Wild Nature, Wild Woman

Wild Nature, Wild Woman

This talk was given in the Feminist Thinking Will Save the Planet session at #FiLiA2021. The article originally appeared on the FiLiA website.


By Susan Breen

Any of you who know me will be aware that I’m a recovering mainstream environmentalist and left wing political candidate, for any of you who are active in either sphere I’m sure you have shared many of the same frustrations and demoralisations as I have done. I became an activist in my teens but despite being involved in the movement since then I had been pretty much politically homeless for my entire life.

 Then fortunately one day I happened upon this:

“Men as a class are waging a war against women, rape, battering, incest, prostitution, pornography, poverty, and gynocide are both the main weapons in this war and the conditions that create the sex class women. Gender is not natural, not a choice, and not a feeling. It is the structure of women’s oppression. Attempts to create more “choices” within the sex caste system only serve to reinforce the brutal realities of male power. As radicals, we intend to dismantle gender and the entire system of patriarchy which it embodies. The freedom of women as a class cannot be separated from the resistance to the dominant culture as a whole”

This is an excerpt from the Deep Green Resistance statement of principles, and reading this affirmed to me that it was the lack of this understanding that limited my alignment with the mainstream environmental and political groups in which I was immersed.

This recognition of the interrelation of the struggles of women and the living world is one of the aspects of our analysis that people often seem to find the hardest to understand, so I’m going to speak a little about that, share some thoughts regarding obstacles facing female activists, and the importance of sisterhood in the work that we do.

Firstly, as radicals, we seek out the root of the problems facing us. These “problems” consist of material institutions of oppression and ideologies which sustain the narrative of the powerful.

The corrupt and brutal power arrangement of patriarchy needs an ideology and we call it gender. The parallels between the ideology of racism, necessary for white supremacy, may seem obvious, yet there appears to be endless resistance to applying a class analysis to the struggle of women. Even in the most “progressive” circles, there is a silent understanding that when push comes to shove women can always be used as collateral damage. Women are viewed in the same way as the living world, simply a natural resource to be used by the ruling male class as he sees fit.

On the left we see this in the cheerleading for the full decriminalisation of the sex trade, the cheerleading of gender recognition legislation stripping our sex based protections, the minimization of the continuum of male violence which every woman and girl is forced to navigate, and the perpetual dismissal of the value of our domestic labour which enables the family and society to function at all.

Ecofeminism challenges this commodification of women’s bodies, labour and knowledge, while also challenging the patriarchal reconceptualisation of nature as a machine, as a resource, and as an “other”.

So why do we need to challenge this? Let’s talk for a moment about where the capitalist patriarchy has brought us.

Current atmospheric C02 – 411.40ppm – for anyone who isn’t aware of the figures, anything above 350ppm is considered unsafe.

According to the 6th climate assessment by the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change we have already warmed the planet by 1.2(Global temps Jan – Oct 2020) degrees above pre industrial levels. In 2019 the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere was higher than at any period in the last two million years, concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide – both more potent than C02, were higher than at any period in the last 800,000 years.

On our current trajectory we are expected to achieve a 1.5 degree temperature rise within 20 years from now.  The IPCC authors worst case scenario emissions double by 2050 we would achieve a 2.4 degree rise by between 2041 and 2060. Then almost double by 2100

For anyone who’s unsure what that means, its game over.

For every half degree of warming the frequency and intensity of natural disasters increases. More wildfires, more flooding, more drought, more food scarcity, and increasingly violent resource wars

More than 90% of the heat trapped by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the seas. Anthropogenic global warming has heated the oceans by the equivalent of one atomic bomb explosion per second for the past 150 years.

This means more acidification of our oceans, further devastation of marine life, and severe disruption of currents critical to seasonal weather patterns.

The emergence of new strains of zoonotic disease, and the expansion of vector borne diseases due to habitat destruction and warming climate.

Intensified neo-colonialism of global north companies which continue pillaging communities in the global south.

Last October we formed a coalition called Shale Must Fall which targets the fracking industry, connecting communities at extraction points and communities at the point of consumption. We attempt to bridge these communities and incorporate the testimonies of front line activists into global actions, targeting the headquarters/operations of these climate criminals.

Our members in Chihuahua gave us a stark insight into the reality of water shortage. Last September National Guard troops clashed with hundreds of farmers protesting the government decision to ship scarce water supplies from their drought stricken region to Texas. Due to the 1944 Water Treaty, the water was “owed” to the US.

One woman was shot dead during the standoff and others injured. It is strongly suspected that the Mexican water was bound for the fracking industry in Texas, while the people of Chihuahua were denied water to drink, wash and farm.

Similar horrors are playing out in the Okavango Delta, where a Canadian company – ReconAfrica plan to frack one of the great delta’s of the world and the wealth of life that she sustains. Our activists in the region are fighting this company, some are mothers, carrying young children on their hips while facing threats of violence and death.

As resources dwindle, this is the future we face. The merciless destruction of non human and human communities as industry, protected by government, continues to devour what’s left in a desperate attempt to maintain their malignant infinite growth model on our finite and fragile home. 

And what does all this mean for women?

Climate collapse compounds and magnifies existing inequalities, dangers and the risk and occurrence of male violence, so let’s talk a little about what women are facing currently:

UN figures indicate that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. Roles as primary care givers and food providers making us more vulnerable.

As we all know women are more likely to experience poverty and to have less socioeconomic power than men making it more difficult to recover from disasters which affect infrastructure, jobs and housing.

An example of this is after Hurricane Katrina more than half the poor families in New Orleans were single mothers dependent on community networks for resources and survival. The disaster eroded those support networks placing women and children at far greater risk.

An Oxfam report into the 2004 tsunami found that surviving men outnumbered women by almost 3:1 in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. It appears that women lost precious evacuation time trying to save children and other relatives.

Another study spanning 20 years noted that catastrophic events lowered women’s life expectancy more than men; more women were being killed, or being killed younger. The difference reduced in countries where they had greater socioeconomic power.

As for male violence

  • According to UNIFEM in South Africa a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner.
  • A woman is reported beaten every 18 seconds in the US.
  • A 2007 study found that 22 women in India were killed each day due to dowry related murders.
  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered on average every day.
  • In India a woman is reported raped every 20 minutes.
  • More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides
  • In Sao Paulo, Brazil a woman is assaulted every 5 seconds.
  • UNITE estimates that up to 70% of women experience violence in their lifetime.
  • World Bank data indicates that amongst women ages 15 – 44 acts of male violence cause more death and disability than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined.

The pathology of masculinity is ravaging women and life on this planet, and its structures will not have a spontaneous change of heart. The capitalist patriarchy will continue to destroy until it is stopped by force, and we as women are the only ones who can lead this.

Patriarchy

Rosemary Radford Ruether said; “Women must see that there can be no liberation for them and no solution to the ecological crisis within a society whose fundamental model of relationships continues to be one of domination.”

In this age of science and development we are funneled into a productivist mode of interaction, rather than a relational mode of interaction, with nature, women and children suffering most within this sterile framework. Capitalism, individualism and masculinity have created a perfect storm, destroying the balance of organic communication and connection.

Central to masculinity is the male violation imperative.

Lierre Kieth writes;

“Masculinity requires what psychologists call a negative reference group, which is the group of people “that an individual … uses as a standard representing, opinions, attitudes or behavioral patterns to avoid”. Boys in patriarchal cultures create negative reference groups as a matter of course. Boys first despised other is, of course, girls. No insult is worse than some version of “girl”, usually a part of the female anatomy warped into hate speech. But once the psychological process is in place, the category ”female” can easily be filled with any group that a hierarchical society needs dominated or eradicated.

A personality with an endless drive to prove itself against another, any other, combined with the entitlement that power brings, creates a violation imperative. Men become ‘real men’ by breaking boundaries, whether it’s the sexual boundaries of women, the cultural boundaries of other peoples, the political boundaries of other nations, the genetic boundaries of species, the biological boundaries of living communities, or the physical boundaries of the atom itself

The real brilliance of patriarchy is that it doesn’t just naturalize oppression. It sexualizes acts of oppression. It eroticizes domination and subordination, and then it takes that eroticized domination and subordination, and institutionalizes that into masculinity and femininity. So it naturalizes, it eroticizes, and then it institutionalizes.

The brilliance of feminism is that we figured that out.”

We are living within overlapping systems of oppression. He would like us to think that it’s inevitable, that it’s human nature, but its not.

According to indigenous wisdom the world is made up of live, sentient beings to be in relationship with, individual obligations to fulfill to allow the entire web of life to function.

To the mind of the dominant culture the world is made up dead resources, objects to sell and orifices to fuck. Neoliberalism and identity politics have ensured a myopic culture of individualism. The aim is to disconnect us from the land, from each other, and even from our own bodies, which this culture teaches us to despise and contort from early childhood.

This lie of disconnection is embedded into our religions, laws and economics. These systems have all been designed to maintain an unnatural social order for his benefit, and here he has brought us to the  brink of extinction, bloodied, brutalised but still resisting, because as women we know it doesn’t have to be this way, in our bones we can remember another world, and every one of us still carries it with us.

The Matriarchy

Renowned matriarchal historian Heide Göttner-Abendroth writes;

“Therefore, from the political point of view, I call matriarchies egalitarian societies of consensus. These political patterns do not allow the accumulation of political power. In exactly this sense, they are free of domination: They have no class of rulers and no class of suppressed people, and they need no ’enforcement bodies’ such as warriors, police, or controlling and punishing institutions that are necessary to establish domination of a majority of people”

We know this was a reality for thousands of years, and if there is to be any hope for women or for the Earth it must become reality again.

Taking power back – Organising as women

To organise effectively as women we need, above all else, true sisterhood and solidarity. How do we take the learnings from matriarchal organising and apply them to our own organisations and campaigns?

As in any other area of life, there can be enormous pressure to replicate the dominant culture within our group dynamics. Like mothers we need ferocious gentleness, protectiveness and loyalty. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain focus, but it’s vital that we refuse to loose sight of our common cause and that we employ a great deal of forgiveness and understanding for the women we work alongside.

Moving through politics and activism as a working class single parent I’ve witnessed a stark lack of recognition of class privilege. The reality of working class women and mothers is unique, as is their perspective.  To be inclusive of those voices, and other women facing constraints, the hierarchies of time, money and education need to be taken into account and adapted for. if we want to be in solidarity with women who are often the most vulnerable in our communities we need to organise with them in mind. We need to practice what we preach so all women are empowered to become part of the movement.

Obstacles

Controlled opposition– as activists we need to constantly assess the efficacy of our actions, the possible repercussions and the impact on our targets. We need to be aware of how the media and the state will use our movements to suit their own ends. We need to be well educated and aware of how government forces infiltrate, co-opt, and neutralize activist networks.

False solutions – The false belief that technology can save us, that more extractivism, more industry, more destruction of habitat will somehow make our way of life sustainable. The environmental movements role should be to protect the living world, not to protect our way of life or to reinforce the culture of empire.

The false belief that we can somehow negotiate with those in power – Electoral politics and NGO’s have proven themselves untrustworthy time and time again, resistance must come from the grassroots. There is a dangerous belief that within the dominant culture there is a willingness to change but power never ceded power voluntarily. We are at war, at war for the survival of the living world and at war for our right to exist as women.

Disconnection – From ’Demon Lover – On the Sexuality of Terrorism’ by Robin Morgans:

If I had to name one quality as the genius of patriarchy it would be compartmentalisation, the capacity for institutionalising disconnection. Intellect severed from emotion. Thought separated from action … the personal isolated from the political, Sex divorced from love. The material ruptured from the spiritual

If I had to name one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action. It would be connectivity.

This connection allows us to be fully aware of our sisters.

Awareness of our socialisation, unpacking our need to always be kind and accommodate. Being fully aware of each other enables us to genuinely support other women when they are setting boundaries for themselves and for others.

Awareness of our persistence – in the face of poverty, oppression, responsibility, isolation … persistence in the face of drudgery… behind every event, every action, every protest, there are a million emails, phone calls, conversations … women in the background swimming in a sea of administrative boredom and stress. Recognition and gratitude couldn’t be more important.

Despair – Despair can be debilitating –  images that feel like a punch to your stomach – clear cuts, oceans of plastic, emaciated polar bears, orangutans clinging to burned and broken branches, their babies clinging to their dead mothers, scorched kangaroos hanging on barbed wire fences.

I think of the stealth of the silence all around me. Less birds, less bees, less insects.

I think of all the girls living under patriarchy, we all have some that haunt us, replay in our minds over and over.

I think of Ana Kriegel, a lonely 14 year old girl. Lured from her home by the schoolboy she had a crush on. He took her and his friend to an abandoned building where he sexually assaulted her then beat her to death as the other looked on, ignoring her screams for help. They were 13 years old, reenacting his favourite porn scene.

I think of the little 5 year old girl in India who’s name I don’t even know, she was taken from her sleeping mothers arms in a train station and murdered by two men.

Despair can be overwhelming, and that’s exactly what he wants – for us to be overwhelmed and contracted in fear, and sometimes it’s almost impossible to resist.  But we do have an antidote to the despair, all we need is to look to the courageous examples of other women. Women who against all the odds are fighting back, resisting, creating beauty – I think of the women of Rojava, the women marching against the Taliban in the streets of Kabul, The Gulabi gang.

All the women who I know struggling on the frontlines of Earth defense.

I think of weeds creeping through concrete.

60% of our bodies are on loan from the seas and rivers, our menstrual cycles are intimately connected to the moons and the tides. We are so intertwined with each other that our bleeding can synchronize in time with our sisters. All of life moves through us, and all of life is fighting back and willing us to resist.

Rachel Carson wrote; “Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and Spring after Winter.”

And dawn will come, and Spring after, because we really can do this, but only if we are unified in our struggles. We have all experienced the feeling of genuine female solidarity, working together for a common purpose. The power and potential is undeniable. We know this in our bones and so do the patriarchs, that’s why they have spent the last 6,000 years trying to stamp it out.

To be female under patriarchy is to be brutalised, to be nature under capitalism is to be devoured, he demands our submission while making a hellscape of our paradise and commodities of our sisters.

There are only two forces on this planet with the beauty and ferocity to stop him.

Wild nature and wild woman.

About Sue Breen

Raised by environmentalist parents, Sue took part in her first direct action aged seventeen. Since then activism has been a central passion in her life. Influenced by a her radical feminist mother, she was a lead campaigner for the ‘Together for Yes’ abortion rights campaign and is currently a member of The Irish Women’s Lobby. Sue spent a number of years working as an international coordinator for Extinction Rebellion and also ran as a left-wing political candidate. Finally finding her true political home, she is now an organiser with radical feminist environmental organisation Deep Green Resistance. She is also a founding member of the Shale Must Fall coalition which focuses on targeting the fracking industry, unifying impacted communities, and highlighting the neocolonialism carried out by Western corporations. Sue is a single mother to three girls, a complimentary therapist, and is beginning an apprenticeship in herbal medicine.

Banner image by Lindsey LaMont at Unsplash.

Making the connections: resource extraction, prostitution, poverty, climate change, and human rights

Making the connections: resource extraction, prostitution, poverty, climate change, and human rights

Editor’s note: This article has been published in The International Journal of Human Rights. Unfortunaltly we don’t have the rights to publish the whole article which is behind a paywall, but we are publishing the extract and some quotes.

Featured image: The surface mine storage place, mining minerals and brown coal in different colours. View from above. Photo by Curioso Photography on Unsplash

ABSTRACT
This article describes the connections between resource extraction, prostitution, poverty, and climate change. Although resource extraction and prostitution have been viewed as separate phenomena, this article suggests that they are related harms that result in multiple violations of women’s human rights. The businesses of resource extraction and prostitution adversely impact women’s lives, especially those who are poor, ethnically or racially marginalised, and young. The article clarifies associations between prostitution and climate change on the one hand, and poverty, choicelessness, and the appearance of consent on the other. We discuss human rights conventions that are relevant to mitigation of the harms caused by extreme poverty, homelessness, resource extraction, climate change, and prostitution. These include anti-slavery conventions and women’s sex-based rights conventions.

Farley writes: “In this article we offer some conceptual and empirical connections between prostitution, resource extraction, poverty, and climate change.1 These associations are clarified by Seiya Morita’s visual diagram, in Figure 1.2 In the short term, resource extraction leads to a sudden increase in the sex trade, as shown by the arrow on the left side of the diagram. In the long term, resource extraction causes climate change as indicated by the right arrow. Climate change then leads to crises in peoples’ ability to survive extreme events such as drought, floods, or agricultural collapse. These climate change catastrophes result in poverty which then mediates and channels women into the sex trade. The arrow on the bottom of Figure 1 illustrates this process.

The initial phase of resource extraction launches and expands prostitution
“At first, colonists and their descendants subordinate indigenous people who live on lands rich in natural resources. Historically, extraction industries have exploited young, poor men who are paid well to perform jobs that no one else wants because the jobs are unplea- sant and dangerous. This initial phase of resource extraction temporarily results in a boom economy with cash-rich but lonely working-class men. In order to pacify the workers and enrich the pimps, women and girls who are under pimp control are delivered to workers in these boom/sacrifice zones such as the Bakken oil fields in USA and Canada, gold mines in South Africa, coltan mining regions in Colombia, and logging regions in Brazil.3 This movement of trafficked women increases prostitution both in the boom town and in neigh- bouring communities. Following is an example of this process.

“The Bakken oil fields of Montana/North Dakota/Saskatchewan/Manitoba are located in lands where the Dakota Access Pipeline causes physical, psychological, and cultural damage to the community, and ecocidal harm to the land and the water.4 In 2008, large numbers of pipeline workers moved into the Bakken region’s barracks-style housing which were named man camps. Sexual assaults, domestic violence, and sex trafficking tripled in communities adjacent to the oilfield sacrifice zones,5 with especially high rates of sexual violence toward Native women.6 Adverse consequences of living near extractive projects include increased rates of sexually transmitted infections and still- births; general deterioration in health; ecological degradation and climate change; threats to food security; and political corruption – all of which severely impact women.7 When resource extraction is terminated, for example when coltan mining was halted in Congo because of environmental protests, the newly expanding sex trade remains in operation, an enduring legacy of colonisation. Belgium’s domination of Congo gradually shifted from state to corporate colonisation.8 The Belgian colonists’ commodification of the nation diminished the people’s social and political power, leaving them poorer, with fewer resources, and often desperate for a means of survival even before the later phase of climate change occurred. This sequence happens wherever resources are commodified. Initially, a boom economy based on resource extraction creates short-term job opportunities and wealth previously unknown. Prostitution is established both to pacify the workers and to generate money for pimps and traffickers. When the boom economy goes bust, men’s continued demand for paid sexual access, combined with women’s need for survival – drive the institution of prostitution, which remains even after the extraction industry has ended.”

Melissa Farley (2021): Making the connections: resource extraction, prostitution, poverty, climate change, and human rights, The International Journal of Human Rights, DOI: 10.1080/13642987.2021.1997999

The whole article is accessible here: https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2021.1997999

Melissa Farley
Melissa Farley is a research and clinical psychologist who has authored many articles and 2 books on the topic of prostitution, pimping/trafficking, and pornography. She is the executive director of Prostitution Research & Education, a nonprofit research institute that conducts original research on the sex trade and provides a library of information for survivors, advocates, policymakers, and the public. Access to the free library is at www.prostitutionresearch.com.

Chris Hedges: American Satyricon

Chris Hedges: American Satyricon

This story first appeared in ScheerPost.

By Chris Hedges

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell which began last week in Manhattan will not hold to account the powerful and wealthy men who are also complicit in the sexual assaults of girls as young as twelve Maxwell allegedly procured for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, hedge-fund billionaire Glenn Dubin, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Secretary of the Treasury and former president of Harvard Larry Summers, Stephen Pinker, Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, billionaire Victoria’s Secret CEO Les Wexner, the, J.P Morgan banker Jes Staley, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barack, real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman, former Maine senator George Mitchell, Harvey Weinstein and many others who were at least present and most likely participated in Epstein’s perpetual Bacchanalia, are not in court. The law firms and high-priced attorneys, federal and state prosecutors, private investigators, personal assistants, publicists, servants, drivers and numerous other procurers, sometimes women, who made Epstein’s crimes possible are not being investigated. Those in the media, the political arena and the entertainment industry who aggressively and often viciously shut down and discredited the few voices, including those of a handful of intrepid reporters, who sought to shine a light on the crimes committed by Epstein and his circle of accomplices are not on trial. The videos that Epstein apparently collected of his guests engaged in their sexual escapades with teenage and underage girls from the cameras he had installed in his opulent residences and on his private island have mysteriously disappeared, most probably into the black hole of the FBI, along with other crucial evidence. Epstein’s death in a New York jail cell, while officially ruled a suicide, is in the eyes of many credible investigators a murder. With Epstein dead, and Maxwell sacrificed, the ruling oligarchs will once again escape justice.

The Epstein case is important because, however much is being covered up, it is a window into the scourge of male violence that explodes in decayed cultures, fueled by widening income disparities, the collapse of the social contract and the grotesque entitlement that comes with celebrity, political power, and wealth. When a ruling elite perverts all institutions, including the courts, into instruments that serve the exclusive interests of the entitled, when it willfully neglects and abandons larger and larger segments of the population, girls and women always suffer disproportionally. The struggle for equal pay, equal distribution of wealth and resources, access to welfare, legal aid that offers adequate protection under the law, social services, job training, healthcare, and education services, have been so degraded they barely exist for the poor, especially poor girls and women.

Women, traditionally burdened with the care of children, the elderly and the sick, stripped of control over their own bodies in states that seek to deny reproductive rights, are cornered, unable to make a living and secure legal protection. This is always the goal of patriarchy. And in this degraded world girls and women are easy prey for pimps, pedophiles, and rapists such as Epstein and his accomplices. These men look at their victims not as children or young women in distress but as human trash, no more worthy of consideration than a slave, which in fact many of these girls and women become.

A licentious, money-drenched, morally bankrupt and intellectually vacuous ruling class, accountable to no one and free to plunder and prey on the weak like human vultures, rise to power in societies in terminal decline. This class of parasites was savagely parodied in the first-century satirical novel “Satyricon” by Gaius Petronius, written during the reign of Nero. Epstein and his cohorts for years engaged in sexual perversions of Petronian proportions, as Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown, whose dogged reporting was largely responsible for reopening the federal investigation in Epstein and Maxwell, documents in her book “Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story.”

As Brown writes, in 2016 an anonymous woman, using the pseudonym “Kate Johnson,” filed a civil complaint in federal court in California alleging she was raped by Trump and Epstein when she was thirteen over a four-month period from June to September 1994. “I loudly pleaded with Trump to stop,” she said in the lawsuit about being raped by Trump. “Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he could do whatever he wanted.” Brown writes:

Johnson said that Epstein invited her to a series of “underage sex parties” at his New York mansion where she met Trump. Enticed by promises of money and modeling opportunities, Johnson said she was forced to have sex with Trump several times, including once with another girl, twelve years old, whom she labeled “Marie Doe.”

Trump demanded oral sex, the lawsuit said, and afterward he “pushed both minors away while angrily berating them for the ‘poor’ quality of the sexual performance,” according to the lawsuit, filed April 26 in U.S. District Court in Central California.

Afterward, when Epstein learned that Trump had taken Johnson’s virginity, Epstein allegedly “attempted to strike her about the head with his closed fists,” angry he had not been the one to take her virginity. Johnson claimed that both men threatened to harm her, and her family if she ever revealed what had happened.

The lawsuit states that Trump did not take part in Epstein’s orgies but liked to watch, often while the thirteen-year-old “Kate Johnson” gave him a hand job. It appears Trump was able to quash the lawsuit by buying her silence. She has since disappeared.

These mediocrities, drunk with their own self-importance, equate celebrity, power and wealth with wisdom. Petronius’ Trimalchio, the archetypal self-made millionaire whose vulgarity and stupidity make him one of great comic buffoons of literature, was more than matched by Epstein who organized pretentious dinners for those in his secret billionaires club, which included Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Salar Kamangar and Jeff Bezos. Epstein and his guests, as in Petronius’s chapter “Dinner with Trimalchio,” dreamed up bizarre schemes of social engineering, including Epstein’s plan to seed the human species with his own DNA by creating a baby compound at his sprawling estate in New Mexico. “Epstein was also obsessed with cryonics, the transhumanist philosophy whose followers believe that people can be replicated or brought back to life after they are frozen,” Brown writes. “Epstein apparently told some of the members of his scientific circle that he wanted to inseminate women with his sperm for them to give birth to his babies, and that he wanted his head and his penis frozen.”

Epstein, who regularly entertained and funded the work of Harvard faculty, was made a visiting fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology, although he had no academic qualifications that made him eligible for the position. He was given a key card and pass code, as well as an office, in the building that housed Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. He referred to himself in his press releases as “Science Philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein,” “Education activist Jeffrey Epstein,” “Evolutionary Jeffrey Epstein,” “Science patron Jeffrey Epstein” and “Maverick hedge funder Jeffrey Epstein.”

The judicial system, for years, worked to protect Epstein. The legal anomalies, including the disappearance of massive amounts of evidence incriminating Epstein, saw Epstein avoid federal sex-trafficking charges in 2007 when his attorneys negotiated a secret deal with Alex Acosta in the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami to plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution.

The prominent men accused of also engaging in Epstein’s carnival of pedophilia, including the attorney and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, brazenly lie and threaten anyone daring to call them out. Dershowitz, for example, claims that an investigation, which he has refused to make public, by the former FBI director Louis Freeh proves he had never had sex with one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre. He has sent repeated threats to Brown and her editors at the Miami Herald. Brown continues:

[Dershowitz] kept referring to information that was contained in sealed documents. He accused the newspaper of not reporting “facts” that he said were in those sealed documents. The truth is, I tried to explain, newspapers just can’t write about things because Alan Dershowitz says they exist. We need to see them. We need to verify them. Then, because I said “show me the material,” he publicly accused me of committing a criminal act by asking him to produce documents that were under court seal.

This is the way Dershowitz operates.

What disturbs me the most about Dershowitz is the way that the media, with few exceptions, fails to critically challenge him. Journalists fact-checked Donald Trump and others in his administration almost every day, yet, for the most part, the media seems to give Dershowitz a pass on the Epstein story.

In 2015, when Giuffre’s allegations first became public, Dershowitz went on every television program imaginable swearing, among other things, that Epstein’s plane logs would exonerate him. “How do you know that?” he was asked.

He replied that he was never on Epstein’s plane during the time that Virginia was involved with Epstein.

But if the media had checked, they could have learned that he was indeed a passenger on the plane during that time period, according to the logs.

Then he testified, in a sworn deposition, that he never went on any plane trips without his wife. But he was listed on those passage manifests as traveling multiple times without his wife. During at least one trip, he was on the plane with a model named Tatiana.

The ability of the powerful to ignore the law raises important and different questions for girls and women about the role of government, police and the law. Defunding the police is not a solution. Demilitarizing the police is. Women need legal protection and need police that function as police, as a sanction with severe consequences against male violence. They need social support. They need robust institutions, including the courts, which prevent them from being blackmailed, bullied, and abused. To challenge sexual violence, to challenge objectification, to challenge the cultural hypersexualization of women, is to be subject to vicious character assassination, threatened, including the threat of rape, and at times killed. To stand up to protect water, to assist a truth-teller, if you are a woman, is to face potential economic destitution. To stand up and name your abuser, as many of the courageous women who have come forward in the Epstein case have done, is to have high-priced teams of attorneys and private investigators pursue every avenue to demonize, discredit and destroy you financially and psychologically. The resources available to the powerful, and the dearth of resources available to the powerless, skews this fight in favor of the predators. This is by design.

The struggle for liberation and justice by women is central to the struggle for liberation and justice for everyone. We will not resist the radical evil before us without women, if we are denied access to the ideas and leadership of women, and in particular women of color. So, while we must decry violence and exploitation against all of the oppressed, we must also recognize that male violence against women – including prostitution and its promoter, pornography – is an especially insidious form of violence. It is a tool of corporate domination and capitalism. It is engrained in the racism and exploitation of imperialism and colonialism. But it also exists outside the structures of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. More women have been killed by their domestic partners since 2001 than all the Americans killed on September 11, and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Predatory male power infects the left as well as the right, the anti-capitalists as well as the capitalists, the anti-imperialists as well as the imperialists and the anti-racists as well as the racists. It is its own evil. And if it is not defeated there will be no justice for women or for anyone else.

The predators know that desperation forces girls and women, with no alternatives left, to trade sex for the most basic staples of life, including food and shelter. In every conflict I covered as a war correspondent there was an explosion of prostituted girls and women. And as we are burdened with greater and greater numbers of environmental migrants — over a billion by 2050, by one prediction — fleeing droughts, rising sea levels, flooding, wildfires and declining crop yields these exchanges of sex for the most basic elements need to survive will become more common. The scourge of male violence is growing, not decreasing.

George Bernard Shaw got it right. Poverty is:

“[T]he worst of crimes. All the other crimes are virtues beside it; all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole cities, spreads horrible pestilences, strikes dead the very souls of all who come within sight, sound, or smell of it. What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a theft there, a blow now and a curse then. What do they matter? They are only the accidents and illnesses of life; there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in London. But there are millions of poor people, abject people, dirty people, ill-fed, ill-clothed people. They poison us morally and physically; they kill the happiness of society; they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss. Only fools fear crime; we all fear poverty.”

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said of society that “some are guilty, but all are responsible.” The crime of poverty is a communal crime. Our failure, as the richest nation on earth, to provide safe and healthy communities, ones where all children have enough to eat and a future, is a communal crime. Our failure to provide everyone, and especially the poor, with a good education and housing is a communal crime. Our failure to make health care a human right, forcing parents, burdened with astronomical medical bills, to bankrupt themselves to save their sick sons or daughters, is a communal crime. Our failure to provide meaningful work — in short, the possibility of hope — is a communal crime. Our decision to militarize police forces and build prisons, rather than invest in people, is a communal crime. Our failure to protect girls and women is a communal crime. The misguided belief in charity and philanthropy rather than justice is a communal crime. “You Christians have a vested interest in unjust structures which produce victims to whom you then can pour out your hearts in charity,” Karl Marx said, chastising a group of church leaders.

If we do not work to eliminate the causes of poverty, the greatest of all crimes, the institutional structures that keep the poor poor, then we are responsible. There are issues of personal morality, and they are important, but they mean nothing without a commitment to social morality. Only those who have been there truly understand. Only those with integrity and courage speak the truth. And at the forefront of this fight are women.

Sexual sadism is fed by the entitlement of the powerful and a pornography industry that eroticizes images of girls and women being physically abused. It is not accidental that many of the Abu Ghraib images resemble stills from porn films. There is a shot of a naked man kneeling in front of another man as if performing oral sex. There is a photo of a naked man on a leash held by a female American soldier. There are photos of naked men in chains. There are photos of naked men stacked one on top of the other in a pile on the floor. And there are hundreds more classified photos that purportedly show forced masturbation by Iraqi prisoners and the rape of prisoners, including young boys, by U.S. soldiers, many of whom were schooled in these torture techniques in our vast system of mass incarceration.

The list of suspected abusers around Epstein was not segregated by the left or the right. It included Republicans, like Trump, and Democrats such as Clinton. It included philanthropists such as Gates, the former prime minister of Israel, and Harvard academics. It included celebrities, such as David Copperfield, and the titans of finance and business. The common denominator was not politics or ideology, but that they were powerful and wealthy men.

The feminist Andrea Dworkin understood. She excoriated the left, who railed against the excesses of capitalism, while ignoring the capitalist exploitation of girls and women. She wrote:

Capitalism is not wicked or cruel when the commodity is the whore; profit is not wicked or cruel when the alienated worker is a female piece of meat; corporate bloodsucking is not wicked or cruel when the corporations in question, organized crime syndicates, sell cunt; racism is not wicked or cruel when the black cunt or yellow cunt or red cunt or Hispanic cunt or Jewish cunt has her legs splayed for any man’s pleasure; poverty is not wicked or cruel when it is the poverty of dispossessed women who have only themselves to sell; violence by the powerful against the powerless is not wicked or cruel when it is called sex; slavery is not wicked or cruel when it is sexual slavery; torture is not wicked or cruel when the tormented are women, whores, cunts. The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.

The Earth, and all forms of life on this planet, must be revered, and protected if we are to endure as a species. This means inculcating a different vision of human society. It means building a world where domination and ceaseless exploitation, in all its forms, are condemned, where empathy, especially for the weak and for the vulnerable is held up as the highest virtue. It means recovering the capacity for awe and reverence for the sacred sources that sustain life. It means that girls and women must be empowered to control their own fates. Once we stand up for this ethic of life, once we include all people, including girls and women, as an integral part of this ethic, we can build a successful resistance movement that can challenge the radical evil before us. But we can’t do it unless half of the human population, girls and women, are at our side. Their fight is our fight. Their justice is our justice. Once they are free, we can all be free.

Banner image: flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. His books include American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on AmericaDeath of the Liberal Class, and War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, a collaboration with comics artist and journalist Joe Sacco.

In Turkey women faced rubber bullets, tear gas from police as they marched to end gender-based violence

In Turkey women faced rubber bullets, tear gas from police as they marched to end gender-based violence

This story first appeared in Global Voices.

Protestors highlighted the increasing femicide and violence rates in Turkey

By Arzu Geybullayeva

Hundreds of women took the streets in Istanbul to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. However, protestors were met with police violence, including tear gas and rubber bullets, as they tried to break through barricades to march on a busy pedestrian street. Similar protests took place across other cities, including the capital Ankara.

Women continue to be the hope, with their hopes, excitement, determination and enthusiasm. They have turned night into day on Istiklal Avenue.

We are not staying silent, we are not afraid, we are not obeying.

The women groups were also joined by the LGBTQ+ activists.

The main demand on the streets was for Turkey to rejoin the Istanbul Convention — a legally-binding human rights treaty created by the Council of Europe pledging to prevent, prosecute, and eliminate domestic violence and promote gender equality. Turkey announced its decision to withdraw from the international treaty in March of this year. In July, women across the country protested the official withdrawal.

Away from the busy street of Istiklal, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also marking the day, promising to someday eliminate violence against women. “I hope we eliminate violence against women by strengthening our human and moral values. We are determined.”

But women’s rights groups say words aren’t enough, as Turkey continues to see increasing femicide rates. According to We Will Stop Femicide, a local platform documenting violence against women, a total of 225 women were killed between January and October 2021. A separate tracker documenting the names of women killed as a result of violence puts the number of victims at 353 in total for 2021. One of the most recent victims was 28-year-old Basak Cengiz, who was stabbed by a man who later confessed he did it out of boredom. The killer was charged with aggravated murder.

Cengiz’s murder renewed the calls for Turkey to rejoin the international convention; however, authorities — including Erdoğan — continue to insist the domestic legislation is enough. “To us, women are the holiest creature. We will never allow their holiness to be tainted,” the president said reportedly last week, adding, “Thus, there’s no need for the Istanbul Convention.”

The government’s “Action Plan for Combating Violence against Women” was announced in July 2021 and includes goals such as reviewing judicial processes, improving protection services, and gathering data on violence. So far, it has proven futile. “The current laws are not adequate. We hear about women being killed every day, because the existing structure, both legally and implementation wise, is not adequate,” Ayşe Faride Acar, a Turkish academic overseeing the implementation of the Istanbul Convention between 2015 – 2019 told AlJazeera in an interview.

And the numbers speak for themselves. Berrin Sonmez of the Women’s Platform for Equality recently told AFP that ever since the country withdrew from the convention in March, the sense of impunity has only risen. She said, “180 women were murdered between March and July 2021, and besides that, there have been 171 suspicious deaths. This is not a justifiable number.”

Erdoğan first expressed interest in leaving the convention in 2020. The final decision came after the president unveiled a human rights plan he says would “improve rights and freedoms in Turkey and help the country meet EU standards.”

The atmosphere on the streets on November 25 painted a different picture. “We are in the streets to call for the right of women to defend themselves, to call for justice for women who were killed, for their right to work, for the rights of lesbian women,” told one protest participant, a member of Women’s Defense Network, an organization connecting women activists across the country, in an interview with AlJazeera. Another protest participant said, “Every day in our homes, in the streets, in our workplaces, we are subjected to violence,” adding, “We’ve had enough.”

Reading Ti-Grace Atkinson’s Amazon Odyssey: Resistance Means Being Revolutionary and Radical, Not Reactionary

Reading Ti-Grace Atkinson’s Amazon Odyssey: Resistance Means Being Revolutionary and Radical, Not Reactionary

By Jocelyn Crawley

Women all over the world should be unequivocally enraged about the ongoing abuse, degradation, and harassment that members of the male-invented class “female” continue to experience in these ostensibly “progressive, postmodern” times. They apparently are not. I suspect this is because men in power have systematically obscured information that would enable women to understand the depth of hatred and contempt that men have for them. Ti-Grace Atkinson is aware of this patriarchal reality. In her book Amazon Odyssey, she explores the role that patriarchy plays in confining women to the realm of objectification and oppression which ensures the perpetuity of male supremacy. Atkinson is unflinching, unequivocal in her analysis and condemnation of male supremacy. All women who are interested in understanding and overcoming patriarchy should read it, carefully.

In Chapter One, Atkinson provides readers with a brief summation of why abortion should be legal by grounding her argument in context of property. Specifically, she argues that “The reproductive function has the status of property because of its definitive nature” (1). She goes on to argue that the relationship a woman has with an unborn fetus is analogous to the relationship a sculptor has with her art. Just as a sculptor’s art is her property, the fetus of the woman is her possession given her role in the creative/reproductive process. Atkinson argues that because a woman’s fetus can and should be construed as her property, the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States upholds her right to an abortion. Specifically, she writes that

“The Constitution of the United States, in the Fourteenth Amendment, clearly protects the life, liberty, and property of every person. Any legislation interfering in any way with any woman’s self-determination of her reproductive process is clearly unconstitutional…it would interfere with her property since her reproductive process constitutes, in the most integral and strictest sense, her property” (3).

Here, Atkinson provides readers with a new perspective through which to analyze abortion which expands discourse by moving conversations beyond the formerly centralized argument of “life” and into the perhaps more significant realm of belonging. Although I find the argument of property problematic as an individual who is anti-capitalist and envisions a world in which individuals cease to view selves, others, and all objects in the internal and external realm as things that they own (and thus have a hegemonic relationship with), this argument is compelling. It is logical to construe an entity growing within one’s own body as belonging to one’s self rather than being the property of an individual or institution in the external world which would seek to make decisions regarding the entity’s “right” to life.

As the text progresses, Atkinson proves that she maintains an unmistakably radical stance towards the multifarious horrors of patriarchy. In Chapter Three, she provides the readers with details regarding her resignation from the ‘feminist’ organization N.O.W. It is here that the reader attains a clear understanding of the ideological dissonance that transpires when a radical thinker attempts to assimilate revolutionary values into an ideologically mainstream organization. The ideological disparity within N.O.W. became evident when group “leader” Betty Friedan asserted that one of the feminist goals is “to get women into positions of power” (10). Atkinson elucidates the radical disposition towards power (repugnance and repudiation) upon noting that “We want to destroy the positions of power. To alter the condition of women involves the shifting of over half the population…To change that relationship requires a redefinition of humanity, of all the relationships within humanity. We want to get rid of the positions of power, not get up into those positions” (10). Not only did Ti-Grace and radical dissenters within the organization disagree regarding whether acquiring power in the external world should be a feminist objective, they also disagreed regarding the maintenance of a hierarchical structure within N.O.W. Specifically, Atkinson noted that “The younger dissenting faction of which I am a member has been trying for a long time to change the unequal power relationships within the organization, i.e., the power hierarchy represented by officers: Executive Committee, Board of Directors, membership” (10). The component of this text is particularly important because it provides readers with a representation of how simply asserting dissent from the dominant world order (patriarchy) is not enough to warrant a radical’s participation in an organization. Ideological alignment, not mere dissatisfaction towards the existing power structure, must be operative for a radical to be effective in authentically addressing the patriarchy. Simply replicating systems and structures of power in an attempt to quell power is ineffective because it reflects the fact that the ideology of the Master (with his corresponding slave) is operative. In discussing this matter, Atkinson stated that she resigned from her office upon realizing that “by holding this office I am participating in oppression itself” (10). Although the form of oppression she mentions here (which includes holding a position over others and thereby subjecting them to a system of subordination) is not as egregious in form or effect as the sexism women experience in real world contexts, it is nonetheless a replication of the hierarchical structuring of relationships designed by patriarchy.

Atkinson’s discourse regarding the patriarchy is not confined to the inefficacy of anti-patriarchal institutions. She also discussed the political nature of love and effectively integrates this concept into her delineation of how the patriarchy destroys the psyches of women. This analysis takes place in Chapter Six, which she titles “Radical Feminism And Love.” This chapter is important because it reemphasizes the author’s awareness of what it means to be ideologically radical. Maintaining a radical stance and searching for strategies and systems that enables one to more critique and summarily reject the dominant world order. I have repeatedly found that the most effective way to become increasingly radical is to read more radical writings. I became a radical through reading;  realizing that the reason I was moderate and mainstream in my thought and praxis was because I was not repeatedly exposed to non-quotidian ways of thinking which provided a sustained and sincere critique of the innately oppressive regimes of heterosexuality and patriarchy.

Atkinson’s chapter on radical feminism and love enables the reader to reconceptualize the prototypical narratives of romance and sexuality which continually contextualize male-female interactions in context of a battle of the sexes, trouble in paradise, marital bliss, etc. This discourse obscures the reality of male violence and the unrelenting, ongoing war against women that men are winning. Atkinson draws awareness to this by explaining what a radical feminist analysis is. She argues (accurately) that it includes three suppositions: “that women are a class, that this class is political in nature, and that this political class is oppressed” (41). This analysis is radical because it analyzes the foundation upon which male-female relationships are predicated and rejects the prototypical (read: the patriarchal lie) suggestion that this relationship is good, natural, and/or inevitable. Instead of accepting this Big Lie, a radical feminist analysis of male-female relationships asserts that they are definitively oppressive as they unfold within a class context in which men are the upper class and women are the lower class. It is this assertion that makes the analysis of male-female relationships radical. It is radical because it does not accept the prototypical premises regarding the foundation of these relationships. Rather than asserting that the foundation is familial, erotic, amorous, or any other mainstream falsehood purported to mask reality and thereby keep women confused regarding how the sex/gender system works, the radical analysis gets to the root of the problem (men) by asserting that the foundation of relationships between men and women is one of oppression, not collaboration, cooperation, or community. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important concepts for a woman to grasp and accept as true if she seriously wants to abrade or eradicate the role that patriarchy plays in her life.

As Atkinson’s book continues to unfold, her radical political stance becomes increasingly evident. This fact becomes plain upon consideration of Chapter Fourteen, “The Political Woman.” Here, Atkinson distinguishes from mainstream, normative responses to the reality of male supremacy and a radical political stance. Daily logic involves women pretending to not grasp the depth or scope of male supremacy and the adverse impact it has on their lives by, as Atkinson notes, demonstrating “a certain reluctance to seeing men as the enemy” (89). Another normative, nonradical response is asserting that because she has found a ‘good’ male partner, the reality of men posing an intense ongoing threat to female vitality is somehow less significant and substantive. Atkinson articulates this antifeminist response thus: “Other women, no doubt, admit the logic of men as our class enemy. But, by some happy accident, their present boyfriend is one of the rare exceptions to this rule” (89).  Atkinson goes on to assert the difference between the aforementioned ideology/praxis and a radical response. Specifically, she states that “The proof of class consciousness will be when we separate off from men, from these one-to-one units. (For example, marriage and motherhood) (90). I agree with Atkinson’s assertion and want to reemphasize that this is a radical position because it attacks the foundation of the problem, which is men and the institutions they have designed to legitimate and authorize their abuse of women (marriage and motherhood).

One of the most compelling chapters of this text is entitled “Self-Deception.” Here, Atkinson reiterates one of the most important conclusions a real radical can draw during the process of thoroughly intentionally extricating the self from patriarchy and all mainstream organizations that profess revolutionary praxis but then reinforce the status quo with normative ruminations and praxis. Specifically, Atkinson discusses her deep disgust with N.O.W. and her eventual revelation that the organization was not trying to do what they said they were trying to do, which was:

  • Divest yourselves of all class privilege, and
  • Struggle against oppression itself (213-214).

The aforementioned praxis is radical. N.O.W.’s attempt to pretend to engage in these activities without actually doing so proved that they were not radical. This was an important point but even more compelling was Atkinson’s distinction between how the women engaged in so-called political discussions during their special sessions. She writes:

“Your major activity is talking to each other in special sessions, which you carefully label “political.” This careful labeling distinguishes “talking” about your lives from the way you spend the majority of your time, which is in “living” them. There is no significantly observable truth connection between the two activities, at least not apparently to the individuals living this double-life. But you consciously and maliciously attempt to deceive others that there is a difference, that you are political. And you then use this deceit as a weapon against all outsiders” (214).

This passage was compelling because it unveiled what transpires within many organizations and media groups who claim to be radical. They sit around talking, call the talking political by selecting topics (read: talking points), and then conclude that the “thoughtful discourse” distinguishes them from other individuals who were not involved in the so-called political conversation. This process is both elitist and deceptive, and radicals need to know that before participating in any group discussions under the premise of attacking the foundation of oppression and challenging patriarchy. I would argue that an example of real radical discourse would be the feminist consciousness-raising sessions that transpired during the 2nd wave when women began discussing the reality of rape and batter, after which they recognized that male violence was a political, rather than personal-problem.

Ultimately, Atkinson’s Amazon Odyssey is a truly radical, unpretentious, text that provides readers with a critical, thorough analysis of patriarchy, why previous forms of feminism could neither contend with nor thwart it, and why radical feminism is the appropriate lens through which to conceptualize and grapple with male supremacy.

Oftentimes, radicals analyze the culture of hegemony and domination that currently constructs normative reality and wonder what the appropriate response to the lackluster nature of this heteropatriarchy is. As Atkinson outlines the solution is maintaining a revolutionary ideology and praxis rather than adopting moderate attitudes or seeking to share power with and/or replicate the mental and behavioral patterns of the Master. Although this truth has been articulated and reiterated by many radicals, it needs to be stated continually so that the truly radical praxis that is necessary to thwart the misplaced authority and agency of oppressive individuals and institutions can be effectively challenged.

Works Cited

Atkinson, Ti-Grace. Amazon Odyssey. New York: Links Books, 1974.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deep Green Resistance, the News Service or its staff.

Arrested Land Defenders Appear In Court Today; Gidimt’en Condemns Unreasonable And Punitive Conditions Of Release

Arrested Land Defenders Appear In Court Today; Gidimt’en Condemns Unreasonable And Punitive Conditions Of Release

This story first appeared in yintahaccess.com

Media contact: Jennifer Wickham, 778-210-0067, yintahaccess@gmail.com
Gidimt’en Checkpoint Media Coordinator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
NOVEMBER 22, 2021 

WET’SUWET’EN TERRITORY, SMITHERS, BC: Twenty people who were arrested in a two-day violent raid on Wet’suwet’en territory are appearing at BC Supreme Court in Prince George today at 11 am. Those arrested include Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ and Dinï ze’ Woos’s daughter Jocelyn Alec, as well as two journalists.

Those arrested are all facing charges of civil contempt for breaching the terms of a BC Supreme Court injunction granted to Coastal GasLink (CGL). CGL is seeking a number of conditions of release, including denying many arrestees access to a vast area of Wet’suwet’en territories. The proposed ‘exclusion zone’ is the whole Morice West Forest Service Road or any other areas accessed by the Morice Forest Service Road. Wet’suwet’en people (as determined by CGL) may be exempt from the exclusion zone for “cultural activities” (as defined by the RCMP), while being subjected to ‘culture-free zones’ around CGL work sites.

CGL is also asking Sleydo’ to provide documentation to “prove” she is Wet’suwet’en, and is seeking conditions that would bar her from returning to her home on Wet’suwet’en Yintah where her, her husband Cody Merriman (Haida nation, who was also arrested), and her three children live. CGL is also challenging Chief Woos’s daughter Jocelyn Alec’s status as a Wet’suwet’en person because she has Indian Act status with her mother’s First Nation. The Indian Act is patriarchal and does not determine identity or belonging to a community.

According to Jen Wickham, media coordinator of Gidimt’en Checkpoint: “Coastal GasLink’s proposed conditions of release are punitive, unreasonable and, in targeting Sleydo’ and Jocelyn, completely racist and sexist. Allowing a private corporation to determine two Indigenous womens’ identities and allowing this corporation to deny our inherent rights to be Wet’suwet’en on our territory is a very dangerous precedent. This is the colonial gendered violence that is the root of the crisis of MMIWG2S. Even though Coastal GasLink is trying to intimidate us through the colonial court system, we are Wet’suwet’en Strong. Under the governance of our Hereditary Chiefs, there will be no pipeline on our Yintah.”

In granting an injunction to Coastal GasLink, Justice Church recognized that the Wet’suwet’en are “posing significant constitutional questions” but said that “this is not the venue for that analysis.” However, the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw-Gisdaywa ruling clearly affirmed that Aboriginal title – the right to exclusively use and occupy land – has never been extinguished across 55,000 square kilometers of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories.

States Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs: “Industry’s reliance on the racist and oppressive legal weapon of injunctions is a way to maintain the continued dispossession and criminalization of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples should not have to comply with industry and government decisions that deny our Indigenous rights. By dragging us through court and using injunctions against us, our Indigenous rights are being violated and are given less consideration than climate-destroying corporations. We are calling for the release of all Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and for BC and Canada to uphold Indigenous Title and Rights and institute a moratorium on fossil fuel expansion in the wake of clear and present climate catastrophe – including LNG which is not clean energy and is a non-renewable fossil fuel.”

For more information and developing story, please visit yintahaccess.com