If one group of people starts thinking that in some mysterious and ineffable way they are superior to another group then they will soon start showing this in actions; the more so the original claim has no discoverable factual content. This way lies the irrational mythologies of master races; the Volk and its special relation to blood and soil. Scientifically we object because differences in biological function are just that; they are not differences in ultimate worth, closeness to nature or anything else. Within history they may have led to differences in economic, social and political status, to particular structures of sexual oppression and to sexually differentiated codes of value. All this however remains a process of empirical history lacking any transcendental significance: the fact that this structure of oppression contradicts our current values is like the oppression and values themselves an historical product. Insofar as an ideology is appearing which asserts a female superiority which is neither one of physical strength nor of intellectual ability (the so-called "male" values) this can only be understood as a continuation in a new context of the value systems of female oppression; an assertion of "femaleness" as valuable which, whilst a first step in liberation. ultimately leads back to woman's traditional role unless the fantasies of a completely separate female world can be realised-fantasies which are themselves only the old idea of a separate woman's sphere projected onto the whole world.
Whilst it is natural that feminists in the women's movement will initially find some aspects of anarchism more relevant than others to their immediate situation and interests we must oppose the attempt to inflate this into a distinction between two types of anarchism: a women's anarchism treating personal relations and the family and the men's anarchism treating class relations and politics. Such a division merely reproduces the old theory of the division of labour between the sexes: woman for the home and personal life , man for the State and civil society, social and political life. It also negates the very thing that originally attracted women in the movement towards anarchism: the theory of non-hierarchical organisation around affinity groups, a theory which has the function of tying together the two spheres.
From an anarchist standpoint there can be no objection to groups of people coming together to discuss and act on the issues that concern them; self-activity is both a means and an end for anarchism. Also no anarchist could presume to-determine the membership of other people's affinity groups. There is no need for women's anarchist groups to justify their existence as women's groups by a conscious and deliberate restriction of their activities to so-called "women's issues". Even apart from personal preferences there may be excellent reasons for forming women's groups within the anarchist movement whose focus of activity is quite unrestricted. These reasons might either be anarchist, e.g. the maximisation of independent centres of activity, or feminist, e.g. the organisation of opposition to de facto male dominance or the attack on internalised stuctures of oppression carried over from outside society. Indeed insofar as one's concern is to overcome sexual role differentiation within the anarchist movement and then society at large it seems quite necessary to avoid the restriction of women's groups to "women's issues" unless it can be proven that in all other anarchist groups women participate equally and fully.
The main focus of activity of an anarchist group should arise from a consideration of the various opportunities open, the means available and the desires and interests of its members. There would be something very wrong with a women's anarchist group which did not adopt a feminist focus; from a global viewpoint it would be a misallocation of anarchist resources. One must sharply reject the view that feminist activities are inferior or less important than activities directed towards, say, the working class. One'must also reject the idea that these are necessarily distinct activities. The existence of the women's movement and its reflection in popular consciousness have created avenues of approach to people which were not available previously. Anarchist women can approach women because they are women; anarchist men are just mere anarchists. As a result the avenues for all sorts of anarchist activities are widened provided that women anarchists do not restrict themselves purely to women's anarchism.
Originally written for Anarcho-Feminist Conference
but not presented. VRAB, No.4, Jan.-Feb. 1976.