Revamping the Revolution: a Socialist Feminist “How-To”

Last week, Johanna Brenner (activist and author of Women and the Politics of Class) wrote the Jacobin article titled “The Promise of Socialist Feminism.” The article is excellent in its own right, but my personal favorite part was the end, where Brenner specifically outlined specific strengths of socialist feminist movement. I got so excited that I decided to actually outline and translate Brenner’s attributes of a strong leftist movement, so that we can all easily participate in socialist feminist ideology! Now, you too can “socialize” and “feminize” your revolution! (nota bene: Brenner’s quotes are bolded; Virginia’s commentary is bulleted)

“Socialist feminists’ commitment to self-organization supports organizational structures that are non-hierarchical and democratic and therefore more inclusive.”

  • You have to mobilize the people to form themselves into a functional group. When people organize themselves, they tend to elect their own officials that most accurately represent their actual interests and points of view.
  • Bottom-up organization not only allows for very little ladder-climbing, but there really isn’t much of a ladder to climb.

“Attention to intersectionality as a guide to both program and political discourse ― the demands that movements make and the language we use to support those demands ― opens a ground on which deep social divisions might be overcome rather than reproduced.” 

  • Your revolution itself must recognize that the people making up your movement come from diverse backgrounds and hold many different identities. This is a good thing. That means your revolution will be able to address the problem it is wrestling with from all different perspectives, which means your argument will be air-tight.
  • The aims of your movement are also intersectional – that is, you recognize that systems of oppression complement each other, so if you’re going to fight one, you’re really fighting them all. Embrace that. Use your diverse foundation of identity groups to help you out with that.
  • Hopefully, by having people from differing backgrounds come together to fight for a more equal society, they will learn how to work together, which will start to heal “deep social divisions.”
  • The revolution itself is the answer.

“Understanding the ways that workplaces, households, and communities are inter-related leads to more effective modes of organizing and more possibilities for coalition politics, making connections between what are often seen as very different and separate issues and struggles.” 

  • There is not a hard and fast line between the public and the private.
  • Breaking down barriers between the household, workplace, and community will allow for a more unified movement.
  • The household, workplace, and community share many of the same concerns, but the issues often present in slightly different formats.
  • Unified movements are more powerful because there is strength in numbers, and because of the transfer of knowledge and resources.

“Socialist-feminist visions of leadership and of leadership development promote activists’ capacities for engagement in democratic decision-making and collectivity.”  

  • “Leadership” does not equate to “tyranny.”
  • Leaders empower their constituents.
  • Leaders promote communication, ideas, and knowledge.
  • Leaders ensure that voices are heard, leaders encourage an active and lively policy-creation for the organization.

“The recognition that affect, emotions, and sexuality are always present, shaping social relations, encourages activists’ self-reflection, empathy, and respect for different ways of being in the world.” 

  • Emotions are an aspect of the human experience that is usually considered “less than.” But they are a powerful resource in galvanizing a movement, and fostering a healthy environment for revolutionaries!
  • Creating an environment in which mental and emotional health is valued and protected will ensure a more honest and productive movement.

So, there you have it, folks! Consider this a gift from one revolution to all the others (you’re welcome!)

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Categories: Alternative Models, Angry Feminists, Talkin' Bout a Revolution

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