A response to the Sisters of ResistanceTagged as: gender patriarchy sexism sisters_of_resistance
Thank you for ignoring society’s and the activist scene’s expectations and calling out male privilege and sexist behaviour. We recognise the behaviours that you describe and the consequent oppression of women that they result in. We are sad to say that we recognise many of these behaviours as ones that we ourselves have perpetrated. Although we recognise that this is not just about us, we are deeply sorry for any actions of our own that have had the effect of oppressing women and upholding patriarchy.
Recognising the widespread complicity in sexist behaviour that exists within our community, a group of men in Nottingham started meeting regularly in Autumn last year, to attempt to deal with our shit, be conscious of patriarchal behaviour and to be better allies of the women in our lives and community. Working from the basis that it is our own responsibility to do this work, not the responsibility of women, we have tried to challenge our own assumptions and behaviours and support each other to change. We have discussed a wide range of issues that have come up for us, including consent in relationships, gender dynamics in meetings, who does domestic tasks in our homes and aggression. We have sought to pick through our own personal histories to identify how and where we learnt our patriarchal behaviour, thus better enabling us to unlearn and hopefully end these behaviours. We have tried to educate ourselves using the experiences of women, to identify our own failures to live up to our anarchist and anti-sexist ideals regarding gender, and to find ways to start changing our mindset and our relationships with the women we know for the better. We are trying to learn from the women we know as to how we need to change, asking them to challenge us on our bullshit without us responding with defensiveness, fear or hostility.
This is not an attempt to show what great anti-sexists we are – we know that we have many failings and that unpicking patriarchal thinking takes a long time. We write out of solidarity with you and to show that, despite the hostility and denial from some men, this is not the whole picture. Whilst it absolutely should not be left to women to criticise us, and face the aggressive response that inevitably follows, we try to use that criticism to challenge ourselves. We have found your suggestions for overcoming patriarchal behaviour a useful tool in helping us to progress.
We see our men’s group as a very small contribution to the fight against patriarchy and recognise its limitations- as men we are likely to be blinded or ignorant to some of our sexist behaviour. We would like to contribute towards the creation of spaces with women in which the issues including those raised by the Sisters of Resistance can be discussed amongst women and men, with the aim of challenging patriarchal thought and action rather than seeking to justify the status quo. We strongly believe that patriarchy is entwined with capitalist society, and that if we wish to build communities of resistance then all the abuses and hierarchies prevalent within the dominant society must be challenged with equal determination. We would also be very willing to participate in the initiatives of others around these issues.
We have had enough of men’s denial and excuses – let’s work together to bring down the patriarchy!