This is mostly a preemptive theoretical problem that I haven’t yet seen come up, but I feel it might become useful if we start talking about it now. Separatism failed the first time. Why? I think in part because wimmin became entranced with individualistic notions of “I’ve got mine”, as lesbian feminists have pointed out, but also because they may have taken a hardline authoritarian approach, a one-size-fits-all solution that turned wimmin off the idea of solidarity between wimmin as a class. It is true that we are the sex class, but what is also true is that we are a class made up of individuals, not shoeboxes. It’s not really either-or.
In order to stick together, we need to look after and be accessible to everyone. That which is inaccessible to the poor, to the differently abled, to the needy, is neither radical nor revolutionary. Some of us have mental health problems, have less income, have certain needs that need tending which the separatist community cannot yet service. We must not gloss over the fact that this produces different individual outcomes and challenges that must be overcome in order to reach a collective goal.
Simply put, in achieving female separatism, some of us are going to have a harder time. Is it really worth cutting off the men in your life if that means being all alone? Maybe. But maybe not, if it means you end up missing a medication or lose your job, or end up in a more dangerous situation. I’m just saying. Your immediate situation needs to be taken into account. This isn’t about moral purity.
So what is separatism about, then? Yes, some of it is about the ethics of standing in solidarity with wimmin to the exclusion of men. However, the number one reason why we must practice separatism is men are known to be dangerous. We do it for safety reasons, then. And when it comes to safety, sometimes there is no perfectly safe alternative and you have to strike a balance. So do that, and don’t feel guilty for failing to commit 100%. Every decision to empower wimmin and stop giving men our energy is a small victory, so remember the small victories in life.
Another thing about separatism is, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We can borrow from other movements in history. If that means interacting with a man…fine. Decide whether it’s a good use of your time.
I prefer female autonomism over separatism. Autonomism is more defined by self-determination and becoming, whereas separatism is assumed to be defined as the absence of men. Yes, that’s a feature, but that’s not quite the point. This is a movement built on collective action, on systemic and structural change to consolidate female power, not on individual choices.