation of all- men, women and children. Equal rights to both men and women. Our women fellow workers, no longer depending on men for a livelihood, will at last become independent and free to forge their own way of life. Only when private property and the state have been abolished will the authoritarian juridical family disappear. No longer will anyone be deterred from living together without civil or religious marriage. All the old impediments to the full sexual freedom of women will no longer exist.
“Oppressed women! Your cause is indissolubly tied to the common cause of all the exploited workers- men and women!”
In “Revolutionary Catechism” Bakunin asserts that “Freedom is the absolute right of every adult man and woman to seek no other sanction for their acts than their own conscience and their own reason, being responsible first to themselves and then to the society which they have VOLUNTARILY accepted.” He called for “Abolition of classes, ranks and privileges; absolute equality of political rights for all men and women; universal suffrage.”
Bakunin declared “The right of every man, and woman, from birth to adulthood, to complete upkeep, clothes, food, shelter, care, guidance, education (public schools, primary, secondary, higher education, artistic, industrial, and scientific), all the the expense of society.”
Finally,. Bakunin proposed “Abolition, not of the natural family, but of the legal family founded on law and property, religious and civil marriage to be replaced by FREE marriage. Adult men and women have the right to unite and separate as they please, nor has society the right to hinder their union or force them to maintain it. With the abolition of the right of inheritance and the education of children assured by society, all the legal reason for the irrevocability of marriage will disappear. The union of a man and woman must be free, for a free choice is the indispensable condition for moral sincerity. In marriage, man and woman must enjoy absolute liberty. Neither violence nor passion nor rights surrendered in the past can justify an invasion by one of the the liberty of another, and every such invasion shall be considered a crime.” He also believed pregnant women and their children should be totally supported by society.
In the early 1900’s libertarian syndicalist influenced unions built alliances with women in Spain to fight against the rise of fascism in the Spanish Civil War. In this war we saw the first International Army of Volunteers, Anarchists, Feminists, Squatters, Environmentalists and Leftists, gathering together to organize and fight to the death. This started with the CNT Labor Unions and the Mujeres Libres in the Spanish Revolution in the 30’s. Mujeres Libres declare their determination to free women from the “triple enslavement” of “ignorance, enslavement as women and enslavement as workers.” They realized that the war against women was distinct from the class war, but also believed that the liberation of working class women was foundational to the freedom of the working class.
The organization developed in the early 1930’s out of a women’s convention in the CNT Unions in Barcelona. Their goal was to build the infrastructure for women to participate more effectively in the unions and in the struggle for liberation. To do this they followed in Louise Michel’s footsteps and created reading classes, study groups around social issues, public speaking classes and other related programs. They had to overcome machista (sexist) attitudes of the men- including CNT men. Mujeres Libres trained women to stand up to men in meetings and to debate successfully in order to defeat men who tried to speak down to them or over them.
In present day Spain the radical CGT union identifies with the legacy of the CNT’s revolutionary syndicalism, including the legacy of Mujeres Libres. In its workshops for working women the CGT quotes the legacy of Mujeres Libres in defining the union’s commitment to “anarchofeminismo” The CGT has a practice of organizing encuentros (meetings) and workshops of women members and has various women’s groups attached to local groups of unions. At nation-wide encuentros the CGT women plan campaigns on gender issues, like the CGT’s campaign for abortion on demand.
Unionism must be antiracist and feminist in order to unit workers who are subjected to oppression and exploitation. Racial and gender equality enter directly into the struggle in the workplace, as do struggles against racist and sexual harassment and discrimination.
Capitalism is a competitive system that puts different groups of workers into conflict with each other. If workers choose to go along with discrimination towards people who are different from them- women, gay people, people of color, immigrants, and so on, – it divides the working class in ways that prevent workers from building solidarity, cohesion and social unity to challenge the power of the ruling classes. This is why the working class needs a movement that supports struggles along all lines of oppression if it is going to build the communities that can challenge the capitalist class war.
When Spanish Anarcho-syndicalist women organized Mujeres Libres in the ’30’s some of the older men in the movement thought the idea of an autonomous women’s movement was “divisive”. Even within movements like the CNT the subordinate position of women in society infect the minds of the men, and even men who claim to work for “equality of the sexes” are unconsciously conditioned by the privileges they enjoy. The old men failed to realize that women’s liberation is not “reducible” to the general liberation of the proletariat.
Libertarian socialists have often realized the complexity of hierarchical structures of patriarchy- and so refused to “reduce” the state to just a classed capitalist caste system. Libertarian socialists were open to the idea that the oppression of women was a distinct front line where groups can organize a movement for liberation. Mujeres Libres also recognized that the oppression of women within capitalism in a part of class oppression and exploitation. It is the capitalist kleptocracy’s way of dividing and conquering the sexes and genders.
Murray Bookchin predicted the front line conflicts of gender and environmentalism erupting in the 1960’s and ’70’s. The struggles of the civil rights movements for black liberation and their attack on racist institutions broke out at the same time as women’s movements, and the gay and lesbian struggles joined forces with the left as they all realized that intersectional class struggle was necessary if anyone is going to be free. Libertarian syndicalists were influenced by this era.
The patterns of racism and gender based inequality seep into the work place, and the home, and manipulate the lives of the working class in many ways. Capitalism will always be a racist and sexist kleptocracy, a government based on the stolen profits of the working class’s labor, accomplished by creating privileged and underprivileged classes, and dividing the races, genders, and nations.
Our power is based on intersectional solidarity, summed up in the phrase “No one is free until everyone is free.” If any group is being exploited, be it with racism, sexual harassment, police killings, or attacking immigrants- to fail to take direct action in their support is to betray yourself to a life of silent desperation. It is in your best interests to put yourself in danger to rescue someone else who is in danger due to oppression and exploitation.
The workers will only liberate themselves when we can form ourselves into a movement who’s goal is total liberation for all beings, everywhere, solving issues like the dominating nature of the nation state, racism, sexism, gender issues and the way that capitalism ruins the environments it exploits, and trains it’s citizens to do the same. The workers will only defeat the ruling classes when we get diverse groups of people together to build infrastructure of mutual aid in each other’s struggles.
A “labor values” solution to worker’s remuneration in socialized production was also adopted by the CNT in its libertarian communist program of may 1936. Libertarian communism is true socialism, contrasted to authoritarian communism, which is exemplified by dictators like Stalin and their crimes. The Spanish Revolution was driven by goals like the sueldo unico, the single wage, or universal basic income. The revolutionary process of 1936 was not entirely successful in accomplishing this. The CNT and UGT unions seized the railroads in Northeast Spain and then they set up a new organization to manage the railroads, the Revolutionary Railway Federation, which equalized wage rates for everyone. Another example is the CNT’s Hospitalet De Llobregat. In the 1930’s this was a grimy industrial suburb in Barcelona full of metalworking plants, blast furnaces and textile mills. This was a CNT union town, which tended toward the revolutionary syndicalist motto “The union should take power.” So the CNT overthrew the city government and replaced it with a socialist council of delegates elected from the workplaces and union assemblies. They also expropriated the entire economy of the town and equalized wages for everyone. This was especially beneficial for working women who had been the lowest paid. Equalizing remuneration is a valuable tool for overcoming patters of inequality based on entrenched discriminations.
Back in the 19th century an intense system of gender inequality got entrenched in the U.$. because the costs associated with raising the next generation were dumped entirely on parents. Since women would be pregnant or nursing most of the time in this era they had less regular work. Men were likely to have a better chance of getting higher pay as a result. So it made more sense for men to do the wage work in this kind of society, and women were left with doing the unpaid house work, childcare and taking care of the men. This is a sexist, gender based division of labor and is enforced with policies of employers who refuse to hire women or who fire women as soon as they got married or pregnant.
This is how capitalism shifts costs and uses analytical intelligence to capture people in a losing game. Certain kinds of work are deemed “women’s work” and other kinds are considered “men’s work”. Women’s work is disrespected and this attitude becomes the foundation of a glass ceiling which justifies a lower wage for women working the same jobs as men. This pattern played itself out into the 20th century and continues today.
The costs of childcare cannot be placed directly on the shoulders of the parents if we want women to have equal pay. Society needs to provide funds for the expenses of childcare, and programs for the enrichments of children’s minds. These children will be the workers of the society one day, and we have evolved beyond the sexist systems that keeps women isolated in the home. This means we need universal childcare of the highest quality, and high quality preschool. The early years are so formative for children, and the shifting nature of reality is so unstable that we cannot depend on two people to provide everything that children need when these children will be the future of our species.
Daily acts of obedience to tyranny creates mindless drones who follow orders, even when those orders are to kill innocents. When it comes to the captivity and abuse of animals the great thinker Carol Adams argues that acts of violence are made acceptable through cultural symbols that reinforce the illusion of the superiority of humans over nature. Adams compares the oppression of animals to the oppression of women. She argues that humans are taught to ignore the lived experience of animals, and women, through a system of objectification, fragmentation and consumption.
Carol uses these three examples to show how violence against women becomes a normalized. She argues that objectification teaches men to see women as 2 dimensional objects, fragmentation allows men to sexualize parts of women’s bodies separate from her face and mind (ask any man what ‘butter face’ means), and consumption allows men to believe that women’s bodies are meant for their pleasure on demand, without consent (rape). Carol thus explains how the subject is turned into object in the case of humans and animals, and people can then perpetuate violence without feeling guilt or being held accountable to society. She shows that by refusing to accept this normalization of the cannibalism of non-human people, and the subsequent rape of women, we can help each other to realize what it is like to experience this humiliating, painful and deadly process for animals and women. This systematic normalization of animal slaughterhouses was clearly seen in the Holocaust, a human slaughterhouse. At the same time, out of respect for the Jewish Diaspora, we much acknowledge that the Holocaust was a uniquely terrible human event whose horror cannot be compared to other events. It cannot be allowed to happen again- never again. Women and animals are more than the sum of their body parts.
In Simha Rotem’s “Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter,” Jewish Resistance Organization Z.O.B. (Jewish Fighting Organization) is described: “The organization consisted almost entirely of young men and women (the oldest were in their late 20’s, most were between 18 and 21) who had virtually no weapons, no influence, no money and no experience in warfare. All they had were a remarkable strength of will, tremendous reserves of intelligence and courage, and amazing talents for initiative and innovation.”
Rotem described the outbreak of fighting in the ghetto: “I was nailed to the spot, almost paralyzed- a tremendous explosion! I had a fervent desire to see it with my own eyes. And I did see: crushed bodies of soldiers, limbs flying, cobble stones and fence crumbling, complete chaos. I saw and I didn’t believe; German soldiers screaming in panicky flight, leaving their wounded behind. I pulled out one grenade, and then another and tossed them. My comrades were also shooting and firing at them. We weren’t marksmen but we did hit some. The Germans took off. But they came back later, fearful, their fingers on their triggers. They didn’t walk, they ran next to the walls. We let the first group of six pass- a shame to waste ammunition on a small group. Then we burst out, with two homemade grenades, 10 Molotov cocktails and pistols in our hands. ‘Shlomek- the gasoline!’ I shouted to one of my comrades. We threw the Molotov cocktails at them and they burst into flames, so we shot at the fire.”
This is what is required to stop the systematic slaughter of women, prisoners and animals. If not for people like the Z.O.B. we would al be speaking German today, and there would be no Jewish Diaspora.
“Its necessity is its excuse for existence.” – Elizabeth Gurly Flynn, Sabotage, 1916. Elizabeth Gurly Flynn was a leader in the I.W.W. and a founder o the American Civil Liberties Union. You can read her essay on sabotage at
The black cat is a symbol of women, men and everyone in between, who take direct actions to defeat oppression. Harriet Tubman, Rosa parks, Wildcat strikes of I.W.W. Wobblies, all these are black cats. People have integrated formerly racist lunch counters in Tennessee, put their bodies in the path of troop transport trains, distributed illegal clean needles and birth control devices, boycotted chocolate and coca-cola, organized rent strikes and built tent cities for the homeless. All of these are direct actions against various forms of oppression. There are many diverse tactics and strategies for animal rights. People interfere with hunts, destroy fur coats, break eggs at stores, carry out overt and covert animal rescues from testing labs, fur farms and slaughterhouses, provide homes for rescued animals, block roads to slaughterhouses, destroy lab equipment of vivisectors, and simply stop buying and consuming animal products, like meat, dairy and leather. All of these directly and immediately impact the lives of animals, individually and collectively. Imagine being the being who is rescued, and how that would feel. For examples of black cats used as symbols of sabotage and other forms of direct action visit the I.W.W. online graphics library at
http://www.iww.org/graphics and click on ‘sabocats’.
Usually direct action black cats are assumed to be female, probably due to the association of witchcraft, the left-handed path of transgressive behavior and “female deception”. The black cat is a symbol of the most secret and underground forms of direct action, like the works of A.L.F. The kitten in the lab is the captured family of the black cat activist. It is her ongoing and inescapable pain that makes direct action against vivisection necessary. Before we criticize the apparently extreme methods of the A.L.F. to free animals and sabotage the animal slavery plantations, it’s necessary to remember that kitten, the cow crying for her baby, and the hens driven crazy by the battery cage.
Animal liberation is a feminist project. For many years women in the Chipko Andolan (the hugging movement) in India block bulldozers by wrapping their arms around trees. Sexism and specieism are the same thing under different labels, part of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy of the patriarchy, going all the way back to the Neolithic. Women, children, animals, plants and the land itself have been seen as the property of the patriarchs of households throughout history. Patriarchy (male control of political and family life) and pastoralism (animal herding as a way of life) appeared at the same time together and cannot be separated, because they are justified and perpetuated by the same ideologies and practices. The spread of cattle herding led to the loss of matriarchal lineage in ancient Africa.
Men declare women and animals to be stupid and biologically inferior to men. Both are suffering by being reduced to bodies and body parts. There are whole genres of pornography dedicated to perpetuating this patriarchal propaganda. Simone de Beauvoir wrote in The Second Sex: “Woman? Very simply, say the fanciers of simple formulation: She is a womb, an ovary; she is female- this word is sufficient to define her. In the mouth of the man the epithet ‘female’ has the sound of an insult.” Simone de Beauvoir explained, in her 1948 Ethics of Ambiguity, that action precedes ideals, meaning that one becomes an environmentalist by making environmentally sustainable choices and that one can’t be an environmentalist if one’s choices hurt the ecosystem.
The word ‘animal’ also sounds like an insult. Women are insulted as ‘fat cows’ and criticized for ‘cattiness.’ Karen Davis points out that even people who admire ‘wild and free’ animals display only contempt for the captive farmed animals “whose lives appear too slavishly, too boringly, too stupidly female.” Tactics such as objectification, ridicule and control of reproduction continue to be used to oppress and exploit animals, prisoners and women, and female prisoners.
Milk is a feminist issue. Milk is the exploitation of the reproductive capacities of the cow in order to produce profits for the dairy industry. Cows are forcibly and repeatedly impregnated so that their bodies will produce milk intended for their calves. People then steal both the milk and babies. The cows suffer painful diseases, like mastitis, and the emotional distress of losing their babies and their own freedom. Milk products are also responsible for the unhealthy acceleration in the onset of menses in human girls and are also connected with breast cancer in women. The mammary glands of cows are exploited in order to produce a product that harms the mammary glands of women. The medical industry profits from this racket.
Rape is an animal issue. 1 out of every 3 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime- 1 in 4 before the age of 18. Experts agree that rape is about power, not sex. Rape treats women and children like objects that can be used for pleasure without considering their consent, pain or lived experience. The same attitude highlights a host of abusive practices towards animal, from circuses to factory farming. Animals are raped too, sometime for the pleasure of the human rapist (as in bestiality) but more often to control their reproduction so that corporations can have the pleasure of profits (as when bulls are electro-ejaculated and cows forcibly impregnated on what dairy farmers sometimes call the “rape racks”). U.$. soldiers are raped regularly yet they mock Middle Eastern men for raping sheep.
Cockfighting and dog fighting are feminist issues. Gender stereotypes hurt humans and nonhuman animals. In animal fighting the natural behavior of the animals is perverted in order to force them to act out patriarchal ideas about masculinity. The animals are traumatized and then deliberately placed in harm’s way so that their handlers can feel like big men. They die in ritualized spectacles of toxic masculinity that have more to do with patriarchal ideas about gender than natural animal behavior. Meanwhile human boys are also traumatized in order to make them conform to patriarchal ideas of masculinity. Those who do not distort themselves into stereotypes of ‘masculinity’ may find themselves gay bashed to death. These tactics are practiced in every military in order to train soldiers. The process is simulated in the homes of cops and soldiers on their own children. “The Killing Factory” by The Rolling Stones Magazine is a detailed description of the infantry school I was trained at, written while I was there.
Domestic violence is an animal issue. Domestic violence is one way that men maintain control of the women, children and animals in their households. The World Health Organization had identified domestic violence against women as a global public health emergency of the highest order. Here in the United $tates partner violence is the number one reason women visit the emergency room, and at least 2 out of every 10 pregnant women are beaten by their male partners. Very often, domestic violence weaponizes abuse of companion animals as a way to frighten, traumatize or control women. Many women stay in dangerous households because battered women’s shelters do not accept animals and they are afraid the abuser will kill their companion animal. Many companion animals are killed by domestic abusers, and many women die because they stay to protect a companion animal.
Premarin, eggs, sex tourism, lack of women’s rights enjoyed by men- all these and other problems have both sexist and specieist components. Premarin is harvested from cruelly confined pregnant horses and given to women who have been convinced that menopause should be treated like a disease. This is why so many of us insist that neither women nor animals can truly be free until both specieism and sexism are abolished.
The A.L.F. seeks the abolition of animal enslavement and exploitation. No one is free until everyone is free.
Ecofeminism understands that the exploitation of ecosystems, animals and women are all connected. The solution to these problems is to resituate people within nature, rather than outside or above, the web of life. Tree huggers in India, tree sitters in the U.$., oil refinery occupiers in Nigeria, road blockers in the U.K., all these ecofeminists express their kinship with people, plants and animals by using their own bodies to block the bulldozers and chainsaws coming to kill their non-human relatives. Tree sitters, such as Julia Butterfly Hill, live in the branches of trees that have been marked for cutting. In Nigeria women challenge the environmental and economic practices of Chevron-Texaco by occupying a major facility and stopping production.
There is no passive theory of ecofeminism- it is all about direct action. Theory isn’t useless, but it’s impossible to be an ecofeminist in theory alone, only in practicing direct action. The best ecofeminist theory comes from practical experience.
In order for our lives and our efforts to support women’s rage to be meaningful we must live out ecofeminist principles. The practical application of ecofeminist principles is a call to sabotage, in the same way that the Declaration of Independence demands the right and the duty to rebel against tyranny.
The A.L.F. is defined by action. Anyone who liberates animals and interferes with abuse of women in line with A.L.F.’s nonviolent principles is considered a member. Without direct action one is not a member of A.L.F. no matter how eloquent their speeches or how strongly they feel sympathy towards women and animals. Sentiment without action is worthless.
The A.L.F. is the opposite of armchair philosophy. It is a group of people actually involved in the difficult and perilous work of rescuing animals and supporting women’s rage towards abusers. In this way the A.L.F. is considered ecofeminist.
Ecofeminism is based on the consciousness of the necessity of diversity in ecosystems, and so its adherent realize that a balance is required to live a beautiful, meaningful life. All over the world, A.L.F. ‘cells’ are simply individuals and groups of like minded friends who love animals enough to do something about the cruelty non-human friends face on a daily basis. Their words and actions are like seeds that bloom and bear fruits in hearts and minds every time a rescue is carried out or a friends goes to prison for their compassionate action. Each member and group is unique and offers something to the global community, balancing out the more reserved animal activists.
Ecofeminism is deeply rooted in lived experience, analytical intelligence and emotional intelligence, which can be said to be spiritual wisdom. Abolitionist and suffragist Frederick Douglas reminds us that its not possible to have “rain without thunder” or “the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” The A.L.F. always brings the noise. As a result they face the risk of arrest and the criticism of friends who don’t realize the necessity of the strategy “negotiate while advancing.” Ecofeminists recognize the A.L.F. as a catalyst of change that is as vital as oxygen to fire.
In the same way that liberals are too afraid to publicly support the A.L.F., and so instead condemn them in their agitated fear of losing their precious privileges, anarcha-feminism has been upsetting anarchist men and mainstream cheerleaders for women’s rights since the early 1970’s. Instead of just analyzing the roots of oppression anarcha-feminists actually do something about it. In order to move forward without the same patterns of oppression, liberation movements but be non-hierarchical and practice selfless sacrifice. Otherwise the system of privileges based on private property and the applied and abstract mathematics of hierarchical duality will continue to divide and conquer us, pitting men against women, women against trans friends, straight against gay, humans against nature and human primates against non-human animals.
The A.L.F. is anti-egoist, horizontally and circularly structured as opposed to hierarchical selfishness. There is no leader of the A.L.F. and anyone who claims to take credit as a leader is a government agent. Selfless sacrifice is not made for a pat on the back, and by its nature it undermines the idea that human people are superior to non-humans. We may not even live to see the total liberation of animals in our lifetime but the way is being made.
Anarcha-feminists are involved in many movements, and collective working women have contributed to the largest portion of the work. Peggy Kornegger states that anarcha-feminists work to destroy power rather than take power, encourage both collectivism and individuality, and actively support both organized and spontaneous actions. For more on anarcha-feminism see “Quiet Rumors: An Anarcha-Feminists Anthology” published by Dark Star Rebel Press (UK) and available online at http://www.cluefactory.org.uk/ace/rumours
Everyone contributes to the dialogue by creating their own theories to give meaning to our suffering and our joy. In “Prison Notebooks” Antonio Gramsci defined the “organic intellectual” as someone who creates and communicates ideas that are based on lived experience rather than formal schooling. Organic intellectuals are present in all levels of society and are vital to liberation struggles. The slaughterhouse worker, who realizes and verbalizes the similarities between her company’s cruel treatment of animals and its lack of concern for the safety of the workers, is the consummate organic intellectual. Her description will be more accurate and influential than the best guesses of a so-called expert who has never seen the blood of butchered animals mixing with the blood of injured workers on the ground. An excellent example is Temple Grandin. In my own experience on the front likes at war I confirmed something I’d only heard before- that, when you are exhausted and starving in combat the smell of human bodies burning is exactly like pig’s flesh being cooked by humans. For this reason many ex-soldiers become vegetarians and vegans, but many become even more brutal than they were before.
One manifesto states that anarcha-feminists believe “The world obviously cannot survive many more decades of rule by gangs of armed males calling themselves governments.” So anarcha-feminists seek to survive by destabilizing and replacing governments, as opposed to joining and reforming them. These are acts of self defense, like the Catholic Workers Plowshares who take direct action against the use of nuclear weapons. The A.L.F. is anarchism in action and in ideology. Take careful note- anarchism is not anarchy. The goal is the official and permanent abolition of illegitimate and tyrannical authority in whatever form it may take. Direct actions of self defense in the face of world war and genocide are intended to undo power over animals, whether they are human or non-human. We are all animals on planet Earth, some of us just have fancy shoes and more complicated and neurotic communities. The greatest scams in history are the perpetuation of the ideas that humans are separate and superior to animals, and that the human mind is separate from the body. Humans and animals think, feel pain and want to live meaningful lives. A.L.F. activists don’t wait for governments to give them permission, they don’t wait for the rulers to save anyone for us, they do it themselves.
Anarcha-feminists encourage individuality within collective communities, supporting both the individual’s creativity and the strength of a unified group. In the same way anarcha-feminists expect spontaneous actions within the larger grand strategy. In it’s very structure the A.L.F. is individuality within collectivity. Individuals are free to apply skillful means within the moral framework of the ethics of ahimsa, no killing of humans and non-humans.
In the 1960’s and ’70’s radical feminists pulled off flamboyant direct actions to confront the problems that today are moderately addressed by meek and polite feminists, who in turn have lost the hard won progress made by our predecessors. The first safe houses for battered women were established by radical feminists, and it was these radicals who brought into public discourse previously unspeakable issues like the sexual abuse of children and rape. While radical feminists continue to work today the overall effort is not being carried on with sufficient energy by passive liberals. We need more troublemaking women to stand up, like the brave women in Iran, Rojava and Chiapas. And those troublemakers need our help.
Radical feminism identifies and uproots the very foundation of sexism, understanding that all slavery is based on the housewivisation of women, and housewivisation is based on animal husbandry. Because they actually care about themselves, their friends and loved ones and this beautiful world, radical feminists do the work of intellectual labor, cultural development and education in order to undo the unconscious thoughts and patterns of patriarchy, hierarchy and capitalism. These systems intentionally tell us what to think about sex and gender in order to sell us a product and brand our minds.
In order to fully understand the origins of sexism we have to return to the roots of patriarchy. As we confirmed earlier in this essay the development of animal husbandry, also called pastoralism, was sparked by the enclosure of free common ground and the enslavement of so called livestock and women in walled territories by armed men under threat of violence. Over and over, women and animals share a common fate throughout history. Her story is the history of enslavement.
The difference between mainstream and radical feminists is similar to the A.L.F. and animal welfare, and civil rights versus intersectional liberation. The goal is not simply to squeeze more rights out of a dystopian police state. The goal is total liberation, for all beings, everywhere, in this lifetime. The radical feminist recognizes the police as the strong arm of the patriarchal state, and so she works directly to protect women from that abuse rather than asking for more police to protect her from themselves. The man who raised me was a sheriff deputy to took my from my mom, despite not being genetically related to me at all, and he was a racist, sexist murderer who beat women. Male corrections officers rape female prisoners every single day in this country. In a recent case from earlier this year in the “free world” of Amerikkka, a woman witnessed a man raping an unconscious woman on a sidewalk and, instead of smashing the rapist’s head in with the nearest blunt object, ran to a police officer nearby who was sitting in a police car. The officer told her that he was off duty and refused to do anything. This rape by inaction was caught on the second woman’s smart phone. This is the difference between radical feminists and moderate women’s rights advocates. Radical feminists write the names of date rapists on bathroom walls and graffiti billboards of companies that exploit women’s bodies for profit. But these days even capitalism is trying to market woke moderate feminism, like the CVS commercial proclaiming their equal prices for mens and womens products. Radical feminists raise their voices and kick things off, literally. They lay down healthy boundaries and ensure consequences whenever violent behavior needs to be stopped. A radical feminist is the one you want to be around when you need direct action because regressive fundamentalists are shooting your friends at a protest while a cop is stomping on your head. I have seen a cop knock down a woman in a dress and stomp on her head at a protest, and I saw the crowd retaliate immediately and rescue the woman. Would you save her or will you hide behind the law?
Who would you want to come to the rescue if you are ever confined to cage, about to be forcibly impregnated? This is the reality for many animals, and women in U.$. prisons, and for women in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. Google the stories. When I got back from Rojava, Turkish soldiers regularly sent me death threats and videos of them abusing captured YPJ women soldiers and other Kurdish women who were fighting for their survival against Islamic terrorists, fighting against sex slavery and human trafficking. The Turkish soldiers cut off their breasts, execute them in the field and abuse their bodies. They make videos and pictures of this behavior in the present day.
Both radical feminists and the A.L.F. conduct what are often seen as extreme actions to accomplish the goal. It is a little known fact that the suffragettes were radicals, throwing rocks and starting fires. When sent to prison they demanded vegetarian food. Like the most radical women in Edwardian England, the feminists of the 1970’s realized that their activism naturally led them to vegetarianism.
Dan Baker 25765-509
PO Box 34550
Memphis, TN 38184