Ten years ago, I sent out an email about the need for a feminist presence in the the re-energized anti-war movement that was rapidly emerging as we invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq. Like too many progressive and radical movements before, sexism and misogyny were rampant (issues that we are unfortunately confronting again today in the Occupy movement). I sent that email to about 30 women. Within a few days, more than 100 replied.
Thus was born the Feminist Peace Network. I wrote about this extensively last March in a series about reclaiming our own herstory, so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice to say, in these ten years, FPN has expanded well beyond the original mission of discussing the impact of militarism on women’s lives to connect the many ways in which misogyny impacts our lives and the phenomenal ways in which women are addressing these issues. We have gone from 30 women to thousands, connecting in a variety of ways–from our very early listserve, to a website and blog, to Facebook and Twitter and just recently, internet radio.
The very good news is that this work has expanded the dialog and helped to raise awareness about these issues. It has also served to connect women across the globe in a variety of empowering ways.
The bad news however is that the monster that is misogyny continues to wreak damage to our lives in a myriad of ways. We know that patriarchal power structures are toxic and destructive and in the end (which seems to be spinning perilously close), non-sustaining.
This year, the Occupy movement has arisen to challenge many of the manifestations of patriarchy, most especially the economic system of disenfranchisement that allows the power over structure of patriarchy to remain in place and flourish. But it stubbornly refuses to address the patriarchy that is the underpinning of the systems it seeks to confront and, in its white male dominated delusion, often perpetuates the same problematic power structures within the movement itself. In response to this, Occupy Patriarchy was begun as a project of the Feminist Peace Network for many of the same reasons that I founded FPN itself ten years ago.
On a personal note, when I sent out that email ten years ago, I had no idea how it would change my life. Becoming involved in this work has been a journey of profound personal growth for me. It has given me the chance to work with some very extraordinary people, too numerous to name, from all corners of the globe. It has both energized and exhausted me. Last year I seriously considered using the ten year mark as a chance to change paths and work on other things that are important to me. I have indeed slowed the pace at which I add new content to the FPN site in favor of longer but less frequent posts, and for awhile even that seemed too much. But with the advent of the Occupy movement, and uprisings throughout the world, it is clear that we are at a moment when real change is possible and the need for feminist thinking and activism is as urgent, if not more so, than it has ever been.
And so the work continues. I am so deeply grateful to all of you, from those who were there at the very beginning, to those who have have joined in the discussion over the years. I have learned much from you and have depended on your enthusiasm, feedback and support–it is what sustains me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Now let’s get back to work!
ps–As the end of the year draws near, I will be taking some necessary time off to regroup and re-energize and will be blogging minimally if at all. Wishing all of you a happy holiday season!