What Can Western Feminists Learn From The Women’s Struggle In Rojava?

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1st October 2015

by Stefan Bertram-Lee
Kurdish Question
October 1, 2015

1. We must build women’s self defence units

2. The Revolution must smile

3. Liberalism is death

4. Women’s Liberation is anti-statist

5. But to learn one needs to hear

1. It is a simply reality that we live in a world where men are prosecuting a war upon women, something that they are doing incredibly successfully. We live in a world where for a woman to be sexually assaulted is a rule rather an expectation, a world where 1/3 of women are physically abused, a world where ‘femincide’ is an existent term, a world where 99% of property is owned by men etc. etc.

A war is being fought against us, but we seem not to have noticed. Women all over the word are fighting for their liberation in their millions, but considering the extent to which we are being annihilated much of our response seems muted. If a war is being waged against us, why are we not fighting back with the same ferocity?Voltairine de Cleyre wondered over a century ago how women had not rebelled considering the extent of abuse we have suffered, and this question seems equally applicable in our present conditions.

There seem to be few places in the world where the will and the structures to fight a women’s war exist, and one of these places is Rojava. Not only does a women’s army exist in the form of the YPJ, but a whole ‘Women’s Society’, with ‘’women’s communes, academies, tribunals, and cooperatives’’ [1].You need more than an army to fight a war; you need a whole structure that can economically and intellectually replenish an army as to allow the continuation of the struggle, something that the Rojava women’s struggle seems to have in spades.

But what connection can be drawn between the YPJ, and the general women’s struggle in Rojava and that of our situation in the West? Clearly the way patriarchy has presented itself in the form of IS, and other radical Salafist groups, is radically different to the way it has presented itself in the West, so surely a radically different response should be taken? The first thing to note is that the struggle against IS isonly half of the women’s struggle in Rojava, the other half is that of the internal societal struggle to eliminate patriarchy in the revolutionary society in Rojava, the ‘’Killing of the dominant male’’.[2] The second is that what I am advocating is not particularly focused on the armed aspect of the Women’s Revolution in Rojava, (Although if you live in a nation like the United States where you have a right to bear arms, I would not discourage you from taking up arms) but a more in-depth analysis of its situation.

What I am advocating is moving from simply self-organising to self-defence. In recent years there has been a recognition in movements that I am a part of, that self-organisation of oppressed segments of the populace is essential to liberation. While such self-organisation has come under assaults from reactionary elements, most clearly seen recently in the attacks on Goldsmiths Welfare Officer Bahar Mustafa, [3] it has generally become mainstreamed among radical movements that I have witnessed. While there are examples in the West of oppressed segments of society practising self-defence, with ‘minority’groups in the United States drawing on the tradition of groups like the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement to form organisations like theHuey P. Newton gun club[4] and the Indigenous People's Liberation Party,[5] these ideas do not have made much headway in the Western Women’s Movement.

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