Posted 2 months ago

On inclusion and the Afem 2014 conference, from the organising committee

Last week we published and circulated a statement/ callout for our conference organising committee. This statement has been widely criticised as cissexist for its explanation of how we decided not to invite cis men to organise or participate in the conference.
We are genuinely sorry for the anger and hurt this statement has caused to trans*, genderqueer, gender fluid and non binary people and we are grateful for the criticism we’ve received. We appreciate the energy and time given by all those who have written us open letters and emails and discussed the issue on social media. The AFem conference should not reproduce cissexism or any other gender oppression in our organising. 
We are reading your criticisms and considering how to change our approach. Our aim is to provide safe and anti-oppressive space for all those who experience oppression in relation to gender. We recognise that we have not achieved this in our plans so far. We are already a mixed gender group as organisers but we are looking to hear from more trans*, genderqueer, genderfluid and non binary people on this subject. There have long been tensions around how to organise safer space for gender oppressed people and we would like this conversation to help generate better practice.
Please do contact us by email at afem [at] afed [dot] org [dot] uk,  if you have points you want us to take on board. Our next organising meeting is on 8th February in London. Let us know if you would like to attend and be part of this discussion. 
Posted 3 months ago

Organising for AFem2014: an anarcha-feminist conference in London on Sunday October 19th 2014

Who are we?

We are a group of anarcha-feminists of varying genders, backgrounds and histories, who have come together to organise an anarcha-feminist event. We want to use it to build concretely towards the transformation of our own experience, and towards toppling the institutions and ideas which oppress us.

What is AFem2014?

AFem2014 will be the first of what we hope will be a series of international anarcha-feminist conferences. The need for this has been obvious for a long time within anarchist organising. Efforts to shut us down, belittle our ideas, and physically assault and abuse us have led to a level of anger against the masculinisation of our movement. We are not represented in equal numbers and often are not taken seriously. Whilst on paper we are equal, we sometimes face oppression even in our own groups and organisations. Barriers to our full political participation remain intact. This means that our anarchist movement is not truly ‘anarchist’. We will no longer tolerate this. We want to transform our movement.

Furthermore, in wider society, the supposed gains of liberal feminism have not brought equality. Mainstream reformers and authoritarian-left political parties achieve little for us. This is the case in legal, economic, social and political terms, and in personal relationships.  As we work toward a feminist conference which will have class-struggle anarchism and the fight for economic equality at its heart, we know that capitalism is not the only enemy. We are kept down and divided by many different kinds of oppression, overlapping and intersecting in complex ways. Racism, ableism, trans*phobia, ageism and oppression relating to religion or culture are common forms we encounter, but there are many more. These can impact on us as much as economic exploitation, and sometimes more immediately so.

As such, we understand anarcha-feminism not just as a response to anarchism and feminism. Anarcha-feminism is an anti-authoritarian, anti-oppressive critique of the capitalist kyriarchal form, and a weapon we can use in our daily lives. We want to explore the intersections between oppressions, developing theory, learning from others and arriving at practical outcomes.

Who is the conference open to?

Although this conference is not open to cisgender men (men who are comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth), it is open to people of all other genders and none. It actively hopes to engage with trans*, genderqueer, gender fluid and non-binary people, as well as with cisgender women. We will not take a policing stance around gender presentation at the conference, but we will not hesitate to challenge trans*phobic, cissexist or binarist language, behaviour and attitudes.

How will the conference be structured and organised?

We propose a structure of intersecting, thematic meetings and strands, with outcomes by the end of the conference which we can take away with us, use and build on. We invite people to initiate meetings and whole strands with a focus on anarcha-feminist analysis and activity. These strands should include those self-organised by people of colour, trans*, genderqueer, gender fluid and non binary people, sex workers, disabled people and people with mental health issues. We are committed to doing what we can to involve a diverse range of people in our organising, so such strands will be supported and resourced as a priority through the wider project. To support the full and free participation of those encouraged to attend, the conference will have an explicit and meaningful safer spaces policy.

Please get involved

The conference was the initiative of anarcha-feminists within the Anarchist Federation (AF, Britain) and the organising group now includes representatives of the International of Anarchist Federations (IFA-IAF) and its member federations, the Solidarity Federation (SF-IWA) and a growing number of non-aligned and autonomous anarcha-feminists. There are a lot of things that we need to do, and we invite you to get involved to help shape this exciting event, in terms of ideas, concepts, and practical organising.

Please get in touch if you agree with the approach above and would like to join the organising group, as an individual or as a delegate, including if you would like to participate in or help organise a specific meeting or strand.

Please also circulate this statement widely within your groups, organisations and networks, and get them to join the list of supporters and contributors.

Please help us raise money for the event. The more we get, the more inclusive and international the conference can be.

Looking forward to working with you…

AFem2014 Organisers

 January 2014 

Email: afem [at] afed.org.uk