Recorded on 12 April 2008 at Judson Church during the 2nd Annual NYC Anarchist Bookfair
We would like to examine the female activist experience of organizing in predominantly male groups. We will be looking critically at the idea of machoism as radicalism. If we are building an alternative society, why are the character traits that are valued in capitalism (i.e. aggression, forcefulness, unwillingness to compromise) simultaneously valued in radical politics? Why do activists perpetuate unhealthy capitalist lifestyles that emphasize working one's self to death and never pausing for self-reflection? Are women socialized to be more self-reflective than men? If women gain authority from personal experiences and men gain authority from being able to quote theory and history, do activist men have a framework for hearing activist women? Both the right and the left use "women's issues" as a political pawn that can be held in reserve and traded in when it is politically convenient, but are activist men actually concerned with the issues facing women in our society? What is "women's work" within activist groups? How is women's organizing and activism undervalued, disrespected, and ignored? Why do women end up feeling marginalized, silenced, and excluded? What tools are used to exclude women from decision making and leadership (i.e. "security") and how can we safeguard against them? What barriers exist within activist circles that prevent women from realizing their power? How do we actively prevent women activists from feeling devalued and dropping out?
How do we deal with sexism in radical organizations? When issues arise with an individual activist, should we ostracize him from the community? Should we engage with him and try to work with him to make him a healthier part of our community? What are the implications of these options? On a macro level, should women who are organizing in patriarchal groups secede or separate from the unhealthy dynamic and create womenâs only groups? Or should we stay involved with dysfunctional organizations in the hopes of affecting change?
Let's share our collective wisdom and experience: What are some concrete survival strategies for being a girl in an activist boys' club?
Amye will be moderating the discussion "On being a girl in an anarchist boys club". She hopes for a better future.
Diane Krauthamer is an independent filmmaker and journalist, and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Northeast Federation of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC)
Johannah is a long-time NYC based activist who identifies as an anarcha-feminist who is mainly involved in labor organizing and working with homeless youth.
Naomi Jaffe is an unreconstructed sixties radical and feminist, and former member of the Weather Underground
For info about the upcoming 2012 NYC Anarchist Bookfair see: www.anarchistbookfair.net
To contact the NYC Anarchist Book Fair organizing collective to volunteer, submit workshop and tabling applications, make a donation, or get more information, email us at info[at]anarchistbookfair[dot]net
More NYC Anarchist Book Fair archives can be found at www.anarchistbookfair.net/archives