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–4 votes
What's the correlation between the two? I've heard some a-feminists say all anarchists are (or should be) feminists. Is patriarchy really that prevalent or that big of a problem?
Feminism just seems like a whiny way of saying women need to be treated equally, but yet different and even better than men. Please relieve me of my ignorance.

edited by dot to fix tags
edited by
I'd like to comment that women are still routinely blamed for being the victims of sexual assault. There's also the concept that abortion is a feminist issue, and government restrictions on abortion is a patriarchal concept. Not to mention that the "women as sex objects" attitude is still shockingly prevalent.

Feminism (as I understand it) could be considered synonymous with "gender equality" or even abolition of the gender binary, since there is a concept that the gender roles instilled by patriarchal society are also detrimental to males in certain ways. Then again, I know there are several different strains of feminism and it's possible you might have had some kind of negative interaction with one tendency in particular.
ლ(ಠ_ಠლ) ....

1 Answer

+8 votes
first - this question seems to be trolling, both in its language and in its content. but since this topic hasn't been fleshed out here much, i will continue on the premise of good faith. for the moment. this answer is not going to be a tome, so it doesn't go into sufficient detail about the complexities around gender vs sex, etc... which if the questioner actually *cares* about this question, would be worthwhile to look into.

a. patriarchy is in fact that big of a problem. women (and women-identified people, which includes tons of people, including entirely straight men in certain contexts) are still attacked as women, paid significantly less then men for same type of work, devalued in many levels of society (politics, etc), ignored, trivialized, etc.
that is just on the bare surface level. if you consider patriarchy to be the thing that keeps us locked in gender binary, which many feminists (and anarchists) do, then the fact that most of us don't get to have the kinds of relationships that we want, or be the people we want to be, regardless of our gender/sex, is based on patriarchy.
b. there are as many kinds of feminists as there are of anarchists (probably more, actually).
c. since on one level feminists are saying that the standard way of doing things is a problem because of inherited and recreated hierarchies that don't allow people our full expression, then yes, feminism and anarchy can be seen as intimately related. on the other hand, some feminists just want there to be more women in government, so those feminists have nothing in common with anarchists.
d. calling feminists whiny makes me want to hit you in the face.
e. while identity politics (the idea that a particular identity is a fundamental issue that is worth organizing around - and *can be* organized around) has a lot of problems and weaknesses, it is one of the easiest ways to (start to) look at many of the inequities of the system we live in. many people get to that stage and make a home there, replicating power trips that mirror (as in reverse-image) the dynamics in the larger society. those people are particularly prone to contradictions in what they are asking for (treat me the same *and* treat me different). however sometimes what appear to be contradictions are taking into account the different contexts of women and men. for example, what self-defense looks like for women vs what it looks like for men can be significantly different, since women and men are mostly socialized with diametrically opposed understandings of physical violence.
by (52.9k points)
dot, can you comment please on the _historical_ anarchist writing/theory related to feminism.
I know the anarchist commentators a century ago were decades ahead of their contemporaries, but don't feel qualified to comment.

(Even trolls dig up useful nuggets.)
>> if you consider patriarchy to be the thing that keeps us locked in gender binary...

i see most feminist responses to patriarchy as absolutely perpetuating the "gender" binary, just as patriarchy does. some might see that as inherently wrapped up in the bogeyman of patriarchy, where everything that "results" from patriarchy is somehow explainable (or even justifiable) as such. i see that perspective as a far-too-easy avoidance of the complexities of power dynamics in EVERY relationship.

this raises a few related questions in my head.

are patriarchy and feminism, by definition, manifestations of binary thinking?

is feminism merely a response to patriarchy? or is it a separately existing concept/ideology, that would/could exist even without patriarchy? one which, at its core is not really about gender, or race, or class, ... or perhaps, is it the same concept/ideology?

one final thought on the original question. patriarchy is, at some level, an institution (at least it is seen that way by many). any anarchist i care to hang with is against ALL institutions (which are inherently controlling and homogenizing). a feminist who is against patriarchy but not against other institutions (work/capitalism, government; these seem to be the contexts within which patriarchal behavior is measured, at least on the broad scale), is really no different from the communist who is against one institution (capitalism) but not the rest (including, but not limited to, the state, industrialism, etc).

just my 2c.
"i see most feminist responses to patriarchy as absolutely perpetuating the "gender" binary"

sure. and most anarchists maintain fucked up patterns of behavior that contradict what anarchy is too. not trying to make an exact correlation or anything, and i hang with anarchists not feminists for exactly the reasons that you mention, but it is true that very few people push the things that they believe in, in the directions that seem appropriate (and/or obvious) to me.
i myself would say that feminism is a response to patriarchy with wider ramifications. but i think that feminism is a concept that people should make their own, and use as it suits them.
and i would vote up your comment if it were an answer, although some feminists are concerned with more than patriarchy, and some communists are concerned with more than the capitalism.
Feminism is defined as a social movement for the end of all forms of oppression, so, yes it is related to anarchism.

If you don't understand that patriarchy exists maybe you should read some feminist authors or check out feminist blogs or something.

Yes, patriarchy is a thing.

Your comment is basically just misogyny and bad information about what feminism is and what feminists want.

What currently informs your position on feminism?  If the answer is not listening to feminists, maybe you should do something about that.

I recommend starting with

"The Military Strategy of Women and Children" by Butch Lee

"Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity" by Julia Serano

"The Angela Y Davis Reader"

"Feminism is for Everybody" by bell hooks (or anything by bell hooks)

If you want to dive right into the in dense stuff then you should read

"Patriarchy and Accumulation On A World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour" by Maria Mies  

"Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body, and Primitive Accumulation"
That Butch Lee book can be found on Zine Library [dot] info as can the begining of Caliban and the Witch
If you want historical stuff, you could look to Mary Wollstonecraft (the mother of Mary Shelley) who was an anarchist in the late 1700s who wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman," which would probably look like a pile of shit to us today.

Also, don't forget Lucy Parson, the anarchist-communist that was fabled to be "More dangerous than a thousand rioters"

Emma Goldman and Lucy Parsons had some major disagreements about "feminism" that basically split the anarchist scene back in the day.
In order for the rest of this conversation to make any damn sense a distinction needs to be made between Liberal Feminism and actual feminisms.  There are many different types of feminisms; Liberal Feminism is the 'Anarcho-Capitalism' of feminism.

A second distinction would need to be made between "radical feminism" and actual feminism.  Radical Feminism is the 'National Anarchism' of feminism.

In feminist circles that are not of those two "false currents" of thought, nothing that supports any form of oppression will be taken seriously.  (This often includes the state when it is talked about in depth, however, sometimes statist ideology does get by in feminist circles, but not often.)

Feminism has always had a strong current of Gender Abolition, and the hot words in feminism today is 'social-construct,' which is how they talk about gender.  So no, most feminism does not support the gender-binary.

Even in the late 70s, in the height of second-wave feminism (read: when radical feminists got taken seriously) there were writers like Monique Wittig who argued that woman was a material position forced onto certain people and that it was possible to destroy this position and the forces that created it.  She argued for lesbianism as a central strategy for destablizing the concept of woman, and, that lesbians are not women.

"It is our historical task, and only ours, to define what we call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category “woman” as well as the category “man” are political and economic categories not eternal ones. Our fight aims to suppress men as a class, not through a genocidal, but a political struggle. Once the class “men” disappears, “women” as a class will disappear as well, for there are no slaves without masters..."
- One is not Born a Woman by Monique Wittig  (availible on ZineLibrary [dot] info)

Patriarchy is not a mental fiction (or manifestation of binary thinking, or boogeyman), but a material position, and as a material position it can be attacked and destroyed.

To say 'Binary' is to talk about how gender categories are seen as real, fixed, static, historical, natural, biological, etc., none of which are true.

It is NOT binaristic to talk about real material differences that actually exist in the lives of people privileged or oppressed under patriarchy.

The concept of Patriarchy is not the result binaristic thinking, the concept of the binary is the result of Patriarchy.  You are confusing cause and effect.

I should really write more about this, but I don't even know where to start unpacking some of the things y'all have been talking about.
ok, so first you say that the only "real" feminists are those that are NOT either "liberal" or "radical". then you refer to "most" feminists, as something different. i don't know about you, but most feminists i have ever come across, either personally or through reading/discussion, are either liberal or radical. especially those that call themselves "anarcha-feminists". not that *they* would consider themselves as such.

clearly your perspective on this falls into a realm that i have no desire to engage with. been there, done that. so i'm glad i won't be online for a while.  :-)

nothing personal.
You don't know a lot about feminism, do you?

Radical Feminism is not the same as feminists who are radical.  Here is the test to find out if a feminist  is a Radical Feminist: ask them if all trans women should be murdered.  If the answer  is no, then they are probably not a RadFem.  If the answer is "no but... we should put them all in prison..."  then they might be a RadFem.
Most feminists are not Radical Feminists.  Radical Feminists have been discredited for 30 years.

The test for a liberal feminist is also easy: ask them if 'the solution' is to have women be equally represented in the upper class and government and for nothing  else to change.
Most feminists are not liberal feminists.  Liberal feminism has been thoroughly rejected by most feminists and is considered not to be a part of feminist theory.

There have been two distinct waves of feminism and we are in the middle of the third wave.  It might do you so good to learn about it if you are gonna talk about it.

The definition of feminism that I used in my answer comes from bell hooks who is an indisputable part of the contemporary feminist cannon.
"If you want historical stuff, you could look to Mary Wollstonecraft (the mother of Mary Shelley) who was an anarchist in the late 1700s who wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,""

I would label Mary W. as republican rather than anarchist (despite her friendship with/ marriage to Godwin).

"Radical Feminists have been discredited for 30 years."

I'm not yet convinced that anti-trans bigotry is an inherent feature of all of the RadFem tendency, but it sure is a prevalent attitude. Some aspects of RadFem are not so reprehensible and have influenced anarchist feminism. Notably, RadFems were the ones that gave us the concept of patriarchy. As far as 2nd wave goes, the RadFems did indeed have a radical analysis, but by 3rd wave standards the analysis of many RadFems is downright reactionary.
I have always seen essentialism as an inherent part of Radical Feminism which I think will always lead to cis supremacist theories.  What Radical Feminism has going for it is a revolutionary stance and an open hatred of the oppressor.  What they lack is any sort of intersectional analysis of oppression or any analysis of any other form of oppression.
What the third wave has going for it (theoretically), is a rejection of essentialism, a centering of the question "what is a woman," and an intersectional analysis of oppression, and a stance against all forms of oppression.  What the third wave also brought was a non-revolutionary, more individualize view of change that is a pile of shit.  Incidentally the individualized stance has helped combat the anti-BDSM and anti-sex work/ anti-sex worker, anti-porn, and anti-queer and trans currents of thought that were dominant in feminism, although, only through a framework of liberal pluralism.

So the places where Radical Feminism and Thrid Wave Feminism seem to clash are in theories about other forms of oppression and in strategy for changing the current situation.

Contemporary Anarcha-Feminism attempts to take the best of both worlds as well as drawing on other currents of feminism.  To the anarcha-feminist, there is a critical engagement with things like porn or sex work, which criticize the industry and illuminate the lines of power that anarchist have always seen between worker and boss, and the class positions in instances of direct consumption of labor power.  Thus anarcha-feminist can bring an anarchist analysis to a feminist idea.
Anarcha-feminists also bring feminist ideas to anarchist analysis.  This can parallel marxist feminist in an analysis of domestic labor or caring labor, waged and unwaged work, feminized labor, and feminized industry, or it can attack all institutions from a feminist perspective focusing on the medical industry, the state, the church, animal industry, industrial agriculture, prison, family structure, etc., and the entire process of socialization and subjectification.  Anarcha-Feminists have also focused on types of 'womens science' or 'women's knowledge' that was destroyed in the rise of capitalism such as herbalism, midwifery, witchcraft, and astrology.
taigarun, i have to agree with funkyanarchy about your claiming the title of "real feminism" to be what you believe in. feminism is a term that might be so fucked at this point that there is no real use to claiming it, because unlike national anarchism or anarcho-capitalism (nice comparisons btw), there are at least as many radical and/or liberal feminists as of the kind that i (and presumably you?) are interested in.
and that includes people who call themselves anarcha-feminists, but have not changed the rhetoric or the theory *one iota* from that of (especially) the radical feminists. this is my experience over years and in multiple forums, in person and online. and this tendency to be in line with radical feminism has been particularly evident in discussions on things like sex work, in decidedly unimpressive ways.
just 'cause i'm feeling it (10 months later), let me be clear that i downvoted the post by taigarun because it is not an answer (it just makes a bunch of claims -- one of which i strongly disagree with, which is the definition of feminism). also it links to a bunch of texts that have nothing to do with anarchism, much less anarchY.
i'm considering making it a comment, actually. so maybe that'll happen.
and so it did... look at that.
goodonya dot, especially re taigarun's definition of feminism:

"Feminism is defined as a social movement for the end of all forms of oppression"

i don't claim to be particularly well-read on feminism overall (though i have much experience with feminists of various stripes in my life), but i have NEVER seen or heard any definition of it that isn't explicitly related to gender/sex. claiming that its aim is to end of ALL forms of oppression is both disingenuous and manipulative, imo.
It's bell hooks's definition, not mine.  hooks says pretty clearly that you can't end one form of oppression while keeping others intact, as such, defining feminism as ending 'gender oppression' or whatever is just narrow and/or naive.
but surely then, taigarun, working to end any oppression is always working to end all oppression? in which case what is the point of these words we keep coming back to?
if nothing else then working to end all oppression through the lens of gender/sex would be a better way to define feminism, and that's giving hooks the benefit of the doubt.

and why quote non-anarchists without contextualizing what makes them relevant to us? (one wonders if no anarchist women have said anything meaningful to you about sexism/feminism...)