Introduction (The Military Strategy of Women and Children)

The Military Strategy of Women and Children, by Butch Lee


The words that follow should be understood not as newly found ideas but as geological strata underneath our feet. Almost twenty years ago i began an exploration to answer one question—how can women make revolutionary change? These first few essays/chapters represent ideas that radical women as a whole were trying to use as starting tools against patriarchy. We were focused on what might happen if the world majority of women didn’t learn to take over the leadership of the national liberation movements that were then reshaping the world. We were looking especially at what had developed out of the popular “socialist” revolutions like China and Vietnam which carried the hopes of many millions of oppressed women. So these early essays represent both that period and a time of transition. During those years this first part was published in somewhat different form in the Amazon journal, Bottomfish Blues. Before we fully understood that both the states created by the anti-colonial revolutions of the 20th century and our own Women’s Liberation movement itself had been taken over by a careerist, pro-capitalist species. We were not so separate as we believed, but part of a complex, larger tide that we had only started to understand. Appearing in an underground radical feminist journal that was published only sporadically and distributed somewhat randomly, these early chapters had to be shaped to stand alone. We knew that perhaps some sister would read one episode but never see another. So there is some duplication and repetitiveness of ideas, which i can only ask you to be patient about. Now women are at a nodal point of change, for those hopeful mass revolutions of the 20th century are gone. Women everywhere are left unable to answer the violent repression and miniaturization that is women’s life. It is a new period in world politics, and i’m not so disoriented as to believe that the answers to a new time can come from reading old documents. But since there is no women’s history, no women’s world politics yet, i offer this past radical feminist work as stones in the future foundation of our liberation. i’ll admit that i was tempted to rewrite everything, but we don’t have years to update essays. It’s a new world crisis for women & children. From forced mass exiles and famines, millions dying in the AIDS plague and the acceleration in the slave trade in women all over the world… to the new men’s sport of slaughtering women. To live we need to move into the future. Life, we know, is not just that somehow in some shape we physically survive. Life is being able to do what you choose. To have the power that is ours. Now i am still working to answer how can women make revolutionary change? No longer as equality with men or taking a role in men’s revolutions, but overthrowing the world of men. Right now “post-feminist” women in the capitalist metropolis think life is just getting better & better. Hillary, women’s pro sports, flying jets over the Third World bombing away, and business opportunities, too. Who woulda imagined? It couldn’t be whiter for us. I think we are like those newly-enfranchised German women in the liberal Weimar Republic days during 1919-1933. Sleep walking on the edge of the precipice. For patriarchal capitalism is always dangerous for us. Deadly dangerous. The approaching tidal wave should alert us. In country after country, right wing men are re-enslaving women as a subhuman class. You know this already, don’t you? This is the largest mass political movement in the world by far. Let that sink into your mind, sis—the largest political movement in the world of men. A counter-trend also rose into life in this same historic moment of intertwined danger & opportunity. And the counter-trend is not liberalism but the arming of women in politics. But this counter-trend has been co-opted into the recruiting of women as soldiers in patriarchal armies. Whether in Nicaragua, the Militia Movement, or the u.s. Air Force. Indeed, as the u.s. military strains to cover the globe it would literally collapse without women soldiers. While still women have no army of our own, no foreign policy that is ours, no rescue force, no territory, no home base. No home. In these first three chapters we are restarting from ground zero. For our most basic understanding of how women should even think of civilization must be questioned. Many things have happened since these chapters were written, but the main trend of global events has only added momentum to the direction my exploration took. The same is true for those outriders of Women’s intellectual advance. Among others, Octavia Butler, Christina Thurmer-Rohr, Suzy McKee Charnas, and Maria Mies*, have lit up the terrain in flashes ahead of us. Now, in this exploration, we are moving onto the ground of meta-politics. Wild, vast and more primal than the little, fenced-in suburban plots of what amerikkka calls “politics”. From the rape bordellos of the Balkans to the mass murder by AIDS in Afrika, women are being pushed to understand men’s society and, most importantly, ourselves, in a different way. The longest Amazon journey begins today.

Butch Lee is a revolutionary Amazon theorist, the author of Night-Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, and Jailbreak out of History: the re-biography of Harriet Tubman. This text is from her book The Military Strategy of Women and Children, co-published  by Kersplebedeb Publishing and Beguine Press in May, 2003.

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