What is Anarcha-Feminism?
Anarcha-Feminism (a.k.a. anarcho-feminism, anarchafeminism, & anarchofeminism) doesn't have one strict definition. If you know what anarchism is and what feminism is, I'm sure you have a vague idea about what anarcha-feminism is. Many discussions anarchism and gender issues point to the fact that anarchism is or should be essentially feminist. Feminism has many definitions as well. But in this context I mean feminism as in the belief that people should not be oppressed because of their gender. The reason I believe that the term anarcha-feminism is used is because anarchism is not an adequate word to describe what anarcha-feminism is about, either because anarchism is male-dominated, doesn't address gender issues to the extent many would like, or because it's not specific to gender issues. The term anarcha-feminism is also used to specify a type of feminism. Anarcha-feminists are feminists with a critique of power relationships that is often absent from other feminisms.
Anarcha-feminism isn't just a response to anarchism and feminism, it's its own entity: an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-oppression way of addressing gender issues- and addressing other issues with a radical critique of patriarchy.
Some definitions of Anarcha-Feminism:
Anarcha-feminism means women's independence and freedom on an equal footing with men. A social organization and a social life where no-one is superior or inferior to anyone and everybody is coordinate, women as well as men. This goes for all levels of social life, also the private sphere.
Anarcha-feminism implies that women themselves decide and take care of their own matters, individually in personal matters, and together with other women in matters which concern several women. In matters which concern both sexes essentially and concretely women and men shall decide on an equal footing.
Anarcho-feminism is a movement towards women's liberation based on anarchist principles. Anarcho-feminists believe that women's liberation means liberation for all women... Throughout history governments and states have been responsible for some of the
worst atrocities against women. This is why anarcho-feminists see the state as an extension of patriarchy. The best way to secure liberation for all women is to eliminate authority and hierarchies whenever possible, including government.
Anarchafeminism is about women being true equals with men, and refusing to oppress others. It is not the kind of feminism that wants to be a bank manager and fight the glass ceiling. It might throw a brick through the glass ceiling and climb out of that tower into the juicy purple evening sky.
anarcha-feminism means being against all oppression, domination, and authority, but focussing on gender oppression, not because it is most important, but because it affects so many of us and must be dealt with. i say gender oppression instead of just patriarchy or sexism because i think feminism needs to be broader than just women's issues. gender oppression includes patriarchy, sexism, homophobia, heterosexism, heteronormativity, transphobia, the gender binary, fatphobia + other body image issues, sexual violence, etc.
Feminism is the knowledge that women and men are equal. Sexism is about inequality. Feminism is the opposite. Feminism is about the fact that men and women should be treated equaly. Anarcha-feminism is using the anarchist method of organisation to fight for such an idea.
Anarcha-Feminism is the radical anti-statist aspect of bioethical humanism which
critiques the dogmatically sexist aspects of the State in regard to male domination.
Just as racism is fundamentally collectivist so is sexism in any form. As long as governments and ruling classes exist women and men will need to struggle against sexism.
The issue is bioethical because of the pseudo-scientific nature of sexism which is based on naive conceptions of male and female nature.
Does your definition differ? Email sallydarity at yahoo dot com
Contemporary anarcha-feminism, some themes:
Class: Anarcha-feminists are opposed to capitalism and all the exploitation it entails. We tend to critique the lack of class analysis in other varieties of feminism. The mainstream feminist movement tends to be a middle-class movement and therefore lacks motivation to address issues that affect women and all people who are poor or working class.
Race: Anarcha-feminists are against racism. Although white anarcha-feminists privilege from whiteness, it is most often a priority to address racism and whiteness because anarcha-feminists are against all oppression and domination. The feminist movement has tended to be very white-dominated and has lacked an analysis of racism and has not tended to incorporate ideas of women of color.
Sexuality: Anarcha-feminists are opposed to oppression and discrimination against queer people. We are, however, opposed to anyone imposing any sexual acts upon another without their consent. Specifically, anarcha-feminists oppose rape and all other forms sexual assault. Anarcha-feminists are interested in empowering survivors of sexual assault to heal and for all people to empower themselves to do what they can to improve psychological and physical self-defense. Anarcha-feminists tend not to make judgements upon others' actions as long as each partner is consenting. The issue of consent is a tricky one since we live in a patriarchal society. Anarcha-feminists may disagree on age of consent and consent in the field of sex work.
Reproductive Freedom: Although there are probably some pro-life anarcha-feminists out there, it is a minority opinion which most likely does not include the belief that the state should intervene either way. Most anarcha-feminists are pro-choice and believe that the state should have no control over anyone's bodies and that people have rights to cheap or free safe abortions. These anarcha-feminists tend to believe that various choices of abortion and contraception, including informed choices about herbal remedies, menstrual extraction, and self-care are everyone's right. Parents also have the right to choose how to have children if they conceive, specifically that they can have children outside of a hospital, with midwives, in the positions they feel most comfortable with.
Gender: Some anarcha-feminist writing within the last 10 years addresses what is called the "gender binary" or "gender dichotomy," which is the common idea that gender can be easily broken into two categories: male and female. While anarcha-feminists during the 1970's have argued against the idea that women's and men's roles are appropriately determined by patriarchal society based on inherent characteristics, some anarcha-feminists today argue that gender and the concept of biological sex are fluid- not easily divided into two groups. While some would not completely agree with this idea, most would agree that the patriarchal allopathic medical field and our societal norms should not determine what each of our gender identities should be. The idea that there is an essence of what it is to be a woman (essentialism), has been attacked by many who are interested in breaking down concepts of gender. Many anarcha-feminists have expressed great opposition to the breaking down of gender borders. This remains a controversial issue.
Sexism in the anarchist movement: Most anarcha-feminists would probably agree that there is sexism in the anarchist movement. There are various essays, articles, rants, and manifestos that have been written (along with hundreds of emails and messageboard posts, i'd bet) to address the issue.
Sex work: Another controversial issue that anarcha-feminists have not come to a consensus on, sex work is viewed by some as demeaning work that would ideally be disolved with the revolution (or before). Some believe that participating in sex work is an assault to all women, while others see sex work as not much unlike other work, in which we are exploited. Some see it as something that will always be with us and is not bad in any way. Various anarcha-feminists see use in assisting sex-workers in unionizing (or the anarcha-feminists are the sex workers), or otherwise organizing within the field, while others feel this is anti-feminist. Many anarcha-feminists are of the opinion that much of sex-work, such as porn, can be feminist and liberating, while others celebrate writers such as Andrea Dworkin. And of course, many anarcha-feminists are without strong feelings on either side of the debate.
What do anarcha-feminists do?
All sorts of things!
Suggested Reading on Anarcha-Feminist ideas:
Peggy Kornegger: Anarchism: The Feminist Connection (1975)
Carol Ehrlich: Socialism, Anarchism, and Feminism (1977)
An anarcha-feminists' subjective perspective of anarcha-feminism by Sofia Hildsdotter (1992)
Toward a General Theory of Anarchafeminism by Howard J. Erlich (1994)
Politicizing Gender: Moving toward revolutionary gender politics by Carolyn (1994?)
No Authority But Oneself: The Anarchist Feminist Philosophy of Autonomy and Freedom by Sharon Presley (2000)
Notes towards an (anarchist? feminist?) critique of (anarchism? feminism?) by caitlin hewitt-white (2004)