Friday, December 3, 2010

Anarchism vs. feminism?

reposted from ladypoverty


Cindy Milstein, at a recent event in Baltimore, described [feminism] in less negative terms. She said that the anarcho-adjectives symbolized not preference, but passion. That’s fine. If you are extra passionate about injustice related to gender oppression, more power to you. But I am not. I may identify more when I hear about the injustices and abuses faced by women, but I am not more passionate about doing something about those injustices than I am about injustices due to race or class or disability or anything else.

I would take it one step further than Cindy Milstein and suggest that "passions" are best informed by people's individual experiences; and, moreover, our circumstances are to a considerable extent not what we "choose."

People can be passionate about wanting to address every conceivable kind of oppression, and identify themselves in these terms; but in practice they will only have the kind of direct experience to speak, or act, in a leadership capacity on a few. As soon as we step out of what we experience on a daily basis and get drawn into circumstances which primarily affect others, we have to defer on some level to how they understand their own experiences.

We've certainly seen how the tendency to preference our own struggles can assume many illegitimate forms. But that doesn't mean it's inappropriate for middle-class white feminists, for example, to be committed to addressing the problems that they know best. It's inappropriate for them to be completely self-consumed; but it's also inappropriate for them to pretend to be something they're not.

In my view, the harmony between anarchism and feminism is implied insofar as anarchism concerns itself with authority, and feminism is aimed at authority in a particular form (that which subjugates women). People will use whatever terms or labels they like; particular women will distinguish their circumstances from others, etc.; but the principle remains the same.

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