An exchange on Feminism and Revolution: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Many thanks to Julie Matthaei for her splendid essay, and all the others who have contributed to this sensitive and much-needed conversation. Synthesizing some of the insights that have been put forward, I see a richly inspiring, inclusive, yet fundamentally simple vision emerging, one which can stand as a platform (or rather move as a vehicle) for a truly transformative global citizens movement.
Because we are all one—interconnected at every level of our being, seen and unseen—we suffer when we live in systems based on separation, which is its very antithesis. To go to the root of our global crises is to go to the very root of that sense of separation, and reverse it. That sense of separation manifests in our social systems as patriarchy, capitalism, racism, extreme economic inequality, ecological destruction, systemic violence, and war. These are not separate issues, to be fought in separation, but all manifestations of the same root cause, and thus to be addressed collectively, by changing the vision and values at the root of the system in which they are all embedded.
I see the essence of the feminine as this sense of interconnectedness—the realization that the other—be it another human being, of whatever gender or race, as well as the whole web of natural life—is not, and cannot ever be, separate from oneself. This realization, deeply felt, gives rise to a whole other set of values, which would express themselves naturally in systems very different from the present ones: systems based on caring, sharing, equality, participatory governance, sustainable energies, solidarity economy. Interconnectedness and interdependence, experienced at the consciousness level, would naturally express themselves as cooperative, sustainable systems at the outer levels. I believe this kind of vision and values can serve as the most potent ground for bringing together disparate groups with different goals (ones that may otherwise see themselves as unrelated or even opposed) into a collective “movement of movements” to transform our society, from levels local to global.
I was very struck by Matthaei’s essay—nuanced, compassionate, and illuminating in so many ways—so much here to draw on and inspire a way forward. And I wholeheartedly agree with the direction the conversation seems to be taking: the recognition that the “feminist” question is not one of women vs. men, nor women trying to equal men in a patriarchal system (whether they are succeeding or not is also not the relevant point), but the difference between a system based on the current values of separation and domination (hierarchical dualism, as Julie Matthaei calls it) and one based on interconnection and communion (integrative liberation) between all races, genders, abilities, ethnicities, human, and non-human life. Feminism is not about introducing more division into an already divided world, but our power to come together, to see our self in the other, and to co-create a caring, life-affirming system of unity-in-diversity that serves each of us and all life.
Hard to imagine a more powerful platform for revolution!
Cite as Kavita Byrd, "Contribution to 'Roundtable on Feminism and Revolution,'" Great Transition Initiative (June 2018), www.greattransition.org/roundtable/feminism-revolution-kavita-byrd.
As a forum for collectively understanding and shaping the global future, GTI welcomes diverse ideas. Thus, the opinions expressed in our publications do not necessarily reflect the views of GTI or the Tellus Institute.
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