Activist angst – where do I start ?


I wanted to talk about why I have decided to do this blog and to go so public about my experiences. Mainly because I need to get this stuff out of my head before I go nuts.

I do NOT intend to and do NOT want to trash the radfem or anarchist or lesbian separatist communities but something is rotten and wrong in all the above.

So while I may get angry and ‘hang my dirty washing out for all the public to see’ it’s because I have no where else to deal with or talk about these issue.

The radfems, the seps, the anarchists ALL refuse to deal with issues in our communities: classism, racism, on and on.

As an example and there will be many  on this blog:

In the 10+ years I was part of the lesbian sep community and very active at that, organizing gatherings, zines/newsletter, travelling around the USA & UK, I only EVER met ANYONE NOT WHITE OR WHITE SKINNED TWICE…`It was also VERY RARE that I EVER met anyone who was NOT middle class or money/property/housing/education privileged. When I tried to talk about my experiences of being raised working class and being poor most of my life I was silenced. I also saw and was myself emotionally, physically abused by a sep.

It was impossible to talk about class ism within  sep circles, When I wrote in my sep newsletter, I  was often made fun of because of my dyslexia and working class, blunt style of language. I would get letters complaining that it wasn’t ‘academic enough’. I could’nt talk about anything in the only other sep publication as they had a ‘no discussing anything that will damage our community’  policy – That equals silencing of dissent. I equally found/find this attitude in radfem and anarchist circles, though I must say to be fair their is luckily a better range of folks from many backgrounds in radfem and anarchist circles, though the anarchist community is less ‘white’ than the radfem community – it’s a fact.

I think a problem is that when someone becomes ‘radicalized’  they often think ‘well now I’m around people who are so right on and aware, oppression is suddenly going to disappear and not exist in radical communities’.

How wrong that is……………some of the worst class ism and emotional abuse I have been through in my life has been within radical circles.

I called myself Anarchist before I called myself feminist and at the time I got involved in the anarchist community radical feminism was ALIVE & FLOURISHING in the anarcho world – unlike now where everything is ‘queer’ and just about most stuff claiming to be feminist is well,  actually queer.

Then I started hanging out with anarcho feminists, then I came out as a lesbian and separatism was for me ( a VERY important note here: while I may no longer call myself lesbian separatist or be a part of that community, I support and defend lesbian separatism and female only space) the answer to everything. But then a weird thing happened – radfems hated me for being separatist for putting lesbians first, then alot of seps and rad fems hated me too for being an anarchist.

Radfems told me I couldn’t be radfem because of my tattoos or dyed punk hair and that I was supporting BDSM – even though I am very publicly against BDSM.

Then onto the seps who woud say I was oppressing them because I was vegan/veggie.  ‘Hey sister your treating that piece of meat like a woman’….

I couldn’t win !

I’ve been running from serious involvement with both the Radfeminist & Anarchist communities for about 5 years now.  Though I have still been being active in many areas mainly food justice, homelessness, community gardening.

Quietly and not so quietly fermenting revolution.

 

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13 Comments

  1. jilla said,

    June 17, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Hello. I welcome your voice. I’m old. Canuck, and working class/poor class raised. Just wanting you to know I’ll be reading.

    You might like to look here and feel free to post if you like. I read there too.

    twanzphobic.wordpress.com

    • June 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Dave the Squirrl !
      I love your blog – It’s soooo funny !
      I will put you on my blogroll as soon as I
      figure out how !

      I love Feminists with a great sense of humor !

      I am a potato, you must call my by the correct
      label – Spud…
      I was born in to the wrong species.
      I feel like a potato chip inside…

      Ha ha – this is my line now when I get shit for
      questioning transgender ism!

  2. Mary Sunshine said,

    June 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I hear you, I hear you. I’m an old-timer, but I hear you.

    • June 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      Hi,
      Is this womyns land Mary Sunshine ?
      I will be blogging about my travels to Womyns lands
      in Oregon & the Uk.

  3. Triply-wandering said,

    June 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I came to your blog via Joy’s. Thank you so much for writing this! I rarely comment on the radical feminist/dyke sep/leftist blogs I read for some of the very reasons you’ve mentioned.

    As much as I truly do value radical feminism above all, it is still very white, upper middle class, heterocentric etc., and can at times be very academically orientated. Also, as one who is non-white (imperialism and colonialism played a central role in my racial make-up) and comes from a poor, unconventional background – let’s just say that I had a very substandard education- I am self-educated, so my spelling and grammar is often dodgy at best and dire at worst. I note on a number of the rad fem blogs the rules for commenting place an emphasis on punctuation, spelling and grammar to the point of which I would call classist, not to mention the fact that for many women english is NOT their first language – I mean as long as the blogger can understand the point a commenter is making why do some rad fem bloggers insist in making fun of those who make common spelling mistakes on the net. They’re alienating so many women, I just don’t understand it?!

    I’m so glad to have come across your blog – the points you make are totally valid ones and really do need to be talked about and discussed openly by those who say they care. I agree with so much of what you’ve written here and I wouldn’t call it trashing anyone. Each of the groups you’ve mentioned have wonderful insights, valid critiques and analyses on so many things and I’ve learnt so much from many of them over the years, however, I have been only too painfully aware that each group, if you will, suffers as much from cognitive dissonance as the other does when it comes to certain issues that I think should concern them. They all seem to have a cutting off point with regards to certain subjects others raise, such as the ones you’ve mentioned so far (and there are many more – imperialism, colonialism, racist misogyny, euro-centrism, white supremacy, specism to name a few others).

    I do understand the sectarianism and why it often occurs, but the same issues seem to keep arising decades down the line and are left unaddressed (no one seems to be learning from mistakes made in the past). Often there are claims that others are engaging in ‘intersectionality’ or ‘identity politics’ or what have you and are being divisive. If we can’t constructively critique what’s ‘rotten and wrong’ in our own backyards I can’t see how there can be any further development and larger changes made for the better, especially during these very dire, disturbing and reactionary times we’re living in now.

    Anyway, I hope what I’ve written is coherent and not too longwinded and repetitive? My mind is racing at the mo’ as you’ve mentioned so many things that I’ve be truly bothered by too, if not at times, deeply distressed and depressed by. A big thank you once again for being one of the first to address this on your blog … there is just so much to talk about with regards to this subject matter and nowhere to safely discuss it without being ‘cast out’ so to speak.

    I do look forward to reading anything more you have to say, I’ve e-mailed your post to a rad fem/dyke-sep/activist friend of mine in Sweden who I know questions these things as well. She’s fortunately one of the most macroscopic thinking people I have ever known and I think she’ll value your writing too. Sorry for the long comment – you’ve just happened to touch upon a number of things that I’ve been going over in my head these past few years.

    • June 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm

      Thank You Triply,
      You make some very good points.
      I am glad you said something about ‘trashing’
      I have been worried that I will be accused of trashing
      the communities that I write about.
      I am trying very hard to not do that.
      I may get pretty pissed off but I try no to trash.
      So I might get angry about my experiences I would never say
      ‘I hate Radfems, seps, anarchists’ etc.

      I have sat on the fence for a couple of years trying to
      figure out how to write and speak out about my experiences
      in all these different communities, it’s hard because there is such silence & silencing going on.
      it’s pretty much don’t question or your a traitor to the cause.
      Yeah kind of like when my Anarcho Punk Animal rights ‘husband’ would abuse me and then tell me not to call the cops cause that would make me a traitor and not a real Anarchist, etc…….
      I spoke about this in one of my posts and will speak more about it.

      So I decided to blog and I may do a zine/publication again at some point.

      I am also glad you talk about sectarianism, imperialism and colonialism and your experiences.

      I am doing this blog undercover and have not said who I am
      but I’m sure some folks will figure it out.
      I was hounded out of the Sep community in the United Kingdom by Middle class white Seps who emotionally abused me and others, I felt like I had left a cult. I kid you not.
      And I was never fully accepted by the Seps in the USA, though I did meet and know some wonderful Seps, the community I was part of sucked………

      So Thank You and don;t be silenced !
      This blog is for you !

  4. June 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing your truths.

    I do not know why there are not more WOC in our movement; do you have any ideas?

    I’m sorry to hear that your articles were rejected for not being “academic enough.” I am currently in uni, but it’s not something I like to brag about; I do best on some sort of schedule, and my parents are able to partially help me out with undergrad payments. The most critical thinkers have emerged without (or DESPITE) a uni education, I believe, though. Andrea Dworkin has said she wished she never went to college.

    If you’ve been saddened by not experiencing “community” in radfem circles, well, so have I. Perhaps the trick is to find one or two friends one can count on. But really 90% of the fighting done is against one another.

  5. jilla said,

    June 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    No one asked me but here I go anyway. It would be appropriating for me to write about the difficulties women of colour have on radical feminist or feminist blogs.

    So you have to do it, and I read and learn, ask questions, or give you my watched and limited experience, but generally I can’t speak from first person.

    Like I said, me going on about that would be appropriating voice.

    • June 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm

      Jilla,
      I think you have a good point and a damn good question !
      Where are the womyn of colour ??

      Well my experiences have been that they stay
      away – far away from Feminism, Radfeminism.
      Or their voices & experiences are ignored.
      Or they are ‘token’ and not included in the organizing
      or running of groups, publications etc.

      My experiences are as a mixed heritage/ ‘race’ female.
      Not white enough for the whites (I am half Latino – not Spanish)
      And not Brown enough for the Brown folks cause I was adopted and raised by white folks who taught me nothing about half of my heritage & culture………
      Racism stinks.

      I think it is good that you recognize what you spoke of in your comment above.

      It is good that white skinned folks recognize racism and try to fight AND unlearn it.

      • jilla said,

        June 30, 2011 at 3:27 am

        I’m mixed.

  6. jilla said,

    June 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Oh and THANK YOU for the style you’ve picked for your blog. I can READ it. I have vision problems and have such difficulties with every other radfem blog.

    We all have something gets in the way. This was an easy one. 🙂

    • June 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      I wanted the blog pages to be readable.
      I am also dyslexic and have vision issues related to that.

  7. June 29, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Thank You Womononajourney,

    Well I got myself into Uni, The first in my family to do so.
    It was a BIG thing for me. My older brother had to join the Navy to be able to go to college- it sucked.
    I did it all myself with NO family support
    whatsoever while being a single parent on the dole/welfare.
    I only got into Uni because I lived in the UK, I was an adult and it was
    still FREE at that time if you were poor.
    I also went to a Uni in a working class town, a former polytechnic turned university in Northern England.
    It was also an artistic/manual trade degree and not academic.
    Well to cut a long story short, I had a nervous breakdown
    and realized the ‘academy’ was not for me.
    So now no degree, and lots of student debt.

    But I will most likely NEVER get into Uni here in the USA.
    Because I do not have a high school education or GED here,
    I am also very dyslexic. I love the irony of that. Considered a ‘Creative Genius in the Uk –
    but excluded from most college courses & Uni here in the USA
    because of my dyslexia.

    So I kinda have education privilege I kinda don’t.

    Don’t beat yourself up about getting an education.
    Get what you can out of.

    Also on community.
    I have pretty much given up on ever living with other
    Radfeminists, etc.
    I liked what you said about most of the fighting being done
    between us.
    Too true.
    I have seen sooooooooo many leave the
    Feminist, Rad Fem, Sep , and Anarchist communities
    because of infighting, exclusion and head games.
    It’s sad.


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