On Sunday around 30 people attended a talk by Wendy Bacon organised by Jura Books im Sydney on the topic of anarcha-feminism and women's liberation. What did anarcho-feminism mean to 1970s feminists? Does it still have relevance for today's feminists?
Wendy is the only person in Australia (to Jura's knowledge) to have turned up to court to facing charges of obscenity whilst dressed in a nun's habit. As well as beating those charges, Wendy helped distribute the infamous 'Little Red Schoolbook', was involved in The Push, and won a Walkley Award for her work as a journalist exposing corruption in NSW.
She taught journalism at UTS for many years from 1991 onwards, and is now the Professor of Journalism at the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism. On top of her journalistic achievements she's also taken part in many social movements, and nowadays is most interested in climate change, censorship issues, miscarriages of justice and the Northern Territory Intervention into Aboriginal affairs.
The key themes covered in the talk included:
Wendy's own political development and influences including references to Emma Goldman.
The development of the anarchist movement and wider left in the late 1960s/ early 70s in Sydney.
The contribution of feminism and women's liberation to anarchism both past and present.
The relevance of anarcha-feminism today particularly around struggles against censorship and abortion rights.
There was an intensive subsequent discussion concerning the common fight by the Builders Labourers front (BLF)and squatters in preserving much of Sydney's heritage by imposing a green ban, and the role of feminists in broader workplace struggles. Other areas debated included fighting patriarchy and and sexism within the left and anarchist movement and the importance of class and gender. There was also a heated intervention from an Iranian leftish dissident whose family suffered immensely under the Islamic Republic on the need to both oppose imperialism and supporting the women's and any workers movement.
"Being an anarchist feminist means becoming conscious of all struggles for liberation, not letting the struggle for women’s liberation become the struggle for white, middle-class, able-bodied, straight heterosexual women’s equality under capitalism.
The relevance of anarcha- feminism today - Wendy Bacon at Jura Books by Workers Solidarity on Mixcloud
While as feminists we are aware of male privilege, we need to be aware of our own. The eternal difficulty with feminism, and all politics/activism, is that it tends to be exclusive. It is more likely to be the educated, the white, the middle-class, the able-bodied, the non-marginalized, the young, the straight, the child-free, the cis-gendered, the settled, that get to participate in these groups."
— from What the fuck is Anarcha- feminism anyway?