Women against war

Tuesday 1 April 2003, by Judy REBICK

The Lysistrata Project (http://www.pecosdesign.com/lys/), one of the many anti-war actions sweeping the globe, reminds us that women’s opposition to war goes back a long way in human history. While I am glad to see a revival of the ancient comedy of women refusing sex to men if they go off to war, I would a prefer a more modern version of women’s resistance.

How about a story where women form a global non-violent army and in every country rise up against the men in power? We refuse to buy from them, to do their work in the home and outside of it, to care for them, to behave. We make a coalition of the willing with those men who are fed up with patriarchal, colonialist violence as a driving force in society and are willing to forgo their privilege to join the struggle to end it. Our first demand is for them to give up their weapons of mass destruction. The focus of course would be on George Bush but women in every country would demand the destruction, first of weapons of mass destruction and then of all weapons. All men who commit acts of violence - whether in the home, in the workplace, in the streets, in the police force, or in the army - will be designated terrorists and required to unlearn their violent ways in popular education training centres. The countries with the most weapons of mass destruction would be first, but women in each and every country would make the demands. Disarming won’t be enough. We need a regime change. Men have held on to the levers of power long enough. Their continuing monopoly on power is the biggest threat to world peace, environmental sustainability, and in fact the survival of the planet. There is no alternative. We will no relent until they step down so that women can take the reins of power.

The feminist movement set it sites on overthrowing the patriarchy back in the 1960’s. We understood that the rule of men over women may have been maintained by economic domination and myths of romantic love and male superiority, but ultimately it was held in place by the threat and the reality of violence. The same violence, economic domination, and in this case myths of racism maintained the rule of European countries over their colonies. All domination is rooted in violence and threat of violence. That is why war is fundamentally a feminist issue.

In Canada, the peace movement has always been part of the women’s movement and vice versa. Women like Muriel Duckworth and Ursula Franklin have been struggling for peace long before most of us were born. They have steadfastly brought their message to new generations.
Now as the people of the world rise up against war, feminist voices are more important than ever. As Muriel Duckworth said, "People are against this war with Iraq, but they have to understand that all war must be eliminated."

Let’s make sure this anti-war movement practices the politics of non-domination and anti-oppression. As long as our relationships are based on domination, we will never end war; the most extreme form of that domination and the one that lies beneath all the others.

Judy Rebick, Columnist, Alternatives Newspaper

The author is also publisher of rabble.ca

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