I am a stranger in this world. A total misfit. I am not only a radical lesbian feminist, but an anarchist. Maybe you could call me a female autonomist, but it does seem like autonomism is more about focusing on your specific community and includes separatism — in my case, it is the lesbian community, although I have respect for any truly committed anarchist, great minds think alike and all. Many anarchists and feminists reveal their false commitment just by meeting me, because they tend to become hostile to the parts of me they don’t like (whether lesbian, radical feminist, or anarchist). I am often forced to show only parts of myself, which makes me very frustrated, and I yearn for a lesbian separatist anarchist enclave. But in this world, I am lucky if I even get a lesbian enclave, period. Still, I just could never stand any place with hierarchy.
I could simply call it lesbian anarchism, but I have to be more specific because there are lesbians who throw their lot in with patriarchy by supporting BDSM, porn, and other anti-feminist stances. I also have to be clear that by anarchist I don’t mean the Unabomber (fuck, that guy was a reactionary piece of MGTOW shit and the fascists actually really love him), I mean living in a world with an anti-domination ethic and organizations structured horizontally through such means as consensus, progressive stack, and worker-owned cooperatives.
I am specifically of the pan-libertarian socialist variety that is not sectarian about what kind of anarchist economies “should” form. I believe the working class = the employees and the ruling class = the bosses, and no one should be a boss who is no more than a dignified slavemaster. I believe that capitalism is an extension of slavery, only the slaves get paid and a fair few get benefits and rights. It’s all along the same spectrum of exploitation, and it’s ALL bad. All “managers” — I mean task masters — are bad too — complicit, pretty much. Also, I am often surprised by the lack of understanding that people, even anarchists, have about class. They buy the liberal line about class being categorized by income, when it is really about who owns the means of production. Yet they still recognize that they must seize the means of production, whether through revolutions like the Paris Commune or through more gradual means like building a market of worker’s cooperatives.
Because I am an anarchist and because I am working class, sometimes I don’t know who I hate more: men, fascists, or the ruling class. Well, to be honest, I hate the ruling class most. This is because they are the ones with the most power, are composed of both men and fascists, and wield the indignities and horrors that both men and fascists inflict on women.
I think a lot about our class composition, that is to say the divisions within the working class, namely women of the working class and, within that, the task of building solidarity between women across race and orientation. I don’t have patience for bourgeois women, that is, women whose job it is to manage, hire, or extract surplus labor value from women. These sellouts will not be missed. Women of color are not only the most oppressed by patriarchy, they are also the most exploited under capitalism — that’s merely a fact: they compose the vast majority of the world’s working class, especially the poor. Because of the class composition of working class women, it is important to understand not only how male supremacy works, but also racism. It is also important to understand that both race and gender are social constructs that serve to shore up power for men, especially men of the dominating race and gender stereotypes, and to divide women up according to their conformism to these lies.
In the current struggle for women’s liberation, women can get away with being Liberal or Leninist, but a time will come when our entire continued existence will hinge upon anarchism as a discipline. One can even say that the backlash 20th century feminism experienced wouldn’t have been able to destroy our communities in the way that it did, had they been formed explicitly around the anarchist principle — as well as the separatist principle that guides radical lesbian feminists — and therefore resistant to cooptation by the Liberal, capitalist, patriarchal and racist establishment. Women still fail to understand this today, seeing “Liberalism” as a good thing instead of the unreformable menace it truly is. Their acceptance of the establishment weakens their criticism of it, producing little silos of activism that don’t and can’t and won’t come together, not even theoretically because it compromises their ability to deeply understand the inner workings of privilege. As a result, we women can’t come together to make a greater alternative to our profoundly sick society: even if we try, we recreate the world we left behind, because our oppression has dulled our imaginations.
Our Liberalism is the reason Liberal feminism became a thing that developed out of the radical feminist movement, and like a parasite it gradually ate all the radical bits until there was nothing left but a husk of a movement. This trans debacle signals the dying cries of a feminist movement that was always slightly off track. Before people started exclaiming that men could be women and women could be men, we had the predictable gaslighting mystification of our issues and capitalist cooptation.
If history is to tell us anything, it’s that whatever anarchafeminist efforts existed within the women’s liberation movement, they were marginalized. Perhaps the anarchafeminists and the socialist feminists worked together? In any case, they too were Liberalized and that is why today you see “socialist feminists” who cherry pick the radicalism they want to represent — an obvious case being opposing porn while supporting gender. But I think the most revealing thing about the need for radical feminism to remain socialist — but especially anarchist — is that in my experience it was socialist and anarchist feminists who started this whole thing up again, when they discovered radical feminist texts and blogs, and started controversy in their brocialist and manarchist communities. I think that if she is a lesbian, or has the potential to become a lesbian, then she’ll be even more likely to go down this path. Any woman who gets interested in socialism is eventually going to start thinking about her own liberation, and that of the liberation of women and lesbians specifically. Then she’ll run up against a wall of obfuscation and hostility, and if she keeps searching then she’ll find the truth. My aim is only to make this easier for her. However she must be willing to think not only of her own liberation, but that of all her sisters.
I think that the working class in America has always been divided, and will remain so. It’s important to be sensitive to this fact. In a prison state composed of people of all different histories, there will always be separatist communities of people who organize around important shared characteristics, whether for historical reasons, religious reasons, or reasons of lifestyle. To attempt to unite us all under the same banner has been shown to erase our distinctions and our competing interests. Rather than force us to “work out” our “differences” under a generic working class banner, for which the world can’t wait and which some argue is impossible, I suggest that it is better to have what the Garage Autonomist calls a “many headed hydra” of coalitions which doesn’t require that everyone be on the same page about all things. Only that we agree on certain things, and may perhaps build solidarity with each other, e.g. radical feminists supporting indigenous struggles for autonomy from the colonial (parasitic) state. Lesbian anarchists, however, should always focus on our own first, because as the common refrain goes: unless we do, “no one else will”.
A fascist state will make certain members of the working class scapegoats so other working class people will attack them, in order to restore a sense of security. A Liberal state will too, but not as explicitly. This is just like an abusive family, in which siblings are scapegoated — and while the state is modeled after the patriarchal family, the ruling class is not our mother. The ruling class will be banking (literally) on the working class here being too busy tearing at each other’s throats to be of any use for a revolution. We’re seeing the scapegoating of lesbians, women, and immigrants in our country right now. Of course, black people in particular have always been burdened by white supremacy in this country, and will continue to suffer under this regime. Yet if we each focus on strengthening our own communities without mistaking capitalism for “community” and build some basic cross-coalition solidarity as I described, especially to support the communities that overlap with our own, then we’ll be able to resist exploitation and even the development of fascism. I only speak of my country because although women’s liberation is an international struggle, I cannot speak knowledgeably on what is happening elsewhere.