The Goals of a W4TL
Oppression is defined as (a) collective act(s) which push down on a person or people, causing them to relinquish control over their own body. Libertarian socialist roots inform the Woman for Total Liberation’s stance on leadership and the economy, but a W4TL goes much further in her application of the anti-oppression principle to develop a consistent libertarian socialist theory for liberation.
W4TL recognize that, statistically, men are almost completely responsible for the worldwide epidemics of murder and physical abuse, whether the motivation was sexist, racist, an act of class warfare, or all or none of the above, and that they perpetrate these crimes against both women and other men. Male violence is an under-acknowledged public health problem, and action must be taken to stop their destructive behavior.
A W4TL believes that solutions include the following:
- Women have the right to live and work separately from men, as well as to establish their own territories, if that is what they want.
- Women have the right to live and work among men, as well as to live as citizens equal to men, whatever the planet, and yet live free of all male terrorization.
- Women can be anything, but anything cannot be women. Defend female biotruths, fight misogynist myths.
- End capitalism and the state everywhere.
- End all forms of hierarchy everywhere. Create and share new ways of relating which are not based in domination, since no being is fit to rule over any other being, for any reason, but instead on mutual aid.
- Conduct scientific research towards the aim of limiting and minimizing the violence of men, and of actively protecting women from said violence.
- Establish female self-determination and knowledge in the realms of medicine (the body) and herstory (our voices).
In keeping with the libertarian socialist tradition, a W4TL has little to no faith that achieving reforms will bring about lasting change for women, regardless of whether she asks politicians to listen or becomes a politician herself. Politicians will not listen, and becoming a politician won’t change the system: it will change her either by exhausting or corrupting her. This process is also too slow to achieve anything timely. Instead, women and their allies should take direct action.
A woman’s libertarian socialism calls upon women not only to overthrow patriarchy, but to become better than men by ending racism, capitalism, and all forms of unjustifiable authority which are the roots of these systems, and learn how to build a society of equals, so that if and when they gain the opportunity to build a new world in the shell of the old, that world will not reproduce the same hierarchies — a classless society will finally be achieved.
We will do this by taking inspiration from the better aspects of radical feminist, black liberation, socialist/Marxist feminist, and libertarian socialist theory, to create our own path forward, a path that aims for nothing less than the total liberation of all women across time and space.
Q: Why don’t you just call yourself anarchist? Only women can be W4TL. Some W4TL have completely given up on seeking anarchists for support, focusing instead on anti-authoritarian women, while other W4TL seek to reclaim the female-centered spaces devoted to anarcha-feminism. W4TL is more libertarian socialist: there are many tendencies within libertarian socialism, and all have many similar goals even if they see themselves as distinct. Every W4TL is an anarcha-feminist by definition, but one doesn’t have to identify as an anarchist. The Zapatistas sure don’t! The democratic confederalist Syrian revolutionaries don’t. However, to conplicate things, all libertarian socialists are generally called anarchists and sometime it is simply a synonym. This is because anarchists are themselves a very heterogenous group. The only thing that binds anarchists is an opposition to capitalism, the state, and opposition social hierarchy, especially of institutions: what those all other forms of hierarchy are, are left for each person’s interpretation, but among most anarchists at this moment in history the usual consensus is against patriarchy, homophobia, racism, ableism, and transphobia, both interpersonally and structurally. There are many introductions to anarchism, and this is not the one. Instead I focus on the problems I see.
I once thought that women had a negligible history of involvement or focus in the anarchist movement, because what history I could find about women, especially those explicitly feminist, was written as side notes and anarchism has yet featured white men as the primary actors, with many anarcha-feminist women being forgotten and the anarcha-feminism in the radical feminist movement of the 70s being almost obliterated from history. However, I have encountered sources that state women are perceived to be a revolutionary class, in the history of the American/United Snakes where anarchist women have played a “central” role in worker’s liberation in a time when this was unprecedented. I have been informed that anarcha-feminists have not always abdicated their own struggles against sexism in favor of being erased by genderist transgender activism. I have also found that in present-day Syrian struggles, women are key to liberation and all new recruits to defend Kurdish liberation are required to read theory about the central role of Kurdish women’s liberation. Our past is vibrant and it is possible that we will rise again, but women’s revolutionary genius continues to go unnoted, since the male establishment finds it unnotable: the writers of history keep bringing the spotlight back to individual white men. While we’re all in favor of destroying our idols, the bias of continuing to primarily idolize white men, whatever its specific causes, is just impossible to ignore.
The present-day climate for anarchist women has not been great either, and perhaps this will vary by country, but it is specifically not great wherever transplaining, genderist, pro-pornstitution manarchists exist to eclipse women and lesbians. With this anti-female climate, it would be easy to think that “anarcha-feminism” as it exists today is a prop to make women seem welcome, railroading them into the anti-feminist trap of support for pornstitution and kissing-up to men. It would seem that libertarian socialists are satisfied with dead women in the foreground and little helpers in the background. Obviously, this has everything to do with men having taken over feminism. Speak real feminist theory and you’ll quickly be tarred and feathered as a “TERF” and “SWERF”, and receive threats of physical violence over the Internet. Obedient women rarely make history, and those that did make history live under gravestones so they can be quietly forgotten in a flurry of collective amnesia and insistence that today’s “feminism” is better now: less flawed, more male. Many of the loudest contemporary anarcha-feminist voices are in fact men pretending to be women, and hey, even men who don’t pretend to be women can be feminists. How convenient!
There are many things that can go wrong. Although I have never heard of physical violence against women tarred and feathered as TERFs and SWERFs within anarchist communities, I have heard manarchists chuckle about throwing objects, such as food or piss, at “TERFs” attending anarchist bookfairs; I have also heard of reputations being destroyed, and of course permanent expulsion. I have read supposed anarchists in comment threads calling for “TERFs” to be killed just the same as fascists. When you are branded with these titles, you are as bad as Hitler? No one thinks for even a god fucking damn second how ludicrous this is, do they? They don’t even know they are hurting their own comrades.
Clearly, women have all the freedom to defy being told what to do, except when it comes to her own sexual organs; anarchists recognize women as humans, yet they don’t recognize women as women, because to be real live woman is to be…well, just impossible. We’re just thoughts, just thots. Today’s anarchists, both male and female, are encouraged to split women: “Woman” is the porn on the screen; “human” is his comrade who is only incidentally female and who may not even identify as a woman. This psychological separation only ceases in a good way, when female comrades rally for abortion and birth control, or are raped. Some anarchists don’t really buy into gender, including some tranarchists, but they don’t go as far as challenging the liberal “transgender” narrative that has colonized women’s and LGB space.
Apart from misogynist witch hunts, there are less obvious things. Male anarchists seem to struggle less with toxic masculinity overall, but that doesn’t stop it from spilling out in other less traditional ways. If you are particularly unlucky, you may be greeted by senseless fetishization of violence (read here why this is bad) and mob rule that gives modern anarchism its bad name, thanks to entitlement (what Stirnerian egoists would call “involuntary egoism”) and machismo. It’s possible that some of these may simply be agents of the state trying to spread disharmony — though I recommend against making unfounded accusations against anyone — but some are simply edgelords. Yet it doesn’t matter if ordinary men are persuaded to support macho contests and testerical endangerment of others. People tend to mistake “radical” to mean “edgy”, when they should in fact consider it to be boring, plain, or common sense. If only that were the case. There are many other problems within the male-dominated libertarian socialist movement, but suffice to say we consider most of the postmodernist, primitivist, anti-civ, anti-life stuff to be garbage, partly because they offer nothing if you aren’t a white male and partly because they tend to abandon class struggle.
Most flaws in the libertarian socialist tradition are character flaws of its adherents, which boils down to not being libertarian socialist enough: the failure to center women and people of color. While some progress has been made in making libertarian socialism less white so that you find Black Panther anarchists, praise for Malcom X, and solidarity with indigenous struggles, about two centuries later it all continues to look pretty male dominated. Those leftist women who were successful like Mujeres Libres, and the radical feminists of the 20th century who broke with the labor movement, explicitly separated themselves from their male comrades. However, unlike some feminists, we will never say that the labor movement and related efforts is categorically male. This copout is even more useless today now that women typically hold 1-3 waged jobs, but it wasn’t applicable back when socialism got started either, when women did loads of paid and unpaid labor.
Q: Why center women and especially women of color? Because statistics collected up to now have shown women to be less inclined towards violent crime and because women are the majority of the working class, especially the service sector which is the lowest rung of the working class. Because the majority of people in this world are people of color, and as such should not be regarded as a minority; also, because the majority of people of color are working class. Economic and governmental power disparities have a distinctly white, male quality. If your politics don’t speak to women of color, you are navel-gazing. The default has always been white and male: we must change the default to colored and female, if we want a broad-based, international movement that will liberate and save ourselves from destroying ourselves. Because women of color, including lesbian women of color, are the most objectified and hence the most atomized humans on this planet.
Q: Why even bother with libertarian socialism? Anarchy and communism should not be hoarded by men! True libertarian socialists are by definition supportive of radical feminists because libertarian socialism is about the creation of a free society. If the issue was “why rescue science” or “why rescue mathematics”, which are also male-dominated, would it even be a question? Is freedom not also the domain of women and people of color, or hell, what is freedom at all without them? Why must a dream be limited by human flesh and bone, when we can strip its limitations and make it our own? Can a thought have a color, a sex, or an orientation?
The truth about anarchism is that, although historians catalogue its rise with a bunch of European white male social democrats (as they were all called at the time, even the authoritarians, who later called themselves Marxists) following the French Revolution and the “coining” of anarchism with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, people from many different times and places were inspired to anarchism and used their own vocabularies to describe it. Many lesser known societies (ignored and considered primitive because they are not nation states), organize themselves in an anarchist way. It is a recurring inspiration in human societies, simply because it is realistic. Anarchism is the political analogue of atheism, a rejection of belief in gods, and while some anarchists may be spiritual or religious, both require rigorous rejection of lies. Rigorous rejection of lies requires the dignity to reject them, which leads to the rejection of authorities who lie, and then to the recognition that authorities do tend to lie, abuse, and plunder — the rule, not the exception. It is possible to first live the philosophy through direct experience and acquire the language to describe it later. In fact, most anarchist theory is derived from the wisdom of life experience and social experiments. Like atheists, some people are anarchists without knowing it; there are people who don’t believe in gods without knowing what atheism is, and people who don’t believe in authority without knowing what anarchism is.
Another interesting fact is that each time there is an anarchistic rebellion of some sort, women spontaneously use the revolution as an opportunity to self-organize according to their own needs and interests. In that sense, anarchism in practice necessarily means liberation for women. As a general philosophy it sees no difference between sex, color, or any other difference and can be applied at will.
Q: Why don’t you just call yourself radical feminist? We are answering this question prefiguratively. In short, the reason is because W4TL does not support what shall be called naive feminism. In Going Out of Our Minds, Sonia Johnson said, “non-hierarchy is in the very nature of feminism”. Unfortunately, this has not come to pass. Radical feminists may be about women’s liberation, and may even care about other types of oppression, but their politics fail to liberate all women because they don’t attack capitalism or the state, and seem pretty comfortable with arranging hierarchical relations, not only with womyn over men (if that wasn’t enough) but also placing womyn in power over womyn. The closest thing to a critique of capitalism and the state is that it is a “male” system and thus should not be participated in. How many look at liberation wholistically, rather than perform a reductio ad maleficum? This is why it is naive. While it’s a mind-boggling fact that males are at the helm of every oppression and perpetrate the most violence, some radical feminists have in turn idealized women even though there are female racists, capitalists, and politicians. In doing so, some feminists have even evaded critique of these systems altogether, as though all that needs to happen is to replace every man with a woman. To a W4TL this is not a radical enough change, in fact there is merit to the idea that we’d be stooping to men’s level since it only places womyn in positions where they can become equally as guilty as men. As time goes on, liberals place more women in power, so the case against hierarchy could not be any more powerful.
It is very suspicious that before now there have been no obvious connections between anarchism and radical feminism, when in fact many radical feminists have anarchist critiques of their liberal sisters. This is likely due to being censored by misogynists, transgenderists, and feminists of other political tendencies that would rather like to forget about anarchist womyn. The feminists of other political tendencies loudly announce their political leanings even as they imagine there is some universal politic of womanhood, which there is not. It would be nice to write off politics as a male thing, but it is not. There are women who fall on various parts of the political spectrum, and inevitably these differences do matter.
Most of the time, however, both “radical” and “liberal” feminists are liberal-reformist in their politics outside of feminism, likely due to the far-reaching political influence of academia. Even if society is improved by placing all women in power where men used to be, you would still have to end racism, capitalism, and the state because there still exist racist, capitalist, and statist women. Some radical feminists acknowledge that we mustn’t “act like men”, but this falls on deaf ears, because what are men acting like? Men. Which is essentially what? Male. And after this circular thought-stopping cliche we get lost in the fact that we are fortunate enough to not be men, who are responsible for so much cruelty. However, it is lazy thinking to ascribe every negative aspect of humanity to males or maleness. Rather than resting on our biologically superior laurels, we are still tasked with studying carefully how to mitigate destructive actions, either to save this planet or the next one if we even have a chance.
Another symptom of the liberal taint in radical feminism would be that access to historically significant radical feminist media and panels often come with paywalls from rent-seekers, which prevents mass education. I’m not talking about donations, I’m talking about gatekeepers. Profiting off of a movement! If women need the movement so badly, why does it require their money? Doesn’t every living woman on this planet deserve to hear the priceless truth about her existence, without it costing her more than she’s already had to pay?
It becomes necessary to assert the central importance of fighting all forms of domination even within a female society, in order for radical feminism to truly live up to its name, “radical”, meaning to strike at the root. While males are at the helm of every oppression, we women must acknowledge the root of oppression itself — or else we are merely making the symbolic (and arguably sadomasochistic) gesture of “choosing” our oppressors. You can lop off the male head, but you will not have killed the hydra. The feature of every oppression, including women’s oppression, is domination. We women must also acknowledge that we take part in these oppressions against women and other groups. Otherwise, radical feminism lives up to its name only in the extremity to which it takes feminist thought as a resistance to male supremacy, and will continue to fail to be of practical use to women seeking solidarity with other women. In fighting supremacy itself, women for total liberation can learn and aspire to true freedom.
Q: Anarchy is for white people. While it is true that libertarian socialism as recorded in the HIStory books is coined and led by European white men, this is a problem of history being recorded by white men who aggressively erased other people’s history, including women’s. Also, it remains least understood in English speaking countries as opposed to the rest of the world. As a philosophy without leaders it exists for anyone to claim, though not always by the same names, and societies have existed (and do exist, and will exist) that basically resemble the same structure libertarian socialism advocates. Anarchy and communism should not be hoarded by white people!
Q: What about the menz? What about the womon? Libertarian socialists have ignored women long enough that we’re just going to ignore them right back. Our approach is a simple reversal of what they’ve done to us, minus the death threats: tokenize male theorists, and reject the inclusion of men into our spaces. This will persist right up until no longer deemed necessary by its practitioners. We also welcome the participation of women pretending to be men (“transmen”) to give us an appearance of male inclusion! (This is a satirical joke; please note we strongly oppose the self-harm of so-called transition AKA gay conversion surgery.) This is all part of changing the default human being. Whenever a W4TL uses sex-neutral or race-neutral language, her words are primarily for homosexual womyn of color, secondarily anyone else — unless she is talking about her enemies, which are, more often than not, straight white men. If a man ever claims to be a W4TL, he is a liar. As for the manarchists and brocialists who just don’t get it: nothing is stopping you from doing a “men for total liberation” thing, but it would be redundant with W4TL. You could just work on fixing libertarian socialism AKA anarchism so we aren’t embarrassed to be associated with all you motherfuckers.
Q: But it should be 50-50! Why should it be 50-50? What necessitates that women and men live in the same society? Maybe a free society will be comprised of 50% women and 50% men, but maybe not. Maybe it will look more like 100% women or majority women. Some women will have differing views on this. Even so, women require their own separate spaces to develop politics, away from patriarchy, and whether that will be temporary or permanent remains a hypothetical.
Q: ARE YOU GONNA KILL EM Unlike what is laid out in the popular S.C.U.M. manifesto so touted by MRAs to strawman feminists, no. Why would we become the thing we most hate? That would be a world where men and women have switched places, but the foundations giving rise to patriarchy have not been challenged. Radical is not “edgy”.
Q: What about the transwomen! We have plenty of AFAB transwomen! *wink wink*
Q: How does one become a W4TL? If you agree with this manifesto, welcome to life as a W4TL.
Q: Am I joining a cult? You should always be wary of this possibility, so it is good to ask, because this is usually the part where we ask you to join, and political cults do exist. Heck, yoga cults exist. However, you should never trust the answer to that question as long as the answer is a “no”, since cults never advertise themselves as such. To answer this question anyway: W4TL is not a new dogma, science is great, debate is essential, and actually there is no membership. There are no leaders. These ideas are not proprietary, they can be held by anyone. If you don’t like a group, you can leave and create your own without renouncing your values. You are a free-thinking, self-owned human being and the writers of this manifesto hope that people’s freedom from domination is preserved always. We felt this needs to be said because there’s always some megalomaniacs who go and try to ruin a good thing by subverting liberation into domination.