The Technology Question

I don’t know when patriarchy started. Some point to animals to say that all female animals have been fighting males as an existential danger for millenia, while others (the Marxist feminists) point to patriarchy as starting around the time agriculture began and men enslaved women as a means of production. The Marxist feminist theory is incomplete and doesn’t satisfy me since I don’t believe it is any kind of stage of history that we had to go through, only that it happened. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with agriculture, but it is arguable that the exploitation of animals (especially of the forced insemination, i.e. rape, of female animals) that occurs on farms could lead those early farming men translating their farming skills from other animal species, to women of their own species, because domination is a corrupting influence. I’m not anti-agriculture — in fact, I have heard that women invented many things including agriculture, but it is hard to imagine women being responsible for cattle ranches… For example, who invented herding, was it men?

I notice that the new radical feminists, often influenced by Deep Green Resistance, are often critical of transhumanism. I’ve sometimes promoted transhumanism and was met with criticism of it being a very patriarchal ideology. I must say that I see where they are coming from. I am actually not primitivist at all, because I do not envy the indignities of living in the wild. Yet if I had a preferred society it would be a bright green futurism of a radical feminist conception, rather than the dystopic technologies slowly enveloping us by men seemingly determined to eradicate their own capacity for empathy, that pesky thing. Men’s inventions all tend to be torture devices, while women’s imaginations are a bit more healthy. Men’s transhumanism, i.e. humanist futurism, is predictable in its assessing “death” as the worst thing that could happen to humans. This false sweeping statement mutes our differences, much like humanism’s “we all bleed the same blood”. Women might feel differently — perhaps there are some fates worse than death, but how would he know? He’s a man.

Perhaps accelerating technology is a bad idea, if it means we — especially the most oppressed among us — get to be used as test subjects in mass experimentation and mass surveillance, manipulating us in the intimacy of our everyday lives. Technology should not accelerate unless patriarchy ends, this I am sure of. It already moves fast enough under capitalism, and under capitalism so many good inventions never see the light of day, especially when invented by women and people of color. If techno-patriarchy advances, then women everywhere will be subjected to total body and soul invasion. I know that we are only seeing the beginning of this with internet surveillance, street cameras, secret police, pornography, and the medicalization of womanhood. We should resist these patriarchal invasions, but not by going back to live in the woods, at least not permanently. If we women are inventors, then we women should invent.

I am very worried about what will happen when men construct artificial means of reproduction, where babies have no mother. Women would lose the very last ounce of power that they do have. That will be a very dystopian world and I think the only answer would be to escape. Maybe women will be freed of the burden of their wombs being used, but I think not, because men are too addicted to fucking women. They even made robots to practice on, but they always go back to us for “the real thing”. They would rather have women for pleasure-fucking, and control of babymaking so they can make more men like themselves. Again, we all want to live in a utopic world in balance with nature and human prosperity, but not if oppression can be smuggled in. Perhaps women will decide that humans as a species need to stop reproducing until we get it together because we are a total fiasco right now. I know I decided to not have children for that reason. Looking at the trajectory of technology, it seems that patriarchy has prioritized men’s sexual pleasure over halting the current mass extinction of countless species.

I think the only way we will save the planet and ourselves from this enslavement and the destruction of the earth will be to build autonomous powers that outlive the white male capitalist “societies” in the war of attrition they have wrought upon this earth. I don’t believe that any lesbian anarchist should be expected to join the war that the men are fighting — she does enough just by starving men of the power over her reproductive capacity. Some women are warriors whose fury cannot be quenched and would rather do the demolition work of anticapitalism. Lucy Parsons was such a woman, Assata Shakur was such a woman — not lesbians, that is, but warriors. The choice to join them is hers but I certainly think it comes at the expense of rebuilding lesbian communities in a time when they are so precious and so needed. Capitalism is doing its own demolition work and will probably trigger a bottleneck before we even reach fully automated luxury anarcho-communism; meanwhile communities are falling apart and need mending. So mend them, and defend them, since the automation of labor means there will come a time when we will be deemed expendable. Our unmarked graves are already planned, I’m sure — whether it’s as test subjects, genocide, or starvation. The future does not look good.

Lesbian Anarchy

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.

How I finally knew I was a lesbian

Warning: this might get a little mature, vague references to sexual content here

Some women get confused about whether they are attracted to other women because they find it awkward to think of applying the term “hot” to women. They are stuck in the male construction of attraction, which is very different from our own. Artificial, even.

“Hot” is cultural conditioning. Men are conditioned to view women as “hot” and what this means implicitly is that he’s having a sexually charged temptation to dominate her, as though it is a reflex she caused him to have. Meanwhile, women are conditioned to internalize this about themselves. It is not a patriarchal norm for men to be described as “hot”.

I don’t think authentic lesbian sexuality is pornified like this. Under patriarchy, women are the objects to be desired, not subjects who desire others. Coming out as a lesbian requires rebellion by having the courage to become a desirer. You can choose to become a desirer and then internalize the porn culture around you, or you can become a desirer only and reject porn culture.

If you’re attracted to women you might internalize a sense of what consists of the proof of whether you’re attracted to someone. And women are bombarded with the manipulations of compulsory heterosexuality, to the point that when they feel attraction, they can’t identify it and they don’t identify the feeling as attraction. Women actually have to stop and think about it. Women’s (lesbian’s) attraction to women is made invisible, so we are invisible to ourselves.

However, there is another way in which we are made invisible to ourselves: it is much more difficult to say no to dick than it is to say yes to women. Women who refuse male advances may be punished with harassment, beatings, rape, and even murder. The daily torture of living under male rule masochistically orients women towards men. As a result, lesbians come out later in life on average compared to gay men.

I identified as a lesbian in my mid twenties. I want to help other women find her way, so I’m offering my story in the hopes that she’ll have an easier time coming out of the closet than I did. Some of us have to claw our way out.

I had to think back to when I was a teenager and a child and how I related to the sexes. I was lucky because I was always very contemplative and reflective, and I still had and have strong memories of struggling with experiences that I couldn’t name. My early experiences cause me to believe that all women have a tendency towards loving women, but that it gets conditioned out of us through compulsory heterosexuality, a tool to reinforce patriarchy. Don’t know whether this is because my experiences are fundamentally different from a straight woman’s, if she really does exist — and sometimes I have to admit there is evidence that she seems to exist, even though it makes no sense to me, especially the whole being-attracted-to-men part.

It wasn’t enough to just come to understand in my early 20s that I find women attractive, and in some sense have always been entranced by women. When it became acceptable to be out as bisexual, I claimed that. That was the period during which I grappled with my feelings towards women. But experience would tell me that this label didn’t fit. I was also one of those annoying bisexuals who described herself as “lesbian” as though “lesbian” is just this catchall term for women who are into women (okay, only once or twice, and was quickly reprimanded). This was mere ignorance rather than any political agenda. You could say that “bisexual” was a filler label in absence of self-knowledge, during the stage of coming to terms with an undeniable attraction to women and what that means.

I never examined the acceptance of dick until my mind was opened to the possibility of a life and a world without it.  Time came for me to encounter women who were actually in, for all intents and purposes, what I saw as “lesbian” relationships. Which brings to the fore the excruciating truth that for all the world’s vast knowledge and media, there was practically nothing but PORN and recycled memes when it comes to understanding “lesbians”. There was NO living example of what it was to be a lesbian. The media has not shown true and genuine lesbian life. Actually spending time around women in lesbian relationships made it impossible for me to ignore how I felt — how deeply I wanted to love a woman — to the exclusion of all men. Only women, not men. How inadequate, hairy, sweaty, and anatomically awkward men are.

I realized I had resisted the exclusive reality of the word “lesbian” because I didn’t want to “exclude” men. I was bending over backwards to avoid upsetting people, and provoking men’s rage. What horseshit. What destructive self-betrayal.

When I finally committed to being a lesbian, in other words renouncing bisexuality, I became aware of how dissociated I had been. Over time, this would fade and be replaced with feeling and reunion with self. I committed because I knew it was true. I was overcome with joy — and deep, deep regret, and mourning. And panic and terror, because what did it mean to others that I had come to it this way? On the one hand was this realization that I’d been living a lie. On the other hand was this emerging sense of imposter syndrome at the thought of having to prove my truth to others. I feared I’d find out I was not a “real” lesbian.

If you’re ever struggling with this, you shouldn’t get into a relationship. Just a little advice. Take your time. It’s the right thing to do, to wait it out. You don’t need to go out and prove it, the truth is found within you. Don’t use women to prove it to yourself — women resent that.

Time would prove me right. I merely needed to pay attention and get in touch with myself. And radical feminism was an important part of that — overcoming the dissociation of all the lies.

This whole process was filled with regret. The regret lingered for over a year. I regretted not figuring it out sooner. But analyzing my social environment made it obvious how compulsory heterosexuality had duped me. I couldn’t believe myself but I somehow knew I was right. I realized there was no way to “prove” it theoretically, but the theory didn’t matter because I was right either way, or acknowledging a fact, rather. Either I have always been a lesbian, or I always would have been if I only had the chance. I don’t look upon my attempts at heterosexuality as any real, legitimate orientation at all — rather, a lie, a big fat lie. Horrifying, really.

I spent some time getting in touch with my body and working through my self-objectification issues which were closely tied to this capitulation to men via taking “care” of them and including them in everything. Part of this was realizing that this enthusiastic consent was a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that every time I’d put up resistance to men, it was torn down, at times violently. I mean, I knew that I hated putting up this act, all in order for what, to obtain some semblance of an emotional intimacy with another human being?

The slave mentality is to submit willingly rather than suffer the indignity of being beaten into submission. So if I could keep them happy, then I would do it. And if I could get something out of it, then I would do it. And self-objectification is what made me feel like I was getting something out of it, by ‘using’ myself just as much as being used, numbing the humiliation by making it out like it was a fair deal. Grooming. The easy way out of not examining internalized misogyny.

The “fair deal” business was examined as well. I realized I did not like PIV and then I realized I did not like penis. I demolished the myths that vaginas are penis-shaped holes — this was important, because biology tends to persuade me.

Before all of this theorizing, there are facts about the past that are undeniable. I knew what love and pleasure felt like right up until I became involved with men. And the reasons I finally became involved consisted of normalcy, “necessity”, and convenience. I did not enjoy “sex” (PIV), never did, often felt depressed about it, never wanted it as a kid, was groomed into it as a young adult in no small part due to the pornography that male peers shared with me.

“Sex” positivity was all the rage in my generation: all the ways in which you’re not enjoying sex because you’re doing it wrong, and here is how we can make you enjoy it more, basically. Yet when I was alone, I would think about women. And I tried many times, actually, to explore these feelings and thoughts: but all I ever found was unsatisfying dead ends that often led me back to men. Have you ever noticed how lesbians die in movies and exist only for the male gaze or as sinners under the patriarchal religions? Have you ever noticed how culture treats lesbians as though they don’t even exist, especially the whole saying-no-to-dick aspect? Have you ever noticed how lesbians are symbolically cut up into a thousand little pieces and stereotypes and freeze-dried for mass media consumption? Have you ever noticed how the media has tried to hide what lesbians look like? These days, thanks to the feminist movement, lesbianism is a lot easier to access and explore — lesbianism, my lesbianism, clearly floundered as a result of the backlash on feminism in the decades before. I know full well that had radical feminism still been around, I would have named myself a lesbian much sooner, sparing myself years of anguish.

There are certain truths that could not be denied, but only intended to be fixed. I couldn’t feel love for men, or anything much really. I tried hard and I thought there was something wrong with me. I always felt disgusted by muscley doods, so that meant that I must like the “small, sensitive” doods. Uh, no. I didn’t like men’s bodies, actually. They were quite…lacking. I aggressively wrote off the thoughts about women as “objectification” (wasn’t any kind of a feminist, but this was in my vocabulary) and felt like a pervert, which due to porn culture is in some sense true that I’d absorbed the pornsickness of my male peers.

After coming out to myself I would later find, I had stuffed down all my disgust with men’s bodies because I have an iron stomach to most things, and this is a learned response. But it wasn’t hard to allow the repulsion to come back.

One significnt epiphany was that: what I was enjoying with this PIV and pornsickness shit was not PIV but rather objectifying myself and in particular a hyper-feminized version of myself that did not exist in real life. I was not making love with a man, I was imagining myself being the man of some imaginary woman. And self abuse was a thing. Because rather than be a chronic victim, I would be the one directing my own abuse. And this was all rather a headfuck. I was acting out heterosexuality in order to avoid processing trauma (adding more traumas along the way) and avoid knowing myself.

I not only had to come to terms with myself as a lesbian, but as a butch, all at once, and the disconnect of thinking I’m physically more feminine than I really am. It’s not that I have ever tried to be, it’s that having seen images of women I had a skewed idea of what I was. I had to see myself in someone else. — And I did. A butch woman. That was hugely influential… Butch women are beautiful and they don’t fit this porn culture. But not only that, I saw myself in butch women. Flashback to all the drawings I’d ever made and the struggle to resist femininity. The hatred of all things “feminine” was part of who I am not because of misogyny, but because it was thrust upon me by sex roles I resented and resisted.

I don’t know what a femme is and I don’t subscribe to any kind of roles. But “butch” is what I am because it’s identifiably gender non-conforming and being true to myself all the way back to childhood, and it’s what I am because I would’ve been transed if I was born in a later generation. It’s what I am because I get asked for my pronouns. It’s what I am because people assume I’m a trans man. It’s what I am because I’ve been sir’d, especially while wearing particular outfits. It’s what I am because I see myself in other butches. It’s what I am because I’m not faking or acting.

The butch part answered why I didn’t fit in, not even with whatever lesbian stuff was out there. It wasn’t really for more than a few years that this whole self-annihilating butch issue happened so I don’t think I sustained too much damage, but it gives me some insight on the motivation of people in LGB culture to take delight in the ritual of feminizing butches so as to ‘eradicate’ them. Being working class and having to wear uniforms for work was quite an opportunity to wake up and think about why even as a rebel I loved wearing uniforms so much, and why I envied ties. (I have a huge collection of ties now.)

I hear it reported frequently of people saying stuff about having very early sexual experiences…and I feel like an outlier. Having not “explored” sexuality (perhaps this is healthy, even) until adulthood, how can you know until later?

It’s tough to cut through the bullshit but once you do, everything is so clear.

I don’t subscribe to the “genetic” explanation for homosexuality, because as much as it was exciting to measure the distance of my ring finger and my index finger to get a little confirmation bias, I acknowledge the huge social dimension of women coming to find that they are lesbian. I mean, personally I think all women are (often unconscious) lesbians but also, of course that’s what I would say — that’s what a lesbian would want to believe. If any woman can become a lesbian, then that means we’re not doomed to a tiny dating pool. So I don’t know. I don’t think I was simply straight and then became a lesbian. I think I was a closeted lesbian, fortunate enough to come out. I think it was always there. It was just dormant. Who am I to say who is or isn’t a dormant lesbian? It says nothing about where it came from but that’s certainly my coming out story. Sorry it’s grim but that’s honestly how I figured it out.

But political lesbians are evil! \ Born-this-way is reactionary!

I could fall on either side of this… I want to stick up for the underdog though, who is clearly the social constructionist lesbian. No matter what your opinion on the origins and mechanisms of lesbianism (a SCIENTIFIC, empirical question, not a question to be answered by fighting with other women about whose opinions are “better”), lesbophobia is not inherent to radical feminism and it wouldn’t be radical or feminist if it didn’t include and uphold lesbians.

I mean, this is an actual waste of time to jockey for either side of the debate as though it actually matters — because it doesn’t. It’s a scientific question. It’s an empirical question. And maybe the answer is really somewhere around the middle, or maybe it’s not. It is ultimately incidental as to how to behave ethically.

Let’s put it this way — real lesbians are not threatened by these theories because these theories are about understanding the origins of lesbianism, which our enemies will use against us no matter what is the case. They will use any and all means to control and eradicate us. The real reason why lesbians are heated about these questions is because they are afraid of being eradicated, and rather than fight they want to go on academic rambles as if that will save us from the death blows of male supremacy. Au contraire, the only thing that will save us is us defending ourselves.

There are two sides to it, both sides have appreciable points. Yes, the “political lesbians” — if they exist — who actually like dick and actually should be calling themselves spinsters are being ridiculous. I mean, if you have any lesbian in you, you can’t like dick. Maybe try unlearning that first, and especially don’t talk to lesbians about it: more than likely, they don’t want to hear it. They don’t owe you the emotional labor, either. Lesbians have already written books (and essays, like this one, written for you) about it — go read them, or just go away.

That being said, please read this. Watch this. And read this, which includes essays describing examples of “lesbians” whose belief it is innate did not stop them from partaking in and even reinforcing compulsory heterosexuality.

It really cuts both ways. I think that unless we do all we can to actively fight compulsory heterosexuality, then even self-described “born this way” lesbians are not going to be equipped to fight off the years of constant grooming to get lesbians to accept dick. If they can’t peer into the social realm of what is actively trying to undermine their sexuality then they can’t fight it and will undermine themselves by allying with male-supremacist queer theorists, BDSMers, pornographers, and so on, just like they already have (if you read up about lesbian history). I am way more interested in erring on the side of casting a wider net for potential lesbians rather than making this out to be some kind of lottery ticket, especially when all there is at stake for me is siding with an underdog and like most anarchists I tend to do that, so it’s no skin off my back when the worst that could happen is some women decide they aren’t really lesbians after all.

Women are people, and some people just act really dumb. But I’m not threatened by that. I mean, color me naive. But I’m more worried about the men in this society.

I will take this more seriously when compulsory homosexuality becomes a thing. But it’s not. Compulsory heterosexuality reigns and serves patriarchy women on a silver platter, pre-groomed for the pickings. What do women gain from pretending to be lesbian, if it’s not for the male gaze? I am unconvinced that this will become a systemic issue: there is no foundation for it to take root. Are straight women just going to start pretending in droves to be lesbians? What does she gain from having sex with us? Why would she pretend to like it?

On a personal level, if my girlfriend starts talking about dicks, I will cut her loose. If she doesn’t have sex with me, she’s not a sexual partner. Simple as that. You’re not ready to date me if you haven’t figured out your sexual orientation, and I don’t care what the theory is behind it whether it’s social constructionist, biological constructionist, or both.

I also have reasons to suspect hypocrisy on the other side of the debate — the born-this-way assumption, which is often served up as an argument-from-ignorance. I have seen members of both sides of the debate behave really embarrassingly, claiming to be lesbian but not behaving in ways consistent with that by inviting men into the picture.

We can and should be able to disagree about political theories without drawing fault lines between women and playing respectability politics.

Lesbian magnetism

How do we do it? Even in the face of a heterosexist society, lesbians find each other. We’re in the street, on the job, in music, in books and poetry. It is said that we have always existed. We’re in the caring professions, in activism, in healing, and teaching. We’re in the struggle, or in the park. We’re in the prisons, homeless shelters, and bread lines.

We’re often alone. Perhaps being unaccompanied by a male, yet standing as strong and unphased Amazons — perhaps this gives us away.

But how can we pick each other out in other ambiguous situations? When we lock eyes, we know. We know, but others don’t seem to. We know without saying words that we are kin. Is it magic? Is it pheremones? Whatever it is, this is lesbian magnetism.

Intersectional Freedom

Anarchism, at its most advanced stage, takes into account all living creatures, but typically we concern ourselves with other humans. Intersectional theory comes from feminism and is applied to women only, but anarchists have used the term intersectionality to apply to all humans since, in theory, their realm of concern is that broad. It is worth recognizing that fact and building a recursive understanding of what intersectionality looks like under anarchist and feminist frameworks, since the term is so poorly understood and often is used as a weasel word for the tallying mechanism of competing oppressions, or Oppression Olympics.

To anarchists, oppression is any act which denies one freedom. But this is an incredibly vague notion and leads to the antithesis of anarchism if it is not further clarified, since in the oppressor’s mind, oppression is their kind of freedom. First, the distinction between oppression and abuse should be made. Abuse is the “oppression” of an individual. Actual oppression is a social phenomenon, affecting large groups of people who have something in common, such as a religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. In any given context, the distinction between the abused and abuser, and oppression and oppressor, can be made clear by who holds control over that person or people. If it is an external individual or social group exercising control over that individual or social group, then that is abuse or oppression, respectively. Control, however, is fundamental to freedom, in the sense of an individual being able to control their own self, or a social group being able to control, direct, or determine their own destiny. This is reflected in the principle of worker cooperatives, self-management.

Understanding freedom by observing who is in control of what and whom helps us understand the difference between states of unfreedom such as chaos and tyranny. It is in setting appropriate boundaries between self and other, and selves and others, that the distinction between freedom and abuse is made obvious. Freedom from tyranny is the freedom that genuine anarchists speak of. Tyranny is the control of others. Tyranny is undesirable because it leads to harm and distress. Chaos is the lack of control over oneself or one’s own destiny. Tyranny, in fact, is a state of chaos. Tyranny is what anarchists refer to when they speak of “social hierarchies”, yet this catchall term needs to be interrogated because anarchists themselves often don’t define social hierarchy beyond the infantile “I don’t like it and I can’t change it”.

Now as for intersectionality, the word was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the colliding forms of oppression experienced by women of color. I think it is not a bad idea to have an anarchist reconception of intersectionality, but its origin must be acknowledged, especially when we talk about feminism. Anarchists need to know that feminism and the concepts that serve it should not be equivocated with anarchism, and should not be surprised when concepts do not translate over well. A simple diagram could explain why.

bamf

Anarchism, the overarching theory of freedom. Anarchism is a humanist political philosophy.

Feminism, the theory of the liberation of women from patriarchy.

Black liberation, the theory of the liberation of black people.

Marxism, the theory of the liberation of workers.

Abolitionism, the theory of the liberation of slaves.

X liberation, the liberation of X people.

And so on.

Reductionism is what we call when any given struggle for liberation is prioritized over another, or over all others. Let me be clear, this does not mean that the individual cannot hold subjective biases towards particular liberations. In fact, that is necessary for the purpose of conserving time and energy. That is not reductive. In the big picture of anarchist theory and priorities, which requires the juggling of all liberations, reductionism is what leads to civil war and the dissolution of anarchist society, when for example the liberation of people of color is privileged over the liberation of women, so that it is deemed acceptable for men of color to be sexist towards women. Or as another example, when lesbians deny their womanhood and privilege homosexuality as more important than women’s liberation. Or the classic class reductionism in which workers are deemed more important than women, or homosexual people. Aside from the fact that reductionism often leads to heinous acts, neither liberation is more or less important than the other. In fact the very question of “which human is essentially more important than the other” is the antithesis of the anarchist way of life, and ideally these interests should never be made to compete, especially because people are often part of multiple groups and cannot be made to choose sides. Anarchism must acknowledge our interconnectedness. Reductionism is when an understanding of intersectionality breaks down, and through it hierarchies begin to form through battles between groups of competing interests, using their oppressed status as commodities or social capital. It is an altogether narcissistic social affliction, blurring healthy boundaries between groups and ultimately enabling oppression. Anarchism cannot survive it, not even the specific liberation movements favorable to anarchism can survive it without turning into something else entirely.

I am often shocked that so many people in liberation movements only understand what liberation for themselves means, rather than having a wholistic notion of what freedom means. So I hope that this offers clarity.

How can radical anarchafeminists find each other, and what shall we do about our situation in the left?

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!

If Anarchists Really Supported Womyn

  1. They would kill all the rapists
  2. They would fuck shit up for the people who buy sex — i.e. redundant with item #1 — and they would treat pimps as worse than capitalists, because sexual slavery is worse than wage slavery
  3. They would go after all the batterers
  4. But first, they would have an actual TRIAL for each case to determine innocence and decide the appropriate, harsh punishment, not simply mob “justice”, which is no justice at all
  5. They would let women live with other women, and only women, no questions asked
  6. They would let lesbians be lesbians — female, and homosexual
  7. They would let women have their own safe spaces: physical spaces where only women are allowed, no questions asked
  8. They would stop watching, and start opposing, pornography
  9. They would stop partaking in, and start opposing, sadomasochism, A.K.A. “kink”, “BDSM”
  10. They would think twice before ever threatening or beating any woman for any reason
  11. They would call female people “women”, “womon”, “womyn”, and “woman” and recognize that female people exist, regardless of social perspectives on gender
  12. They would recognize that gender is more of a social construct in the same way that prison walls are a social construct, rather than an expression of freedom, and thus would seek to abolish it, along with phrases like “gender expression”, which should be deconstructed into irrelevance so they become as nonsensical as “colorless green ideas sleep furiously” or the “divine right of kings” or “slavery is freedom”.
  13. They wouldn’t try to fit people into feminine/masculine boxes based on their “gender expression”, since a butch woman is JUST as feminine as a femme woman, and a femme man is JUST as masculine as a butch man. We recognize that appearances can be deceiving, and it’s easy to make up lazy stereotypes, but your discomfort is less important than the personhood and honest biological truth of people who don’t fit your fixed idea of what a man or woman is supposed to look like.

It’s been long enough for me to realize that this issue is NOT going away, so I’m going to be the anarchist that I wish I knew, and open up a subreddit called /r/anarcha — see you there.

Because It’s a Crime That I Get Angry

  1. When your last lesbian meetup group doesn’t see the need for “lesbians” anymore
  2. When all the dyke bars close down
  3. When Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival shuts down
  4. When you go on a date and get grilled about whether you’d have sex with a trans woman
  5. When the Dyke March isn’t the Dyke March
  6. When lesbians are afraid to talk to anyone about this part of themselves, not even to other lesbians, because they turn against each other over in the name of “inclusivity”
  7. When lesbians stop trying to find each other
  8. When no resistance has been built and all resistance has been torn down
  9. When lesbians are told they shouldn’t or don’t exist and when they complain they get told such a thing was never advocated
  10. When lesbians aren’t allowed to express concern about their communities