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(en) Irish Anarchist Review #7 - On the RAG - Interview with Revolutionary Anarcha- Feminist Group
Tue, 07 May 2013 13:51:41 +0300
RAG is a diverse group of anarcha-feminist women in Dublin. They produce a magazine, The
Rag, organise film screenings and fundraisers, host public discussions, conduct workshops
and zine distro. A conversation between Clare Butler and Angela Coraccio of the
Revolutionary Anarcha- Feminist Group (RAG) and Leticia Ortega of RAG and the Workers
Solidarity Movement (WSM) ---- Leticia: Why did you join RAG? ---- Clare: Iâve been
involved in RAG since before the first edition came out about eight years ago and was
involved in putting that together and getting the group going at the beginning. I was
already involved in activism in Galway and Dublin and was really excited to see a group
coming together that had a specific feminist agenda. All the members of the group were
really good fun and everyone was really positive.
Angela: I joined because I read the magazine and really liked it. I thought Iâd just
submit an article. Someone explained that it doesnât really work that way, but the more I
learned about how RAG worked, the more I wanted to get involved.
Leticia: Why did you feel the need for a specifically anarcha-feminist group?
Angela: For me, it was the magic of RAG! Iâd never identified as anarchist before moving
here from America. It was a through learning the collaborative process that RAG uses and
getting to know the group that I ended up learning about anarchism. Itâs no coincidence
that I started to explore anarchism since moving to Ireland. Back in America, I had a
pretty decent job and lived relatively comfortably. Then I moved here and Iâve been
unemployed for the last four years. Being on social welfare for the first time helped me
turn to alternative ways of thinking.
Clare: I hadnât set out to be part of a specifically anarchist group, but an anarchist
analysis and method of organising just made sense. I felt this type of group was much more
accessible and provided a space to explore and interrogate our internal and external politics.
Leticia: You have people like Katie Perry coming out and saying they arenât feminists. Do
you think feminism is a dirty word?
Clare: I think things have changed a lot in the last two to three years, in Dublin anyway.
There are a lot more people calling themselves feminists and a lot of new feminist groups
Angela: I think 1989 was when I started to identify as a feminist when I took a womenâs
studies class in High School. I remember Kathleen Turner, yer wan from Roger Rabbit,
speaking at my sisterâs graduation and describing herself as
a feminist, in the early nineties it was ok, albeit slightly rebellious to call oneself a
feminist. A whole counter culture was created around young politicised women's voices. But
then in the late nineties, there seemed to be a backlash that we're recovering from just
now. Riot grrrl fashion is back in; there are women half my age listening to the bands I
was listening to in university.
Clare: Another thing is that the re-emergence of ïïïïïïïïïïïïïïfeminism could be related
to the recession because now people are not prepared to sit around and believe everything
is going to be okay. You see all these young women suddenly getting involved in feminism
and all the pro-choice stuff, maybe because they donât have the options they did a few
years ago, where theyâd be getting a job and buying a house. When they look around theyâre
probably thinking, âWhat the fuck is going on here? Weâre being taken for a ride.â Once
they question one thing, they start thinking, reading, looking around and when you see
inequality in one place you may be quicker to see it in relation to gender as well. Also,
issues in relation to body image are on the increase, so while there are more people
identifying with feminism, there are more people feeling shit about themselves too.
Angela: I think in Ireland the media still has a long way to go. There needs to be more
female hosts of shows, more shows about womenâs issues, there needs to be more female
voices in radio that arenât just whatâs-her-face Finucane. There needs to be a chorus of
Leticia: Not a lot of people know it was RAG who organised the first meeting that lead to
the establishment of the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC). Could you tell us a bit about that?
Angela: We were in a RAG meeting and we were talking about how frustrating it was that
there were so many pro-choice groups but none of them were working together, so we said
letâs just organise an open meeting and ask all the pro-choice groups to come. So from
that we established the Irish Choice Network which was to be an umbrella group. At the
second meeting, which was a day of workshops, about eighty to one hundred people showed
up. From there, working groups were created and from there the campaign just really took off.
Clare: That was the most amazing meeting. Iâd never been to anything like that where you
had all these women in their twenties who had never been involved in anything before and
just wanted to do something.
Angela: Then we ended up with this national campaign and right from the start you could
see these hierarchies forming. There was this real solidarity moment where those people
who had been involved in stuff before, recognised what was happening and said, no, this is
not how we want the campaign to be organised.
Clare: There is significant anarchist involvement in the ARC, but most of us donât go
around trying to recruit anybody and the majority of roles the anarchist-leaning people do
is the back room work; thereâs no glory. I think itâs just what all of us want to do. We
donât have an interest in being on television or being up on a stage.
Leticia: Is there a challenge in the ARC to convince people of the need for abortion on
demand? Are there some people who only want X-case legislation?
Angela: There was one meeting early on where I asked if campaigning for abortion on demand
might be too far for some people, but that fear was immediately shot down.
Clare: Everyone in the campaign is 100% signed up for free, safe and legal abortion on
demand. They all recognise the connections between the church and the state in controlling
women and that there isnât much point in it being safe and legal if itâs inaccessible, so
it should also be free. Thereâs been a massive change in society too. You can say the word
abortion on the street; six months ago you couldnât. We were talking about names for the
campaign and we kept coming up with ones that included the word âchoiceâ, but now, of
course itâs the Abortion Rights Campaign, what else would you call it?
Leticia: What are your goals for RAG for the future?
Angela: I do like the magazine being produced and ultimately Iâd like us to go back to
that format or have an established, regularly updated website. At the same time I like the
lack of pressure to create those things. Thatâs what makes RAG so cool. There are periods
when we donât feel the need to have meetings every week and when people are motivated,
stuff happens. Right now the pro- choice thing is really prominent in what members are
doing, so we donât have much time for RAG. Not having a schedule to keep helps us not see
it as work. When we did that before, we all got pretty burned out, and burnout is really
hard to bounce back from.
Clare: Iâd like to see it continue to exist for its members the way it existed for me.
Itâs strengthened my politics, itâs strengthened my confidence. We organised lots of
events that opened peopleâs eyes to feminism, that introduced people to anar- chism, and
if it can still fulfill that role for its members, then that would be a wonderful thing.
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