Anarchafeminist Conference - London - October 2014

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AFem
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Jan 9 2014 15:14
Anarchafeminist Conference - London - October 2014

Organising for AFem2014: an anarcha-feminist conference in London on
Sunday October 19th 2014

Who are we?
We are a group of anarcha-feminists of varying genders, backgrounds and histories, who have come together to organise an anarcha-feminist event. We want to use it to build concretely towards the transformation of our own experience, and towards toppling the institutions and ideas which oppress us.

What is AFem2014?
AFem2014 will be the first of what we hope will be a series of international anarcha-feminist conferences. The need for this has been obvious for a long time within anarchist organising. Efforts to shut us down, belittle our ideas, and physically assault and abuse us have led to a level of anger against the masculinisation of our movement. We are not represented in equal numbers and often are not taken seriously. Whilst on paper we are equal, we sometimes face oppression even in our own groups and organisations. Barriers to our full political participation remain intact. This means that our anarchist movement is not truly ‘anarchist’. We will no longer tolerate this. We want to transform our movement.

Furthermore, in wider society, the supposed gains of liberal feminism have not brought equality. Mainstream reformers and authoritarian-left political parties achieve little for us. This is the case in legal, economic, social and political terms, and in personal relationships. As we work toward a feminist conference which will have class-struggle anarchism and the fight for economic equality at its heart, we know that capitalism is not the only enemy. We are kept down and divided by many different kinds of oppression, overlapping and intersecting in complex ways. Racism, ableism, trans*phobia, ageism and oppression relating to religion or culture are common forms we encounter, but there are many more. These can impact on us as much as economic exploitation, and sometimes more immediately so.

As such, we understand anarcha-feminism not just as a response to anarchism and feminism. Anarcha-feminism is an anti-authoritarian, anti-oppressive critique of the capitalist kyriarchal form, and a weapon we can use in our daily lives. We want to explore the intersections between oppressions, developing theory, learning from others and arriving at practical outcomes.

Who is the conference open to?
Although this conference is not open to cisgender men (men who are comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth), it is open to people of all other genders and none. It actively hopes to engage with trans*, genderqueer, gender fluid and non-binary people, as well as with cisgender women. We will not take a policing stance around gender presentation at the conference, but we will not hesitate to challenge trans*phobic, cissexist or binarist language, behaviour and attitudes.
How will the conference be structured and organised?
We propose a structure of intersecting, thematic meetings and strands, with outcomes by the end of the conference which we can take away with us, use and build on. We invite people to initiate meetings and whole strands with a focus on anarcha-feminist analysis and activity. These strands should include those self-organised by people of colour, trans*, genderqueer, gender fluid and non binary people, sex workers, disabled people and people with mental health issues. We are committed to doing what we can to involve a diverse range of people in our organising, so such strands will be supported and resourced as a priority through the wider project. To support the full and free participation of those encouraged to attend, the conference will have an explicit and meaningful safer spaces policy.

Please get involved
The conference was the initiative of anarcha-feminists within the Anarchist Federation (AF, Britain) and the organising group now includes representatives of the International of Anarchist Federations (IFA-IAF) and its member federations, the Solidarity Federation (SF-IWA) and a growing number of non-aligned and autonomous anarcha-feminists. There are a lot of things that we need to do, and we invite you to get involved to help shape this exciting event, in terms of ideas, concepts, and practical organising.

Please get in touch if you agree with the approach above and would like to join the organising group, as an individual or as a delegate, including if you would like to participate in or help organise a specific meeting or strand.

Please also circulate this statement widely within your groups, organisations and networks, and get them to join the list of supporters and contributors.

Please help us raise money for the event. The more we get, the more inclusive and international the conference can be.

Looking forward to working with you...

AFem2014 Organisers

January 2014

Email: afem [at] afed.org.uk

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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Jan 15 2014 13:07

Best of luck with it, if there is any way libcom can help out please let us know

ocelot's picture
ocelot
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Jan 16 2014 15:36

I presume this is timed to be the Sunday after bookfair? Will be handy for anarcha-feminist coms travelling from Ireland if so.

rat's picture
rat
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Jan 16 2014 16:30

That's right, the Sunday after the bookfair. Venue TBA.

factvalue
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Jan 16 2014 22:11

I feel a bit left out, it sounds like it might be an awesome event. sad

http://en.bookfi.org/book/1057721

ocelot's picture
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Jan 17 2014 15:23

Communism is for everybody too. But that doesn't mean, in the here and now, that we would be inviting any of these guys along to our anti-capitalist conferences.

You don't get to where you want to end up - male-female equality/abolition of gender/take your pick... - by just pretending like it's already been achieved. That's utopianism.

The Saturday before this there will be nearly a hundred different meetings and meeting threads you are welcome to at the bookfair - including feminist-related ones, no doubt. Also no-one's stopping you from organising another event on Sunday for men who want to talk about feminism.

factvalue
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Jan 17 2014 16:29

Sure anyone can organise with anyone they believe they can work with but speaking for myself I think you're cracking the nut with a sledge hammer in comparing cisgender male libertarian communists' solidarity with anarcha-feminists with billionaire capitalists' solidarity with free communists. If this is how anarcha-feminist comrades feel about the state of the movement right now then more power to them in organising for change. I'd still like to be present at such a potentially very important, fascinating and educational conference though wouldn't you?

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Jan 17 2014 17:20
factvalue wrote:
If this is how anarcha-feminist comrades feel about the state of the movement right now then more power to them in organising for change. I'd still like to be present at such a potentially very important, fascinating and educational conference though wouldn't you?

No. That fact that this even needs explaining is yet more evidence (as if any more was required) why autonomous spaces are required for liberationist and anti-supremacist struggles.

What do you mean by "being present at" in this context?

If by "being present at" you mean you want to participate (more mansplaining of feminism is definitely what the movement needs right now...) then you're saying that you feel entitled to occupy the space. Which is part of the problem.

If by "being present at" you mean you want to witness the process as a mute observer then you're just saying that you're paranoid about what anarcha-feminist might be saying "behind your back".

On the one hand, if the conference results in positive outcomes, either in specific projects or just general empowerment of the participants, you'll see the effects soon enough. You don't have to sit through the hours your favourite band spent in the recording studio to enjoy their latest album after all (in fact being able to listen to the album without having to listen to all the mistakes, arguments, long pauses waiting for shit to happen, etc, etc, is a positive plus).

On the other hand, the act of observation affects the behaviour of the process observed as any physicist will tell you. Part of the mechanics of oppression is the internalisation of feelings of superiority or inferiority on the part of people on either pole of the relation. Such that confidence in speaking out and feeling free to express your own thoughts and opinions without fear of the censorious gaze of the oppressor, is a key part of articulating a liberatory perspective. As an inveterate old sexist pig once said:

Quote:
“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.

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Noah Fence
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Jan 17 2014 17:29
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
No, I'm delighted the organisers think it should be for women only. The anarcha-feminist movement needs to develop without men holding it back which is all that would happen if men were allowed to attend.

I think Jim is correct here. It is a shame that this is, or at least probably is the case but it's no good denying it.
I am really interested in this though and have emailed AFem asking exactly the reasons for the policy and the process by which the policy was created, and also whether or not they will be making any recordings of any speakers or meetings, and if so, where they will be published.
Waiting for a reply at the moment.

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plasmatelly
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Jan 17 2014 17:36

Hats off that its an all women event. If people have to ask why then look at this thread - it's all male discussing entrance to an anarcha-feminist conference. There's a clue in there.

rat's picture
rat
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Jan 17 2014 17:49

afem2014 on tumblr.
Please circulate the link:

http://afem2014.tumblr.com/

also Twitter:

@AFem2014

jolasmo
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Jan 17 2014 18:22

I saw there were 8 new replies to this thread and was all like "ah shit, flamewar incoming" but am pleasantly surprised by the supportive responses here. Ah libcom, you've come so far...

~J.

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Jan 17 2014 19:34

Perhaps I'm misreading, but the statement "although this conference is not open to cisgender men (men who are comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth), it is open to people of all other genders and none" seems to imply not all male-bodied individuals will be barred from participating. Is this the case? If so that would be mildly problematic...

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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Jan 17 2014 19:42
Novo wrote:
Perhaps I'm misreading, but the statement "although this conference is not open to cisgender men (men who are comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth), it is open to people of all other genders and none" seems to imply not all male-bodied individuals will be barred from participating. Is this the case? If so that would be mildly problematic...

on the contrary, I think if this weren't the case this would be problematic. I.e. if trans-women were not allowed.

jolasmo wrote:
I saw there were 8 new replies to this thread and was all like "ah shit, flamewar incoming" but am pleasantly surprised by the supportive responses here. Ah libcom, you've come so far...

~J.

on this, I wasn't worried about a flame war as such, I was more worried it would be a bunch of blokes questioning the admissions policy…

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Noah Fence
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Jan 17 2014 20:08
Quote:
on this, I wasn't worried about a flame war as such, I was more worried it would be a bunch of blokes questioning the admissions policy…

Just for the record, I'm not questioning it but I am interested in it, partly so that I can try to avoid the sort of attitudes and behaviours that would make me a pain in the arse and partly because I'm a Nosey Parker!

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Fall Back
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Jan 17 2014 21:08
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
No, I'm delighted the organisers think it should be for women only. The anarcha-feminist movement needs to develop without men holding it back which is all that would happen if men were allowed to attend.

Not to be pedantic and I know what you mean here, but it's explicitly not women only.

Men who identify with gender assigned at birth are being asked not to come (it's not for us) - but there won't be any policing based on presentation.

factvalue
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Jan 17 2014 23:35

ocelot wrote:

Quote:
No. That fact that this even needs explaining is yet more evidence (as if any more was required) why autonomous spaces are required for liberationist and anti-supremacist struggles.

I hear what you’re saying and yeah, in my enthusiasm that the event was on at all and for what could potentially come of it I’m afraid I was a little carried away and got into a rather loose way of speaking. And I did want to hear what comrades thoughts were on the decision - preferably the organisers but even, dare I say it, other men - but I should have been more precise and less meme-like.

Now ocelot I don’t want to turn this into a dopey dandy internet bun fight but I do think some of the limited number of choices you've offered for gauging my motivations here have the whiff of opportunism and possibly a chance to avenge previous encounters about them. I can’t see any other way of explaining why the sophistry is so pronounced:

What do you mean by "being present at" in this context?

If by "being present at" you mean you want to participate (more mansplaining of feminism is definitely what the movement needs right now...) then you're saying that you feel entitled to occupy the space. Which is part of the problem.

I’ve never felt entitled to occupy any space beyond that taken up by my own body. If you'd ever spent any time in my company I think you’d know that. Wishing I could be there is not the same as feeling entitled to be there.

If by "being present at" you mean you want to witness the process as a mute observer then you're just saying that you're paranoid about what anarcha-feminist might be saying "behind your back".

Yes, and the reason I’m off to Wales for a week next Tuesday to hear engineering physicists discuss the latest developments in renewable energy technologies is because I’m terrified that they might be deliberately trying to keep me in the dark about any new ideas. Please help me, won't you?

On the one hand, if the conference results in positive outcomes, either in specific projects or just general empowerment of the participants, you'll see the effects soon enough. You don't have to sit through the hours your favourite band spent in the recording studio to enjoy their latest album after all (in fact being able to listen to the album without having to listen to all the mistakes, arguments, long pauses waiting for shit to happen, etc, etc, is a positive plus).

Well now you’re talking sense. Yes you’re absolutely right.

On the other hand, the act of observation affects the behaviour of the process observed as any physicist will tell you. Part of the mechanics of oppression is the internalisation of feelings of superiority or inferiority on the part of people on either pole of the relation. Such that confidence in speaking out and feeling free to express your own thoughts and opinions without fear of the censorious gaze of the oppressor, is a key part of articulating a liberatory perspective.

If the conference was being held in atomic Lilliput you’d be on firm ground there. On a technical point, there was once a physicist called Paul Dirac who proposed in his book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics that size is not relative and that what distinguishes an absolutely small system from an absolutely big one is whether or not the quantum disturbance of the system caused by a measurement of it significantly changes its dynamics. Since bouncing a few photons off the delegates is not likely to perturb them enough to alter a quadrillionth of a blink of one of their eyes I think they could be described with some confidence as being big, at least as big as you or me or Proudhon anyway.

To the anarcha-feminist comrades: I meant no offence and personally I’m looking forward to any positive developments for yourselves and the movement which result from your conference. And although I should no doubt know everything already and although there’s absolutely no reason why you should explain your decision to exclude cisgender men to me or anyone else, the fact is that I don’t know everything and am as imperfect and unenlightened as they come and I would find any elucidation which actually emanated from you yourselves most educational if you ever issued one. I really hope it goes well for you all.

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Jan 18 2014 03:24

I think it is shit that we have to have conferences segregated along gender lines, I mean who would like this as a feature of any future society, we have it in contemporary societies, naturally considered, by all genders apparently, as a 'common sense' reaction to difference. And that way leads to hell.....

Sadly though women are so utterly undervalued/represented in our politics we do need it for the time being and good luck with it all. Lets hope it goes someway to facilitating a better dynamic in our movement moving forward.

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Jan 18 2014 18:52
factvalue wrote:
and although there’s absolutely no reason why you should explain your decision to exclude cisgender men to me or anyone else,

except that's what everyone above has done haha

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rat
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Jun 17 2014 08:19

The conference organisers have now set-up a site for donations to help fund the event:
Please circulate the link:
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2mmvd/sh/23Rrn4

boomerang
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Jun 17 2014 20:41

Feminism is for everybody, and the feminist movement needs to include people of all genders or it will fail. But, having a conference where cis-men are excluded can be productive for reasons people already mentioned above.I think things like this are good in moderation. It's if they become the norm where it would become a problem. That's not what's happening here though.

I do think people were too hard on factvalue, like by saying he only wants to be present at this conference to basically spy on the women (and then that post getting many 'likes'). I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt that his desire to be there is based on his sharing the goals of anarcha-feminism.

I also really like what Mr. Jolly said.

The problem of having more men than women in anarchist organizations is troubling. Another thing that troubles me is how few people of color join anarchist organizations, even in cities where they make up a high proportion of the population. Personally it troubles me even more, because from what I observe, even though we're far off from gender parity, we're even further off from having organizations that reflect the racial demographics of where we live.

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little_brother
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Jun 21 2014 14:39

For donations I think you can also just go to:
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2mmvd/

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little_brother
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Jul 19 2014 13:02

Fund has reached £555. Let's keep going.