Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good-bye, Etta James

I don't recall a time when I didn't know of Etta James. Yet for all the time I knew of her, I knew so little about her life. What I knew, like so many other people, was her music. Although her recordings varied in genre, I associate her most with the blues.

A few weeks ago a national news program did a feature on her but it wasn't an announcement of her passing. The report mentioned she was in poor health, however. I hoped she wasn't suffering. Then, on January 20, a week and a half ago, came the news I'd been anticipating. She was gone. I will miss her living presence on this Earth.

Recent Indigenous Women's Activism: Debra White Plume (Lakota), Louise Benally (Navajo), Ofelia Rivas (O'odham), and the women of Winyan Ituwan

Water and land are radical and profeminist issues. For current news in this regard, please see what follows. And please note in these stories how the US government deliberately and destructively pits oppressed groups against one another for its own greedy genocidal, ecocidal gain.

The following four news stories are brought to my attention thanks to Brenda Norrell at Censored News.You may click on the respective titles to link back to the original site where I found them. And please do, and check out many other Censored News stories.

Debra White Plume: A Thread in the Beautiful Fabric of Resistance

Photos by Vi Waln
A Thread in the Beautiful Fabric of Resistance
by Debra White Plume
Censored News

Water is finite, and sacred. “Mni wicozani”, through water there is life. We must drink clean, nourishing water to live. Just as Mother Earth is made up of a lot of water, our human bodies are 70% water. That is why at Full Moon, and the tides change, some human beings have strong, unpredictable behavior. To our Lakota people, mni (water) is our first medicine, our first home. There are entire spiritual and social teachings that we learn as we grow up, our Lakota World View about water. Mni is our relative, and Lakota Law compels us to protect our relatives. Mother Earth is our relative.

This belief led our organization Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), which is involved with cultural preservation and revitalization, Treaty Rights and Human Rights, to begin looking at disproportionate cancer and diabetes rates on the Pine Ridge Homeland. This research took us places we never thought we would be! We examined air and water quality studies, which led us to the Cameco, Inc. in situ leach uranium mine 30 minutes from our southern border. We learned that ISL uranium mining contaminates an incredible amount of water, on a daily basis. Cameco was up for license renewal and had submitted another application to open a second mine. We researched that process, and found we could submit interventions, based on science and law. We did that, and are now plaintiffs in the case against Cameco’s ‘right’ to poison our water. That was 7 years ago. This work continues.

Water protection work requires constant research, in doing so I learned about the tarsands oil mine in First Nations Territory in the Athabascan River Basin where Ft McMurry is, in Canada. Learning about that mine and its’ impacts to Mother Earth was mind jolting, so I began to speak out more about this horrendous desecration of Mother Earth and our First Nations relatives. The tarsands oil mine is decades old, and has become the dirtiest mining operation in the world. The corporations snuck in decades ago, fooling elected leaders into signing contracts of extraction, contracts that are resulting in increased forms of rare cancer, people are dying, so are fish, moose and other animals that the people depend on for food. It has become a food issue. Will it become a famine issue? The pristine Boreal Forest is being clearcut, the Amazon of the North is being destroyed, millions of birds and other animals have died, species have become extinct. The mine uses 3 to 4 barrels of pristine drinking water to create 1 barrel of oil, each day. It creates so much green house gases, the output can hardly be measured.

Studying the tarsands oil mine led to the discovery of TransCanada corporation’s intent to build and operate the Keystone XL oil pipeline from the tarsands oil mine into Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas where it would be refined and shipped out to who-knows-where. We learned the KXL oil pipeline was three feet in diameter, thin, and would high pressure slurry the heavy crude oil that had to be heated to 150 degrees F to liquefy it enough to push through that pipeline. There is a union worker who turned whistle blower when he was fired for declaring the pipe defective, which corporate workers would re-tag as approved. He gave up a lifelong career. I met him in DC.

The pipeline would cross our Rural Water pipeline, which transports drinking water from the Missouri River, 200 miles away, to our communities on the Pine Ridge. The KXL pipeline would cross 200 lakes and streams and rivers. It would be buried in the Ogllala Aquifer, which irrigates 30% of the food grown in the USA, and which provides drinking water for 2 million people, and for cattle, horses, buffalo and other four legged. Trans-Canada would use a lot of drinking water to mix with that heavy crude. Sacred and social teachings about water propelled me into devoting more and more time into fighting the life and death situation that this oil pipeline had become. I knew the threats to our ground and surface from uranium mining, and learning about this oil pipeline taught me that it threatens our very lives, for where would we get enough drinking water for the 50,000 Oglala Lakota people on the Pine Ridge when the pipeline spilled or leaked? Who would care enough to do something about it? The technology does not exist to clean up this kind of heavy crude. No pipe has been created that does not leak or spill.

Friends from the Indigenous Environmental Network contacted me, and we began a dialogue about water protection, contamination, a number of other topics. Tribes along the pipeline route took action to oppose the pipeline. Every Native Nation organization in the USA raised their voice to say No. I decided to go to Washington, DC to participate in a Senate Briefing Hearing, and meet with the State Department officials about Ft Laramie Treaty violations and violations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in 2007. I traveled with others to Pierre, SD to testify at a State Dept hearing, but was not able to, as I was number 152. I saw drunken union workers testify about how they needed a job welding. They mostly came from out of state.

Then my family and I decided I would go to Washington DC. I participated in a civil disobedience direct action, trespassed at the White House and got arrested, along with 1200 other people who wanted to help get this issue into the minds of mainstream America and the attention of President Obama. There were a dozen of us Native Nations people who were arrested. The Lakota people on Pine Ridge hosted Tom Weis, who rode a solar powered bike from Montana to Texas to raise awareness along the KXL oil pipeline route. We hosted a Rally for Mother Earth in Pine Ridge, and a march. We hosted a Ride for Solidarity with ranchers, farmers, Lakota people, and an American movie star, Darryl Hannah. We had radio shows, wrote articles, attended events. Next thing I knew, I was on the Tour of Resistance, I flew 10,000 miles in 5 weeks. Halfway through, I lost my hairbrush, my comb, and only had one sock. Good thing it was almost over by then! On January 15, a group of us Lakota people hosted Winyan Ituwan, a women’s gathering with the focus on Mother Earth and Sacred Water, with guest speakers including Kandi Mosset of IEN and Tantoo Cardinal, a Cree movie star from Canada. All to raise awareness and resistance to uranium mining and the KXL oil pipeline and the tarsands oil mine, and protection for our sacred water.

Nebraska started out to protect the Ogllala Aquifer, but became involved in negotiations to allow the pipeline in along an undetermined route. South Dakota GAVE KXL $30 million in tax breaks to come here, Montana made concessions as well. However, individuals and groups got involved, big time. Environmental groups, many other civic groups, thousands of people on both sides of the Canadian/USA border spoke with the same voice, STOP THE PIPELINE. Nobel Laureates, Native Nation and First Nation Chiefs and Presidents, scientists, retired military, Olympic Medalists, Senators, Congressmen, actors, writers, students, people from all walks of life raised their voices and risked their freedom to stop the pipeline. Rarely did USA’s mainstream media cover any of this, but in the little towns and small cities, local newspapers and radio shows did. Word got out, numbers of resisters grew. The last time I went to DC, I spoke at a rally of 15,000 people, we circled the White House 4 times. People came from all over, to speak with one voice. We made friends and allies.

Nebraska politicians had a special hearing to allow KXL to come in, but the White House heard the message to protect the Ogllala Aquifer. Then TransCanada pushed the USA to make a decision, and elected politicians lifted their voices to support the KXL, attached a new bill as a rider to a jobs bill, gave the White House 60 days to let KXL in or to reject the pipeline as against the national interest.

On January 18, 2012, the State Dept and President Obama rejected the pipeline, as 60 days was inadequate to conduct environmental impact studies. However, TransCanada can still apply for a new permit.

Each of us who worked on this life and death situation, we are a thread in this fabric of resistance. Folks wrote letters, gave speeches, cooked food, wrote emails, tweeted, did FaceBook postings, made banners, pitched in gas money, made tshirts, made phone calls, did research, made copies, stood in line to testify, got arrested, lobbied Senators and Congressmen, babysat, loaned out their cars, offered a couch or a spare room, musicians/artists doing pro bono benefits, shared frequent flyer miles, took pictures, raised money, it was truly a collective action to protect our water and Mother Earth.

There is no one person, nor one organization, that stopped the pipeline, this victory that may be temporary, this partial victory, as the tarsands oil mine is still operating. It was the love of the many, for Mother Earth and coming generations, the many prayers and sacrifices that gave this movement its power. I believe love is stronger than greed. I believe that people working together can be just as effective as the world’s richest corporations. I believe Mother Earth wants to live, and we cannot live without Her. I believe our Lakota prophecy, “Someday the Earth will weep, She will cry with tears of blood. You must make a choice. You help Her, or She will die. When She dies, you too will die.”

All over the world, events are unfolding, 200 tornadoes in two days last summer? Earthquakes and shakes where there have been none for hundreds of years? Floods? Droughts? All common weather events, but uncommon in the repeated occurrences or place of occurrence. Every summer has been hotter than the last since 1996. Mother Earth is telling us something, She is crying, and She is rising. Crying Earth Rise Up! Whatever befalls Mother Earth, befalls the people of Mother Earth. Such a struggle is made up of many, many threads, together we form a beautiful fabric of resistance, and protection for our Mother, Mother Earth.

The last time we left DC, my friend and I saw a huge red tailed hawk, he swooped over us, and over the White House, and he flew to the west. The day of Winyan Ituwan Winter Gathering, we saw a bald eagle circle over us, and he flew off to the West. Sacred messages ... if we listen, we can hear, if we hear, we can understand. When we understand, we give thanks. Lila wopila iciciyapi. Hecetuye.

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Navajo Louise Benally: Arizona racism and coal fired power plants

Louise Benally during Salt River Project protest,
speaking out against the coal fired Navajo
Generating Station. Photo: Resist ALEC
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

On First Voices Indigenous Radio today, WBAI New York, Louise Benally, resisting relocation at Big Mountain on the Navajo Nation, described the detriment of coal fired power plants and racism in Arizona.

Louise said regardless of the struggles, Navajos living on the land still live in harmony with the land. Louise described the natural herbs and healing ceremonies that come from the wild, now being contaminated by pollution. "It is doing a lot of destruction." She spoke on the chemical trails settling in the water and environment.

"Those are real problems we are faced with now, because a lot of the vegetation is being wiped out." She said Peabody coal mine releases pollution to the regional watershed on Black Mesa. "It is just devastating," she said, to live in this situation.

Louise Benally confronts Salt River Project staff.
Photo Resist ALEC.
She also described the three coal fired power plants on the Navajo Nation. There are the two in the Four Corners area near Farmington NM which leave a grey haze over the skies. Then there is the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz., producing more contamination. These coal fired power plants carry electricity to cities like Phoenix and Tucson while Navajos suffer with disease and pollution.

"We can't just continue to produce, produce and produce pollution," said Louise, adding that these coal fired power plants are making the ice melt in the Arctic.

Louise described the changes to the climate and how development is creating this. If the land is not healthy, then life is not healthy either, Louise said, describing the Navajos respiratory problems and cancer.

Describing how Arizona just banned ethnic studies, she said, "It is just really sad."

Radio show host Tiokasin Ghosthorse described how the scheme was to make it look like the so called land dispute was between Hopi and Navajo. This scheme kept people from getting involved because they were led to believe it was an internal dispute between the two nations, rather than what it was: A carefully designed scheme to remove thousands of Navajos from Black Mesa to make way for Peabody coal mining, which continues today.

Louise said, "They were pitting tribe against tribe to get at the resources," explaining how they did this to get at the coal and resources.

Louise said the Navajo tribe is not realizing the depletion of the resources, and what Peabody is doing. However, she said the Hopi tribe is beginning to realize the detriment to the natural resources.

She said Native people need to revitalize the old ways and sustainable food. "We can still use the earth as our healing substance."

Tiokasin closed by pointing out that in the city, people don't take responsibility for taking care of the land and say it is the US government's responsibility to deal with it.

Listen to archive later today, Thursday at:

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O'odham Ofelia Rivas: URGENT Halt Gold Mining in Sacred Quitovac

O'ODHAM LANDS -- (Jan. 30, 2012) Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, speaks on the urgent need to protect Quitovac from gold mining. Quitovac is the sacred ceremonial community of O'odham south of the border in Sonora, Mexico.
Funds are needed now for travel in Sonora, and meetings with Sonoran officials, to halt this gold mining by Silver Scott Mines, Inc. Video by Censored News.

READ MORE on genocidal gold mining planned for Quitovac:
Donate to O'odham Solidarity Project:

Direct cash donations are also essential! Please remember that every little bit helps! Donate to the O'odham Voice Against the Wall
Mail well concealed cash or money order to:
Ofelia Rivas
PO. Box 1835
Sells, Arizona 85634

Ofelia Rivas e-mail: oodhamrights@gmail.com

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Vi Waln: Winyan Ituwan Women of Vision

Winyan Ituwan holds first of four gatherings

Photos and article by Vi Waln
Lakota Country Times Editor

Photos by Vi Waln: Top - Phyllis Young and Madonna Thunder Hawk; 2nd - Olowan Sara Martinez and Pte San Win; 3rd - Kandi Mossett, Marie Randall, Tantoo Cardinal and Tiana Spotted Thunder; 4th Members of the Cante Ohitika (Brave Heart Society) also attended the gathering in Porcupine, SD. Faith Spotted Eagle spoke about building young women through traditional ceremony. Pictured behind her are society members (L-R) Frances Bullshoe, Brittany Poor Bear, Alex Romero Frederick, Jennifer Takes War Bonnet, Jennifer Drapeaux and Theresa Hart. 5th: More than 200 men, women and children attended. 6th: Regina Brave. Arlette Loud Hawk spoke about being a female Tokala whip bearer. Thank you Vi for the photos!

PAHIN SINTE OWAYAWA – “This is a collective effort to bring women together to share experience, wisdom and vision; our Earth Mother needs us to stand up for her to be a voice for these young girls to walk in our path,” stated Pte San Win, one of the organizers of the initial Winyan Ituwan gathering. “We hope to inspire and encourage you to go home with lots of information for your family.”

Topics discussed at the gathering revolved around the desecration of Mother Earth and water, as well as mining issues facing the people living on the Great Plains of the United States. In addition, the traditional roles and responsibilities of Native women were presented. Over 200 people attended.

Lorraine White Face prayed with her macaw feather fan and blessed everyone with sage smoke. Opening prayer was offered by Esther White Face. Singing a beautiful opening song were duet Tianna Spotted Thunder and Autumn Two Bulls.

“Each and every one of us is special. Faith, hope and love will make a better generation for all of us,” stated Marie Randall. “As women we all carry the water of life and we must care for ourselves because of the children. We must have the courage to change because the gifts that were given to us by Tunkasila are suffering. I encourage all of you to teach the children to love and respect one another. I am not afraid to be Lakota.”

“Water is the first medicine,” stated Cordelia White Elk.

“Tunkasila gave us the guidance to do this,” Debra White Plume stated. “We want to share the love we have for Unci Maka, we are trying to live in a good way.

The power comes from love, the work we do comes from our love of Lakota ways. Pine Ridge has been fighting uranium mining being done south of us. We have challenged their right to mine uranium because we have scientific evidence that the mine site near Crawford, NE is linked to our drinking water. We have been fighting North Trend for 7 years now. We use water in every single ceremony. This is the same water that was here when the dinosaurs were here; it is our duty and privilege to fight for drinking water. These are issues that are genocidal to our people. If water is contaminated where are we going to get water for 50,000 Oglala? What about water for our horses and other animals?”

“We never started out to fight the biggest uranium mine under Cameco; we started out trying to find out why things were happening to our people. It doesn’t matter who tests the water, the results are always the same. We have to fight for the water to keep it clean and keep it good. We have to speak up, we have to take action. They may have a lot of money but we have a lot of love. There can be no more desecrating of Unci Maka; we are going to defend our sacred water. It’s hard to be Lakota because you have to stand up. Our courage is greater than the corporations and government who want to take our water.

“The Keystone XL pipeline expansion will cross the Lyman Jones Rural Water System in many places. It will cross the Mni Wiconi Water System in two places. We are trying to teach our non-Indian allies to call Earth our Mother instead of a planet,” stated White Plume.

The Keystone XL pipeline expansion consists of a 1,912-mile pipeline that would transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas. The proposed project could transport up to 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands crude per day right through the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies drinking water to over 2 million people and countless animals, trees and plants. National lawmakers have used their power of politics to force President Obama to decide by February 21 if he will sign the permit needed for TransCanada to build the pipeline.

“Even in the 1800’s geologists in the area already knew what was in that land,” stated Tantoo Cardinal, a Cree actress who grew up near the Athabasca oil sands. “Everything that had to do with our culture was outlawed. I saw people who lived a life of strength off the bush. The outlawing of language and ways was an attempt to sever our connection to the Creator. This made us mean to each other too. When I was young we would go on berry picking trips and we could get our water out of the lake. Our children aren’t going to know that. Now, 10% of the fish coming out of the water are abnormal.”

“The people who come to Fort McMurray have no love for the land, they come for money. Even though we had no ceremonies we had medicine. There’s medicine on that land. A woman from Yellow Knife has medicine to doctor AIDS. There is medicine to doctor AIDS in that land they are killing. We were right from the beginning. Our treaties were established because we know our Mother. We have the blueprint. We have to discern who are allies are, defenders of the Earth come in all colors. In that knowing, in that teaching is where the women stand. Women’s place hasn’t been respected. The Earth is being treated the same way women are being treated.

“Sands are the grit that wears and tears on that pipe,” Cardinal continued. “All we have had are lies from this civilization, so why would they start telling us the truth now?”

“In 1947 the US Government built a dam,” stated Kandi Mossett, a Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikira tribal member who is currently employed with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We were forced into a cash economy; it was like walking through door never to go back. When women eat mercury contaminated fish it affects our bodies. We are always told that we can’t eat the big fish we catch in Lake Sakakawea anymore. There are many flares or giant candles of natural gas now. Many tribal members were paid $34 an acre for their land versus the $5,000-$6,000 an acre paid to non-Indians.

“Now, every single place you go you see trucks hauling water in and hauling water out. Many people have died in head-on crashes with the trucks. It’s all for oil mining. It’s wrong. The tribally elected leaders at Fort Berthold are not my leaders. Women have to lead, let us show you how to lead. A Tribal Environmental Code was just passed last year. There are many open valves. There are 2,500 chemicals in that fracked water that leaks out of the valves on the trucks. Tribal police have no jurisdiction over the truck drivers. People are getting money now and they are happy because we’ve been poor for so long. Drugs are coming in worse than they were before. We need to stop it at all costs.

“Why should you care what is happening on Fort Berthold?” Mossett asked. People need to care because “it’s affecting you down here. Green water found in Lake Sakakawea was said to be a blue green algae bloom which is toxic.” Also, leakage that “cannot be seen with the naked eye but infrared cameras shows the constant smoke coming from pipes and those round storage tanks along with frack trucks around the reservation. People are not dumb. People just became complacent. I survived cancer when I was 20 years old. I refused chemotherapy, I refused radiation. There’s so much to fight for an as long as I have a breath in me I am going to go anywhere to lift people up. Forget the Keystone XL pipeline; we are going to kill it. As long as there are little kids running around we are going to fight.”

“Kandi Mossett is my hero,” stated Phyllis Young, a newly elected tribal council representative at Standing Rock. “She inspired me to pass legislation against fracturing. Demonstrations are significant; we need to have an Occupy Wall Street type of event in the Black Hills. We have the Standing Rock directors working to beef up the regulations we have. We are also trying to prohibit horizontal drilling. I have been on the tribal council for two months and we will do everything we can to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.”
“What is it going to take for activism in Indian Country?” Madonna Thunder Hawk asked. She is currently working on Indian Child Welfare Act violations in East River South Dakota. “Check the NPR.org website for documents about the Department of Social Services. Lean on your tribal councils because they have to make child welfare a priority. Not one tribe in the State of South Dakota has made child welfare a priority. Kids are kept in the system for the money. They are drugged up and then when they age out they dump them back into the Indian community. I’m hoping there will be younger women who will pick up this fight.”
"I love my people,” stated Regina Brave who is also a long-time activist for the Lakota. “This whole country still belongs to us; I want you to remember that. They want to build Keystone XL through here because they called this a sparsely populated area. We have farmers, ranchers and processing plants. 75% of the groceries people take for granted come from this sparsely populated area. We have a right to protest and shut down TransCanada, we have to stop it. We are a nation fighting for survival. 2012 is the beginning of a whole new era for Indian people, it’s time for women to stand up and start fighting. We waited for a long time for this to happen where we could stand together and fight.”

“I believe this is an historical gathering,” stated Faith Spotted Eagle. “We have a responsibility to recreate societies. In 1994 we revived the Brave Heart Society. We have to build these young women. There are 90 girls scattered across the country that have been through the Isnati ceremony.”

Brittany Poor Bear, a Brave Heart Society member, offered a prayer for the wamakaskan.

Russell Means’ recent bout with cancer “was a powerful and humbling experience,” stated his wife Pearl Means. “But the power of our ancestors and spirituality is hard to express. We are downwind from North Dakota which is where the largest strip mining in the country is taking place.”

Other speakers included Arlette Loud Hawk who spoke as the Whip Bearer for the Tokala Kit Fox Warrior Society. Troy Lynn Yellow Wood talked about the roles of women. Special guest speakers included Alex White Plume, Russell Means, and Lily Mae Red Eagle.

Winyan Ituwan is a collective effort to bring women together to share experiences, vision, and wisdom. There were many door prizes including propane and other gifts. Winyan Ituwan is the first of four women’s gatherings, with one set for spring, summer and fall. People can call             605-899-1419       or connect at Winyan Ituwan on Face Book for more information.

“Each of us has power in our thoughts and in prayer. When we think and pray in a good way that is what we add to the atmosphere,” stated Cardinal.

Monday, January 30, 2012

An Anti-racist Radical Profeminist Critique of a Socialist Review of White Radical Feminism

image/logo is from *here*

image is from here

(The NOTES section was revised and added to on 1/31/2012.)

The excerpted writing below is from Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal. You may click *here* to link back to that site in order to read the whole article. You may also link back by clicking on the title just below:

Socialists in the Australian women's liberation movement

The author is Margaret Allan. She is a member of the national executive of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia. This article is based on an educational talk to the party's congress, held in Sydney in January 1999.

Below is the section of that article on Radical Feminism, reproduced here for the sole purposes of radical pro-feminist political analysis and discussion. 

I have not altered the content of the text in any way other than to add footnote numbers which may refer you to comments below the original writing, within this blog post. The section by Margaret Allan is reproduced here in full, but again keep in mind it is part of a larger piece of writing. Please refer back to that for the context in which the following discussion occurs.

Radical feminism
First I will look at radical feminism. “Patriarchy” was the word used by Engels[1] when describing anthropologically the different types of family or kinship units that have existed. He called families, clans or other social groupings that traced descent through the mother's side matrilineal. Descent traced through the father's side was patrilineal. Matriarchal or patriarchal were used to describe situations in which the auhtority and power over the group were invested in either the woman or the man.
The term patriarchy was redefined by radical feminism, and put into common usage, to refer to whole social systems controlled by men through their control of women's reproductive functions. That is, women are seen as oppressed because of their biology and their role as child-bearers.[2]

Adherents to patriarchy theory tend to agree on these four points:
  1. Patriarchy expresses the totality of the social relations of male supremacy and female subordination.[3]
  2. Patriarchy has existed in all known socioeconomic formations, though most analyses tend to focus on the particular features of capitalist patriarchy.[4]
  3. Patriarchy is a hierarchical system in which power and control are vested in men to effect and reproduce their domination over women. Patriarchal relations are said to be reproduced through the sexual division of labour and patriarchal ideology.[5]
  4. Patriarchy unites men across class lines. Their unity is based on the fact that although men hold different degrees of power within the patriarchy, all men dominate at least some women.[6]
Radical feminist arguments are explicitly or implicitly biologically determinist -- women are “naturally” caring, sharing, nurturing peaceful beings -- a stabilising force in society, whereas men are prisoners of their raging hormones, aggressive, warmongering.[7] Men cannot control their animal-like instincts -- they rape women and are violent, so for women to survive, they must separate from this threat to them and their children.[8]
An extreme view held by some radical feminists was summed up by Kimberley O'Sullivan in Girl's Own, a Sydney-based radical feminist newspaper, No. 5 1981:
Wimmin and men are two different species. Not different races within the one humanoid species but different species who evolved separately and differently. Wimmin are biologically and morally superior but men hold power by force of arms.[9]
The flaw of any theory that relies on this notion of patriarchy (our theory is also based on patriarchy, but as Engels defined it) to explain women's oppression is that it counterposes the liberation of half of humanity to the liberation of the other half. All men are said to have a primary interest in women's oppression.
Like liberal feminism, this type of radical feminism is fundamentally a bourgeois feminist current. While liberalism seeks to humanise capitalism through reforms -- getting more women into positions of power, etc. -- both tend inevitably to develop a reactionary aspect because of their insistence that capitalism is not founded ultimately and necessarily on class exploitation, and therefore on women's oppression.
The two most influential and original statements of radical feminism were Kate Millett's Sexual Politics and Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex: the case for feminist revolution, both published in 1971.[10]
Since then, writings from academics such as Andrea Dworkin (a vehement supporter of censorship, who says that pornography is the theory, rape is the practice)[11] and Renate Klein and Robyn Rowland in Australia have been influential. One of the main centres for radical feminist theory in Australia in recent years has been women's studies courses at Deakin University in Geelong. This is also the base of finrrage, Feminist International Network Resisting Reproductive and Genetic Engineering, which campaigns against the use of science to violate and manipulate women's bodies and their reproductive capability.
They oppose all reproductive technology -- including things such as IVF technology and the use of RU486, the morning after pill, on the basis that male doctors experimenting with women's bodies is another form of the violence that is naturally a part of men's attitudes and behaviour. This is an ironic reversal for radical feminism, which originally argued in favour of reproductive technology to free women's reproduction from men's control.
We have argued against radical feminist views consistently, in many different forums. One area was the censorship and pornography debate, on which we wrote and distributed a pamphlet encapsulating our opposition to censorship as a path to stopping the sexual exploitation of women.[12]
One section of radical feminists advocate separatism as political practice, based on their analysis of the origins and nature of women's oppression.
The identification of men as the enemy led many radical feminists to the conclusion that women should separate themselves from men politically and socially. Lifestyle preferences for all-women households, personal relationships, cultural institutions and even communities, were often promoted as the key to liberation.
This often leads to the assertion by some separatists that a “true feminist” is one who does not have sex with men, and is celibate or a “political lesbian”.
Most radical feminists in the second wave eventually went into academia or worked in women's services such as rape crisis centres and women's shelters.[13]

My overall critique of the discussion about radical feminism is four-fold:

--it relies on anti-radical, anti-feminist academic assessments of radical feminist work
--it is very white-centered and white supremacist
--it ignores crucial writings by white radical feminists and radical feminists of color that directly address and contradict the points made above
--it reproduces and reinforces many of the anti-radical and anti-feminist arguments made by well-published corporate pimps and other white male supremacists interested in defending their right to rape and traffic in women and girls and otherwise maintain rule over female human beings

1. There has been a fairly thorough rejection of Engel's understanding of women's oppression based on family relations as Engels understood them. That some non-feminist Socialists still prefer to hold to his theories when better theories by radical feminists exist only means to me that some people prefer to believe, sexistly, that men (or Socialists) are the best theorists, including on matters relating to women and women's liberation. Very generally speaking, I don't find this to be the case at all. I don't think it is because men and women think and theorise differently due to biological or natural factors. Instead, I think that men's minds, as shaped and structured in patriarchal and woman-hating societies, learn to abstract reality and organise theory around hypothesis--well away from the scary feelings and emotions men dread consciously including into their intellectual work, while many feminist's minds, in response to patriarchal conditions in which men's abstractions about women are part of the problem, learn to be able both to abstract reality and keep theory grounded in it. For more discussion on what's wrong with Engels, please see the following links to a four-part post by Stan Goff. I will add that many white het men there were willing to read a pro-feminist (Goff's) and feminist critique of Engels (MacKinnon's) only because a white het man with Socialist cred produced and published it.
Why the Left should drop Engels on Gender, part 1

Why the Left should drop Engels on Gender, part 2

Engels and Gender, part 3

Engels and Gender, Last Installment

2. This goes against the bulk of radical feminist writing I'm familiar with. See, especially, Catharine A. MacKinnon's radical feminist critique of such biologically deterministic viewpoints in Feminism Unmodified and in Toward A Feminist Theory of the State.

3. I'd argue that other systems of oppression carry within them the means and methods to reproduce male supremacy. White supremacy and capitalism, to name two, are infused with patriarchal (male supremacist) power structures, values, and practices. White supremacist notions of Race are also sexed. Class positions are infused with sexual meaning. Thus, if a woman is poor and of color she is subordinated socially, sexually, and economically in multiple ways, with each reinforcing her subordination to rich white men and to various groups of less economically powerful men. We may note how this manifest in the global trafficking of girls and women, predominantly poor girls of color to predominantly rich white het men. This horrific reality cannot and ought not be understood or analysed only in terms of patriarchy, capitalism, or race oppression. It is the weaving together of the three that identify key features of the atrocity. Similarly, the higher incidence of rape of Indigenous North American women by white het men, compared to the also-alarming rate of rape of white women by white het men, cannot either.

4. This conclusion, proposed by some white-centered and/or European-centered feminists, ignores and further marginalises of the work of many other radical women of color, particularly Indigenous and Black feminists who note how white or European patriarchy is currently globalised. See, for example, Yurugu, by Marimba Ani.

5. Another key site of male supremacist (or patriarchal) oppression is the sexual subordination of women by men through normalised sexual acts and sexual behavior as men experience and define it. Among other radicals, including many male socialists, the oppressive nature (as opposed to the "natural power") of sex expressed and enforced by men over and against women has largely been ignored or relegated to the realm of the "natural".

6. It is not only that patriarchal societies function to allow and encourage all men to dominate at least some women. With female human beings denied basic human rights such as access to private safety and sustained dignity, and with so many girls and women surviving (or not surviving) sexual assault and other misogynist atrocities and gynocidal practices, boys are encouraged to dis-identify with girls, men are encouraged to dis-identify with women, and males on the whole are supported in engaging in misogynistic practices which simultaneously homosocially bond males to one another and socially subordinate women to men in various ways. One example of this may be seen in the normalised rapist practices of young men in college and university fraternities. Men across class and race from region to region in many places--but not universally--are seen as more manly by other males if they engage in such practices. In such places, the man or boy who refuses to degrade or assault women or girls in front of other males is understood by the men present to be "less of a man"; he loses sexual status among those patriarchally positioned to confirm it. See note 2 for more.

7. Even if reviewing white feminist writings alone, this is not generally the case. No radical feminists I have ever read or known make such a case, and in fact argue exactly the opposite: to be a radical and feminist is to believe in the humanity of men against much evidence that men value being inhumane to women. See, for more, Andrea Dworkin's speech to 500 men, "I Want A Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which Their Is No Rape".

8. No anti-rape or anti-pornography radical feminist-identified women I know or have read believe that men are "naturally" prone to rape, to batter, or to otherwise exhibit masculinist or patriarchal aggression against girls and women. To be an activist is to believe that such behavior and systems which promote it are "not natural". The only women I know who do believe this are not "Radical Feminist" identified. Instead, some are Radical Lesbian identified.

9. For a good example of how this was challenged within a predominantly white branch of the US Women's Movement, please see: "Biological Superiority: The World's Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea", by Andrea Dworkin.

10. This would be true only according to mostly white academics who only consider white authors and activists to be worthy of writing about, reviewing, and critiquing. That white editors compile the writings of white writers is nothing new and ought not be seen as an indication that women of color were not and are not centrally involved in all realms of radical anti-patriarchy activism.

11. This is inaccurate in three respects:
  1. Andrea Dworkin was not an academic. She as a front-line Women's Liberation activist and author. She quit college before graduation. She marched in streets to protest women's subordination to men. She didn't teach except once in Minneapolis (a course on pornography, and also a course on literature), while also doing non-academic activist work.
  2. Andrea Dworkin was not "a vehement defender of censorship". She was against all state censorship and was opposed to the ways her ordinance was (mis)used in Canada in a censorial manner. She wrote eloquently about what censorship is and she and MacKinnon wrote about the myth--perpetuated by corporate pimps and spread by liberal academics who defended them--that their stance on pornography was pro-censorship. For more, see Pornography and Civil Rights: A New Day for Womens' Equality. See also, Andrea Dworkin, "Against the Male Flood: Censorship, Pornography, and Equality".
  3. Andrea Dworkin never said or wrote "Pornography is the theory; rape is the practice". The quote belongs to Robin Morgan. Dworkin said "Pornography is the practice; rape is the practice." Andrea understood pornography materially, not primarily or centrally as an idea or a theory; it is one white and male supremacist (racist patriarchal) industry that makes sexual subordination socially existent, marketing rape as entertainment primarily for men. Meanwhile, pornography's defenders--including those who materially profit from the industry--see it as only idea, fantasy, and subjectively determined. (One wonders how they got so rich only engaging in thinking.) Dworkin and MacKinnon have argued convincingly against such a determination. (Source: *here*.)
12. I have witnessed how debates among Socialists misunderstood--often willfully--Dworkin's views and activism on the issue. She was a key proponents and crafters of a radical feminist anti-pornography law, and other actions against the industry, and she's already been miscategorised above. This doesn't surprise me as anti-radical feminists in Socialist and Libertarian circles commonly and purposefully misrepresented the positions and actions of radical feminists against pornography. The Socialist anti-feminists I'm aware of did this, in part, as a means of protecting the power of men against women practiced and promoted in industry pornography.

13. The whole "wave theory" of feminism is academic mythology as much as anything else, steeped in narrow white- and euro-centric understandings of activism and liberation struggles against men's cultural and systematised subordination of women. Asian, Black, Brown, and Indigenous radical feminists, self-defining as such or not, are usually written out of such "wave theories", or are marginalised in special chapters or sections on race--as if women of color must only ever speak for people of color as a class, never for women as a class. The above discussion by Margaret Allen, unfortunately, perpetuates this euro-centrism and white supremacy. And the supposition that a great many radical feminists went into academia is in itself classist; most radical feminists are poor women of color globally, with little to no access to the academic institutions run by ruling class whites and men.

I hope that future discussions among Socialists about radical feminism demonstrate more awareness of the many theories and practices of radical feminist women of color, and also don't distort the political viewpoints of white radical feminists usually misinformation provided by corporate pimps and their defenders and apologists.

I encourage radical and feminist activists to offer comments at the original site.