A future anarcha-feminist listens to discussion on how she can build popular power in social movements that challange the racist patriarchal capitalist state

Reflections on Anarcha-Feminism in Social Movements

This past April the Miami local of Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra (BRRN) collaborated with two other autonomous South Florida groups, One Struggle and Florida Student Union, to present a discussion on anarcha-feminism at Florida International University.

The event offered reflections from the first international Anarcha-Feminist Conference (AFem) in London which a delegation from BRNN attended in October of 2014. Romina Akemi from Los Angeles spoke on her experience at the conference which sparked a discussion on the current state of anarchism and feminism. This conversation illuminated some real differences between the various conceptions of these ideologies which we can use to drive honest discussions about how we should define anarcha-feminism and how we practice it within our insertion work.

The discussion began with Romina sharing her personal introduction to feminism as a child growing up in Chile during the 1980’s Pinochet dictatorship. She spoke about how feminism played a large role in the struggle against the regime both on the streets, where large women’s marches faced police repression, as well as in kitchens organized by women in the shanty towns. She saw how this struggle and the women that were part of it were not only fighting the dictatorship but also the patriarchal order that was being implemented by the state within Chilean society. Observing this shaped her conception of feminism as something that was not an ‘other’ space but an integral part of social movements.

This introduction made more relevant Romina’s critique around the lack of discussion at the conference around attempting to define anarcha-feminism and its role in social movements.

She notes that while participants across the globe discussed various topics including defending and expanding reproductive rights, their experiences with accountability processes and struggles against state repression, there was no discussions around what the term itself means for us as anarchists in our work, or even debate around our different interpretations and definitions within various regions. She gave an example from the conference of how an Iranian anarchist began speaking about women’s experiences with state violence in Iran and how much of the audience was upset that she did not give a ‘trigger warning’ (an unfamiliar concept within Iranian politics and which the speaker was not familiar with) and how the moderator asked her to use different words, which in turn silenced her as the act of her talking about state violence was a form of resistance it in of itself.

Not only do various regions have different practices but both feminism and anarchism contain many contradictory currents within them, therefore in order to create a unified ideology, we must first discuss our differences and how we demarcate in our anarchist conception of feminism.

Mainstream feminism, for example, which is often complicit with the capitalist order – seeking merely to advance the place of women within it specifically the interests of white, wealthy and middle class women – may seek to legalize reproductive rights, but as class struggle anarchists we know that this does not give working class women the ability to control our reproductive choices if we cannot afford access. Rather than organizing around these issues with the same approach as mainstream feminists, she explains that through these discussions we can begin thinking pre-figuratively, so that we can imagine and develop offensive struggles rather than constantly fighting defensive battles.

As anarcha-feminists we need to challenge ourselves if we are going to radically change the way society functions. This event was one of a series that are being hosted by Black Rose Anarchist Federation across various cities in the United States. The purpose of these events is to help drive a dialogue around these questions that will help inform us as we build an anarcha-feminism that exists as a living praxis within wider social movements and is centered around working class women and our diverse struggles.

This event was hosted by the Miami local of Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra, One Struggle and Florida Student Union.Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra is a nationwide anarchist political organization focused on building popular power for social revolution. Black Rose is affiliated with Anarkismo, an international network of anarchist organizations in the platformist or especifista tradition. One Struggle is a anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist initiative with chapters in Miami and New York with a goal of building a combative mass movement. Florida Student Union is an autonomous student union in which Florida students can organize collectively to fight around common grievances, build power, and work together for a better educational system and society.