Big movements do not begin in politicians’ offices. They begin with masses of people in the streets. Later on, after there is some kind of disruption happening, the politicians get rid of it and make it into some sort of legislation usually watering it down. That’s how so-called “progress” is made.
I’ve been following the incremental attacks on abortion for the 20 years we’ve been on the air. But as soon as we got into this chapter of it, I looked around for people who would go out into those streets and start to raise hell. I couldn’t find anybody except Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights who was out there immediately and mobilizing excellently. I was very excited about that. I didn’t see any of the other feminist groups and I’m in touch with a lot of them because a lot of them have been on the radio show I produce. They weren’t there. Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights was there. The crowds they were gathering were getting into the news. The different slogans they were using were getting into the news. I just thought that was really excellent, so I was very happy to sign the statement. I was very happy to join.
Now, when I heard about these attacks, it was a very familiar feeling. It was like: Oh no, here we go again. I had seen these kinds of attacks in other movements. I’d seen them in the housing movement. I had seen them in the feminist movement in the early days when radicals started the feminist movement. Often women associated with the Left, women who were doing consciousness-raising or consulting their own experience, were writing a whole new story for women. This is in the mid-60s. These women really spread it far and wide. There were consciousness-raising groups in towns and cities all over the country. Then, what do you think happened? A whole lot of people, usually women who were very involved with the system, began to feel that, “Oh, this movement is really getting someplace. Maybe it’s time that we took it over. Those crazy people who started it, well they were they’re good for starting things, but we can’t let them run they’re going to ruin it. We need to get it under control. We need to blend it perhaps with existing institutions. We need to water it down before it becomes too disruptive of the status quo.” That is a story that has been told often. You can actually go to The Power of History, an essay by Kathie Sarahchild of Redstockings if you want to find out more about that takeover of the feminist movement and how it was kind of siphoned into the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean the radicals didn’t continue to fight – they are still fighting – but that was a great, great lesson. At that point, the radical feminist movement was attacked in many ways. A lot of the leaders were kicked out of groups they had started.
You see this kind of thing happen over and over again. Radicals tend to have more vision because they have a broader vision. The word radical really means getting to the root of things, looking at the deeper causes of things. Therefore radicals are pretty creative about what they’re doing. On the other hand, people who are doing incremental kind of one-issue-at-a-time and don’t have much vision beyond that, well, they’re good at co-opting what radicals are doing. But they’re not good at sustaining movements that have a real vision. So as soon as I saw these attacks on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, I said here we go again. And I ask people who may not have seen this before to keep a sharp lookout for it because it tends to repeat in many movements. When they are really taking off and getting some power and getting some recognition, a whole group of more establishment people come in and start attacking and they often attack very viciously and slanderously. In those ways, they’re going to delegitimize those radical movements in people’s eyes. Sometimes it’s a turf war. Sometimes it’s people who are not maybe classical liberals, they can claim to also have socialist roots, but their socialism is very establishment socialism if you really look at it. So I wanted to pass this on to all of you. It’s a very dangerous pattern and it should be fought and it should be exposed. I’m very proud that Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is standing up to it.
This is not a transphobic movement. You are right for using the word women in much of the sloganeering. The word women must not disappear and it is not in contradiction to supporting all gender non-conforming people. So that’s basically what I want to say. I very much support you. I’ve put out several tweets that have gotten around. I have worked together with Sunsara at WBAI radio. Once again, I thank you. Carry on. We need to be on those streets. We need to have no business as usual while women do not have our rights. We need to have that as an ongoing inspiring motif and we need to stay with it, so thank you all!