without community there is no liberation
August 18, 2011 9 Comments
I want to build women’s community so much.
In my feminist group, there are already tensions growing between the somewhat-radicals and the anti-radicals, and between those of us in our late 20s to 60s and those in their very early 20s. I am afraid that the group will split. I also recognize that, despite for a few token members, the group is overwhelmingly white. How can we diversify? How can we unify as women, without betraying or silencing our dissent? Maybe splitting is good sometimes?
“As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.” –Audrey Lorde
Building community is difficult. This is partially due to the fact that we are exceptionally different from one another.
As Lorde says, “Within the interdependence of mutual (nondominant) differences lies that security which enables us to descend into the chaos of knowledge and return with true visions of our future, along with the concomitant power to effect those changes which can bring that future into being. Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.”
Differences makes us stronger, but how do we use them and not be torn apart by them? How can we unite through differences and have an honest, flourishing community? Is the internet the only place for a radical feminist to find her sisters? Can these women in my group be radicalized?
These questions are somewhat rhetorical, and express my fears. I recognize that Lorde is speaking about racial differences in her speech, but I think her discussion applies to my situation as well. I hope readers will forgive me for using her words to talk about other types of differences.