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Revolution Needs Wimyn

March 2, 2010

BY COMRADE SPIDER, Spokesperson, White Panther Organization

Since my article “Free the Wimyn!” generated some dialogue, I would like to further the discussion of this extremely important subject.

I think that the struggle for the freedom of wimyn suffers from two primary maladies. On the one hand, there are those who conceive that wimyn’s liberation can be divorced from the overall struggle to end the age of exploitation and oppression of humynity in general, that true freedom for wimyn can take place in a vacuum, apart from other struggles. Among these are usually the bourgeois feminists, who do not care about the liberation of humynity from all forms of oppression, but instead are fighting for so-called ‘equal’ rights with men – equal, that is, with respect to having the equal opportunity that men have to engage in the mainstream practice of exploiting other humyns for the sake of personal gain. Also among these are the reactionary feminists who, in the same spirit as reactionary nationalists, preach a form of gender supremacy as their primary tool in combating patriarchy and other expressions of male dominance, and who usually have the same fundamental goals as bourgeois feminists, although they may label themselves ‘radical’ or similar titles for various brands of dissenters.

On the other hand, are those who insist that the wimyn’s liberation movement must be subordinated to the proletarian struggle (i.e. the struggle for workers’ rights and ultimately socialism), as if wimyn will miraculously be liberated as soon as the means of production are collectively owned. These usually dogmatic-minded people forget that, while it certainly perpetuates and reinforces them, capitalism did not create patriarchy, male domination, and the oppression and exploitation of wimyn. These things existed thousands of years prior to even the first pre-capitalist stages of (European) social devleopment, and they have more than enough potential to exist in a socialist or other non-capitalist society. This does not mean that the oppression of wimyn is not related to the relations of production, since we know that patriarchy has its roots in the time when males started to become more involved in dominant social practices, such as hunting, warfare and religious administration. It simply means that we have to understand where the roots of wimyn’s oppression lie, how it has developed throughout various ages and in various geographical locations, and what forms it currently takes. Relatively, capitalism is a baby in the historical timeline, while patriarchy and its many children are all well advanced in age.

These two maladies are not the only obstacles that stand in the way of freedom for the wimyn of the world. ‘Outside’ of the movement, the problems take many forms, from the fact that it is expedient for the capitalist-imperialist system to impose on half the world’s population a unique form of oppression, to the many religious doctrines that preach male supremacy over the ‘weaker vessel,’ to the absurd reality that it is now fashionable, it is now a ‘hip’ and trendy thing, to hate, abuse, exploit and oppress wimyn.

Let’s look at this latter problem: that wimyn’s oppression has evolved past being just a social practice directly rooted in a corresponding productive relation to being a cultural trend thought worthy of embodiment in artistic expression. Consider the fact that, at least among my peers, ‘bitch’ or ‘ho’ has become synonymous with ‘womyn.’ The word ‘bitch’ has transcended its former position of being simply a derogatory title to being completely interchangeable with the word ‘womyn.’ This is reflective of a culture that prides itself in degrading wimyn in much the same way that it prides itself in how much it has advanced a particular sport or a certain kind of music.

In a land where wimyn can vote and hold some of the highest offices in government and business, the colorful forms of violence, hatred and oppression toward wimyn are becoming more and more outrageous. We hear this in the music, in which whole songs are anthems to the degradation of wimyn and praises to the god of misogyny. We also see this in movies and television shows, where rape (and, now, even child molestation) are favorite forms of entertainment, even though it usually has nothing to do with the plot. Its no surprise that, of the many different Law and Order shows, SVU (Special Victims Unit) is the favorite, where countless forms of sexual violation comprise the essence of the series and the legal drama is of secondary priority. They know what the people like and want, and thus it seems to me that men, at least here in Amerikkka (I’m sure elsewhere, too) have come to the point where they are perversely pleasured and entertained by tunes of disrespect toward wimyn and by scenes of rape and other forms of violence toward wimyn. If men are now turned on by images of wimyn being raped, I have to ask why? I will let the nature side of men off the hook and venture to say it must be the nurture side. It must be a learned (read: brainwashed) behavior. Which leads me to another question: what kind of society teaches (read: brainwashes) its men to take pleasure in watching wimyn being raped, not to mention taking part in the act itself?

Of course, misogyny is only one end of the spectrum of the crushing oppression womyn are forced to endure. The other extreme takes such forms as bullshit sentimental chivalry where men feel as though they must protect, shelter and save wimyn as if they were invalids (instead of empowering or helping to empower them in a patriarchal world), or the sociopathic attachment that men (and many wimyn, who have been influenced by the form taken by mainstream heterosexual relationships) have for wimyn, usually cloaked in the title of ‘love’ or the superlative ‘true love.’ This latter extreme, which is probably not discussed or focused on so much in revolutionary circles as overt hatred and violence toward wimyn, is a pervasive and unhealthy trend in mainstream relationships among men and wimyn. In typical Western fashion, it is perpetuated and reinforced by the media, in the forms of movies, novels, music and television shows. Psychotic and suicide- or homicide-prone infatuation and attachment wreaks nervous and stressful havoc on the psyches of both men and wimyn in the name of so-called love, mostly because these men and wimyn have been socialized to think that this is the way things are supposed to be.

How have these kinds of attitudes towards relationships come about, and why are they so deeply entrenched in our minds? We are socialized toward this kind of psychopathic attachment, but I think the essence of this mentality lies in two fundamental factors: the fact that wimyn are seen as just so much property in our society, and the fact that our society breeds a mass of self-alienated people who endlessly search for objects that will make them feel ‘whole.’ Put these two factors together and you have a person who, because he or she cannot ‘find’ him or herself, seeks to find that self in objectified property, which, due to natural emotional and sexual attraction that already exists, tends to by found in one’s partner or lover. The natural proclivities toward one another that are genetically encoded in us for the purpose of propagating our species are, in our society, warped and perverted by our characteristic self-alienated and incessant search to find ourselves in objectified possessions. The result is an unhealthy attachment to each other; and, while it certainly affects both men and wimyn, I believe that, in a patriarchal society, the consequences are much more severe for wimyn. Furthermore, throw in a person who happens to be emotionally or mentally unstable, for whatever reason, and you have the ingredients for suicide, homicide, or both.

The capitalist market continues to reinforce the ‘softness’ of wimyn and the ‘hardness’ of men, the weakness of wimyn and the strength of men, the servility of wimyn and the dominance of men. An example is the toys that are bought for children, toys that serve to brainwash children into unquestionably accepting the socio-gender roles that are forced upon them. Little girls are bought play stoves, dolls and play kitchen sets, serving to perpetuate in the young and plastic minds of individual children and in the collective mind of society the assumption that the womyn’s place is in the kitchen cooking food or washing dishes, somewhere cleaning up some man’s mess, or taking care of children. Conversely, little boys are bought trucks, toy soldiers and other action figures, and play tool sets, things which play the same essential role as the girls’ toys in solidifying at a young age social roles based on gender.

Something, I believe, that actually hampers the wimyn’s liberation movement from the ‘inside’ is the tendency to compare struggles for the purpose of emphasizing the importance or indispensability of one over the other. Is the gender struggle more important than the racial struggle? Is the worker struggle more important than the gender struggle? More often than not, the motivations behind such questions are the selfishness and self-seeking mentality that characterize our society, by which we seek to put our personal interests above collective interests. It is my opinion that every struggle to end exploitation and oppression is important: immensely important. Every struggle must serve itself and other struggles to be successful. When it fails to serve its own struggle in light of other struggles, and vice versa, it overemphasizes its own struggle at the cost of other struggles, and thus at the cost of its own interest. This is the law of interdependency with which true solidarity is infused. The logical end of self-seeking comparison of one struggle with the other is the over-emphasis of one’s own struggle and the under-emphasis of other struggles. Those who are caught up in this vicious cycle end up seeing only their own struggle and blinding themselves to other struggles, thereby cutting themselves off from collective effort and solidarity. The result is a form of lifestyle politics, struggle as a form of identity (again, in a society where we are always looking for identity in objects), where struggle is an end in itself, where one struggles for the sake of struggle and not for the sake of winning and ridding the world of oppression.

This, however, does not imply that the wimyn’s liberation movement must subordinate itself to other ‘more important’ struggles. Having been conditioned by a socioeconomic system that enshrines competition as the principle of surviveal instead of collective effort and mutual aid, we can easily fall into competing for the primacy of one struggle over the other. Wimyn do not have to wait for men, whether they call themselves communists, socialists, anarchists, radicals, or whatever, to tell them when and how they should struggle and organize, or when they should expect liberation, no more than New Afrikans need a bunch of white people telling them when and how they should be liberated. A hallmark in truly revolutionary struggles for the liberation of various groups of oppressed peoples is the right to self-determination. Wimyn do not need men to determine their destiny for them. They do not have to be guided by male dominated ideologies or organizational forms to effect their liberation, no more than Blacks should be expected to submit to Eurocentric conceptions to bring about their freedom. Every oppressed group has a revolutionary right and duty to determine their destiny.

Of course, this does not mean that wimyn’s liberation can become a reality if wimyn seek to determine a destiny apart from the other half of the world. The humyn species would not last long without the mutual cooperation of both men and wimyn. This is why I emphasize the need for every struggle for the freedom of an oppressed group to organize, theorize and fight in the light of and in cooperation with other oppressed groups, realizing that we are fighting to end the age of exploitation and oppression everywhere, that we as the masses are the makers of history and we all have a common enemy that is overwhelmingly the primary actor in the perpetuation of our individual forms of bondage. I think that most of us agree that this enemy is capitalist – imperialism, the political, economic, and social system of the current ruling class.

Which is why I also emphasize the need for every true revolutionary to be a proletarian revolutionary, without necessarily subordinating other struggles in the name of proletarian revolution, workers’ rights and socialism. After all, the vast majority of the world’s population are workers, tools in the capitalist-imperialist drive for the accumulation of wealth in the form of profit, and it is the reinforcement and perpetuation of our individual forms of oppression – gender, racial, poverty, prisoner, etc. – that better equip us to be their tools. And so it is time for these tools to cry out for justice.

And when I say that wimyn should not have to subordinate their struggle in the name of the proletarian struggle, I mean that wimyn should not be told that they must put their struggle on hold for the benefit of the “greater struggle.” Whenever a specific struggle is put on hold, ostensibly for the greater good of the general struggle, then the general struggle becomes lop-sided or one-sided. Therefore all specific struggles must comprise the general struggle, without emphasizing one over the other, but instead emphasizing the unity of all oppressed groups and peoples in a united front against the enemy that oppresses us all. Since wimyn make up roughly half the world population, then they also make up one of the single largest oppressed groups, and therefore, by virtue of sheer numbers and intensity of generations of exploitation and oppression, they are potentially one of the most revolutionary social forces on the face of the planet. This is why I say that the revolution needs wimyn as much as wimyn need revolution.

In fact, I really have no faith in the ability of a male-dominated party or organization, at least in our contemporary situation, to make a beneficial revolution. Any aspiring revolutionary organization that does not eradicate, or at least implement measures for the eradication of, male dominance at the organization’s inception does not really have a serious shot at being an instrument of revolutionary change, just as I do not feel that any would-be revolutionary group in this country that neglects or underemphasizes revolutionary nationalism can be truly revolutionary. This is one of the most important things that revolutionary groups must keep in mind. If we are going to be instruments for the elevation of the consciousness of the masses, and thus revolutionary change, then we cannot afford to wait until the expropriators are expropriated to begin to purge ourselves, individually and collectively, of bourgeois, capitalist, patriarchal or oppressive values. We must begin to do this now. One of the things that will make the transition from an exploitative class-based society into a socialistic, classless society smoother is purging ourselves of the old, oppressive social relations now. If we are to be instruments of future change for the better, then we need to embody those future values today. Otherwise we will only be perpetuators of the oppressive values, albeit with revolutionary labels and masks.

Without getting into competitive comparisons of different struggles, I do, however, contend that the wimyn’s liberation struggle is one of the most important and decisive struggles facing the world today, the success of which will be directly proportional to the success of the overall struggle to end all forms (not just capitalist) oppression, and vice versa. The reason for this is that revolution, i.e the struggle to rid the world of oppression and exploitation, is fundamentally a fight to rectify, create, and consciously facilitate the evolution of social relations in ways that are more beneficial to humynity.

And what social relation is more fundamental – in the long run, at least – than the procreative relation between men and wimyn? This relation is fundamental in life processes, as is creating the means of living through various forms of labor, and therefore many different social relations hinge on how this essential relation is played out. I’m not just talking about sex, although that is something that should never be underemphasized. I’m speaking generally of the totality of social relations that spring up from the interaction between opposite genders, and how these social relations interact with and affect the rest of society as a whole. I would even go so far, in stressing the essential nature of this social relation, that it serves as its own separate (yet, of course, not completely separate) base, a reproductive base, and gives rise to its own cultural, social, and political superstructure that interacts with the superstructure rooted in the economic base.

Can the revolution and revolutionary groups afford to neglect, even in the slightest degree, this very important struggle? I didn’t think so. A revolutionary movement will not get very far by putting wimyn and their struggle on the back-burner, by refusing to give wimyn full play in determining their own destiny and working out their own liberation through means of which they approve. Just as whites must let New Afrikans be their own liberators and support their struggles to determine their own destiny, so must men allow wimyn to organize around issues related to their liberation and fully support the absolute freedom of wimyn from the millennia-old tyranny of male domination.

Not that wimyn’s liberation and Black liberation are the same in form and thus require the same organizational forms and methods. Wimyn do not constitute a separate nation, as New Afrikans in this country do. But the essence is the same: a group of humyns who have been oppressed, exploited and brutalized by another group of humyns for personal gain. And wimyn are still the slaves and domestic servants of men in this world, in spite of the many political, legal and economic concessions that have been made on behalf of wimyn. This is because, just like capitalism, the current relations between men and wimyn cannot be reformed: they must be revolutionized. Wimyn are still in bondage because the social relations between men and wimyn are still essentially the same as they have been. The base has not been changed. Of course, we cannot change some things, like the fact that wimyn must bear children. But the basic forms of how men and wimyn relate to one another – whether sexually, emotionally, economically, familially, contractually – can and should be changed, revolutionized, for the better.

Wimyn must ask themselves what kind of world they want. Do they think that men have done a pretty good job with the world, and therefore want to mimic them in how they relate to their fellow humyns? This is what bourgeois feminists want. I say that wimyn should scrap the whole patriarchal conception of reality and decide what kind of world they would like to live in. I believe we men would benefit greatly from their decision.

I feel that the issue of wimyn’s liberation does not get enough focus among revolutionary circles, and therefore many groups still tend to be male dominated and chauvinistic. However, if we consider ourselves to be the wave of the future, then we must begin to take that consideration seriously, for there is a good chance that how we relate to one another now will set the mold for tomorrow. If we are still operating in a patriarchal and male-dominated framework, if we in our personal lives as men are still relating to wimyn in much the same way that the rest of society does, then this is the pattern we will set for the future. Just as many whites, even among the left, secretly enjoy white privilege and really do not want to see that privilege abolished, even while they spout revolutionary rhetoric, so do many of us men among the left enjoy male privilege and domination.

Moreover, we must continually launch rectification campaigns against ourselves, through a process of criticism and self-criticism, and purge ourselves from any conscious or unconscious oppressive and exploitative values and relations. We need to protest the many abuses perpetrated against wimyn by our society, whether cultural, physical, social, legal, economic, or sexual, just as much as we protest police brutality, imperialist wars of aggression, and racism. Silence on any of these issues, or mere lip service without any action or change on our part, betrays our deep-rooted acceptance of the way things are.

More and more dialogue, theory, and action need to flourish on the issue of wimyn’s liberation. Men must provide, as much as possible, a space for wimyn’s voices to be heard, and they should not resist when wimyn create their own spaces. Revolutionary organizations that are still male dominated, whether numerically, in leadership, or otherwise, must begin at once to rectify this blatant neglect to practice truly revolutionary socialistic values in their ranks. Failure to do so will put each of these groups in danger of being just another reactionary group not really committed to fundamental social change, but instead committed only to serving its own identity as a group. To revolutionize society we must first revolutionize ourselves, individually and collectively. We do this by consciously changing the way we relate to one another. And until we have revolutionized ourselves in every possible or conceivable way, then we cannot claim the status of revolutionary organization, no matter how correct our ‘line,’ and therefore we cannot claim to be serious about revolution itself.

All power to all the people!!
To the trash bin of history with patriarchal relations!!

For info concerning the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP), the white Panther Organization (WPO), the New Afrikan Service Organization (NASO), the Red Heart Warrior Society (RHWS), or the Appalachian People’s Service Organization (APSO), write P.O. Box 4362, Allentown, PA 18105

Billy Johnson #322385
P.O. Box 679
Whiteville TN 38075

I can receive mail from other inmates. If you are an inmate, let me know if you can receive mail from other inmates or not. If you cannot write directly to another inmate, write the party address above.

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