“Is your friend pretty?” #Metoo in the Context of Capitalism and Racism

By Alexander Reid Ross, Teka Lark, and Mark Naison (November 28, 2017)

Several Anarres Project regular contributors recently reflected on the uprising against sexual harassment/assault/abuse in the political and entertainment worlds.  Together, they tied the issue to broader concerns about socialization under patriarchy, the imperatives of capitalism, and white supremacy.


Alexander Reid Ross:

The more celebrities exposed as inveterate pervs, the more we recognize that all men have all been implicated in this patriarchal society. The choice is to learn and work to overturn it or to remain taciturn and complicit in constant oppression.


Teka Lark:

Sexism in the workplace I know by many is viewed as a little thing. It isn’t.

I have a friend who is a man. He is originally from France, moved to LA and is now in Iowa. He can live wherever he wants. He is a translator for corporations based in Europe. He speaks three languages fluently, in addition to English. Companies fly him to NY, pay for his hotel and his drinks when they need him in person.

I have another friend in NY area. Same credentials. She lives in a basement that she rents from an 80-year-old woman who needs the money. My friend needs cheap rent. She sometimes translates for the courts.

I asked my male friend why my woman friend can’t get hired. He looked at me and said, “She is a woman.”

He said in Europe they don’t like hiring women, they are a distraction. They want to drink, cheat on their wives, and they don’t want to hear about rights. They deal in millions of dollars a day and they want to do what they want and they are going to do what they want. They want to hire WHITE men. He then said, but it isn’t so bad. If you are pretty, you can marry a rich man. Is your friend pretty?

Sexism relegates women to the “choices” of low wage jobs and/or entertainment.

Ending sexism matters.
Ending racism matters.
Ending capitalism matters.


Mark Naison:

Most men, and that includes me, were socialized from an early age to view the pursuit of fame, power and wealth as a way of eroticizing themselves, of making them more attractive to women. It is shockingly easy to go from that position to viewing sexual access to women as a perk, as a reward for professional achievement. Most men don’t act on that impulse, but virtually all have heard other men talk that way. And to be honest, when men talk that way, I have rarely heard other men say “don’t talk that shit around me. Women aren’t an extension of male power.” Maybe they will now. Time will tell. This isn’t only about men and women. It is about how men communicate with and explain themselves to other men.

Kevin Van Meter: “Guerrillas of Desire”

As part of the Anarres Project series, Revolution:  Past-Present-Future, we hosted author Kevin Van Meter in a community conversation about his new book Guerrillas of Desire:  Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible.

Behind the smiling faces of cashiers, wait staff, and workers of all sorts, a war is going on, usually without the knowledge of official political and labor organizations. Guerrillas of Desire begins with a provocation: The Left is wrong. It’s historical and current strategies are too-often based on the assumption that working and poor people are unorganized, acquiescent to systems of domination, or simply uninterested in building a new world. The fact is, as C.L.R. James has noted, they “are rebelling every day in ways of their own invention”: pilfering, sabotaging, faking illnesses, squatting, fleeing, and counter-strategizing. Kevin Van Meter maps these undercurrents, documenting the history of everyday resistance under slavery, in peasant life, and throughout modern capitalism, while showing that it remains an important factor in revolution and something radicals of all stripes must understand.

Property, Policing, and Protestantism: Why the Right is Powerful and the Left is So Weak

By Arun Gupta (November 20, 2017)

The reason the American Right is so powerful is because it is fundamentally defined by whiteness, capitalism, and patriarchy, and these concepts are reproduced through three mutually reinforcing institutions: Property, Policing, and Protestantism.


I am leaving aside many nuances because I am interested in why the right has such extraordinary ideological cohesion and the ability to radically alter the state, consciousness, and society repeatedly over the last 50 years.


Let me back up a second. There is a widespread belief in American politics that the Left is similar to or the mirror image of the right. I often see people asking, why doesn’t the left have a media, political, intellectual, training infrastructure like the right does? Or why can’t the left take over the Democratic Party like the Tea Party and Trump did? Or why doesn’t the left have its own Bannon?


Here’s the difference: right-wing extremists such as Evangelicals and those who are against immigration do not oppose the free-market conservative doctrine of extreme wealth, deprivation, and inequality. In fact, Evangelicals often justify it theologically through the “Prosperity Gospel.” The Tea Party is also fine with billionaires owning everything because the existence of billionaires proves the meritocracy works. I have had Tea Partiers tell me such. (I am leaving out fascists because while growing and dangerous they are still a tiny slice of the population.)

The right also sees the police as the bedrock of the social order, particularly through enforcing property over life and defending racial and class segregation, which is also carried out through the market, zoning, and public education.


Liberals are pro-capitalism and particularly pro-Wall Street, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley. So liberals hate the Left more than they hate the Right because the defining quality of the Left is those who are anti-capitalist.


The Left, however, lacks an ideological and material apparatus on the scale of property, policing, and Protestantism to produce and reproduce itself. At best, it has universities and unions, which are under severe political and economic attack. There are identity-based communities, but these are extremely weak without a clear ideology to define and unify, such as the platform of the Movement for Black Lives developed last year.Without socialist-style politics informing identity, it becomes neoliberal, like the feminism of Hillary Clinton. Clintonianism is really misogyny in disguise as her entire political career is defined by impoverishing, jailing, bombing, and killing Black and Brown and poor women.


So if you ever wonder why the Left is so weak, it is because it lacks anything like police, property, and Protestantism. And if you wonder what is the historical task at hand, it is building these types of mutually reinforcing institutions that reproduce organically and provide the material, cultural, and ideological basis for nurturing a left politics based on collective ownership, liberation, solidarity, justice, and freedom.


I am leaving a lot out of this analysis. For example, when talking about policing, I am referring to all domestic police forces and private security contractors, including all the federal police agencies. But the military to me is more complicated. It does reinforce whiteness, patriarchy, and capitalism, but it has also been a site to advance some social equality of traditionally oppressed groups. The military can also be a site of political radicalization because it draws from across society, as with the Vietnam War, and to a lesser degree, the Iraq War.


It would take a book to explore this idea properly, but I want to offer some brief thoughts to start a conversation.


To Men Looking Inward and Outward at the Nightmare of Patriarchy

By Chris Crass (November 16, 2017)

To men looking inward and outward at the nightmare of patriarchy and feeling woefully inadequate to do anything remotely close to effectively rising up for gender justice and feminism in ways that these times call for.

I am with you. Every single time I do anything to try and show up for feminism in the world, I struggle with wave after wave of feeling deeply inadequate, of feeling that I myself am inadequate and that in comparison to the profound need for an intersectional feminist vision, politics, values, and strategy for moving men into new ways of being human, of moving men into confrontation with patriarchy and misogyny, of moving men into journeys of personal transformation alongside building movements for racial and economic justice with gender justice and feminism at the center – that alongside the need for all of that, whatever I do will be so insufficient, so limited, as to almost be insulting to women, and people of all genders who face harassment, violence, and sexism on the daily.

And, when I do work with men for gender justice, I am overcome with the fear I have of other men. The memories of violence and threats of violence from boys and men in my life, almost all of based on enforcing and expressing patriarchal masculinities. And I remember not only the times that I was bullied, but the times that I bullied – often in the same day.

And when I take public action for feminism, when I work with men, I remember the ways that I have been sexist, been misogynistic, and how I have to actively fight the socialization of toxic masculinity every day – sometimes successfully and sometimes totally failing.

I am not here to look down on other men and shame us into embracing feminism. I am here, in the emotional, spiritual, and social devastation of toxic masculinity, looking around and saying – “yes, nothing we do will be enough”, “yes, each of us is inadequate for what must be done”, “yes, even the people we love the most will likely experience us as frauds, as pathetic, as triggering, when we try to speak out and take action for feminism”.

And I say, patriarchy is a system that has created this nightmare over hundreds of years through institutions, policies, cultures, torture, and violence, and we, as men who believe in feminism, must inch forward, must crawl, must grab on to each other and help each other move forward, we must find our courage, develop our abilities, listen with our hearts, speak from our souls, and take action knowing that our lives, the lives of all who we love, are at stake and that the world is literally crying out and calling forward, a movement of men who will say “No More”.

Men who will say “Yes I’m part of the problem and I want to be part of the change”, of men who know that feminism means we all get free and who will come alive fully, in the work and on the journey for the end of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, who will come alive to heal ourselves, heal our relationships, develop ways of being that are more and more liberatory and join the women-led multigendered, people of color-led multiracial, working class-led multiclass movements working for systemic and cultural change to create racial and economic justice with gender justice and feminism at the center.

In the process of learning to “act like a man” I’ve felt the fists of boys and men against my body, and my fists against other boys and men’s bodies. Let us, as men, now join hands and help each other rise for feminism.

In the process of learning toxic masculinity, I have heard the voices of boys and mens, with mine joining in, speak and normalize misogyny, harassment and assault of women, LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people. Let us, as men, use our voice, our influence, our roles, our lives to generate life-affirming, heart-nourishing, feminist values-living culture in ourselves and with men throughout our lives.

Let us bring out the best of who we are, acknowledge and work on the worst of who we are, join with others, and learn and grow and come alive in the fullness of our humanity and become feminist men who can help heal and transform this world.

Even though I am scared, even through I know that what I do is far from enough, I am here with you and I believe we can all get free.


Men Need to be Present, and Not Defensive, in this Uprising Against Sexual Harassment

By Chris Crass (November 14, 2017)

If you are a man and hear “men are garbage” from women and people of other genders experiencing the daily reality of patriarchy and misogyny, I understand if the first reaction is to be defensive, to want to say “not me” or “that’s not fair” or anything to debate or cast doubt.

But I encourage us as men to be present in these painful and profound historical times of a popular uprising against sexual harassment, to be present to what women are saying, and ask “what are the experiences behind a statement like men are garbage, what is happening all around that reveal a profoundly destructive culture that raises boys to assault and harass women and girls as ‘normal’ male behavior”.

Ask, “how have a been raised in this culture, how do I participate in behavior that is garbage and normalizes it, and how can I actively work to build up culture that raises boys to be ‘beautiful’, ‘compassionate’, ‘intuitive of what others need and want’, ‘practitioners of consent and interdependence”, that raises boys and supports men to be feminist, to work for collective liberation.”

What are organizations of men working against sexism, against patriarchy that you know about – current and historical? And I am fully aware that there isn’t much, and what has been and is, is often quite small – all of the efforts I’ve been part of have been 6-20 men. But nonetheless, there is far more then what I’m aware of, and I believe we must build from what is, not what we wish was.

But there was also a time when almost all of the organizing with white people for racial justice was also tiny, small groups with little to no knowledge of each other’s existence. I remember twenty years ago talking about being a white people working against white supremacy and the vast majority of people, even activists (white and of color) looked at me with confusion, suspicion, or even concern (“what, you want to bring white people together to talk about racism? Only the Klan brings white people together to talk about race – to which my responses was, “yes, exactly, and until white anti-racists bring leadership in white communities, then white people are abandoned to the Klan”).

So with that, what organizations, efforts, individuals, do you know of currently and historically to help educate, organize, mobilize men for feminism, for gender justice, to end the nightmare of patriarchy?

Feminist men, in solidarity and alignment with people of all genders, must fight for the hearts, minds and futures of men and boys away from this death culture and towards feminist values, commitments, and actions.

Gendered Violence is Large Scale Violence

By Harsha Walia (November 9, 2017)

In the wake of the latest news, Ive been meditating a lot the past day about this suggestion of “domestic violence leads to more serious mass violence” and that we need to see domestic violence as a “warning sign” or “gateway” to “public violence”.

Yes, the violences are correlated, but to relegate gendered violence to the intimate, the interpersonal, the individual – and hence disconnected from macro-spheres of power – is the functioning of patriarchy.

What do we perpetuate when we dont name gendered violence as itself mass-based violence impacting masses of people? Who benefits from the distinction between the so-called public and private spheres (whether sexualized violence or gendered labour)?

Our bodies are not gateways and we are not guinea pigs; gendered violence is mass structured violence.