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(en) Britain, The Anarchist Federation (AFED), RESISTANCE #157 - Who are the Angry Women of Liverpool?

Date Sat, 08 Nov 2014 14:55:21 +0200

“Two things should ye know of the Angry Women...” ---- In 2007, a group of women from the Liverpool Social Centre Collective had a meeting. They were angry about a lot of things: feminist issues being ignored or dismissed by other groups they organised with, women being unable to attend meetings for lack of childcare, and women who got as far as attending meetings and making their points facing criticism for being “too angry”. ---- The initial group – nearly all identifying as anarchist feminists – started out as the feminist core of the social centre. They held meetings in which they could talk freely, organise, offer solidarity and support to challenge sexism in other meetings, run educational sessions to combat sexism in activist groups, and put together practical policies and processes to make radical spaces safer, more accessible places for women to meet and organise. They soon realised that these meetings were too useful, and too much fun, to end when the specific problems they’d been addressing had been solved.

The group took on the name Angry Women of Liverpool when its members decided to open monthly meetings to women from beyond the social centre collective. AWOL began organising public meetings on some of the themes that had been emerging from their freeform discussions: women in comics, Silvia Federici, Buffy, Wages for Housework, the Bechdel test, Joanna Russ, pornography, Buffy vs. Twilight, street harassment, body hair... from the serious to the bizarre, usually segueing into the geeky and the hilarious, rarely staying on topic for long, AWOL meetings were a chance to bring the kind of feminist discussion that was happening on the internet into a real life social space with tea, cake and the potential for action to grow out of discussion.

At first, AWOL’s meetings were for women only. The space for women to be angry without censure was necessary in order to organise. Women only meetings meant more time spent discussing feminist issues and preparing actions, less time explaining that there were issues and justifying the need to act. As time went on, the group decided to keep the first hour of the meeting as a women only space for organising events and actions, but opened the discussion part of the meetings to “feminist-friendly folks” of all genders. Many AWOL regulars felt under pressure to educate the men in their lives (and their political groups) about feminism. Inviting men to meetings was a great way to bring the genuine on board and filter out the time-wasters.

AWOL were clear from the start that the “women” in “women only” included trans women, and that feminism had to be intersectional. A feminist group that failed to include working class women, women of colour, trans women and women of all ages, sexualities and abilities would only compound the problem of activist groups that failed to include women.

The group quickly gained a broader range of members with political affinities spanning the full spectrum of the left, though the ethos of AWOL has always remained implicitly anarchist. While there is some crossover and plenty of collaboration with other Liverpool feminist groups, especially Merseyside Women’s Movement, there is a general understanding that MWM take the peaceful marches and the campaigns to reform Council policies, while AWOL takes the direct actions and incites the mobs that confront pro-lifers and street harassers (though both kinds of action usually involve members of both groups).

Women are taught to suppress and hide their anger, told that it makes us irrational and means we’ve lost control. AWOL has always believed that anger can be constructive, channelled and focussed, forged into a useful tool, burned as a source of energy. Anger means a healthy connection to the world around you, it means you’re paying attention.

AWOL meets in Next to Nowhere, 96 Bold St., Liverpool (ring basement bell) on the first Monday of the month. 7pm women only, 8pm all genders and none. See http://angrywomen.wordpress.com or contact awol@riseup.net for more details.

Download RESISTANCE bulletin issue #157 Autumn 2014 ANGRY WOMEN WIN, SPECIAL ISSUE[PDF]: http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist157.pdf

The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
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