In the radical left communities, being branded as a “TERF” and/or “SWERF” and especially an unrepentant one will get you a life of rejection in the left. You can almost guarantee that no one will let you work with them. We’ve all heard the stories, but maybe not so much specific to leftist currents. For the most part, we’ve been listening to liberals.
Never mind the fact that of any woman branded a “TERF” that I have ever heard of, mostly on the Internet and in books, the most extreme thing ever said was that transmen are betraying their sex class. I think the majority, however, see no betrayal, or if there is any, it’s not especially different from the “betrayal” of wearing the trappings of femininity. In fact it’s perfectly understandable, given the circumstances. So calling us “transphobic” is extremely inaccurate — the most they could say is that we’re transwomenphobic. And the most extreme things I’ve seen womyn say has either been merely an extension of man-hating (this used to be me, it’s perfectly understandable) or, rarely, a rather (what seems to me) unfeminist discomfort with men going outside of the confines of gender by mimicking women. It’s only this last category that I would challenge women on, because it’s in her interest for these men to defy gender. All that said, bearing in mind the vast majority of gender-atheist women are not anarchists, merely rejecting only one hierarchy, not all just yet. Anyway, they are factually wrong when they call us phobic, etc. They are hilariously wrong when they call us “hierarchical” for being “exclusionary”, and doubly so when they exclude us. Moreover, it’s fucking absurd to be so obsessed with what we think about some tiny percentage of the population, when the reason most of us got dragged into this is because of opposing prostitution, saying no to men, being a lesbian, being against pornography, being scientifically literate, being the wrong fucking skin color, or a number of things that are unacceptable challenges to male supremacy and our sex roles — never mind that there are a number of sensible “trans” people who know better than to blame women for just being women, feminists, lesbians, or all of the above, and aren’t ashamed of that fact.
But no woman deserves the cruel punishment she gets for any of the above…and the punishment she gets really reveals who is in charge of enforcing gender (men…not women!). And no anarchist woman deserves the devaluation of her worth to revolutionary struggle that she endures, as a result of her commitment and integrity. In fact, it is women who reject gender itself as a hierarchical imposition who pose the greatest threat to patriarchy.
Despite the risks of taking a stand, I would love for us to find each other so as not to be isolated. I would love for us to not have to make compromises, whether it’s in a hierarchical womyn’s organization or a patriarchal “hierarchy-free” anarchist collective. We should be able to take it upon ourselves to organize independently of the left and its white, straight, male-dominated liberal identity politics. Our radical analysis need not be a shameful secret to the leftist community. In fact what we have to bring is so, so important, it’s a shame that it’s more of a cross to bear than the gift that it is to women and ultimately everyone. There are so many people touched by radical feminism whose lives are made better just by learning how to act right and see things differently. They don’t know the influence we have, and I think it’s even more important that we distinguish ourselves from other radical feminists because we reject all hierarchies.
The only question is how we can find each other and do work that makes women’s lives better, in a way that serves the values of anarchism and radical feminism. And is it worth the likely irreversible cost of indefinite exclusion from all anarchist projects? Or is it worth working towards anarchy in anarchist circles in spite of the indignity of enduring unchecked misogyny, racism, and lesbophobia (due to said shitty liberal identity politics held by willfully ignorant anarchists), without being able to speak against it? Will anarchists achieve freedom in spite of their failures, or are they doomed to failure without radical feminism? Are anarchafeminists weakened by embracing our status as outcasts, even if we organize together?
Is there an anarchist community where women and people of color AREN’T outnumbered 10 to 1, and I just haven’t found it? Because it seems like we have to start from scratch. How do we do that? Why are records of anarchafeminists organizing during the womyn’s liberation movement so sparse, even though “anarchy”, women calling themselves “anarchist”, and women naming their houses after famous anarchafeminists like Emma Goldman in the radical feminist literature that exists gets mentioned frequently enough to perk my ears? Did we merely escape society? Did we all get murdered? Did we die in silence? Did we off ourselves? Are we in perpetual hiding? Where are we? And where is home for us?
We’ve found each other, haven’t we? It’s what we have now. Maybe we should start off by making a zine or something to make clear our views as radical feminist anarchafeminists, why there is a need for us to exist, and encourage other women to get on board. Didn’t anarchism get resurrected because of the Internet? We’ll never change the tide unless we take a stand and show people, by example, without asking for their approval, how it’s done.
Please don’t be afraid to reach out. Solidarity to all radical feminist anarchists!