This Is Not A Love Story: Armed Struggle Against The Institutions Of Patriarchy

Feminist writings by Canadian anarchist guerillas Ann Henson and Julie Belmas.

Many feminist theorists and activists categorically condemn “violence” — be it offensive or defensive, physical or verbal — on the grounds that “violence” (an extremely ambiguous term in itself) has it’s roots in patriarchal culture and the patriarchal mindset, and is somehow the “invention” of men — as if violence doesn’t appear everywhere in the natural world in myriad forms, usually contributing in significant ways to the balance of local ecosystems. While certain feminist thinkers put forth an analysis of violence and hierarchical power relationships that is well worth considering, a wholesale condemnation of revolutionary violence aimed at the destruction of that which oppresses us is a gross oversimplification of an extremely complex situation: that is, the web of patriarchal tyranny that all of us, wimmin and men alike, find ourselves born into, where violence is used by our oppressors to enforce our political and social submission, and where we are all desperately looking for effective ways to reclaim our lives. Analyzing the role of armed resistance movements (and wimmins participation in them) in the larger liberation struggle against patriarchy and civilization from an entirely “essentialist” perspective — as Robin Morgan does in her often cited work The Demon Lover — is a misleading and deceptive form of Herstorical revisionism, as it completely discounts the lives of wimmin like Harriet Tubman, who led armed guerrilla raids into the southern united states (basically a slave-owning armed camp) to rescue fellow New Afrikans from captivity, as well as numerous other wimmin like Assata Shakur, Marilyn Buck, and Bernadhine Dhorn, who enthusiastically embraced armed struggle as a tactic and had no regrets about it. This article will not attempt to defend armed struggle (because in our opinion it requires no justification) but will instead focus on two very specific groups (of many) that engaged in violent rebellion against the institutions of patriarchy.