Apologies for any incoherence here. Writing this has been a battle against autocorrect. I think I’ve fixed it, but I really need to edit this at my desktop to be sure.
I’ve always been a not quite closet survivalist. Not the batshit UN black helicopter sort of survivalist (which is someone too stupid to survive, though not so stupid as not to be dangerous). There’s just been an idea in the back of my head, whispering to me that I shouldn’t be too confident in the stability of civilization.
When I was in high school our civics class was divided into groups and given the following problem to solve: Nuclear armageddon had arrived. There was room in the shelter for eight people, but there were ten survivors. We were to decide unanimously who would live and who would die. We had a short bio for each survivor. If we failed to produce an answer, all would die and we would fail the assignment.
It was obvious who we were supposed to fling to their deaths — we were supposed to, rationally and in the spirit of professional ethicists everywhere, off the stereotypically effeminate homosexual and the infertile woman, because, you know, women have only one purpose, and homosexuals are too stupid to use women properly.
There wasn’t a lesbian in the roster we were given, because there never is. But it didn’t take genius for closeted younger me to realize that if there was any character whose presence could save the fictive gay guy from his doom, it would have been fictional me. I refused to play the game. I said it had nothing to do with genuine ethics. My classmates, eyes on their grades, argued with me. I refused to budge. Our group was the only one that “died”.
The problem is that this is not an anecdote from the past. Given the end of modern civilization (does anyone really think the Paris accords will stop environmental collapse?), who do you think men will see as rape-slaves or useless mouths? We’re already seen that way, though most men at the moment don’t feel a need to address the problem of noncompliant and useless women using “their” resources.
There is one way to prevent future atrocities. That way is to build and maintain strong local communities, communities too big and strong to starve out, and too tough to overpower.
Local is key here. National and international organizations are of little use under these circumstances. Internet communities are of no use at all at a time when the internet is fractured, if it exists at all. Communities that meet in Michigan once a year and fragment into little pieces for the rest of the year don’t work. Only groups of women who know where each other live and who are committed to protecting each other would be of value (even if they don’t necessarily like each other, which in any community worth the name will certainly be true). You can’t build that kind of community when you desperately need it. You have to build it when you still can, before your life depends on it.
I don’t think the survivalist idea of carefully chosen self-sufficient groups, armed and with prearranged hideouts, is an answer for lesbians (or for that matter, for future civilization). Since when have exclusive armed bands been anything but a threat to women? It was armed bands roving the countryside, raping and pillaging where they went, that led Joan of Arc to organize resistance at a time when war had destroyed French civilization.
We need to follow female precedence here and be civilization builders, not destroyers. We need an open community, one with the capacity to expand to bring in young lesbians, one able and willing to defend endangered heterosexual women when necessary, and one that would still be every bit as valuable if by some miracle the next global meeting of men cracks down on international capitalism and saves the planet.
Civilization, when it collapses, often collapses quickly, with little warning. We know this because it collapses often. It collapsed after Katrina. It collapses, for civilians, on every battlefield. Great civilizations have collapsed throughout history. We may have an infinity of time to rebuild our communities. Probably we don’t. I don’t want to bet my life and the lives of many women I do not know on an unlikely assumption of continuity.
I want to encourage anyone reading this to think seriously about what they personally can do to build up their local communities. Make the problem small enough in your head that you can imagine starting it — something that can meet around a kitchen table. Think about drawing important limits on general principles (yep, those “SWERF” and “TERF” ethics) but also think about how you can preserve those values while reaching out to lesbians who are just beginning to question the porn-and-ladyprick agendas.
Think also about how to bond the community you build. No group bonds by sharing common beliefs at each other. It’s good to be reinforced when 99% of the time your values are hated or ignored, but by the fiftieth hearing, values become cliches, and deviation from the language of cliches becomes a weapons with which to attack each other. Communities bond through shared action. Values remain alive only when they are lived.
Organizing seems frightening A lot of men put a lot of effort into making it appear to be so, and they are looking to make an example of a few women. But I think not organizing now is much more frightening.
(On a related note: imagine local radical lesbian feminist bathroom and locker room safety patrols, wherever men who say they feel like women are allowed in. Announce the patrols to the local press. Let the trans community demonstrate their womanhood by spewing death threats at us in front of the media (the rallying cry “Die, cis, die” gives their cause the attention it deserves). Let it become a circus. Then watch women of every description speak out to support us.
Notice too that, while actually patrolling bathrooms is extremely effective and a valuable service to women and girls, getting a group of women together to say that you intend to patrol is also effective at shining light on the problem.
This isn’t going to end until we take the fight to them ).