This is a speech from a panel discussion by by the Feminist Discussion Circle at the Sydney Anarchist Bookfair. The panel was called “Casting Spells: a feminist discussion of contemporary forms of exploitation” and had four presentations: austerity, women and revolt; current attacks on women’s services; the dangerous journey of a Middle Eastern feminist; and this one. An audio recording of the panel will be uploaded somewhere soon. [Trigger warning for mention of sexual violence.]
Ok, so my part of the panel is on structural sexism in “the movement”. As the opening speaker said, I’m not here to give The Answer but to ask some question, and maybe reframe some of the questions we already ask.
I don’t normally get too worried about public speaking, but I have to admit: this one has made me nervous. But I didn’t want for us to have a panel discussion that saw sexism only as abstract and political, as something that only comes from bad capitalists or, you know, college boys – as something that only happens outside this room.
One of the key tenets of feminism is that the personal is political. The political is personal. The nexus between our lives and broader politics is crucial, I think – but it’s also very difficult. We have an analysis of sexism as a broad social force, but it’s also something that happens in our lives: and, for those of us for whom political work is part of our lives, it’s an issue there too.
So, over and over, when I’m in anarcha-feminist meetings or feminist reading groups, or just with friends, we have these same conversations about specific incidents, about specific individuals, and about the patterns. Continue reading