Monday, September 27, 2010

Feminist solidarity

Within the anti-authoritarian tradition, we can understand feminism as concerning itself with a particular form of authority -- that which imposes itself on women. If we too are concerned with that authority which imposes itself on women, we may be counted within the feminist community. This is true regardless of whether, amongst those who are concerned with authority imposed on women, there are some who are not consistently anti-authoritarian. To be concerned is to gain entry into feminism; from there we must choose whether to be concerned about other forms of authority. If we are anti-authoritarians, we will be concerned with every form of authority.

Nevertheless, to be concerned with all forms of authority is to inevitably direct our practical efforts toward certain forms of authority, not every form of authority in equal measure. Because authority is expressed through relationships, proximity to a relationship is helpful when we focus on a particular form of authority.

For example, as a straight white dude, I understand the authority imposed by capital by working for an employer in an entry-level capacity. Subsequently, I can speak from this perspective -- of someone subjugated within a relationship.

But being straight, white, and a dude, I can also speak from the perspective of someone solicited by authority in other relationships; namely, those relationships in which these attributes confer a power advantage.

The tendency for straight white dudes such as myself to become preoccupied with class struggle is understandable insofar as this is the one realm where we experience subjugation. And the fact that we are enjoined to participate in the exercise of authority within other relationships -- to be seen as oppressors -- can also make us reluctant to take up other concerns.

But our asset in either case is proximity to the relationship.

Men can't play the same role within feminism as women, but the reverse is also true: women can't see patriarchy "from the top." In this way, men make their own contribution within feminism as a complement to women's -- to reveal how patriarchy works from their own perspective. Men have their own perspective within patriarchy, but it is only by working with women that the picture of what both endure becomes complete.

1 comment:

Nate said...

I like this post a lot. I also want to say, about "the tendency for straight white dudes to become preoccupied with class struggle" -- in my experience doing workplace stuff before the IWW (the IWW is not as good on this yet, in my opinion) organizing was one of the areas where I had women as leaders and mentors and otherwise was working with women who were calling the shots as well as working with women as equals. So for me organizing was also part of learning to check a lot of baggage. I had had a fair amount of feminist activist experience before that, around Take Back The Night. Those were powerful experiences but I think from working with survivors I tended to think of women more as needing protection and so on. Through organizing I dealt with a lot of women who were tough and self-reliant, much more so than I was.

take care,