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Silvia Federici in Conversation with Astra Taylor

If you read Silvia Federici, you will experience a transformation of your perspective on the world. Her writings will cause you to radically reconsider your outlook.

As part of a coterie of feminist thinkers who have augmented and developed Marxism, Federici has managed to place the work of women – which had been relegated to the background of anti-capitalist analysis – into a central role. Reproduction – the labor of caring for others and sustaining communal life which is usually unpaid – is just as important as production, which is the kind of labor that left-wing economic theorists have usually emphasized.

Federici contends that the concentration on paid employment overlooks a more intricate and various truth. We are not able to detach the economic or public area from the domestic or private sector.

The family structure – a social configuration permeated with domination and maltreatment in the context of patriarchal capitalism – is what precedes the industrial facility. Without the immense, unpaid, and predominantly female labor force that produces and cares for other human beings, there wouldn’t be employees to hire or profits to gain.

In 1972, Federici was involved in a momentous attempt to make this analysis a reality and battle for a new appraisal of labor. The Wages for Housework effort which followed was global in its outlook – believing that women everywhere had nothing to gain but their unpaid bonds – but also locally based. The New York branch was located in Brooklyn and had a store in South Park Slope, just a short walk from where Silvia and I reunited in August 2018.

Nowadays, Wages for Housework is being re-examined by a cohort of young adults who recognize uncompensated labor not only in the house, but in many areas of life–the obligatory, unpaid internships after college, the transfer of labor to customers (we put our own groceries in bags and label our own baggage), and the procurement of private information in substitution for “free” online services. By design, Capitalism continually strives to pay, if possible, nothing at all for people’s effort and time.

Silvia Federici’s renowned work, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, has been influential in its examination of the issues of exploitation and resistance, as well as the significance of the commons, that started in the Middle Ages. She has gone on to explore these concepts in her other writings, such as in Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women and Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons.

In the spring of 2016, I had the pleasure of inviting Federici, who I was familiar with through activist circles in New York City, to take part in my 2019 documentary, What Is Democracy? I figured that she was an ideal participant in the film and its accompanying book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, which emphasizes that democracy is a contradictory concept. This concept entails both contemplative and active measures, and is both an aspiration and a chaotic reality.

In March 2016, I proposed a spontaneous plan for my colleague to go to Italy, her birthplace, and meet me in Siena to have a filmed discussion in front of Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s proto-Renaissance fresco The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. This mural, painted from 1338 to 1339, is viewed as the earliest secular fresco, displaying the influence of a nation’s governance on the rest of its people. Surprisingly, Federici quickly accepted my proposal – it happened that she had a printed version of the art piece in her living room.

Two years after I started working on it, the movie was finally finished and I had also completed the companion book. Spending time with Federici in Italy gave me a deeper understanding of politics, economics, and feminism, but I still wanted to ask her more questions.

_ –Taylor, Astra_

Astra Taylor is a person who has declared that the internet is no longer a utopian space; rather, it has become a place where exploitation, surveillance, and manipulation are rampant. Taylor has noted that the internet has become a domain in which corporate interests, as well as political ones, can control people’s experiences.

I. “THE HEALTH CARE SWEETIE”

As I strolled along, I was filled with nostalgia for the jaunt we had taken to Siena. A lot had changed since then. The conservative wing was on the rise all over the world, Donald Trump had taken office, and #MeToo had taken root. When I started to come up with the concept for my movie in 2014, I had no inkling of what the future held in store.

It is common knowledge today that democracy is in a “crisis” that appears to be unique. Interestingly, our talk from 2016 is still pertinent. During the discussion, we were interested in and motivated by an Italian fresco from the 1330s, the images of which still relate to the warnings of greed, pride, and aggression.

I have the notion that it is essential to pay attention to the link between happenings and not be overly captivated by the notion of a major rupture. That is what I strove to do with the movie: to set the current crisis of democracy in a much wider time frame and ideological framework. However, what is your opinion? To what extent has there been a shift? Have we come into a completely new age?

In the opinion of Silvia Federici, when faced with a situation like the current one with President Trump, it is necessary to turn to history in order to gain a wider perspective. Upon doing so, the continuity between eras becomes discernible. Additionally, when looking at less dramatic or less violent times, one can observe the violence that has been perpetuated abroad by the United States.

I feel that constructing an extensive landscape is essential. Once this is done, one can observe the continuity and the disruption. Then, one can inquire as to why this period sees such specific forms of aggression, along with the reappearance of an overt, fascist approach.

Reflecting on American history, it’s evident that there has been a great deal of violence, so if we want to examine what has shifted, it is essential to be precise.

After WWII, the social contract, with its promise of material comfort in exchange for high worker productivity, was still in place. However, by the 1970s, this arrangement had been broken down in the US and globally. This led to a restructuring of the world, with agencies like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization imposing policies of globalization. Therefore, it is necessary to consider three distinct moments: the end of Fordism/Keynesianism, the moment of world agencies, and the imposition of globalization.

We have now moved into a third stage. Trump symbolizes the replacement of international organizations with massive corporations. The novelty of this, although it has been happening in capitalist development, is that it is now more direct, with the state being pushed away. The confrontation between capital and labor has become more extreme, with the barriers between them being taken away.

We are entering a new era of capitalism that is increasingly unmediated by the government. There is no longer a need for capitalists to provide workers with social security or health care benefits as the resistances that were once effective have been broken down.

The World Bank and IMF have achieved their objectives of dissolving protective measures through structural adjustments and privitization. As a result, the power of the nation-state has diminished, and even international governing bodies have lessened in influence. Consequently, people in parts of the world, such as Africa and Latin America, have turned to the politics of extractivism.

It appears to me that Trump exemplifies this more aggressive period. Thus, there is a connection between past and present, though it is not an abrupt one. There is rather a logical progression that is gradually taking place.

II. THE LEFT-FACING

The second part of the process involved turning to the left-facing side, as opposed to the right-facing one. This involved a reversal of direction that was necessary to complete the motion.

In the 1900s, transnational organizations were formed to benefit capital instead of restraining it. Necessary world bodies to tax multinational firms, reduce carbon emissions, and contain currency trading were not established.

In the context of the World Trade Organization, corporations have the ability to sue governments through private tribunals. This means that governments can be taken to court if they impede on the corporations’ right to maximize their profit.

The World Bank and other similar organizations have created a landscape in which corporate capital can freely roam. Now, these creatures can move around without having to hide their identity.

In Oaxaca State, and numerous places in Mexico, concessions have been granted. This indicates that firms are now able to penetrate practically every area in Mexico and extract resources. This has been done in order to obtain lucrative profits, regardless of any consequences to the people living there.

It’s the end of the idea that capitalism and democracy are inseparable, correct? My entire lifetime, we have been told that they are mutually dependent. But, that was always a misconception – the history of imperialism and how the institutions mentioned have worked with autocrats and tyrants in the Southern world demonstrate this – yet it was still a powerful myth.

SF pointed out that the coup of Pinochet in 1973 marked the initiation of structural adjustment and the neoliberalization of the world economy. This paved the way for the abolishment of collective bargaining agreements, cancellations of wage contracts, and lessened investment in education. Forty thousand Chileans went through torture, detainment, and even massacre.

Despite all of the proof to the contrary, it’s incredible that the myth was so widespread. So, how was this idea perpetuated–the concept that when a market is deregulated, it leads to personal freedom?

In the 80s, the notion that Nigeria was a myth was not present in the country itself, but instead was a concept that was spread here in the U.S., likely due to the lack of progress made by the left.

Are we encountering the traditional difficulty of American exceptionalism? Generally, even those with a left-leaning outlook, Americans have a tendency to be largely focused on their own nation. Is that what you mean when you say “backward”? Do you mean backward in the sense of not being conscious of all other countries?

SF: To illustrate, phrases like “This is not us”; “This is not America”; “This is not who we are” are often said. I don’t understand what they mean. 6 million people have been incarcerated in the US, a country still practicing the death penalty when much of the world has abolished it. Additionally, the US is waging multiple wars, has an extensive nuclear arsenal, has taught torture and coup-making, and has given money and resources to overthrow other nations’ governments.

AT: All of the United States’ earliest occupants acted unlawfully in claiming Indigenous territory. This is the basis of the transformation Donald Trump symbolizes. He is just a more recent version of America’s worst actions.

Despite being a charismatic antagonist, the main issue lies within the economic system, which is difficult to identify and confront. In What Is Democracy?, a documentary, myself and another person discussed the dissociation of authority from the population and the transformation of power into an intangible concept. The film looks at a proto-Renaissance painting of a cultural utopia, and during the movie, one of us remarks that Siena was a city where citizens were living in proximity to their oppressors. Nowadays, power is a lot less discernible than it was back then.

The painting of the city features the castle and the towers that are inhabited by the affluent. SF confirms this fact.

It appears that Trump towers now exist, providing a certain continuity. However, in the past, the people who would require backbreaking labor, levy taxes, or take away your harvest were those who lived nearby.

The clarity of it is evident.

It’s true that most Americans lack awareness of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, or the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, also known as ISDS, which are the secret tribunals you mentioned. Very few people are aware of them.

SF states that it is not only the Americans who suffer due to a lack of understanding of what is happening, citing a rural village in the Congo or Cameroon as an example. In such places, people are unaware of why the prices of crops such as rice, cotton, and coffee are rapidly decreasing, with no explanation as to why government boards that had previously provided them with a guaranteed price have suddenly vanished. The confusion and suspicion caused by the incomprehensible decision-making, which is taking place in areas far removed from these communities, only adds to the pain of poverty and lack of resources.

The livelihood of a Congolese farmer living in a rural area is drastically affected by decisions coming from a foreign country they can’t even access due to a lack of money and a valid passport. This feeling of not having control over what affects them is shared by many Americans, as studies have proven. It appears that their opinion carries no significant weight. As an example, when looking at the Trump administration, it can be seen that the only promises he has kept are those of racism and misogyny. Other than that, he has been a typical Republican plutocrat with additional amounts of ineptitude and corruption.

Those who feel hurt and vulnerable often try to make sense of the world by latching onto explanations that are quite damaging. You have mentioned the insecurity and distrust that can arise – in some places, this has led to a resurgence of witch hunts. As for the US, the growth of conspiracy theories concerning globalists, the UN, and other oddities has been noticed.

Still, it is often hard to comprehend these intricate matters. To illustrate, I recently completed a book that is the companion to the movie, with every chapter concentrating on an enigma or discord that is a significant element of democracy. Therefore, there is a chapter about the local versus the global, which has naturally been occupying my thoughts lately. It was probably the most challenging segment to compose since the issues can appear to be unresolvable.

The concept that the smaller scale of something is more democratic is a popular belief, and many political philosophers have defended it; however, it is not always true. In fact, small groups can be really troubled and big systems can be beneficial in a democratic sense. Personally, I have experienced a lot of groups which have had problems and, for that reason, I would love for there to be an effective global climate agreement.

I can’t help but recognize the importance of being locally situated. It’s not a matter of mere size, but rather the connection to a particular environment. As humans, we must inhabit a physical area and being locally based grants us strength.

I am totally enthralled with Latin America and find myself always drawn to the region. Nobody else has managed to express the same sentiment, and it appears to be women who are leading the charge in the struggles in each corner of the continent.

The power of individuals to stand up and say no is tremendous. Everywhere there are fights against hydroelectric plants, oil drilling, and mining. It is very, very important. Unfortunately, small communities frequently don’t have the capability to resist with military or paramilitary forces. Even if they are not always successful, the struggles of the local are absolutely essential.

Essential, to be sure, but not enough in itself; that’s the consensus.

III. Interment of the Afterbirth on the Property

The custom of burying the placenta in the land is one that has been carried out for many generations. This ritual is intended to ensure the safety and health of the infant by connecting him or her to the land and its energies. In this way, the baby is connected to and protected by the land and its ancestors.

I recently visited a place in Mexico, San Juan Progreso, which is located near Oaxaca. The thing that made this place special is that there was a gold mine, an open pit mine, that caused a lot of division within the village. People were split between those who were for and against the mine, those who wanted life and those who wanted death – that was how some people put it.

The opposition to the guards and paramilitary forces was so strong that their efforts eventually had to cease. Even after that, the people had established a kind of mini-conflict which was still ongoing when I visited the area nearly a year ago. All of the inhabitants were actively engaged in the politics of the situation.

A taxi is taken that is not in favor of the mine, meaning that the driver cannot be someone who will contribute funds to it. Even the necessities, such as a bottle of water, are not purchased from places that are in support of the mine. A warning system has been set up, where fourteen and fifteen year olds use radios to spread information about the mine. Every year in September, a feast is held, but those who are employed by the mine, or have any connection to it, are not allowed to attend.

AT: The mine will undeniably take away their land, decimate the area, and have devastating impacts on the lives of those affected.

SF affirms that women in Latin America are making strides with regard to the role of memory. This entails piecing together the collective memory of the region to reinforce resistance, foster solidarity, and construct a collective subject, as well as renew the bond with the land. The sentiment of preferring death over having their land corrupted is a strong one.

AT: Capitalism encourages a sense of placelessness, which I reflected on while making the film. I had the opportunity to intimately understand the struggles of migrants and refugees and how their movement is, for the most part, involuntary due to war and poverty. It also reminds me of the enclosures of centuries ago which you have studied in your research.

SF affirms that in Mexico, indigenous mothers bury their newborns’ placentas in the earth as a form of micro-warfare. This practice is meant to convey to their children that the land is their “cuerpo territorio” or “body territory”.

In Latin America, feminist literature has made the body and territory inseparable; the two are linked in the struggle for freedom. This concept is now at the core of the region’s feminist literature.

A portion of the body is left behind when one moves away, and this is done symbolically by placing the placenta in the earth. This is a way to signify the place where one lives, to make visible the struggles that have taken place, and to evoke the memories of ancestors who fought and sacrificed. The land contains much of their blood, so it is a reminder of how things are greater than just oneself.

AT: The local provides a useful reminder that our lives are part of something bigger than ourselves–I find that reassuring. I think sometimes the local ideal can be glamorized–you know that phrase “Small is beautiful.” But it’s not a matter of aesthetics; it’s about power, correct?

It came to my mind when I was going through your fresh publication, Wages for Housework. I observed that during the start of the movement, the term international was part of it. Correct? It was known as the International Wages for Housework Campaign.

There is a remarkable tension between the small, local scale of Wages for Housework and the international reach of the organization. For example, in 1975, you could find pamphlets in Prospect Park and a storefront on Fifth Avenue, both located in Brooklyn. At the same time, the organization was in conversation with women from many countries. To have any clout, the global vision had to be pursued on an individual level.

We witnessed that sexism was present all over the world. As capitalism has a global presence, we had to address this matter on an international scale. Even though this movement had its origin in Brooklyn, it needed to be addressed on a global scale.

The left often overlooks the potential of communities. Years ago, they suggested that one must secure employment in factories to have enough power to challenge capitalism. However, the black power movement and the civil rights movement didn’t require factory work. These movements were based in local churches, communities, supermarkets, laundromats, and homes. Thus, the argument was that one didn’t need to venture outside of the community to struggle against the status quo.

Nobody ever viewed the women in the laundromat as employees, but rather as freeloaders. Likewise, sex workers were never observed in the same light as other workers. This disdain for women and children was quite pervasive, even among some progressive females.

I made the personal choice not to have a family, yet I was aware of the idea that if one did choose to become a parent, it was thought that they must not possess any degree of awareness. Hence, this is why so many feminists weren’t vocal about demanding maternity leave.

A struggle for abortion rights ensued, though not one for maternity leave or free childcare.

SF declared that there was no opposition to the assaults against welfare; yet, it is related to this. This is because welfare let a female be able to have kids and depart from a man while still having the capacity to bring up the child by herself.

One need not strive to make it successful without any assurance.

SF agreed that it was possible to make ends meet without having to take on a second job.

AT: Correct, taking on an additional job–since being a parent is taxing work.

SF noted that women have been persistently seen as parasites, and that racism has been associated with the idea of the “welfare queen.” This focus then shifted to the concept of the dysfunctional family, with a heightened emphasis on children involved with criminal activity and the crack epidemic. As a result, penalties for crack were harsher than cocaine, which led to mass incarceration.

I find myself rather resentful that the women’s movement did not oppose the mistreatment they were receiving, nor did they protest in the streets to stand up against it. They should have said, “No way! We are women and every mother is a worker.” Just as the welfare women had proclaimed.

In the 1980s, the popular image of a working woman was one with her shoulder pads and briefcase; she was usually white and had aspirations to climb the career ladder.

SF commented that with figures such as Sarah Sanders, you now find that a lot of the jobs that are seen as undesirable are being done by women.

AT: Yeah, it’s factual, isn’t it? Betsy DeVos is an admirable example of a strong working woman!

SF: It’s too painful for me to even glance at them.

In this period of feminist revival, this is of great significance. The issue does not lie with individual men who have a disorder, nor is the answer merely in the hands of “empowered” female individuals.

SF argued that sexism and violence against women are deeply entrenched in the capitalist system, from the structure of work and laws to the layout of physical space. In essence, these problems are inherently part of the current state of affairs.

Examining the case of two hundred priests, it is evident that they had the capacity to perpetrate harm on a thousand children, and yet not a word was uttered. Everyone was aware of the situation, and it is not just limited to this example: many women find themselves in vulnerable positions due to the structures of our institutions. For instance, a woman who is unable to leave an abusive partner because she does not have sufficient welfare money. A waitress who is pressured to display her figure in order to get better tips. And a female worker on an assembly line who is constantly subjected to harassment.

Seeing that the violence is not simply the result of a few abnormal individuals is extremely significant. Rather, it is a structural issue.

It can be difficult for people to consider policy matters, such as welfare reform and economic matters like equitable wages and vacation time, as feminist issues even though they are, for there are so many outrageous and distressing examples of aggression against women, like rape and domestic abuse.

In my opinion, my film is a real champion of feminism because it deals with democracy, political theory, and features a plethora of women. It includes young and old, American and Syrian women. To top it off, you and I discuss feminism explicitly at the conclusion.

However, it is not distinct enough for many programmers to identify it as such. It does not tackle topics such as discrimination in the workplace, sexual abuse, a woman’s success in a male-dominated field, beauty, or body image. This limits the concept of feminism and the type of film expected to be about “women’s issues.” I wanted to bring a strong feminist perspective to a movie that wasn’t just made for women and to challenge the assumption that democracy is owned by men, by showing women in a major role. The film is not only about feminism; it is feminist.

It is a rudimentary understanding of feminism that can be easily addressed.

IV. “MACHINERY ALL THE WAY DOWN”

AT: In Wages for Housework, there was an idea that particularly resonated with me. To summarize, the point was that getting a second job doesn’t solve the problem of our first job. [ Laughter ] You were challenging the notion that women should seek equality and self-realization by entering the workforce, which capitalism is able to accommodate. Instead, you proposed that we should recognize, dignify, and pay for the labor that women already do. This, however, is an idea that capitalism has no way of handling.

SF stated that the process of capitalism must be viewed as a type of metabolism. Whenever capitalists are faced with widespread revolt, they have to offer some type of compromise. However, it is done in a fashion that separates people.

It is evident that a small subset of women are now able to make money and purchase goods due to their employment outside the home, allowing them to reduce the amount of housework they do and even outsource it. However, the majority of women, particularly those from economically disadvantaged areas, still perform housework as their primary source of income.

The great majority of women lack the financial resources to employ assistance.

SF: My research revealed that the majority of employed women in the US are in such a deep financial hole that they will never be able to climb out of it. The reason being that women are paid such a low wage that they can’t afford to hire someone to look after their kids. Additionally, they are the chief consumers of payday loans.

I’ve noticed this in my involvement with the Debt Collective, which I helped to create in 2012. The effects of being in debt are not equal for everyone; payday loans are particularly aimed at single moms, especially black and brown ones. Additionally, according to Wages for Housework, women are the only population that has to pay for the ability to work by getting childcare.

Indeed! Absolutely correct!

In the 1970s, it seemed like an accurate prediction to many, but now it is a reality: An increasing number of people have to pay for the ability to work through student loan payments or unpaid internships, essentially making labor more feminine in nature.

SF noted that the feminization of labor is the proliferation of unpaid labor. This occurs when people work for a period of time without pay, hoping for a job at the end. The left tends to be concerned about technology taking away jobs, rather than the fact that wages are decreasing and the working class is shrinking.

At the Toronto event I attended, something you said really resonated with me. I was writing an article on automation for Logic magazine, and I created a new word called fauxtomation. It was to describe how a lot of technology is falsely claimed to be automated, when in actual fact it is low-paid people operating the device, for instance when we check out our own groceries. But, the thing that struck me the most was your words: “Don’t let those in control make you think you are replaceable.”

Without a doubt, SF readily agreed.

The way I perceived the dialogue related to automation was drastically altered. There is a lot of proof, such as the extensive study done by the World Bank, which shows that robots are not going to take all the roles. Despite this, people keep asserting that it is unavoidable for human labor to become obsolete, and this creates a sense of unease. It is a successful ideology.

SF: The concept is quite successful. People are expected to feel privileged to hold a job due to the fact that they are becoming more and more scarce — it is a recurring topic of conversation. The idea of a factory without personnel has been around since the 1950s.

When considering China, it is known to be a global manufacturing powerhouse. However, when looking into India, an alarming number of people are trapped in slave labor.

Robots are not yet able to do housework or take care of children, which is still the second-largest sector of work in the world. Parents cannot just put their kids in front of a TV when they are babies – they still have to feed them and take care of them. Women in particular still have to dedicate a lot of time and effort in the first months of a child’s life. It’s a rather masculine view to think that robots will be the end of work.

What will become of the earth? From where are the robots created? How much more exploitation of resources is necessary? How many people must be sacrificed to produce the robots? The robots do not manufacture themselves; someone must extract the minerals to produce them. Who are those people? Are they not human? Do the robots, then, make robots?

Since you started creating these concepts in the ’70s, has your outlook regarding replication shifted much? Or do you think you had it pretty accurate even then? It looks like robots are here to stay!

SF: Indeed, my interpretation of reproduction has expanded. Initially, I thought it was just related to domestic duties. However, it is much more than that. It is about going to school with the child, speaking with teachers, and even agricultural labor. Moreover, it involves women’s rights to access to water and their struggle against environmental contamination. In essence, reproduction is about sustaining the planet.

I find it fascinating that the concept of reproductive labor is so intuitive. It helps to understand the scope of labor that is done, with waged work being just the surface of a much larger entity. There is a significant amount of labor and extraction that takes place that is not paid for and is necessary for capitalism to function.

It’s been a powerful analysis, yet it took a while to gain traction. After you devoted a lot of energy to the New York Wages for Housework group, and the 1980s and 1990s saw a surge of conservatism, did you feel that your critique was outdated? Or did you ever have any doubts about it?

SF: After my experience, I utilized it to work on Caliban and the Witch.

AT: Fascinating! Is it possible to connect Caliban to the activism movement in any way?

SF expressed that they composed their work with the purpose of contesting the assumption that women have traditionally been responsible for housework. They believed it was important to demonstrate that this is not always the case.

AT: Reproductive labor by women may have occurred, however, it was an effect of specific conditions and power dynamics existing at the time, not something that was innate.

SF commented that the social relations in the Middle Ages were unlike what we experience today, and this had ramifications for the work that women did; they were not dependent on men for their livelihoods, as they had access to the commons, to the land.

When I began my work on Caliban and the Witch, I was faced with a variety of [naturalizing] theories. Therefore, I said, “Forget it” and chose to research the nineteenth century. As I continued my work, I was writing about the origins of housework and various other topics. Eventually, I decided to go even further back and ask even more questions. I concluded by saying, “Let us look into pre-capitalist times.”

The concept of Wages for Housework was initially met with resistance; many women argued that the home was a sacred place free from capitalism. However, I argued that capitalism was already in the home. Writing the history of housework was the first step towards what eventually became Caliban and the Witch, an exploration of housework in the capitalist era.

AT: Consequently, it resulted in a pioneering history of capitalism that was derived from a look into housework. This fact is particularly interesting since it is also a compelling demonstration of how practice and experience can enlighten theory. I had thought that the theoreticizing preceded the analysis. Nevertheless, I am fond of the fact that the theorizing and examination were actually informed by the struggle and by your activism.

In the late 1960s, a feminist revolt erupted. Women took to the streets to voice their displeasure with things such as Miss America, without any sophisticated theories to back them up. This event triggered a large outpouring of feminist theory, which was a result of that initial surge. It all began with a “big bang” in 1967, 1968, and 1969.

I had never looked into Carol Hanisch’s “The Personal Is Political” until recently. The essay was written during that time period.

SF commented that the situation was positive.

AT commented that it was very well done, demonstrating a thought process. They noted that it was a bit scattered and questioned what was going on and what it meant. It was clear that this person was actively considering the situation.

SF: The origins of the movement are rooted in the real-life experiences of many women. They were in situations where they didn’t feel they had the power to speak up, or to say ‘no’ to certain expectations. Women were often dismissed, and there were stories of men reacting harshly when women advocated for their issues to be discussed. I recently read some of these stories which I had forgotten.

One could note that individuals now only think of these notions, or even just express them on social media. This could be seen as a kind of progress. Even so, history has demonstrated that people have often fought for their beliefs, forming a democracy from the ground up and striving for freedom, equality, and justice, even when grand theories were not available to provide direction. This was discussed in Siena, with the countless rebellions of the Middle Ages being remembered, such as the peasant uprisings and the heretics.

SF: Indeed, people take action even when they don’t have a theory behind it. As they begin to observe what they have done, theory follows. It is important to learn from theory as it allows one to understand the past, and explore different options. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily true that a theory must exist before taking action; rather, it is often the action that leads to the development of a new theory. The act of revolt comes first, and then the idea.

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