without community there is no liberation


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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.

About smash
Women's liberationist.

9 Responses to without community there is no liberation

  1. I think sometimes it helps to use the words of others to get a point across.

    I think the most radical thing we can do is change how we relate to one another.

    I often find myself thinking about the questions you pose, but the answers are harder to come across…

  2. KatieS says:

    Are there any projects that everyone could get solidly behind? Sometimes working together can build energy and solidify the group so that then the differences can later be discussed without breaking the group apart. This can be openly discussed as a constructive strategy, knowing that these differences are just being put on hold for a while, and will later be discussed.

    Also, with any group there will be some individuals who will leave because of conflicts within themselves. If it’s all the same group, all the youngest ones, for instance, that’s a problem, but if it is just some individuals then that’s to be expected. Even the ability to leave and be later received when the person works it out internally is important, very important, in fact.

  3. smash says:

    Thank you for the comments. To update, men are now allowed in the group by popular demand (providing they are “feminist”). The most recent addition (a man who calls himself “Angel”) describes himself thusly (in Q and A format):

    A. “I support the nuturing and balancing of the divine feminine.

    Q, What made you realize you were a feminist?

    A, The population of Earth is in dire need of having women and the feminine energy restored to it’s full power and proper balance. Spiritual awakening as well as education made me realize how high of a priority it is for me to help faciliate this.[AWWW how thoughtful of you to decide to help us out with our widdle feminist pwoblems]

    Q, What does feminism mean in your life?

    A. Seeing women in positions of authority and choice making, equality, and having positive, strong female role models for myself. As a spiritual man, I need to see women regain their rightful place as equals and leaders as well, and to have the guidance of a strong, intelligent woman. Also, it means a great deal to me to support women in their regaining of their complete spiritual power.[The big, strong man can help get me into a position of power. Hot diggity dawg.]

    Q. What do you want to see happen in this group?

    A. I want to see women assert themselves fully, including open and unapologetic sexuality, and having this group be a power for helping women to break free of conditioning and enslavement.”
    ;[In other words, I want to troll for laydees]

    The feminists of my group have voted to include men. Perhaps “Angel” will provide a good foil for me to demonstrate what is wrong with aligning ourselves with men. Maybe our XY-inclusive policy will change as a result of this man joining.

    Finally…….

    GYAH! This reminds me of the oft-cited onion article:http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-finally-put-in-charge-of-struggling-feminist-m,2338/

    • kurukurushoujo says:

      A. I want to see women assert themselves fully, including open and unapologetic sexuality, and having this group be a power for helping women to break free of conditioning and enslavement.”
      ;[In other words, I want to troll for laydees]

      *nods* Sounds like a sexist pagan. I wouldn’t trust this guy at all (and as is obvious you don’t either) – if there might a disruptive factors that is much more damaging than different degrees of radicalism it’s a “feminist” man that espouses sexist beliefs and is able to undermine the group’s efforts by showing-off his “feminist” politics. This hogwash about the Divine Feminine is priceless, in every case.

      The feminists of my group have voted to include men. Perhaps “Angel” will provide a good foil for me to demonstrate what is wrong with aligning ourselves with men. Maybe our XY-inclusive policy will change as a result of this man joining.

      Exactly! Good luck with your group.

  4. smash says:

    kurukurushoujo, thank you for your support! I’m eager to see how this business plays out. It’s good to know that my instincts are right on this one.

  5. FCM says:

    I want to see women assert themselves fully, including open and unapologetic sexuality

    BAHAHAHA! omg this actually made me laugh. thanks.

    notice how he wants to SEE it. he wont be satisfied knowing that its happening beyond his sight or his reach. he wants proof. living porn, in other words, and possibly getting lucky himself (as you say). and womens “sexual repression” is the problem!!!111!11234

    i hate to say it smash (or to state the obvious) but your group might have to split. once we realize that the sex-pozzies and self-identified feminist men arent feminist at all, but merely backlash against feminism, this becomes easier to take. the “differences” in this case arent the kind that can be bridged because they arent differences as much as warring factions. fun-femininists arent feminists, sex-positivism is pro-male propaganda and anti-feminist backlash, and its been used this way before.

    have you read sheila jeffreys’s “the spinster and her enemies”? it puts it so clearly, within its historical background. nothing new under the sun. 🙂

  6. smash says:

    FCM, you are right.

    “the sex-pozzies and self-identified feminist men arent feminist at all, but merely backlash against feminism”

    Yes, this is how the p works. I’m currently reading Jeffrey’s _The Industrial Vagina_ and in it she points out exactly how the reversal works. Academics use their post-modern bulls*it to sell us exactly the opposite of feminism in feminist garb. The mozzers are anti-feminist! The fake “feminist” males are women-haters (who want their thumbs in the pie). The pro-porn “feminists” actually perpetuate the spread of anti-woman propaganda. These “feminists” make things worse! Agents of the p. There are not enough nasty words I can think of for collaborators like this.

    Most women can see that porn is bad for women before they hear the fun-fem line on it. That’s because it’s *obvious* that porn is bad for women. Yep.

    Pardon my rant. I’m just angry/sad because I want real life feminist community and it is so difficult to find.

    I’ve got the Spinster book on my book list. This is my second Jeffreys book (I also read _Beauty and Misogyny_) and I am realizing how absolutely *awesome* she is. Thank goddess for Jeffreys.

  7. smash says:

    FCM, thank you for pointing out that perhaps the “differences” are unbridgeable in this case, because in fact, we may not be on the same side at all.

  8. smash says:

    To clarify, my venom up there was directed particularly at the academics who spew the p-supporting nonsense. Jeffreys mentions Laura Kipnis from Northwestern U. as one of these. Kipnis says, “Pornography *is* a form of cultural expression, and though it’s transgressive, disruptive, and hits below the belt– in more ways than one– it’s an essential form of contemporary culture.” (p 64 from _The Industrial Vagina_) For further reading by this very anti-feminist “feminist”, check out this link to an article “Ladies First
    The utopian fantasy of Deep Throat.” http://www.slate.com/id/2113399/

    The funfems who absorb this approach are often very confused, and some haven’t even heard an alternative feminist narrative. (or they have, but they aren’t ready to be seen as un-sexy and man-hating for disapproving of porn, or being radical). I think that some of these funfems can be radicalized (hey, it happened to me!), but I can’t spend all of my time evangelizing to them either.

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