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.

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.

The Girls and the Grasses: A Celebration and Fundraiser for the Ecofeminist Movement

The Girls and the Grasses: A Celebration and Fundraiser for the Ecofeminist Movement

Global warming. Biodiversity collapse. Rampant inequality, war, and sexual abuse. The problems we face today are overwhelming and getting worse.

Eco-feminism has answers.

From the philosophy of domination to the practicalities of overpopulation, there are links between the oppression of women and the destruction of the planet. Those links can be used to harm, as we see today. But they can also be used to heal. Women from Rachel Carson to Vandana Shiva have recognized this.

This November 20th, join us as we explore eco-feminism during a special 3-hour live streaming event, The Girls and the Grasses, starting at 1pm Pacific Time. We will discuss ecofeminism, why it is important, and how it will save the planet. We’ll also discuss the role women play in the environmental movement and hear from women on the front lines of resistance to ecocide.

Mark your calendars!

The event features Heide Goettner-Abendroth. Heide is a philosopher and researcher on culture and society, and the recipient of the first Saga Special Recognition Award. She has dedicated her life in studying matriarchal societies across the world. Her research has demonstrated that matriarchal societies are egalitarian in their social structures and that they have lived in harmony with nature.

The mainstream environmental movement is funded mainly by foundations which often do not support foundational or revolutionary change. Radical organizations like Deep Green Resistance therefore rely on individual donors to support our activism around the world, which is why The Girls and the Grasses is also a fundraiser. We’re trying to raise funds to support global community organizing, fund our mutual aid and direct action campaigns, and sustain our core outreach and organizational work.

Feminism is an environmental issue, and environmental destruction is a feminist issue. So whether or not you are in a financial position to donate, we hope you will join us on November 20th for this event!


Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1553668051641512

Donation page:  https://givebutter.com/girlsandgrasses

Political Prisoner Support for Ruby Montoya and Jessica Renzicek

Political Prisoner Support for Ruby Montoya and Jessica Renzicek

By Max Wilbert

On July 24th, 2017, Ruby Montoya and Jessica Renzicek made a public statement admitting that they had carried out multiple acts of sabotage against the then-under-construction Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in Spring 2017 during the #NoDAPL #StandingRock movement. The two activists set fire to heavy machinery and used blow torches to damage the oil pipeline and valves in an effort to decisively halt the project.

While the Dakota Access Pipeline was ultimately completed, their actions singlehandedly delayed construction for months. Jessica and Ruby are calling on others to consider similar tactics in their struggles against pipelines and other destructive projects.

On June 30, Jessica was sentenced to eight years in prison. Now, Ruby is scheduled to appear in Federal Court to argue that Energy Transfer Partners lied and demonized her and Jessica to try and get them locked up as “eco-terrorists.” Her defense, if successful, could set important legal precedents for eco-activists around the country.

To do this, she needs financial help. Please donate here to support Ruby’s legal defense. Funding will go directly to her attorney, Daphne Silverman.

DONATE:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/nodapl-water-protector-ETP

RUBY MONTOYA SUPPORT WEBSITE:
https://justice4ruby.com/

JESSICA REZNICEK SUPPORT WEBSITE (Jessica is now a political prisoner and we encourage supporters to write letters to her):
https://supportjessicareznicek.com/