From Void Network - by Sissy Doutsiou from Void Network
Introduction"The Limitations of Anti-Sexism" by Sissy Doutsiou ( a poet, d.j. and long run cultural / social activist from
Void Network) is a part of the book "We Are an Image From The Future The Greek Revolt of December 2008".
It is an essay investigating the limits of anti-sexist's theories and pratices. The text is infuenced from the feelings and understandings of December 2008 riots in Greece, the social uprising that followed the assassination of 15 years old boy Alexis Grigoropoulos by Greek Police.
A review made for this essay in digital mag. The Anvil Review mentioned Doutsiou fairly represents the pleasure angle. "She positions herself in expansiveness—culturally/internationally, socially, and philosophically. Her discussion about sexism and anti-sexism is in the context of anarchist activity in Greece in December 2008—a time of expanding anarchist action, relevance, and awareness—as well as her experience in various European anarchist circles. To make her points she draws on Judith Butler, Françoise Denevert, Guy Debord, Simone de Beauvoir, etc. And her argument is for sexiness, for sensuality, for contrast, and for people celebrating their own particularities."
"We choose to free ourselves from normality to become the most extreme of beings. We want to break through identities established by society, by tradition, and even by anarchist spaces."
She names anti-sexism as a specific kind of reaction to sexism, one that ends up reifying sexism itself, much in the way that Alfonso argues “Why APOC is a White-Supremacist Organization“, or how sociologist Joshua Gamson (who she quotes) posits that queer identity is necessary for queer liberation /and/ perpetuates the binary that predicates queer oppression. And her primary critiques of anti-sexism have to do with the limitations that they rely on:
"Language shapes us, composes us, and forms us. Language is based not on words per se but on the use of this word and the meaning of it at a specific time and place. However, the anti-sexist hysteria [ouch!] with language, with both creating new words and not using certain words, only makes those feel guilty who express themselves using words in a colloquial manner. [...] The meaning of a sentence cannot be captured solely by the definitions of the words that constitute the sentence. Those purporting to be anti-sexist only end up as jailers of semantics and detectives of the prohibited colloquial expressions."
As in the quotation above, this article acknowledges the raw components that anti-sexists work from (language, cultural events, etc) but challenges what anti-sexists make from those ingredients.
Doutsiou contrasts the simple support of the spectacle (those people who are content to take on the gender characteristics that are most simple and proscribed — sex kitten for women, macho man for men), with the anti-sexist spectacle that is the knee-jerk reaction to sexism (“women who express their aggression towards men in order to show that they are not subjugated… men who avoid an honest aggressive dialogue with women because they must behave gently… even anarchist men and women who locate erroneous behaviors and explain them as sexist…”).
The Limitations of Anti-SexismDuring December 2008 anti-sexists were arguing about the sexist behavior of comrades and youth in the streets who were shouting the slogan “Cops, Cunts, you kill children.” This argument opened a discussion in which a female group of participants of the rebellion of December expressed their opinion, through posters and communiqués, that many anarchists are sexists and the “movement” has a problem with sexism. This brought up a conversation among the members of the Greek anarchist space about what is sexism, what can be called anti-sexism and how you can fight effectively against sexism. This conversation was one more fragmented dialogue that happened in the occupied universities and in the streets behind the barricades in the few moments of calmness while we recovered from the teargas burning our eyes and lungs.
When the clashes ended and the various collectives directed their energies into many different actions and projects I found myself still thinking and trying to better understand this sexist/anti-sexist debate that took place, and envision a possible anarchist standpoint. I found myself trying to bring together my experiences from participating in many different anarchist groups in England over seven years, my thoughts about anti-sexist commrades in international meetings against the G8 or EU summit, and in squats and social centers across Europe during tours and travels. Through rumors spread mainly by anti-sexists and nonviolent demonstrators it seems that many people believe that Greek anarchists are macho, sexist, and lacking in their theoretical understanding of sexism.
My goal in this essay is to use these international reflections in addition to my experiences during the social insurrection of December 2008 to offer some thoughts about an anarchist perspective on sexism and anti-sexism. The differences between societies in terms of culture and norms of behavior make the topic a vast one. The different cultures of resistance, scales of confrontation, targets of disobedience, perspectives, terminologies, and political agendas of this world make it impossible to speak in general about sexism and anti-sexism in the global anarchist movement. Many things I say here express the thoughts of male, female, and homosexual comrades here in Greece, while other comrades are in disagreement. I hope these thoughts can open a creative debate.
Of course not all anti-sexists are the same, but I am directing this criticism at what I see as a major part of the anti-sexists. My major problem with these anti-sexists is how they characterize certain people as sexists and the criteria they use.
Each comrade has to change her everyday life first and then, as the next step, to share her experiences and visions with her friends, her community, and her society. Of course, we have to eliminate all the elements of capitalism, puritanism, sexism, greed, and apathy. The anarchist society—as we imagine it, and work and think and plan for it—is a different society from the one we live in. It could be said that anarchy is utopian—it is a network of honest human relationships free of the traps the elite have used for centuries to dominate us. Anarchy is a network of compassion and mutual aid without the taboos and limitations of organized religion, capitalism, and the State. Anarchy is the evolution to a more joyous form of life approaching the greatest possible freedom for all—the earth, the animals, humanity—where the people are not forced to follow one definite, obligatory way of life in order to survive.
A part of the fight against today's oppressions is the fight against sexism. But let’s not make a distinction between sexism within the anarchist movement and sexism in society because we are still part of this dominant society. Similarly, though we reject the role of consumer and buy as little as possible, we are still socialized in Western capitalist ethics and still participate in the reproduction of Capital, even at this minimum level.
Many anarchists believe that we first have to fight against sexism inside the movement and then to fight against sexism in society in general, or even if they do not adopt this argument, their practice reflects an almost exclusive focus on internal sexism. The same people believe that if we destroy sexism within ourselves, then the anarchist movement will be more open and more powerful, and above all more revolutionary. These anti-sexist warriors think that one of the weaknesses of the revolutionary movement is that it is still not inclusive for revolutionary women. Additionally, they mention the suppressive and condescending attitude prevalent in meetings towards women who do not say anything in public but rather limit themselves to communicating in informal, personal situations.
These women don’t speak except to respond to the kind of questions they are supposed to know about. The situationist Françoise Denevert, in her essay, “La Critique ad Mulierern” (1975), describes and remonstrates these silent women who, accidentally engaged in theoretical discussion, look worriedly from the edge of their eyes in search of acceptance from their boyfriend or a close male friend. They will never dare to admit their ignorance of a subject under discussion, and entangled in a confusion of thoughts or repeating what they heard someone else say, consider the difficulties they have as something to be ashamed of. Paradoxically, these same silent women, according to Denevert, are often eloquent writers, who themselves frequently comment about the discrepancy between their ability to express themselves in the written and spoken word.
In reality, the ability to speak and to write depends on the experiences of the person. It depends on self-cultivation, on socialization, on courage. There are men who are not good speakers at all, and there are women who are not good speakers at all. We cannot say that men are good speakers and women are not; nor can we say that women are more sensitive than men, as it depends on which women and which men we have met. We cannot limit our analysis inside the anarchist space as there are friends outside of the anarchist space who are not sexist, just as there are friends in an assembly who are misogynists.
There are different women, there are different men, and there are people who are different independent of their sex. The characteristics of a personality are not sexually segregated. Passivity is not only a female characteristic and ribaldry is not only a male characteristic. What is traditionally defined to be masculinity and femininity are complementary and can appear in both men and women.
If we accept the complaints and arguments of the anti-sexists, automatically the “silent women” are recognized as having greater sensitivity and are unable to speak in public not because of the behavior of their male comrades but because of their sex. The anti-sexists lump together all the women who don't speak in an assembly without taking into consideration the differences between these women. So, the “silent women” and the watchers of the silent women are colonized by the theory of anti-sexism and see their selves the same as sexist society sees them. As Françoise Denevert was saying these women are colonized by the spectacle of their self, and they are colonized by the theory of anti-sexism. They enslave themselves in the obedience of the “silent woman.”
In our struggles we must be aware of the injustice capitalism imposes on us, as the first step to realizing that something is wrong. But sometimes we see the enemy in a person, a theory, or a situation which is only a vessel for the sexist culture that shapes and oppresses them.
Sometimes after reading an anti-sexist text, we start thinking that our boyfriend is a disgusting, sexist pig who victimizes us, in the same way that after reading a psychology book we start diagnosing ourselves with imaginary paranoias.
Women can build an identity upon the historical oppression they all share, and base their very respect for one another on this shared history. Some women—feminists and anti-sexists—ask for recognition of woman as a political category. And this is not only in the liberal political groups but also in the anarchist scene. Judith Butler expresses a view that “the representation of the category “women” is always exclusive, resulting in resistance to the domination that this representation claims. The category “women” is constituted by a political system, including “the state”, then a politics that takes this category as its foundation assists in the continual production of a hierarchical gender division. Feminism should understand how the category of “women” is produced and restrained by these systems rather than seeking emancipation through structures of power.”
Also, woman as political category can seek recognition of her liberation through an open assembly. But there is a difference between creating an assembly structure that recognizes women’s right to equal participation and allowing or expecting individual women to demand and seize the space for their equal participation. If we say that women are not capable of the latter, aren’t we the ones putting them in a weaker position? There is an important difference between being emancipated and empowering oneself. There is a difference between recognition and demand. There is a difference between respecting a woman because she is a woman and respecting her because she is a respectable person.
Louise Michel put her revolutionary beliefs in practice because her sexual identity did not prevent her from doing what she thought was right. She didn’t want a special place just because she was a woman, she wanted to be recognized as a person regardless of her sex. She was consciously indifferent to existing agreements and compulsions based on her sex. She was recognized for her political importance thanks to her abilities, her radical nature, her courage, her decisiveness and her consistency in realizing her theory, and not because of her sex.
The revolutionaries are acrobats on the rope of theory who always fall, reaching too far in their quest to turn everything into politics. There is always the possibility of approaching anti-sexism and feminism as a class war and anti-capitalist issue only so that it is certified as a “valuable” political struggle. On the other hand, there is the possibility to approach feminism and anti-sexism just as individual women and men with bad personal moments and sad experiences with our partners.
The anti-sexists aim for the permanent destruction of gender inequality in revolutionary activity; in other words, their aim is to destroy the roles that alienate both sexes and to clarify the limitations these roles impose on the revolutionary experience. They mean to destroy the contrast between femininity and masculinity as a difference that comes from the social background of the construction of gender. But femininity, masculinity, and everything else are in the culture. Believing that femininity is just an element of the alienation of women and masculinity is only an element of the alienation of men leads to the possibility of losing our sexiness and our sensuality.
Judith Butler, in her 1993 interview by Peter Osborne and Lynne Segal in London, says that “One of the interpretations that has been made of Gender Trouble is that there is no sex, there is only gender, and gender is performative. People then go on to think that if gender is performative it must be radically free. And it has seemed to many that the materiality of the body is vacated or ignored or negated here—disavowed, even. (There's a symptomatic reading of this as somatophobia. It's interesting to have one's text pathologised.) …. how it is that sex itself might be construed as a norm. Now, I take it that's a presupposition of Lacanian psychoanalysis—that sex is a norm. But I didn't want to remain restricted within the Lacanian purview. I wanted to work out how a norm actually materializes a body, how we might understand the materiality of the body to be not only invested with a norm, but in some sense animated by a norm, or contoured by a norm.”
We can also see somatophobia as negating the care of our body because of the recognition that this care is governed by some norm. The acceptance of beauty, of sexuality, of the visible differences of the two sexes serves only as a capitalist alienation, taking away from the individual their very own individuality and connecting them to the undercover ideology of the capitalist norm.
An individual under capitalism presupposes the use of a capitalistic object and the application of such abstract concepts as alienation, passivity, and an implicit admission to let capitalism penetrate inside his body and mind. The individual, as an anarchist, classifies the penetration of the alienation based on the frequency and the character of the use, of the consumption of an object, of a product, and not on the consciousness of the use of the product.
The consciousness and the choice to use, to consume a product seems much more an alienated choice and not an understanding of the very real distance between the object itself and the use of the object under capitalism. Everything seems to be lost in a relentless theorizing and an almost totalitarian relativism imposed by postmodern discourse and the need to define ourselves in the framework of yet another standard theory with the familiar standard enemy and standard allies.
The women who want to look the same as the supermodels and as the sex kittens on the magazine covers and the men who want to reproduce the hard and “macho” sexy man of the soap operas and newscasters relive “the society of the spectacle as simple promoters of the culture” (G.Debord). Yet the women who express their aggression towards men in order to show that they are not subjugated by any man or the men who avoid an honest aggressive dialogue with women because they must behave gently otherwise they would be sexists or even anarchist men and women who locate erroneous behaviors and explain them as sexists behaviors …all of these are the dolls that merely confirm the spectacle of the anti-sexist theory. Truly anarchist men and women take every effort to avoid merely confirming the sexist spectacle and to fight against it, even if they have a lot of taboos, problems, theoretical dead-ends, and many both written and unwritten political agendas.
A woman can be an accomplice to the “masculinity” that she allows to be imposed on her. All women (both in the West and in the East, although in the East they will face humiliation and even torture) have the ability to demand their time to speak, to put their thoughts and their ideas into practice, to swear at a man when they don’t like his behavior, to humiliate a man if they think that this man humiliated their gender or themselves.
On the other hand, Simone de Beauvoir in her 1976 interview with John Gerassi said that a secretary or the wife of a worker could not enjoy the privileges which she enjoyed as a woman because these women did not abandon their female nature and their life was defined, determined. Beauvoir as an existentialist accepts the principle that existence precedes essence. Therefore, she believes that no one is born a woman, but becomes one. She said that these women must be aware of their dependence and then they have to believe in their own force and the women who have an interest in cooperation with the male-dominated society must be made aware of their betrayal; however, this position of Beauvoir supposes that only the women who are well educated are able to understand the social phenomena. Does this education come from a certificated institution? Of course not. All women can feel and enforce their freedom without reference to their job, class, age, and sexual desires.
We should not present the “silent women” as passive, innocent women because in this way these women are forced to not believe in their own thoughts and finally, feeling weak, to express only a childish anti-male identity based on intolerance. We should be careful that our theories do not turn the emancipated woman into some sort of compulsory asexual or bitch that just builds her identity on some immense illustrative narrative of her politicized problems. In this way, she will never understand what exactly made her a “silent woman,” and as an oppressed woman she will always be trapped in the explanations and excuses of an oppressive sexist society, never thinking deeper about her own limitations, fears, and insecurities.
We should also not stereotype in our theories loutish men as oppressive men, because in this way the loutish men will only become more certain of the effectiveness of the patriarchal structures and repressive mechanisms that they reproduce as men. Cast as a group and not as individuals with unique whims, these men will not be able to understand that their behavior produces suffering not only for others but also for themselves. “Normal” identities and even identities that are based on going against these normal identities are attached to the fetters of the bourgeois morality or some caricature of revolutionary morality. The first morality is the passport for the reliable slaves of the State and the other is the passport for the reliable revolutionaries who have been conquered by the morality of the bourgeoisie as they define themselves only in negation to their bourgeois morality. But we don’t want any kind of passport or permission to follow revolutionary ideas. Even if there were an anarchist morality, we would be the heretics.
A claim for a morality that would be suitable for all is an illusion. What is fair for one person can be restrictive for another. An “objective” morality that treats all individuals the same without taking into consideration the particularities (the enormous difference between people) is a slave morality. Each individual can make up their own morality and their own criterion for dignity, within the twin limits of schizophrenia and freedom.
Each identity group can define a self. Experiences, participation, and actions with different groups create certain idiosyncrasies. Various expressions of our self can co-exist and these give us the ability to explore new phenomena and social relations. Any kind of ideology that is incapable of understanding social phenomena only makes us objects of that ideology. Throughout the ages, a socially aware person has been able to express vastly more intelligence and sensitivity in understanding social phenomena than a person entrenched in ideology. An activist acting in multiple struggles across identity groups is then far more capable of enacting revolution as compared to one who has a constructed identity in a specific group. This is the multi-expressional activist.
It is necessary for every person as an individual to resist, struggle, demand, and scream for their freedom. Nobody should be more respectful in relation to others. We don’t want men who will continue to express their macho status at any price nor women who will mourn because of their treatment by men. Using our political consciousness, we need to know and feel that men who dominate or behave badly with women are legitimizing the existing structures of authority and contributing to a wider net of domination which holds people back.
Sexism refers to when someone, woman or man, believes that his or her sex is superior or the opposite inferior, proficient or incapable, valuable or worthless compared with the other gender. Sexist behaviors are these behaviors that confirm and continue to apply the stereotypes of male and female and are influenced by and reproduce the above impressions and beliefs. But we should not forget that the leveling of differences is disorienting since it disrespects the particularities. It is impossible to simultaneously sustain basic sexist personal characteristics and try to eliminate the inequality between the two sexes. At the same time we want to be ourselves, to keep expressing our unique individuality amongst all the other people. As Emma Goldman said, “the mass and the individual, the true democrat and the true individual, man and woman, can meet without antagonism and opposition.” In her opinion, women have the right to love and be satisfied sexually but if women are the only ones to emancipate themselves while the whole society doesn’t change, these women would remain without an appropriate partner.
If women are released from their bonds while the remaining society is imprisoned by its bonds then their emancipation would not last. Liberation is not only for women. When we smash all barriers, liberation and emancipation will be the path to total freedom, liberation from obedience, the standard of morality, and the power of authority. We say this just to remind ourselves to avoid the traps of the heroic woman.
Sexism has spread everywhere, in every relation. Our comrades are not sexist but the authoritarian logic that anti-sexists borrow in order to distinguish them as sexists is sexist. Who exactly are sexists and who are anti-sexists? Are these roles absolutely separated? Where are the borders of sexism and anti-sexism? The agreement on these distinctions, as these distinctions are created by our social norms, is sexist.
The slogan of identity politics is “the celebration of the difference.” Yet it is a celebration of complacency to celebrate the illusion that identity is something fixed and everlasting. It is absurd to demand rights through the validation of victimization. I agree that there should be a “celebration of difference” but from another route to another destination. We can celebrate all together or we can celebrate as individuals who constitute themselves with the characteristics that the society and the state provide us. When we want to speak about identity then we need to analyze it philosophically and politically. Anti-sexism bases its dialectics on cultural categories (macho men and oppressed women) constructed, maintained, and used by the dominant culture. The definition of a specific denigrated sex, race, or social-economic class maintains the homogeneous culture of the dominant moralism, the specific categorization that something detectable reflects the common sense made by the statists, the sexists, and the racists. Marginalization doesn't end with the creation of marginalized groups. The division creates two groups, two categories. The division occurs when we deny the struggle of an identity politics group but it also occurs when the supporters, the participants, divide themselves and name their comrades as enemies.
Creating two opposite groups means that in theory and in practice, there is a conflict between them that must be solved. All behaviors are scanned by the undervalued sex. This is necessary as the sexists don’t notice the behaviors of their sex object since they are hypnotized by stereotypes of the two sexes. The anti-sexists examine every manner, every timbre and tone of the voice, any expression of the sexist and patriarchal macrocosm.
Language shapes us, composes us, and forms us. Language is based not on words per se but on the use of this word and the meaning of it at a specific time and place. However, the anti-sexist hysteria with language, with both creating new words and not using certain words, only makes those feel guilty who express themselves using words in a colloquial manner. This leads to a dead end even if it is simple and convenient to base the effects of sexism on just words. Phenomena such as metaphors, irony, and exaggeration abound in language. The meaning of a sentence in which these phenomena take place cannot be captured by the definitions of the words which constitute the sentence. The followers of anti-sexism only end up as jailers of the semantics of the words and detectives of the prohibited colloquial expressions.
The participants of an identity group, and especially some anti-sexists, in practice, keep watch over their members, their comrades in meetings, and in everyday life by imposing a certain identity, a fully determined behavior code that implicitly presents a united homogeneous identity. Some anti-sexists posit a structure that assumes men's behavior to be a direct result of stereotypes from the sexist society, analyzing people as a definite result of a definite cause. Many of them are also essentialists, ignoring the complexity of social relations and homogenizing individuals in order to fit them into categories, without taking into consideration cultural, psychological, and historical differences, or allowing the individual to occasionally exist unburdened by any political analysis, to just be a person rather than the alienated product of inhuman social mechanisms. What we say and what we think are uncertain and chaotic.
The lace around us is so tight and we want to loosen it. The fashion, the lipstick, and the high heels, the expensive dresses and the modern styles are obligatory. However, a girl can decide to wear a short white dress, high heels, and red lipstick and have political consciousness. An anti-sexist would likely consider this girl to be stupid and not take her opinion seriously. Now, who here is sexist? Once trapped in anti-sexism, we found ourselves hidden under a rough exterior, and we lost our femininity and thought that all the men were the same.
The Church teaches fear, humility, decency, frugality, and submissiveness as important elements of a faithful Christian. The Church teaches the inferiority of women, presupposing that women fall easily into sin, so that she has to be a faithful believer and loyal supporter of the authority of men, like her husband, her father, her brother. How many of us have Christian parents, how many of us heard stories about Jesus and the Virgin Mary? Most official religions are oppressive towards women. We—men, women, transsexuals, homosexuals, hermaphrodites—have thousands of years of patriarchy and submission to confront and a heritage of elitism, feudalism, and the whole industrial society to eliminate from our minds and our memories.
Throughout the past centuries, from the times of our ancestors, all these patriarchal societies have not only given birth to obedient, submissive women. These very same societies have given birth to wild, liberated beings, to goddesses and orgiastic women, revolutionaries and poets, dreamers and wild witches. The past cannot be separated from the present; it will always leave its mark on the structures of today. In order to open the path to the future, we need to fight the obstacles we have inherited from the past and not the past itself. The unfinished battles of the sexual revolution leave us with habits, behaviors, and beliefs from the conservative society of the beginning of the 20th century. To overcome this conservatism, we need to identify which of these characteristics are actually obstacles rather than trying to erase all reminders of the past, as many anti-sexists do.
In the same moment as the church enforces an antisexual Puritanism, in a condition of schizophrenic contradiction capitalism sells through all kind of media and advertisements cynical hedonism and egoist sexism as an idol of a social status and modern way of existence. So it is obvious that it is easy for people who want to fight sexism, in their effort to avoid cynical capitalistic sexism, to reproduce puritanical attitudes or asexual ways of life. On the other hand, it is possible that those who want to fight against Christian morality and puritanical social codes to trap themselves in an egoistic, sexually extreme life and self-approved fetishism accompanied by an inability to create and sustain longterm love relationships. These are two problems that we have to face day after day in our struggle for erotic, joyous love relationships.
Comrades can adopt a puritanical opposition to sex and sexuality, and so embrace censorship, control, and suppression against pornography and all kinds of eroticism. This repressive behavior is rooted in systems of values that will need years, decades, and even centuries to be uprooted. Only then will generations grow up truly without sexism and none of us will be sexist. But my dear, today we cannot be non-sexist in a society where there are institutions of hierarchy and there are relations of power and domination. The oppression and opposition to our dreams come from all the dominant, authoritarian social mechanisms rather than simply masculine men, patriarchal behaviors and sexism.
Anarchist women and men need to see gender-based injustice as an expression of the dominant culture's ethos and not hypercriticize their comrades with an anti-sexist logic. We need to deconstruct the dominant reality, the substructure of this civilization. We need to deny the morality of the present time and the meanings of the words.
As individuals, we need to move beyond understanding sexism as an individual issue or singularly as an institutional, social, cultural problem. Sexism is a social problem and an individual issue simultaneously. Society and the individual feed each other, having a reciprocal relationship. Are not single-issue struggles a part of the whole? An analysis and political struggle based on some “objective” feature only creates groups that are categorized by these traits (gender for sexism, race for racism, class for classism, nationality for nationalism). Identity politics only reinforces identities that are maintained, rationalized, validated by the sexists, the racists, the nationalists, the governors.
Identification and association with a group are not sufficient. We think and act for a whole reversal of the dominant culture. Divided struggles based on identity cannot destroy the dominant reality from their singularity.
Joshua Gamson, a sociologist, argues that there is a dilemma: if the ethnic/essentialist maintenance of boundaries and the queer/deconstructionist destabilization of boundaries make sense. Gamson believes that queer politics reveal the limitations of essentialist gay and lesbian identity politics that inherently strengthen binary divisions, including the divisions between man/woman and hetero/homo that are produced by political oppression. But, he says that “the deconstructionist” strategies remain quite deaf and blind to the very concrete and violent institutional forms to which the most logical answer is resistance in and through a particular collective identity. To borrow a saying of sociologist Jeffery Weeks, “operational identities are necessary fictions.”
The capitalist system is sexist. The capitalist system promotes the “objective” norm of beauty. Capitalism sells everything and destroys the planet with the industries which produce consumer goods. Capitalism sells water, sells food, sells art, sells philosophy, sells the revolts of the past, sells love, and sells sex. Capitalism uses the human body as a piggy bank. Capitalism uses the optical illusion of a happy family or of a man who loves a woman to sell merchandise, private education, and bank loans. Capitalism uses our sexual desires to sell cars, shampoos, and toothpastes. Capitalism promotes the image of a secure couple to sell a person who wants to pay interest at 10% for all their life to live the capitalist dream.
Through our everyday decisions and practices we sustain a lot of state institutions and market choices that keep this world alive. Our obligation, our participation, and unconscious need to be a link in the chain of production keeps this system alive. All these days and years in offices, schools, universities, shops and supermarkets keep this society functioning and expanding. Our discipline increases the greed of this system. Our struggles against sexism, against racism, against homophobia, against social apathy and obedience to fashion, mass media and egocentrism are all parts of a struggle for cultural and social change.
Confronting certain individual behaviors is synonymous with confronting the regime. The revolution is a constant process of mutation and a constant conscious decision to define the conditions that we live in. Each of us, as an individual with her friends or her lover needs to make the first jump beyond this given reality. As radical individuals, we are rabid for the destruction of this world; when we fight we are fighting for our lives. We decide to fight for total freedom motivated by our dreams and not by the decisions of some assembly or group. Sometimes, loyalty to a group, to a collective can become compulsive but the loyalty to the beat of our heart is above all politics. There will always be men and women and children who will be very impudent or kind, raunchy or shy, vulgar or polite, saucy or gentle, nymphomaniac or asexual.
Regardless of whether or not we stopped being sexist, capitalism would still not be threatened but if we were quitting our jobs and dropping out from our universities then the capitalist system could collapse. Even if these actions did not cause it to collapse, we would have more time to dedicate to the procedures of the war against the state, more time to dedicate to our cultural revolution, more time to dedicate to the barricades, more time to dedicate to the cultivation of ourselves (to understand the phenomena and have critical thought) independently of wage slavery and morning hours in the classrooms. This time that is always missing is time that we don't give to friends, to lovers, to assemblies and squats and demonstrations and fights and projects, these are our chains. The hours that we offer to the system, the hours that we don't share.
Some people think that the biggest problem of the Greek anarchist movement is that it is sexist. As a Greek anarchist woman I think the biggest problem is that the anarchist movement cannot explain to society how an anarchist world could function. We don't have applied anarchist social economics.
As we cultivate ourselves, we cultivate the community around us in a cycle of constant interdependence. We, as anarchists, must be aware of struggling against the dominant cultural ethos, to live our experience with our limits. We fight for the vision of our dreams and the breath of our visions. We fight authority wherever we meet it.
Sexism outside and inside capitalism will corrode as we appear in every neighborhood, in every march, in every rebellion, both small and large. We will confront issues, start conversations and critiques, and share ideas and dreams so that we will not see anti-sexism as a separate issue, separated from the whole body of revolution.
We are fighting for gay and lesbian power as we fight for the elimination of the state. We fight for identity and gender issues as we fight against repression and exploitation. We fight without distinction for the freedom of transsexuals as we fight for our freedom. Maybe we are not transsexual or maybe in our country there is no problem to kiss a girl fully on her red lips, but in Uganda, in Morocco, in Saudi Arabia it is illegal and dangerous and you could be put in prison for a kiss like that. Maybe in our country it is not illegal to be homosexual but in many countries your parents can put you in a psychiatric clinic for being homosexual. We fight for women's liberation and we fight against sexism.
Currently we grow up in a sexist society that imbues us with the idea that women must be inferior to men. Anti-sexism is not just about fighting against forms of sexism like violent rape, domestic violence, and overtly sexist words, it is also about challenging our relationships, the ideas that create a rape culture, the way that the people are socialized, our needs, our desires, our passions.
Anti-sexists challenge the ideas and behaviors that promote masculine sexism and alienated women, both in personal relationships and in social or political groups. But we have to remember that the relationships are not so simple, but are always complicated.
We are human, and men exist and women exist, as different as all of us are different. Some people are shy while some aren't, some people are charismatic while some aren't. Some women are sensitive and some aren't, some men are fat and some aren't. Some humans have a dick and some others have a pussy….some women shave their pussy and others do not. Some women are more masculine and some aren't, some men are more feminine and some aren't. Some men are more “macho” than others and some are not “macho’’ at all. Some women are nymphomaniac and some unorgasmic.
Masculinity and femininity is a personal trait, a personal relish. It is matter of taste if someone likes a macho man or an effeminate man, just as it is a matter of taste when a man likes a teenager or an adult, a BDSM mistress or a willing slave. Masculinity and sexism are different. Some masculine anarchist men gain a superficial understanding of the sexism in society by reading about women's liberation and feminism, and fight for anti-sexism within the anarchist movement. But it is a pseudo-analysis and pseudo-politics when we try to analyze and separate the anarchist movement from the whole society, a micro-logic for a micro-analysis. The anarchist space is not somewhere else, it is not a different planet so we cannot analyze it as a separate, self-existent community from capitalism. The anarchists are not saints living on holy mountains, living in foreign lands far from their grand-mothers and fathers. We need to realize what we reproduce.
We can have self-criticism about anarchist spaces but we don’t need to paralyze ourselves. The women who I know participate and contribute as much as they can and as they want in the movement, before, during, and after December. No comrade stops them, no one disrespects them, no one interrupts them in a meeting because they are women. People interrupt a woman in a meeting as they could interrupt a man if they don’t respect or don’t agree with what they say and not because of their gender. There are not masculine and feminine discussions, there are not masculine direct actions, and there are not separations and exclusions for girls and boys in their participation. If there is a particular majority of one sex, that doesn't give the characteristics of this sex to the resistance, as each sex is flexible and influenced by the other sex. There is no masculine or feminine participation in resistance: there is only resistance. Women are not treated as a weak gender and they don’t have a secondary role in the street fights, in arson attacks, in meetings and in decisions.
Dualism separates reality into two pieces, the good and bad. The anti-sexists are the good ones and the sexists are the bad ones. Anti-sexists want to make fully determinant the authority of men as oppressive, but anarchists have to fight against the oppression expressed by the whole of authoritarian society. The anarchists fight against alienation, exploitation, and power in its whole as expressed through decisions, hopes, activities, and plans of each member of this society. A PART OF THIS FIGHT IS THE FIGHT AGAINST SEXISM.
The whole world—our friends, our parents, our trips, our acid-trips, our readings, our listening—influences us. We choose to free ourselves from normality to become the most extreme of beings. We want to break through identities established by society, by tradition, and even by anarchist spaces. This deconstruction does not have to lead to nihilism; we can deconstruct these identities in order to arrive at a new synthesis, new understandings, and new horizons.
We encourage women to participate in actions and events as we encourage men and kids and grandmothers to participate in them. Is it mostly men or women who are taking up speaking engagements? Who talks at meetings? Who facilitates meetings? Who does the work of the organization, and then, who gets credit for it? These questions can be answered but this becomes mere statistics. In the world of chaos theory, the statistics of normality don’t work!
“Join The Resistance…Fall in Love.”
We want to celebrate our fluid identities and not a new constructed political identity. The anarchist movements fight against sexism but they are not identified with a separate anti-sexist ideology. We can define what sexist behavior is but not what an anti-sexist behavior has to be. The anarchist activists fight against sexism but not though a separate ideological identity of “anti-sexists.” The society maintains sexism as long as we don’t fight against authority, exploitation and alienation.
 Louise Michel (1830-1905) was a French anarchist, school teacher, and medical worker who participated in the Paris Commune. She treated her writings as emotional processes and not as intellectual ones. Her basic and most compelling feature was her ability to provoke both spontaneous anger against injustice in demonstrations and spontaneous assistance and mutual aid in wider society
The difference between performance and performativity is that a performance presumes a subject but performativity contests the very notion of subject.
construct these identities in order to arrive at a new synthesis, new understandings, and new horizons.
This essay is a part of the book “We are an Image from the Future : The Greek Revolt of 2008 editing by A.G.Schwarz,Tasos Sagris and Void Network pub. AK Press ”
Find the book at Ak Press
for more info about Void Network