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"Men get defensive when women critique their oppressive and sexist behaviors. Rather than listening and benefiting from criticism, a defensive stance is taken and women's voices are ignored once again."

-Angela Beallor

Anarcha-Feminism & Gender Anarchy Resource Page


Anarcha-Feminist movement, articles
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under construction. please email comments and suggestions to sallydarity@yahoo.com

i wanted to add to the discussion on how men, specifically anarchist men, can fight their own sexism and the sexism in our communities. i put together the following excerpts of writings that i have links to on the website. these excerpts aren't necessarily the most important ones, but ones that you can get something out of and get an idea of what the articles say so you can read specific ones in the meantime- then maybe read them all eventually.

having read pretty much all of this and more, i can say there are some general themes. if you're combatting sexism, you shouldn't assume you have a complete understanding of what women go thru if you're not a woman. therefore listening to (and reading) what women have to say about it is really important. continue listening even if you think you got it. even if you wrote about it. men tend to always be defending themselves and each other. before you get defensive- or if you're already defensive, before you say anything- think, why am i getting defensive? women have to deal with bullshit all the time. you may think you're getting the short end of the stick because someone accuses you of sexism or even insinuates that a group you're involved with is sexist, but perhaps you should practice being more humble. ask yourself if your reputation or your group's reputation is more important than a woman or women getting heard or having her issues recognized and resolved?

women who confront sexism get a lot of shit for it. i know so many women who just want to give up altogether on dealing with certain men (sometimes all men!). a lot of men contribute to an environment where men get away with talking shit to women when they stand up for themselves. men contribute to it even by being silent. anarchist women demand that men deal with their shit and support women who stand up against men's shit.

sexual assault, abusive relationships, and consent is brought up a lot here. if you don't understand why, it is especially important for you to read the written pieces that touch on that. women are not the only ones who have to deal with these issues, but a lot of times it is women more than men. for some reason many men do not understand the concept of consent. if you don't have consent to do something to another person that affects that person, you are coercing them. anarchists are against coercion. so learn about consent. there's a lot to be discussed about consent. what are anarchists' take on the age of consent? a lot of radical women and some men these days are discussing the issue of consent. you should be part of it- if only listening.

living in a patriarchal world, we may think of men as the default of various groups of people. like when someone says "the working class" do women come to mind? or is it mostly or all men? when you talk about police brutality, do you ever talk about police rape? do you think of anarchists as male by default? do you read books, pamphlets or zines by women- besides emma goldman? do you have the attitude that women can't think for themselves? these are all things to keep in mind and if you're guilty of any of it, try to change.

i also recommend a book by bell hooks called "the will to change," (see chapter two) that a few men in my life have really gotten a lot out of. women i know really enjoy it as well.

Excerpt, A Message to "Anarchist" Men and Then Some:

Wimmin have been looked over, talked over, pushed back, laughed at, been shut up, used, abused, and raped all by our "brothers" self titled anarchist men and proclaimed revolutionaries. All the anti-sexist men quick to jump on someone else's sexist remark when around an anarchist crowd, but will let it slide when around his not so "P.C." friends. The men who vocalize their aggression against rapists, but when THEIR lovers say no, coercion is simple, and it's not rape, because he's ANTI-SEXIST. There are men who use anti-sexist talk to pick up wimmin. The men who challenge others to call them on their shit and when someone does, on goes the defense mode and he's appalled that someone could say HE was fucking up, instead of actually thinking about the situation and to start working on it... Unless we can start seeing ourselves as the problem, and until we can actually start talking and listening to each other about our problems and work on them, revolutionary change will always remain a distant dream... read more.

Excerpt, Sexism in the Anarchist Movement:

Anti-sexism is not just about fighting overt forms of sexism - violent rape, domestic violence, overtly sexist words - it is also about challenging our relationships, the ideas that create a rape culture, the way people are socialized, etc. These are not convenient issues to struggle around for they involve digging deep within ourselves, traveling back in our development, and dedicating time to the difficult process of self-change. We must challenge the ideas and behaviors that promote sexism to other men and alienate women-both in personal relationships and in organizations.

Recognizing that anti-sexist work is a deep, hard process is very important but a point many miss. All too often men who are genuinely against sexism fail to acknowledge and challenge the sexism that lies within themselves. "I AM an anti-sexist," they proclaim. But it is said so loudly that they fail to hear the voices of women. It becomes a label to proudly sport instead of a serious and difficult process. Don't get me wrong, if a man is indeed anti-sexist, he needs to display it, but this is accomplished through his actions and in his explanations of our current reality- especially to other men. Men must become examples to challenge the mainstream notions of masculinity and that takes more than a simple label.

Often complexities arise, however, when women challenge "anti-sexist" men. Men get defensive when women critique their oppressive and sexist behaviors. Rather than listening and benefiting from criticism, a defensive stance is taken and women's voices are ignored once again. No one is above being questioned, as there should be no unnecessary hierarchy. The lack of principled criticism and self-criticism within the anarchist movement is the first problem that is then compounded when applied to issues of sexism and other forms of oppression. Women must be genuinely listened to and, if the criticisms are valid, men should seek to change their thoughts and their actions...

For anarchist men, the question is, are you involved with struggles spontaneously taken up by women, led and organized by women, and primarily aimed at other women? If not, why? I have heard the claim that many of the struggles are "too reformist." In some cases this is my critique as well but I do not see a revolutionary struggle in the United States that is able to aid women in the ways these movements do. The answer is not to ignore these movements but to build new movements within or without that which already exists. Are anarchists creating alternate structures for survivors of sexual assault? Are we able to aid abused women in a revolutionary fashion at this point in time?... read more.

Excerpt, Frozen Inside:

1. How do you define consent?
2. Have you ever talked about consent with your partner(s) or friends?

3. Do you know people, or have been with people who define consent differently than you do?
4. Have you ever been unsure about whether or not the person you were being sexual with wanted to be doing what you were doing? Did you talk about it? Did you ignore it in hopes that it would change?
13. Do you think about people’s abuse histories?
14. Do you check in as things progress or do you assume the original consent means everything is ok?
33. Do you think it’s your responsibility or role to overcome another person's hesitance by pressuring them or making light of it?
34. Have you ever tried asking someone what they’re feeling?
55. Do you think these questions are repressive and people who look critically at their sexual histories and their current behavior are uptight and should be more “liberated”?
56. Do you think liberation might be different for different people?
... read more.

Excerpts, "Are you a Manarchist Questionnaire"

2. How do you react when women in your life name something or someone as patriarchal or sexist? Do you think of her or call her a "PC Thug," "Feminazi," "Thin-skinned," "Overly-Sensitive," a "COINTELPRO-esque" or "Un-fun?"
3. Do you see talking about patriarchy as non-heroic, a waste of time, trouble making, or divisive?

7. Do you take on sexism and patriarchy as a personal struggle working to fight against it in yourself, in your relationships, in society, work, culture, subcultures, and institutions?
8. Do you say anything when other men make sexist or patriarchal comments? Do you help your patriarchal and sexist friends to make change and help educate them? Or do you continue friendships with patriarchal and sexist men and act like there is no problem?
15. Do you ever find yourself monitoring and limiting your behavior and speech in meetings and activist settings because you don't want’ to take up too much space or dominate the group? Are you aware of the fact that women do this all the time?

16. Do you pay attention to group process and consensus building in groups or do you tend to dominate and take charge (maybe without even realizing it)?
19. Do you discuss the responsibility for preventing contraception and getting STD screening prior to sexual contact?
27. If your girlfriend gets on your case for patriarchal behavior or wants to try to work on the issues of patriarchy in your relationship, do you creak up with her or cheat on her and find another woman who will put up with your shit?
56. Do you use intimidation, yelling, getting in someone’s physical space, threats or violence to get your point across? Do you create and atmosphere or violence around women or others to threaten them (i.e.: throw things, break things, yell and scream, threaten, attack, tease or terrorize the animals or pets of women in your life)?
57. Do you physically, psychologically, or emotionally abuse women?...
read more.

Excerpt, "Are you Stuck on Manarchy?":

...women are not obligated to hold men's hands and guide them through understanding patriarchy and gender oppression. They need to have an open mind, try understanding instead of getting defensive. Guys need to stop and think about what is being said before they react. They need to take some time to consider where women are coming from, not just assume that their own experience gives them the appropriate knowledge to judge the situation fairly. They have to avoid dismissing a whole document or a whole group based on small parts or individuals that are confusing or offensive. If they don't understand a question on the questionnaire or an article on patriarchy, they should discuss it with a woman and listen to her. They should discuss it with other men as well... read more.

Excerpt, What it is to be a Girl in an Anarchist Boys' Club:

-You are approached to answer questions for our group, make decisions and announcements. You even think it is okay to define our group to visitors, strangers. -Somehow you aren't ever questioned by the group for this behavior.
-I've stopped believing that you are "sorry" or are "working on it."
-I'm putting less and less energy, at age 25, into heated discussions and reacting to/educating people with stupid behavior. I'm tired of correcting sexism. There are other things I need to put my energy into --my creativity, my search for meaning, personal relationships. Men (and all people with a sub/consciousness who say women are less able) need to feel how sexism limits them. Men need to stop feeling self righteous and defensive (classic reactions to even a third person comment about gender inequity) and look honestly at their ways. How does sexism limit a man?
-Why do I hafta be the bitch?... read more.

Excerpt, Shut the Fuck Up:

It's not just how often you talk, but how and when Consensus decision making is a model of the society we want to live in, and a tool we use to get there. Men often dominate consensus at the expense of everyone else. Think about the man who...
* Speaks for a long, loud, first and often
* Offers his opinion immediately whenever someone makes a proposal, asks a question, or if there's a lull in discussion
* Speaks with too much authority: "Actually, it's like this?"
* Can't amend a proposal or idea he disagrees with, but trashes it instead
* Makes faces every time someone says something he disagrees with
* Rephrases everything a woman says, as in, "I think what Mary was trying to say is..."
*Makes a proposal, then responds to each and every question and criticism of it - thus speaking as often as everyone else put together (Note: This man often ends up being the facilitator) And don't get me started about the bad male facilitator who?:
* Always puts himself first on stack, because he can
* Somehow never sees the women with their hands up, and never encourages people who haven't spoken... read more.