WOMEN’S WAR DAILY #1
[A paper critiquing the political assumptions of today’s Anti-War/anti-imperialist activism by J. Sakai – Beyond McAntiwar: notes on finding our footing in the collapsing stageset of u.s. empire – has been circulated in the current issue of the maoist zine 8th Route. Below is an alternate viewpoint from a “radical Beguine” perspective.]
i like J’s rant. i think we need this kind of reality check. The world situation is changing with such surprising twists. But yet & again, it still is only from men’s viewpoint. And no matter how radical, that can only dead end somewhere. Because what we’ve learned the hard way is that the solutions aren’t in that framework. Men can’t find the right answers because they’re the problem. Patriarchy is the problem. That’s what’s at the heart of capitalism. That’s why it keeps coming back no matter how many times revolutionary men drive a stake through its heart. In Red China, they executed the old landlord class by the millions. They drove into exile the old capitalist class. They salted the earth with the ground-up middle class in the Cultural Revolution. But a generation later they have industrial capitalism on steroids back again. It’s like some Wall Street wet dream.
Just as men searched for the Rosetta Stone to finally decipher hieroglyphics into Egyptian voices, women have long been searching for the password to actual liberation. The key is lying there right in front of us, but it is as hard to pick up as red-hot metal. This entire political world from jihads to anti-globalization campaigns, from leftist guerrilla armies to green parties, from Republican Party to anarchists, is a furious plain of men and men’s clashing cultures. Just as there are no angels or saints in Hell, only demons and the damned, so there are no women in power in the entire dimension of the political world as we know it. It is an entire dimension of men. Some may ask, but don’t women hold up half the sky, as Mao Zedong famously said? No, women hold up all the sky, but that old slogan confused oranges and apples. Women are everywhere, from the 1st Armored Division to the Anti-War movement. But women are “embedded” in men’s movements as their pets and assistants and saviors and sex objects and laborers and just-like-men.
Millions of women have conditioned themselves to pretend to be men politically, from military police just-like-men to revolutionary activist just-like-men. Would the nuclear aircraft carrier or the Marxist-Leninist Party miss a beat (much less disappear) if all the women in its ranks suddenly vanished? Would its character or politics change? Of course not. Because none of it is ours. It doesn’t come from us, it doesn’t belong to us, and it’s not going anywhere for us.
So how can a grrrl kick some ass in this new world?
If you can’t believe that men have hit the wall, that they can’t be reformed any better at this point in time, then the Anti-War movement is like proof arriving in the mail. Try to look at the world through the eyes of women, instead. What do women see when they stick their heads out of the trenches? That some class of capitalist men will win there–but not women. The Anti-War movement has nothing to do with what women see or need. And whoever wins, it won’t be women. But embedded women will have helped make the disaster happen, with all their energy and enthusiasm and determination to stay at men’s sides.
The main thing that i want to ask Anti-War women is this: is the war that you are opposing also the war against women? Underneath the big explosions, the nightly videotapes of the war in Iraq between two male nations and two classes of men, there is an even bigger war against Iraqi women that both sides are waging. Are you doing your sit-ins and sabotage and reeducation and risking things to stop the war against women? And if not, why not–if you are truly “Anti-War”?
The islamic-fascist male fighters in Iraq aren’t just into driving the amerikkkan occupation out the door. No, they’re honest here. Maybe more honest than we’ve been up to now.Their plan also necessitates keeping Iraqi women as their collective and personal property. The islamic-fascists are about terrorizing and killing women wholesale who try to be free. That’s the war that both sides are waging together, side by side, Dick by Dick, in the big urinal of men’s politics. But Mr. Anti-War doesn’t see the systematic terror and killing against women as a war. Since to him only killing men is important enough to be a war. That’s only reasonable from men’s point of view, since if you kill livestock it’s not a war. If you terrorize birds it’s not a war. Just like in the Slave South days in amerikkka, when settlers killing Afrikans wasn’t officially a war or even murder. That’s where we are, where women on a world scale are. Down among the livestock and the other property that men own.
i’ve had enough of that smirking mentally-disturbed “W” and criminally-insane Rummy, and their whole gang in suits. Let’s go to women in this war, to real people. There has been an opening of women’s activity in Iraq since the u.s. occupation began. The most flash has been shown by Yanar Mohammed, an Iraqi exile who sold her house in Montreal, parked her 17 year-old son with her former husband, and flew back to Baghdad to start OWFI (the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq). Lauren Sandler of New York University, in a report on the women’s situation in Iraq for Amnesty International, says:
“And then there’s Yanar Mohammed, suddenly a household name in Iraq because of her relatively radical public views, who speaks openly about women’s rights in her role as founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. She packs a pistol in her handbag and travels with bodyguards, so constant are the death threats she receives for her secular politics.”
Yanar operates several women’s shelters (started with that money from selling her Canadian house), with the usual secret locations and armed guards with Kalashnikovs, for women fleeing their male family members who want to kill them for infractions of the islamic holy code. Publishing their office address and telephone in their newspaper, Equality, so that women in crisis may reach them, OWFI intervenes in many different situations. Yanar herself represented 47 women bank clerks who were jailed after their supervisor accused them of embezzling. Shouting at Iraqi officials and u.s. Army officers alike, Yanar helped the women break through the indifference and get themselves freed after the case was reexamined (a male bank official was found to be the embezzler).
This Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq has staged their own small marches–teaching women how to “take up space”, to chant slogans and shout loudly in public–in Baghdad. Last July 30th they joined many other small women’s groups in a march of several hundred women demanding equal representation on all government councils (OWFI was invited to take part by more conservative women’s groups who initiated the protest).
Iraqi women from a squatter community even came to the OWFI office and asked for help stopping their eviction. Because of all the bombed out buildings and seized buildings there is a housing shortage for working class families in Baghdad. These poor families had all taken over rooms in the former government TV & radio complex in al-Salihnia. An OWFI group led by Layla Muhammed, vice-president of OWFI, visited the squatters in return. Eventually, the homeless families were helped to win a postponement of moving and the promise of alternate housing. Protests and struggles with the occupation authorities have been a regular part of OWFI’s work.
While the Anti-war movement and the Left here has largely ignored OWFI and other Iraqi women, they have been noticed by white feminists, of course. The world war against women has been noticed here, a little. How could the blaze on the horizon not be seen, as we are being burned alive all over the world?
On last March 3, 2004, at an Anti-War march there was a small women’s “Demonstration Against U.S. Occupation and the Imposition of Islamic Shar’ia” in New York (which was later attacked by a guest on local public radio station WBAI as racist and an “ignorant” slander on islam–the station refused to either apologize or give the women demonstrators equal time to reply). But Amy Goodman’s public television show “Democracy Now” had Yanar Mohammed on as a guest, and Leslie Jane Seymour, the editor of Marie Claire fashion magazine, donated $5,000 to Yanar as one of their “women activists” of the year. Even the establishment N.Y. Times has run several very positive articles and columns by liberal women on OWFI and Yanar herself. While women’s anti-war groups like MADRE and Code Pink have raised funds for OWFI. This was nice, but it’s not that nice.
White feminists here reacted to what Yanar and her comrades are doing because it’s just like “home” for us. It resonates so strongly because OWFI’s program is what amerikkka is already doing. The few battered women’s hide-out shelters, help line, drop-in center, small protest demonstrations, fund-raising campaigns, demanding that the male occupation government do this or do that to help women, the whole routine feminists are used to. Only, done under far, far more dangerous circumstances. If battered women’s shelters have to remain hidden in amerikkka so that fugitive women don’t get shot down by the men in their lives, then how much more dangerous are they to do in Iraq?
These are some courageous sisters, doing the best that they can do in horrible circumstances. But i gotta say, if it hasn’t worked in richie rich amerikkka, it’s hardly going to work in Baghdad. It helps some women stay alive now, but it’s only a cup of water tossed into the raging bonfire of the worldwide war against women. It’s an approach women worldwide have shared, that we haven’t gotten beyond.
OWFI appears to be a small organization now for all its bravery, as are other new women’s efforts in Iraq. The problem isn’t hard to figure out for any woman–it’s stark terror. Fear on all levels. The old Iraqi Women’s League, which represented educated middle-class women, was banned and driven underground by the Saddam regime. Now, some of its surviving activists have resurfaced, but they are afraid to do or even say much. The Amnesty International report quotes them: “The Iraqi Women’s League–strong and outspoken from its founding in the 1950s until Saddam’s secret police forced it underground in the late 1970s–is meeting openly again. But it does not discuss, much less act on, the rise in rape, a crisis of overwhelming concern to Iraqi women. Most women in the league feel it would be suicide to say anything that might alarm radical islamist groups, explains founding member Wassan Al Souz. ‘Just like under Saddam, the problem here is the barrier of fear,’ she says.” Just like in Juarez or Tokyo or Chicago or Darfur, women are terrorized as a condition of our mass existence.
Confronting the Iraqi rape movement (and it is a movement among men) might get you killed because the islamic-fascists are politically backing these attacks, as part of their campaign to keep women down. As OWFI has highlighted, these islamic-fascist attacks on women became even more important last year during the “holy” month of Ramadan (what are men’s holidays for, after all?):
Terrorist acts against women in Iraq by Islamic groups have increased dramatically in recent months and reached an unprecedented level under the rubric of ‘observing sanctities during Ramadan.’ A fascist Islamic group called ‘Mujahideen Shura Group’ has warned that it will kill any women who are seen on street unveiled whether by themselves or with a male companion!
“In the northern city of Mosul, Christian women are targets of a killing, kidnapping and rape campaign. One such barbaric crime took place in this city where two women were kidnapped and raped by multiple men and then were sold as female slaves to another group of men. They were again raped repeatedly for four days before they managed to escape!
“In the city of Falluja, at the Mujahideen congress held on October 20,2004, the Islamic criminal Abdulla al-Janabi and Falluja’s Shura Council gave a fatwa (religious decree) that Mujahideen fighters should rape girls at age 10 before they are raped by Americans!
“Scores of university girls have been beaten up, often severely, for wearing jeans or for not wearing hijab (Islamic veil). Women who go to hair dressing salons are frequently attacked by Islamists and their hair is cut in a public display of shaming.
“Thousands of leaflets are distributed across the country everyday warning women against going out unveiled, putting on make up, shaking hands or mixing with men. More than 1000 female university students have taken leave of their studies to protect themselves against the terrorism of Islamists. ..
“This is the benefit of the liberation that the US government has brought to the Iraqi masses. The only true benefit has come to the Islamic terrorist groups, which are free to attack, and kill women! Women in Iraq and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq expose these forces, which try to delude people by posing as ‘resistance’ to the US occupiers. The Islamic movement has made it clear that even if the US forces are expelled or withdraw from Iraq , they will declare Jihad against any secular government! They want to establish a Caliphate (Islamic government) where women are will be set back by 1400 years! The Islamic terrorists have come with their bayonets directed at women in Iraq.
“We must stand up to the groups of Islamic terrorism in Iraq. There is no other alternative. “
So what is the answer to this present War? The truth is that for women there is no answer within the dimension of men’s politics. Only by leaving men’s politics behind can we find real answers. To me, everything starts with admitting this truth.
Now is the beginning of the new men’s capitalist wars, this is the exact best time to deal with this problem. What i’m talking about, women worldwide developing armies and politics and civilizations of our own, isn’t something utopian for the far future. It’s timely. Men’s new wars against women are just starting. Rape camps blossom. Bushes and Pol Pots unravel everything men have inherited. Bit by bit the world is being destroyed. We’ll be fighting on this ground for the next 100 years. We can’t wish it away. All we have is the worth of our choices. i always liked the line which is so true here: “Which will you be, hammer or anvil?” It’s timely now to begin to do new women-centered things, to study war, establish rear base areas and outlaw ways of life within a new culture. There’s nothing wrong with the impulse to anti-colonialism or anti-imperialism in this unjust world. It’s only good. But the old forms, the old debates, the old movements that these impulses took form in are dead, now decaying. If something is broke, you can’t go on using it as if nothing was wrong.
This is something you’re going to hear us say over and over again: When we talk about creating an army and a foreign policy of our own, we’re really talking about changing the culture that is the daily lives of millions of women. That’s where it all comes from. This globalized consumer culture we live is bankrupt, because it is a slave culture. Everywhere women are awakening & rising, and this rising can only be grounded in the construction of a new world culture. By which we don’t mean only a style or an art, but a complete way of life.
It really impressed me when i went to a women of color conference once, and at every session’s start and as the first thing every time they spoke, Native women would say: “Remember that you are on Indian land.” Consciously reminding all of us that every city, every neighborhood we think of as “ours” on this continent was once part of Native societies–and taken from Native women.
In a similar light, we need to remind ourselves over and over again that what all the foreign wars and culture wars are really about is who shall own women’s bodies? Everyone cares about who controls our bodies, because women reproduce the most important thing in society. Women reproduce people, everyone else just produces things. Women reproduce the labor to keep society going, both biologically and socially. That’s why it’s so important who owns us. That’s why our bodies are a battleground. That’s the dialectical weirdness of women’s lives–we produce both ourselves & our enemies. That’s why men all want to control our sexuality.
Years ago i ran this down, what culture is to us, but let me point to it again (the examples are old, but the point is still sharp):
It’s only natural that patriarchal imperialism creates the need in us for an opposing culture, whether you think of that as women’ s culture or revolutionary culture. But our attempts at a culture of our own sputter, flare and never really catch fire, because the minimum standard for a new culture today is that it has to confront the centrality of genocide. Otherwise it’s not for real, not going to cut it.
Revolutionary women’s culture is usually thought of as uplifting & entertaining, having to do with the creative arts (music, painting, drama, dance, literature, sculpture). Kinda our counter-part to the patriarchal capitalist arts. They have Michael Jackson and the Metropolitan Opera, we have Holly Near and Sweet Honey in the Rock. They got poems by T.S. Eliot, we got poems by Adrienne Rich & Pat Parker. This is misleading.
When i speak here of culture i mean the distinctive characteristic of a stage of civilization or the distinctive way of life of a given society. In that sense, Michael Jackson & Holly Near are both parts of patriarchal imperialist culture. Revolutionary culture isn’t something you go to visit (such as a concert) or buy (such as a book). It’s much larger than that — which is why no matter how hard you shop or how many concerts you go to you can’t get it. It’s something you gotta create by living in it — or not. Revolutionary culture is a way of life that counteracts genocide civilization, a different way of seeing & answering problems, a set of productive & reproductive relationships between people. It’s what some call communalism and others call women’s liberation. Many haven’t found a name for it, it’s just a dumb vision in their pain.
While listening to Holly Near may look like women’s culture, when it’s divorced from the real relationships of Land & property & production, it becomes its opposite. Just as Michael Jackson came outta an oppressed culture but is regarded by everyone as a talented entertainer in & for white oppressor culture. This isn’t to criticize either entertainer. A Holly Near might sing of Chilean women who produce the fruit we eat, but if that isn’t part of an opposing culture that says produce it ourselves or do without, then it’s really an acceptance of genocide culture.
An outward show of a separate culture can be & is absorbed into genocide culture, a product that we can buy which makes us feel better about ourselves (“I care about other women, about oppressed people. I’m entertained by their struggles.”) although we aren’t better people.
We can see this pretty clear when it happens to other people, to Indian cultures, say. We don’t think that the tour bus pulling up at “AUTHENTIC INDIAN POW-WOW $3.00 ADMISSION” constitutes Indian culture. We don’t think that robbing indigenous nations of their Land and productive life but having them make rugs & belt buckles for us is building their culture.
When it comes to us we got blinders on, however. We don’t see it’ll happen to us, too, without armed struggle, without territory & production. We think women’s culture is somehow exempt from all this, but it isn’t. We could end up with Adrienne Rich Boulevard and Andrea Dworkin Highway, too. Just as this racist society has Sojourner Truth Elementary School and Malcolm X Blvd. Leaving us with nothing. It’s only in going for all of it that you get to keep any of it.
Because we have no scientific understanding of genocide as a culture, no political-military science of our own (we are in fact still so colonized that many of us deny that women should even dare to have such a science), we are totally unable to deal with violence against women. We accept that as normal. But i say that the science of genocide can only be confronted by the science of war. The women’s community has a great social analysis of rape, for instance, but hasn’t idea one on what to do about it. No tactics, no strategy, no science.
Out of all this torment, all this killing & suffering, a women’s worldview is going to be born. It isn’t a matter that the Anti-War protests should add a few slogans. It is not a question of who’s more radical or correct. It’s that women and men have violently different viewpoints. Men’s movements and politics just suck up the energy & hope of women. Women never get the ability to have autonomous lives separate from a male culture. Men want women’s energies transferred from your family or job into their projects & strategies–but when its life or death for women, nothing ever happens except a few nice words.
Like, the current war is very clarifying. How can women support either side in this war of the “Man”? If the u.s. empire loses, then women will be under the lash and chains of Shar’ia law no matter what they call it. If the u.s. empire wins, then women will be under the tank treads of “Falluja law” just like in Palestine. An Anti-War movement that simply calls for the defeat of u.s. imperialism is just handing out death sentences to Iraqi women. “U.S.Marines vs. Mullah this or that”–men want us to pick a side of theirs so that either way we’ll be sure to lose.
As i started writing this in the Winter of 2005, every night it was the Asian Tsunami as the big news. Every morning it was the Tsunami somewhere on the front pages. And why not? The king of the child molesters pope and the Swedish royal family and all the imperialist biggies led three minutes of silence worldwide for all the victims. Billions in aid for years was pledged. Even “W” proudly gave some of his lunch money. The u.s. had two aircraft carriers off the coasts and ninety helicopters working sunrise to sunset, thousands of troops and aircraft involved. Equipment and aid teams from all over the world were at work to help the survivors. And why not? Cause the death total announced was 300,000.
But that’s just like the 300,000 killed last year alone in Darfur. This genocide that wasn’t a surprise, that’s now mutated into a war against women & children. Every night the refugee women & children have to go out into the dark and hunt for food and firewood. While the Janjaweed muslim militia who killed their villages & families hunt them in a game. Time after time, women are found & gang-raped. Many were gang-raped and killed in the first “tsunami” when their villages were exterminated by the government and the Janjaweed.
For them there was no support. No aircraft, not a soldier. Not that the u.s. army or the UN dicks in blue berets have ever saved women. Not in Bosnia, not in Guatamala, not in Haiti, not in Rwanda, nowhere on earth. They are just the cover story not the answer. The John-come-lately rapos themselves, too often. It just gets me pissed off that in Darfur they’re hardly even bothering to fake it. It pissed me off to see the big stall go on, all the men’s lying over the dying. Endless months of UN speeches, conferences at this capitol or that, signing of men’s treaties, droning on and on, stalling. On his way out the State Department door, Colin finally admitted that it was “genocide” in Darfur. But back at the women’s front in the desert, there’s just the women & children and the hunting parties of rapos and killers.
The male anti-government “Liberation Front” can’t be the answer because it’s also the problem. They started the present fighting in Darfur even though they had no means (or interest) in shielding the population. Thousands of women & children being butchered and driven & raped on world news–that’s just good public relations for their side in a war that they’re otherwise incompetent to ever finish. And no, there’s no “liberation front” for this war that’s now against women. Because this is all inside men’s worldview.
While women here in the metropolis don’t even see the need to be free. That’s a harsh thing to say, i know. To be able to act for women–or not–that’s not even understood. If you can send someone a check or buy some product they make, that’s what we think is being free. Women in the metropolis are embedded in consumption, just as women in the Third World are embedded in production & reproduction. We are free to have men’s jobs and carry out male plans in male capitalist institutions, just-like-men. Look at the video star of the Abu Gharib prison slipup. Private Lynndie R. England, pictured around the world in her combat camo clothes, holding a naked, badly hurt Iraqi torture victim by a leash around his neck. Getting to do real men’s “Intelligence” work, one of the boys, getting high off it. Slightly dim-witted, now she’s taking the rap. Could be Condi or Hillary we’re talking about.
While the world majority of women, in the periphery, are enslaved to labor and reproduce for individual men in other male capitalist institutions. In both cases our bodies and minds are the property of men. Which is why women don’t like trusting other women.
Our sister Yanar Mohammed doesn’t think she’s defying men’s gravity in Iraq. OWFI’s survival so far is that it’s both in the bubble of unresolved state power between various sides of capitalist men and is a project of the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq. A small secular left party that Yanar is a member of. That’s where the guards with assault rifles come from. The protective aura of male turf ownership. Yanar herself says that feminist action is impossible in Iraq without an armed male party: “The appearance of a women’s group without the physical support of a political group that is willing to protect or defend us, is a mistake we will not fall into.” To me, this is our same problem, only a different day. This is no criticism on Yanar or other Iraqi radical women. They are risking their lives every day, undoubtedly making the best tactics and moves they can find. But without a women’s political-military ability they are fundamentally powerless against men’s militias and drivebys and checkpoints and gunships. This is a world situation.
Unlike the lowliest animals in nature, we deny ourselves the powers of fight or flight. Hiding in a few women’s shelters while male killers & rapists walk free isn’t our solution. Not in Baghdad, and not in our city either. That’s why we need to explore a different worldview, to create a whole new foundation where women rule.
We’re not talking about another civilian “movement”. To me a movement is a mass of people breaking down the unacceptable present by doing something real. Women in the metropolis have to get away from the little routine of civilian protesting. Rise up above that level.
It’s all well and good to be for a campaign like “Free Mumia” or a movement like ending the death penalty for men on death row. But the next words should be, “and we have to end the larger, more numerous death penalty against women!” You can’t have patriarchy on this earth without you executing lots of women. No different if its done by the State or a militia or a gang. But in men’s protest politics the only death penalty they care about concerns men. Men want to change many things, but not their overall situation over women. Not the larger class struggle of women & children. Women can’t split up our energies running to service men’s campaigns for this and that, but never for women. You may rescue a person, but you aren’t doing anything to end the death penalty for women.
Rape is everyday to women. Not an individual situation, not even a “crime” anymore, but just a daily fact of life for masses of women and children. The mass targeting of women & children is getting worse. As capitalism grows more advanced. The mass killing is worse than it was hundreds of years ago. Demographics also talk about the “silent genocide” of women. Where there’s 100 million less women in the world than there should be. Like China, where in many places the imbalance & absence of women-children is so severe that young men have no marriage partners (and must purchase captured women from China’s flourishing sex slave market). The wholesale looting of women & children’s bodies is like the Afrikan slave trade speeded up on a world scale.
It was telling that one of the first things Asian governments did after the Tsunami was to announce airport checkpoints to stop the export of stolen orphans for the new slave trade. Tells us two things. That before the Tsunami those governments weren’t stopping the slave trade in stolen children. It also tells the world how big a phenomenon this sex slave trade in women & children is. That’s what i need to say. And it’s not going to disappear ever unless women have modern armies & a modern political-military strategy of our own. “Protesting” is way over. Like writing letters to Elvis.
Women in the metropolis now can be individually prosperous and successful just-like-men, but we can’t own our own bodies or act as women to defend women. Example: 5,000 women & children are killed annually in the u.s. in “domestic violence”. That’s almost exactly what the yearly Vietnam War body count was for amerikkkans back then. Only there is no Paris Peace Accord for women. There’s no withdrawal of the occupying male army. It’s like a Vietnam War on us here that never ended. Women who should be in our army are embedded in the enemy’s army. Because male society is the enemy. They are in desert camo in Iraq or in blue driving a police cruiser or in the guerrilla army somewhere of men who are dreaming of someday owning a nation of their own.
Years ago, a Native American militant who was also a decorated u.s. army veteran was speaking to a classroom. One student asked him, if he believed in Indian nations being freed of the oppressing u.s.a., then how come he had fought in the u.s. military? “Because I’m a warrior,” the man replied, “and it was the only army I could find.” Like him, women are volunteering not only for men’s political movements but for men’s armies all over the world. Even Muktada al-Sadr, the holy talking head of the “Mahdi’s Militia” in Iraq, had to accept armed women volunteers. He proclaims that women should be imprisoned in the kitchen and bedroom under Shar’ia law but has a black-robed, black-scarfed women’s unit with AK-47s guarding his streets.
Like, now we should understand the case of the Green River Killer. Who turns out to be a devout Christian assembly line worker at a truck factory. Who confessed to the 48 serial rape-murders the police found bodies and evidence for, but who can’t even remember all the women and children he killed over 20 years. Maybe 60, 70 (he thinks maybe 70), 100? All possible. Many of them were just kids, 15 or 16 years old. Women could have stopped it. But not by staying embedded in men’s laws for women. Like those Iraqi sisters we’re still paralyzed by fear. We have our own Shar’ia law here in the metropolis. That we aren’t allowed to think of or question or even see, since we don’t own our own bodies and minds.
Armed units of women could have surrounded & patrolled Sea-Tac where the Green River Killer got women. Women’s armed checkpoints could have kept track of i.d.s and peoples’ comings & goings. Girl-children could have been taken to women’s schools, where they could have been taught survival sense. Rapists could have been hunted down by teams of women and killed. But all that would be illegal, while being defenseless & isolated are 100% legal and desirable under men’s laws for women. We’ve all had fantasies of girl gangs, of women with guns patrolling streets and making free territory for women, of women running it. “In dreams begin responsibilities.”
It’s an important point to understand that all those revolutionary sisters who went before us weren’t “wrong”. Rebel women didn’t make a stupid move to go along with men’s revolutionary movements for the past 100 years. You get on the train where you can get on. It was reasonable to double the numbers of people fighting together to pull down colonialism and capitalism. Revolutionary men had some impressive thinkers, too. Only it didn’t work out. Now we know how men’s left parties and guerrilla movements end up. It wasn’t stupid to try it, but it’s stupid now not to learn the lessons. Women have to learn to step forward and take the shot.
But how do we get from here to there?
Women need our 40 years in the Wilderness. To change ourselves and leave behind our old selves. Malcolm X always used this parable in his teachings: of how the biblical Jews fleeing captivity in Egypt had to become a new people in the years in the Wilderness. Their god had commanded that no one who had been born into captivity, who still thought as a slave thinks, could enter the Promised Land. Not even their leader, Moses, himself. And perhaps for us as well. But to go into the Wilderness you must start by leaving Egypt.
Any woman’s plan has to begin by withdrawing our energy from men & their culture. Taking back our own identity. It’s a myth that you can do everything. There’s only so many hours, so much reading and moving and changing, so much energy in any woman’s life. To find what works for us, we have to leave the men’s culture that never works for us. To let the new building blocks begin to appear.
It’s not a simple thing, since it’s both a world war and a local war. This new period of capitalism is like the Crusades again, like the colonial wars all over again. Shows the real colonized status of women and children, almost slave-like on a world scale. More women and children are drawn into this war all the time.
To leave our old selves behind and enter the Wilderness for 40 years is not a passive time. To withdraw our energy from men is not to do nothing. It’s a time of initiatives, of trying new forms of fighting our own way. Some will work and some not, but only in the trying will we learn. We will shape & build a point of view that works in the world for us. Like, men see war in the Middle East as about oil, about Western imperialism vs. Muslim nationalism, but we see it as about who shall own women. Of the patriarchy in all its forms and guises vs. Women as a people. Our war starts today. The old ways and whatever scraps of old safety existed are giving way, no matter what anyone thinks. The new World War is against Women as a people, and we will be fighting it out to its finish for generations to come. Here we will win or lose as Women, for the last time.
( the end for now )
More by Butch Lee